With the 2012 New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, the election may resemble the parade at the finale of the movie ″Animal House″, with Newt Gingrich driving the Delta House death-mobile. For his own campaign, Gingrich appears to be reenacting the scuttling of the German pocket-battleship Graf Spee (pictured below) at Montevideo in Uruguay. The latest poll by WMUR shows Mitt Romney well out in front with 44%, followed by Ron Paul with 20%, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich with 8% each and Jon Huntsman Jr. at 7%. Raked by negative ads in Iowa from Romney′s Super-PAC, and from Ron Paul′s campaign, Gingrich fell from leading in the Hawkeye State to a fourth place finish. A new poll from South Carolina also now shows Gingrich has dropped from the lead to tied for second with Santorum at 24%, allowing Romney to have 1st place with 31%.
The situation for Gingrich at this point look very grim. To go after Romney and attack him will have either one of two results. Newt will help Santorum gain numbers in South Carolina at his own expense or show the world that only he has the raw nerve to do battle with Obama in November. Gingrich will have no real impact on the New Hampshire race. Maybe Romney might win with just 39%, but I don′t see Mitt losing much ground there. If anything, Romney should be more concerned this weekend with Paul and Huntsman, because they are more of a threat to him in the Granite State.
Huntsman really needs a strong third place finish in NH, even more so than Santorum. The former Utah Governor is only at 2% in the latest Rasmussen Poll for the Palmetto State, so he probably will not campaign much there if he continues. If Huntsman cannot finish in third, or a close fourth with 10% or more in New Hampshire, then he will most likely bow out after Tuesday.
Santorum′s best strategy for New Hampshire is to focus more on Ron Paul as far as being negative goes. Rick should leave Romney alone and let Newt and Jon go after him. Then Santorum can focus more on South Carolina where he may get the Religious-Right rallying around him, which would give him a probable victory and help in Florida.
But for Newt Gingrich, New Hampshire is a death ride to no where. He′ll be lucky to finish in fourth place and even luckier to earn 10% or more of the vote. His only option for now is to put his campaign on ramming speed and try to bloody Romney enough to prevent him from winning in the later primaries in the South. All Romney needs is one victory below the Mason-Dixon line to wrap things up early by Super Tuesday in March. Florida is probably his best chance to do just that. But if Newt can damage Mitt enough this coming week, then the battle may on well into April.