Tuesday is, as Governor George H.W. Bush famously called it eight years ago, "votin' day here in New Hampshire. Let's take a look at the combinations and permutations of the possible outcomes.
First, the Republicans:
Governor Mike Huckabee who came out of nowhere to win the Iowa Caucuses is bumping along in distant third place here behind Senator John McCain and Governor Mitt Romney (or vice versa).
Huckabee needs to have a decent showing here or he risks being described as a one-hit wonder and will go into South Carolina on January 19 with his halo somewhat tarnished.
Romney has got to win here or his high-cost, talent-heavy campaign will be oh-for-two will be studied for the reasons for its two failures. He will go into South Carolina not marching proudly with a string of wins in his quiver, but desperately needing a win in a state where he may not be particularly popular with the extremely conservative Republican base.
McCain is, to use the argot of the day, "all in" in New Hampshire. McCain came in a close fourth in Iowa but has put all of his chip on the table here. It is unclear whether a second-place finish to Romney will permit McCain to move forward into South Carolina with any semblance of a campaign because he will not have the money to be competitive.
Mayor Rudy Giuliani did not compete in Iowa and is only marginally competing here (although I saw a television ad for his campaign yesterday morning). The Giuliani strategy is to hang on until the big states start to come onto the radar screen starting with Florida on January 29 and Über-Tuesday on February 5.
The issue for Giuliani is, he has been essentially out of the conversation (except for his headache) for the past two weeks as the press attention has been focused on Iowa and New Hampshire. Whether he can sustain interest by staying on the sidelines for yet another 25 days is problematic.
Senator Fred Thompson (for whose campaign I am a paid advisor) came in third in Iowa …
… and is not competing here - much as Giuliani did not compete in Iowa. Thompson is putting it all on a victory - or a very close second - in South Carolina. He left New Hampshire immediately after the debate on the Fox News Channel last night and will spend New Hampshire votin' day in the Palmetto state.
A weak second or worse and the Thompson campaign will probably be over.
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