In winning the New Hampshire Republican primary, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney may have actually scored a double victory, pollster Peter Brown tells Newsmax.
“I think Romney had a great night,” said Brown, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in an exclusive interview following Tuesday’s primary. “Not only did he win, but the people who were his biggest competitors for the nomination lost.”
Brown believes that Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who finished second behind Romney, will not do well in South Carolina. “It is difficult to come up with a scenario in which Ron Paul is the Republican nominee for president,” he said. “Therefore, the fact that Ron Paul beat the rest of the Republican field is good news for Romney.”
If Romney wins South Carolina, he will almost certainly lock down the GOP presidential nomination in Florida on January 31. “Florida is a big state where money matters and he’s got the most of it,” said Brown.
That is not to say that Romney will win in South Carolina, he added. “It’s certainly possible that somebody else could win South Carolina in which case that would give that person some momentum and some ability to contest Romney down the road.”
Brown believes that if either former House Speaker Newt Gingrich or former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum — both considered more conservative than Romney — take the state, then the other man will be forced out of the race and the survivor will challenge Romney in Florida. Paul, who finished second in New Hampshire, is not likely to duplicate his result in South Carolina, Brown said.
“South Carolina is a conservative state — more so than New Hampshire — and it is unlikely that Paul will do nearly as well in South Carolina as he did in New Hampshire. But it’s a question of where those votes go,” he said.
After Santorum’s finish in Iowa, a number of analysts had predicted that the nomination would come down to a two-way contest between Romney and Santorum, who finished within eight votes of Romney in Iowa, according to Brown.
“After New Hampshire it’s harder to say [he is] the second one,” Brown said of Santorum. “He hasn’t gotten [Texas Gov. Rick] Perry out and he didn’t do well in New Hampshire, so any momentum he had was dissipated.”
Brown also said former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman has only a limited organization and money despite his third-place result in New Hampshire. “He can talk about how he closed very strongly — which he did — but what did he get out of it? He got a third-place finish,” he said.
Romney appears to be benefitting from the fact that multiple conservatives remain in the race, Brown said.
“If it were Romney against one conservative, Romney might have some problems,” he said. “There’s no indication that any of those candidates are going to get out before South Carolina.”
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