For Republican presidential candidates Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich and John Huntsman, battle in New Hampshire is for the second place, not the top. The GOP Debate on ABC News was a clear indicator that other candidates are confident of Romney's win in the state.
Every poll result so far suggests an easy victory for him. According to the latest polls, Romney enjoys a double-digit (22.6 percent) lead over his nearest rival Paul, in the state.
Unlike the Iowa caucus that had last-minute surprises in the form of Santorum, New Hampshire looks pretty much determined on its nominee. It would require a miracle to defeat Romney in the New Hampshire poll.
According to the New York Times report, there are only two incidences in the American presidential primaries and caucuses where a candidate has upset the lead runner by overcoming more than 15 percent deficit. The first incident was in 1980 when Ted Kennedy won in the New York State, defeating Jimmy Carter by overcoming a deficit of 21.8 percent. The second was in the 1984 Democrat Primary in New Hampshire, where Gary Hart defeated Walter Mondale, who had a 16.6 percent lead over Hart in the trial polls.
Paul's deficit is huge, and not many expect him to overcome the deficit to beat Romney in New Hampshire. Moreover, there has been no major improvement in his ratings recently, though he has not lost the support already garnered.
Santorum, who almost tied with Romney in Iowa, is battling for the third place with Gingrich. Santorum had enjoyed an unexpected surge forward in Iowa to finish second in the state. He did benefit from Iowa's results, as his ratings in New Hampshire improved after the Iowa polls. Still he is finding it difficult to retain the surge.
According to Suffolk's poll, Santorum is losing support among the youth, as his ultra-conservative views on same-sex marriage and drug use got him boos from the audience at a campaign event at a college in Concord.
Gingrich, Huntsman and Rick Perry are also marginalized without much momentum. In this context, we can safely say that Romney is marching toward a convincing victory here. A victory with a good margin is what he badly needs to seal his position as the top frontrunner in the Republican race.
Now the competition for second place is going to be tough. Though Paul, going by his consistant ratings, has a better chance to come in at the second position, there could be a last-minute surge from Huntsman and Santorum, if either of them consolidates anti-Romney and anti-Paul votes.