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More Good News For Romney

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From the latest New Hampshire poll:

On the Republican side, Sen. John McCain has dropped from first place early in the campaign to fourth. The Arizona Republican, who won the 2000 New Hampshire primary, is now trailing Fred Thompson, who has not announced that he’s running.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leads all Republicans with 33 percent. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani fell slightly from his 20 percent showing in a June poll to 18 percent.

Thompson was at 13 percent, up from 11 percent. McCain was fourth, dropping from 20 percent to 12 percent support.

“McCain has not lost voters in New Hampshire because of his support for the war, he’s lost support because of other issues,” Smith said.

The poll shows that two-thirds of Republican voters support the war in Iraq. Support for McCain slipped because of his support of President George W. Bush’s immigration plan, Smith said.

In the meantime, with millions of dollars invested in TV ads and a strong grassroots effort, Romney keeps climbing. But Smith said that with so few people definitely decided on a candidate, there’s time for anyone to recover.

“If anybody has 20 percent in the race by the end with enough money to spare, they have a chance of winning New Hampshire,” Smith said.

Governor Romney is spending his money to excellent effect. Mayor Giuliani is bankrolling much of it, perhaps putting his sights on Florida, and California and the other Super Duper Tuesday states of February 5. Senator Thompson’s strategy is…?

If you had to take one of the hands, I think most would pick Romney’s cards. Patrick’s worries below about Ron Paul’s supporters picking up the “strategic” votes of the disappearing McCain effort etc overthinks the situation in Iowa, and the tide of the early contests generally. Winning is winning, and if Romney wins in either Iowa or New Hampshire, he’s the conservative to beat in Florida. Beat him in both and he’s almost certainly done. But a silver medal for Ron Paul in Iowa is about as significant as the innards of a pigeon.

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