As of today, Mitt Romney’s chances of winning the 2012 Republican nomination stand at roughly 70 percent. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the former Massachusetts governor is still not a lock. If another candidate can win Iowa and/or do well in New Hampshire, Romney could find himself singing the blues. Republican strategist Mark McKinnon has more:
In the state-by-state battle of Romney and the not-Romneys, here’s where I see the field right now:
Herman Cain: An unconventional candidate and campaign in the middle of a classic, yet avoidable, crisis. We’ll see if he can keep the Cain Train from derailing. It’s going to be tough, but he still has the potential to do well among more conservative Iowa and South Carolina voters.
Mitt Romney: His mantra: steady, steady, steady. Romney is in position for a solid win in New Hampshire. If no one emerges to lead the “anyone-but-Romney” pack, and the votes are split, Romney could even surprise and pick off Iowa, in which case the nomination contest will be over.
Newt Gingrich: The man to watch right now. Slowly and steadily rising in the polls as he stays focused on the issues. None of the other not-Romneys can match his intellect or ability to “tell it like it is.” If Gingrich could come out in the top three in Iowa, he’s the kind of candidate New Hampshire could warm to and turn conventional wisdom on its ear, as the Granite State often does.
Rick Perry: Perry needs to round up a posse of voters to do well in Iowa. And he may gain if Cain loses steam. He’s got the money, manpower, and message—if voters are willing to give the governor a second look after his poor debate performances.
Ron Paul: He will get a solid 10 to 15 percent of the vote everywhere. And win nowhere.
Michele Bachmann: She has staked everything on Iowa. If she doesn’t break through, she’s done.
Rick Santorum: See Bachmann.
Jon Huntsman: Some 44 percent of New Hampshire voters are independents who can vote in either primary. This year there is no Democratic primary, so most of them will be voting in the Republican contest—a perfect scenario for Huntsman to finally make a move.