Winners and Losers in the New Hampshire Primary

Even with sinking ratings, President Barack Obama still has a lead over his GOP opponents going into the 2012 presidential election. One of the biggest tests for determining who will ultimately challenge Obama as the Republican nominee will probably be determined by the winner of the upcoming New Hampshire primary, due to the horse race nature of the election.

The candidates' views can help predict who will prevail in a given race; between former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s moderate social and fiscal views, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R- Minn.) Tea Party support, and Herman Cain’s outsider business status, these GOP candidates will “win, place, and show,” respectively, in the upcoming New Hampshire primary.

Romney enters the primary with the biggest advantage. After coming in a disappointing second place to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008, Romney is determined to win the Granite State this time around. He has decided to skip the Iowa Caucus to concentrate on a solid win in New Hampshire. Like New England Republicans of yester-years, he is wealthy, handsome, Ivy League educated, and a political moderate. His Mormon faith will not hurt him in New Hampshire as the Christian Right is not nearly as powerful of a voting bloc as it is in Iowa and South Carolina. Romney preceded the Tea Party movement so he will not have that political boost (or drawback). His pro-business credentials and his moderate social and fiscal views mirror the preferences of New Hampshire’s voters, so expect Romney to win the primary.

Bachmann is the ultimate wildcard in the presidential field. She has a history of putting her foot in her mouth and is one major gaffe away from political oblivion. Still, she does have potential to make a major splash. Although New Hampshire is a politically moderate field, the state shifted to the right in 2010. New Hampshire Governor John Lynch, a center-left Democrat, won re-election in 2010, but the race was much closer than expected for the popular incumbent. In addition, the New Hampshire House and Senate both switched to Republican control and in quite a coup; the Tea Party managed to elect one of their own as chairman of the state’s GOP party. With her Tea Party credentials, Bachmann will  finish in a respectable but distant second place.

Cain is my guess to be the Cinderella of this GOP primary. He has the best political asset of all — he is a political novice. His background as a CEO will allow him to challenge anyone (including Obama) on economic matters, and he will capture all fiscal and economic conservatives who are anti-Romney. I have no allusions that Cain will win New Hampshire (or the nomination for that matter), but his candidacy will bring some excitement to a primary that desperately needs some. Expect the CEO of Godfather’s Pizza to come in third.

Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, and Tim Pawlenty are all good candidates, but I seriously doubt that any of them will make a dent. Huntsman and Pawlenty have had a hard time getting their campaigns off the ground. Gingrich will have a tough time answering for his personalfailings and Paul is, well, Ron Paul. Let’s not even talk about Sarah Palin, because I believe that even she does not know whether she will run.

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