Michael Barone

And who exactly is this Republican establishment some radio talk show hosts complain about? The Ivy League apparat headquartered within a few blocks of Madison Avenue in New York that engineered the nominations of Wendell Willkie, Thomas Dewey and Dwight Eisenhower from 1940 to 1952 has been defunct for four decades.

The one relative constant in New Hampshire is support for Mitt Romney, who has led in every poll here since April 2010. But that may just be because this is a Northern state.

When you compare national polls with polls in states, you find that Romney opponents do best in the South, especially South Carolina, which is polled frequently because of its Jan. 21 primary. It follows that Romney tends to have support above the national average in the North, and few states are as far north as New Hampshire.

The task before Republican primary voters and caucus-goers is to choose among a half a dozen or so candidates about whom they know relatively little. Those who are interested in these things are getting more information this cycle than previously from cable news debates, YouTube videos and the blogosphere.

Those who are less engaged are getting less information than in previous cycles because of cutbacks in coverage by old media like the New Hampshire Union Leader and Manchester's Channel 9. For them, the Republican candidates, or the alternatives to Romney, seem pretty much fungible. When one self-destructs, they pick another.

Is this a good way to choose who might be the next president? No, it sounds worse (to paraphrase Winston Churchill on democracy) except for all those other ways that have been tried from time to time.

But you go to vote with the nominating process you have. Merry Christmas.

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