|NH - not always this serene.|
Mitt Romney will win New Hampshire tomorrow, and he'll win it big. There will be no miracle Tim Tebow story from the other candidates. The outcome has already been discounted in the overall picture. Everyone knows Romney will win. But that doesn't mean all of the questions have been answered yet.
Will Romney win by 20 points? Anything less might look like a loss of momentum since he was expected to win by at least that margin.
Also contingent on the outcome, who stays in the race and who, if anyone, bows out. If Rick Perry for example, comes in last does he stick around and siphon off votes from the other not Romney candidates in South Carolina? Or does he drop out and endorse another candidate, thereby helping to consolidate the votes behind those who don't think Romney should be the nominee?
The third piece of the puzzle is who finishes second through last. Is it Santorum, Paul or Huntsman who picks up second place? And is it one of them or Gingrich who ends up third? It matters because with Romney's expected win already discounted, the secondary part of the story will be about who else has momentum going into South Carolina, where reports are Romney has taken the lead away from Gingrich.
On final point on New Hampshire and beyond worth considering - it seems the candidates have finally trained their sights on Mitt Romney, at least to some degree. It might get a bit uglier going forward. That's okay though. If Romney doesn't win the nomination, the winner will be able to argue that they are prepared for a knock-down-drag-out fight with the Obama team. Conversely, if Romney wins he will have had to endure many of the attacks that team Obama will level at him and be more prepared to counter them in the fall.