Perry’s fourth place showing in New Hampshire according to one poll which is not among any of the four that are typically used to gauge how a candidate is doing, is certainly not a sign that things are over for Perry, not even in New Hampshire. But it does suggest that Perry has a lot of work to do outside of the delegate rich South.
Between January and April 24th of 2012, 351 delegates are up for grabs from within the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states alone. In that same time period, Midwest and upper-Midwest states will have 238 delegates in play. This means that unless Perry locks up the nomination with substantial early wins in at least South Carolina and Florida, followed by substantial victories in California, Georgia, Minnesota, Missouri, and North Dakota which are scheduled to hold their contests on the same day in February, than Mitt Romney can assure Rick Perry a long and drawn out battle that Romney could easily win.
Currently, while Perry’s strength lies in the South, Southwest and possibly even places like Iowa, Romney has a leg up on Perry in the Northeast, upper Midwest and West. For Mitt, states, like Michigan, which he won in 2008, and Wisconsin and Minnesota are strong territory for him. In the Northeast, states like new York, New Jersey, Delaware, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and others, make it the region that is strongest for him.
And then there is of course California, which is a winner-take-all contest that is closed to only registered Republicans. A win there in early February will earn the victor 172 delegates. That is equal to the number of delegates in play in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida combined.
What this means is that Rick Perry will need to quickly show some strength outside of Iowa and the South. New Hampshire would be the perfect place for him to do that. But asking Perry to win New Hampshire over Mitt Romney is like expecting Mitt Romney to defeat Rick Perry in Texas……..it ain’t gonna happen.
Still, coming in behind both Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman is embarrassing for a so-called frontrunner. So Perry is going to have to work at New Hampshire. Even though a Southern strategy that would have him win the early states of South Carolina and then Florida can work, being blown out in New Hampshire will not allow Mitt Romney to stay in the game and survive until the states favorable to him allocate their delegates. At the same time, it must be realized that the earlier we decide who the Republican nominee is, the better it will be for the Party.
Until we have a nominee, the contenders will be beating up on each other. A protracted nomination contest will therefore only help to weaken the nominee up for President Obama to beat on. But a contest that wraps up the nomination decisively and early will allow everyone to focus on beating up on President Obama. As such, having a frontrunner for the Republican nomination blown out in New Hampshire, does not help anyone…..accept for Mitt Romney. Therefore if Perry wants to have any chance of securing the nomination early on in the process, he is going to have to do better in New Hampshire and demonstrate to voters that he can get votes outside of the South.
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