THE BLOG
01/10/2012 02:20 pm ET Updated Mar 11, 2012

It's Getting Hot in New Hampshire

After last week's somewhat surprising Iowa caucus, it is now safe to say that the GOP primaries are fully underway, and it's getting ugly out there. Tonight, New Hampshire Republicans will make their case of who is worthy of being their candidate against President Obama, and while the winner will be the same in Iowa, the interesting thing to analyze tonight will be the runners-up -- the ones vying to still keep their name in the race, doing whatever they can in order to stay.

Mitt Romney will win tonight. As a neighbor hailing from Massachusetts, his establishment Republican base is one that fits New Hampshire voters, as oppose to all the ultra-conservative contenders. Romney has already been named and crowned the winner in New Hampshire, as well as the frontrunner, something that has been bittersweet to him as he faces stinging criticism from both sides of the spectrum -- from his GOP opponents and from the White House. But Romney seems to be, in many eyes, the sane Republican option to unseat Obama, rather than some Tea Party ultra-conservative fanatic like Santorum, Gingrich or Perry. Jon Huntsman is a wonderful choice for the GOP for his foreign policy credentials and more moderate approach, but his nomination is quite unrealistic.

As this race is shaping up little by little, it offers a reminder and analogy to the 2008 GOP primaries. In 2008, the final three candidates for the nomination were McCain, Huckabee and Romney. In this election, Romney is 2008's McCain, Santorum is 2008's Huckabee, and Huntsman is 2008's Romney. McCain represented the establishment GOP, which was more moderate and conservative usually by name (only when they really have to they'll be conservative). That's what Romney represents, and he probably will win the nomination that way. Santorum will be the ultra-conservative, faith-wrapped candidate Huck was, and might, just might, stay on even though he isn't winning, just like Huck did to McCain. I'm sure after the primaries Santorum will do just fine in the conservative halls, like Huck is doing now. Huntsman is the good-looking Mormon ex-governor businessman in the race that doesn't really have a shot. Just like Romney was in 2008. He'll run, and while he'll see that he is not winning primaries, he'll suspend. Who knows, he might just come back in 2016 and be the frontrunner like Romney. If Romney waited four years, I'm sure that Huntsman can. We'll deal with that in 2016.

Continuing with analogies, tonight in New Hampshire, I believe that John Huntsman will be comparable to Rick Santorum in Iowa. Huntsman, who has been working and focusing hard in New Hampshire, is putting all of his abilities visiting and speaking all over the state. Similarly, Rick Santorum visited all 99 counties and 350+ town halls, and he will probably get second tonight under Romney, and not with a huge range. Rick Santorum isn't too hot in New Hampshire, and it makes sense. It doesn't even make sense how he was a two-term senator in Pennsylvania. Go figure. Anyway, Santorum can and will focus on South Carolina and Florida, and his candidacy will become more relevant and perhaps jaw-dropping.

Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry are together in my head as conservatives running after Obama with campaigns that aren't too bright. While Newt Gingrich might still have a few votes to count on, he won't make it. Perry is counting on South Carolina, but the state will not deliver, at all.

This week, Ron Paul -- still running as a Republican -- flirted with the idea of running as an Independent, which is probably what he should do in the first place. This is where he belongs, except that an Independent run will just be a sure Obama reelection. I don't believe Paul will do it to the Republican party, as it would be an insane move, but with Paul, you never know...

The bottom line for tonight is Mitt Romney. Like primaries to come, Mitt Romney will be victorious should everything go his way, scandal-free, but it is also a liability to be the frontrunner too early. It is quite easy to attack Romney and criticize him for past statements, real experience, and honesty. Tonight will be sweet for Romney, but the road ahead will be bitter. All eyes will be on New Hampshire tonight, and tomorrow New Hampshire will just be another state on the list to tick off, and all the victory speeches will be read and the 're-assessment' speeches will be read. New Hampshire might be covered in snow in ice, but in reality, it's boiling hot.

Sign up for our email.
Find out how much you really know about the state of the nation.