Michael Barone

But do the old rules still apply? Sam Pimm, hired a week ago to manage Gingrich's voter identification and get-out-the-vote efforts in the state, is not so sure. He helped train candidates that enabled New Hampshire Republicans to gain 122 seats in the 400-member state House in 2010.

Pimm says the Gingrich campaign has hired 15 full-time staff, all locals, in the last two weeks and has made 50,000 phone calls to voters in the last seven days. It hired Charlie Spano, who ran field operations for Herman Cain, three days ago.

New technology has made political communication much easier, faster and cheaper than it was even a few years ago. VOIP software makes it possible for volunteers to make phone calls from home in a way that campaigns can control and monitor.

The Gingrich campaign seems to have a more difficult task than the Romney campaign. Polling indicates that Romney's support has been relatively constant over a long period, making it easier for the campaign to identify and keep in touch with those voters.

In contrast, almost all support for Gingrich is much more recent and may be subject to rapid change. Mobilizing that support may be like corralling mercury.

Certainly there is interest in the former speaker. He attracted a crowd of 600 to Windham High School on Monday night and got thunderous applause from the audience. But those proudly wearing Newt 2012 buttons seemed to be outnumbered by those who were still undecided or leaning to Romney or another candidate.

"It's fluid," says former state Attorney General Tom Rath, a Romney backer. "New Hampshire is always tight." But, he adds, "I don't see any slippage for us."

Mitt Romney is betting, and betting more than the $10,000 he offered in last Saturday's debate, that Rath is right -- and that the old rules still apply.


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM