As we start to get in to "the voters actually voting" phase of the Republican primary, Mike Littwin (Denver Post) had a great line summarizing the state of play:
Romney wins in Iowa — barely — and looks like the inevitable nominee nobody wants, but the one no one can apparently beat.So, if we assume Romney wins by some amount in NH, we move on to less friendly territory in South Carolina (where Romney is doing well, and where Rick Perry's Alamo may be located) and then Florida, which broke Rudy Giuliani four years ago and which can potentially end this in Romney's favor for all practical purposes if he runs the table between now and then.
That makes today's Q-poll (MoE plus/minus 4.1) of especial interest:
With 36 percent of Florida Republican likely primary voters, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has a double-digit lead three weeks before the nation's first big-state presidential primary, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. But 54 percent of GOP primary voters say they still might change their mind.There'll be more polling, of course, but now we have a baseline post-Iowa to judge what the New Hampshire effect, if any, is. Given the high percentage of soft support (equally distributed, apparently) this may not be the final word, but Romney still has to like the survey and the state of play as of this morning.
Twelve points back in the Republican pack is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with 24 percent, followed by former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum with 16 percent, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University survey finds. Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul is at 10 percent with 5 percent for Texas Gov. Rick Perry and 2 percent for former ambassador Jon Huntsman. This first look at likely primary voters, a more select group, can't be compared with earlier surveys of registered voters.
Of course, as his rivals' attacks heat up, it's going to get hot in the kitchen. Let's see who can take the heat.