I didn’t pay terribly close attention to the New Hampshire primary results last night. I expected Mitt Romney to win. In a show of my own ignorance, I predicted a Jon Huntsman surge would vault him into second place. I was wrong. The Paulettes were out in full force, keeping Ron Paul in second.
This is all purely academic for me. I have absolutely no rooting interest in the Republican nomination process. I’m not voting for any of these guys. I’ve believed all along Mitt Romney is going to win the nomination and don’t see that changing anytime soon.
What I have noticed, in watching the 2012 GOP nomination, is the similarity to the 2004 Democratic nomination. There were no superstars, no rainmakers, no true, unifying candidates who inspired the base. The Democrats ran on an Anyone But Bush platform and ultimately lost in a close election. The Republicans have been running on a similar narrative against Obama, and it could come back and bite them in the end.
If the history of presidential runs has taught us anything, it is you have to run for something to win. That’s how Reagan won. That’s how Clinton won. That’s how Obama won. Yes, I left GWB off that list because I still have no clue how he won, but that’s another story.
For all of Obama’s optimism in 2008, he’s a highly vulnerable candidate in 2012. He could lose. In a race against Mitt Romney, it’s going to come down to which candidate outflanks the other. I see it going right down to the bitter end. Romney may expand the map a bit for Republicans, but I don’t think his Michigan ties will win him in many votes in the Rust Belt. New England states may be vulnerable for Obama, but I’d be stunned if Michigan, Ohio or Wisconsin goes red. Indiana? You can already put it in the Romney column. Same goes for the South.
The states to watch in the general election will be the usual suspects: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina. I’d also add New Jersey to that list. I don’t have any hard data to support it, but I believe the Chris Christie influence puts New Jersey in play.
But let’s get through the primaries first. Next up, South Carolina. My prediction: Romney wins, making the rest of the race a parade lap.