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Post Partisan
Posted at 06:16 PM ET, 01/09/2012

Who will come in first, second, last in New Hampshire?

Will Santorum continue his sudden rise in New Hampshire? Will Jon Huntsman’s last-minute surge in the polls amount to anything? Who will come in last? And then what? We asked PostOpinions columnists, bloggers and editors how the candidates will stack up in Tuesday’s New Hampshire Republican primary election. Read their predictions below, and vote in our reader poll at the end of the post.

JONATHAN BERNSTEIN

Predicted standings: Romney first; Buddy Roemer sixth; Rick Perry seventh

It’s probably going to be closer than Romney hoped, and not the 20- or 30-point blowout that looked possible last week, but he should win it. Bonus wild guess prediction: Buddy Roemer edges out Rick Perry for sixth place.

RICHARD COHEN

Predicted standings: Mitt Romney first, Huntsman second, Santorum third

Mitt Romney will win the New Hampshire primary, but not with anything like the nearly 40 percent that he’s been getting in the latest polls. I think 30 percent will be more like it, maybe even the 25 percent that he was getting in all the Iowa polls and that he wound up with in the end. He wins, but he doesn’t kill. Coming in second — a real long shot here — will be Huntsman. He’ll get about 20 percent of the vote, taking some Romney defectors and people who have given up on Newt Gingrich and, for different reasons, Ron Paul. Third place goes to Santorum. He gets the hard-core social issue conservatives plus Catholics, who for some reason don’t think of Gingrich as one of their own. Santorum showed in the debates that he is not just anti-abortion but knows a thing or two about foreign policy.

E.J. DIONNE JR.

Predicted standings: Mitt Romney first, Jon Huntsman second; Ron Paul third

Romney will win; the question is by how much: Above 40 percent is a huge win. A victory with 30 percent of the vote or less would be a disastrous win; it would be widely interpreted as a sign of weakness. In between, and it will be up to the spin doctors. I think he goes under 35 percent. Paul has been running second for a long time, but I have a hunch that Huntsman will squeeze by him for No. 2. Newt will outperform his recent polls.

Read E.J. Dionne’s analysis of the New Hampshire primary.

JAMES DOWNIE

Predicted standings: Mitt Romney first, Ron Paul second, Jon Huntsman third; Newt Gingrich fourth; Rick Santorum fifth

Huntsman has closed the gap between himself and Paul in the past few days, but the former Utah governor will come up just short in his push for second place. Further down, Gingrich will beat out Santorum for fourth.

DANA MILBANK

Predicted standings: Vermin Supreme first

This will be the year Vermin Supreme finally wins in New Hampshire.

KATHLEEN PARKER

Predicted standings: Mitt Romney first, Ron Paul second, Huntsman third, Santorum fourth, Gingrich fifth and Perry Sixth

Romney will win handily despite his “pious baloney.” The latest WMUR/University of New Hampshire poll found that 78 percent of those polled believe he will be the nominee and 55 percent believe he’s got the best chance of beating Obama. That’s called momentum. In second place will be Paul, not because he’s the man people want to be president, but because voters want to keep his grumpy movement alive. Third place will go to Huntsman, followed by Santorum, Gingrich and Perry in that order.

ALEXANDRA PETRI

Predicted standings: Mitt Romney first, Ron Paul second, Jon Huntsman third

For years, Romney has vacationed in the “Granite State,” which sounds like the sort of place Romney would go on vacation. (“Hey, kids! Rocks!”) Ron Paul will come in second. Always a Ron Paul, never a bride! Huntsman will come in third because “New Hampshire voters’ third-favorite of the GOP field” seems about in line with the role Huntsman has carved out for himself. Score any higher, and that’s getting dangerously close to electorally viable.

EUGENE ROBINSON

Predicted standings: Mitt Romney first, Jon Huntsman second, Newt Gingrich third

I’m pretty sure that Romney wins in New Hampshire. On Sunday, I was positive — but that was before his “I like to fire people” eruption. So I see him coming in first with about 30 percent of the vote, with Huntsman second. Santorum has so little traction in New Hampshire that I think Gingrich probably edges him out for third.

JENNIFER RUBIN

Predicted standings: Mitt Romney first, Ron Paul second, Jon Huntsman third, Rick Santorum fourth, Newt Gingrich fifth, Rick Perry sixth

Romney is a shoe-in to win with 37 to 40 percent of the vote. Paul will finish in second in the low 20’s or high teens. On the strength of non-Republican voters, Huntsman will come in third. Santorum (on the strength of his debate performances) is likely to edge out Gingrich for fourth. Perry will end up sixth in low single digits and make his last stand in South Carolina. The lemming pundits will describe the results as either disappointing for Romney, a comedown for Santorum or the beginning of a Huntsman surge (maybe all three). None of these will be true. South Carolina will remain Santorum’s best chance to knock Romney off his perch. Pressure will mount on Gingrich to get out of the race, giving Santorum a shot at South Carolina.

STEPHEN STROMBERG

Predicted standings: Mitt Romney first, Ron Paul second, Jon Huntsman third

Romney will win, obviously, but any hope he had for a larger-than-20 percent margin evaporated after he got bruised in Sunday’s debate and fumbled his final day of campaigning. Some are saying that the many independents in the New Hampshire primary will help Huntsman. They will. But not all independents are moderates, particularly in a state with a motto like Live Free or Die. Some will also vote for Paul, as they did in Iowa, pushing the libertarian into second place, with Huntsman third. Huntsman won’t come in even third anywhere else, except if he improbably makes it to the last-in-the-nation Utah primary on June 26.

MARC THIESSEN

Predicted standings: Mitt Romney first, Rick Santorum second, Ron Paul third

Romney is in the lead with 38.5 percent in the polls in New Hampshire, but he has always done better in New Hampshire than in the rest of the country. What is interesting is the latest CNN/Time poll, which now puts Romney at 37 percent in South Carolina — a 17 point gain since December. This suggests that at least some of that 75 percent of Republicans who have been in the “anyone but Romney camp” are making their peace with a Romney nomination. If he wins Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina (something that has never been done before) he will be in striking distance of having the nomination effectively wrapped up come Florida on January 31st. If his opponents are to bring him down, they need to strike a blow fast — hence their attacks on his record at Bain Capital, their pouncing on his “firing” comments, and their sudden aversion to capitalism. But it likely won’t be enough to slow, much less stop, Romney, so long as his conservative opposition remains divided.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL

Predicted standings: Romney first, Paul second, Huntsman or Santorum third

You know who wins. The real story out of New Hampshire is who comes in second. Before Saturday night’s circular firing squad — a.k.a. debate — I might have gone with Santorum. But he failed to nick Romney and was lousy in wooing conservative working-class voters with his empty rhetoric and lunch bucket economic nationalism. New Hampshire’s voters just can’t be convinced that outlawing abortion and same-sex marriage are top priorities. So, I think it’s Paul in second, with Santorum and Huntsman struggling for third.

By PostOpinions staff  |  06:16 PM ET, 01/09/2012

 
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