POLITICS
01/10/2012 08:19 am ET Updated Jan 10, 2012

Ron Paul New Hampshire Primary 2012 Outlook

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) appeared likely to come in second behind Mitt Romney in New Hampshire, but some polls show Jon Huntsman closing in.

The race for second place is anything but certain going into primary day.

Paul finished a disappointing third in Iowa after polls projected a three-way dead heat between him, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. He is hoping a strong finish in New Hampshire will give him the momentum he needs to convince voters of his electability.

The night of the Iowa caucuses, HuffPost's Ryan Grim reported:

"It won't be long before there's an election in New Hampshire and believe me this momentum will continue," Paul told a disappointed but energetic crowd. "We are going to keep scoring just as we have tonight." Paul said that there were "three top vote-getters. We will go on, we will raise the money. I have no doubt about the volunteers. They will be there."

The Third-Party Option

Paul has not ruled out running as a third-party candidate if he fails to win the GOP presidential nomination. HuffPost's Howard Fineman reports:

In his conversation with HuffPost, Paul noted that he had won nearly as many delegates in Iowa as Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum had, and that he was likely to pick up a good share here in New Hampshire and -- having hauled in $13 million last quarter -- in other contests to come.

With many delegates in a bloc heading into the convention in Tampa, didn't that mean he would remain committed to the GOP and not run an independent candidacy in the fall, even if he did not secure the nomination?

"I'll decide that later," Paul said while he was waiting for his son Rand Paul, a GOP senator from Kentucky, to finish an interview with the press.

When asked whether it would be difficult to run independently with a son who might want to run for the GOP nomination some day, the senior Paul said again, "I'll decide that later," before being hustled to a press event.

The Polls

HuffPost's Mark Blumenthal reports:

The final release before the New Hampshire primary from Suffolk University and Boston's 7News' daily tracking poll shows continued narrowing in Mitt Romney's lead over the rest of the Republican field. Interviews conducted on Saturday and Sunday showed Romney's support falling to 33 percent, though he still leads Ron Paul (with 20 percent) by thirteen percentage points.

Romney and Paul were followed by Jon Huntsman (13 percent), Newt Gingrich (11 percent) and Rick Santorum (10 percent), Buddy Roemer (2 percent), Rick Perry (1 percent), leaving 12 percent undecided.

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