In the end, it was McCain who got the Union-Leader's endorsement which helped him beat Romney in the primary 37 percent to 31 percent. Huckabee came in third with 11 percent of the votes.
McCain needed to win in New Hampshire. Newt does not. Newt needs to do well in Iowa (I still think Ron Paul is the favorite there) and win South Carolina but a second place finish in NH would be more than enough to continue his momentum.
A loss for Romney in New Hampshire, after having led there by double digits all cycle, would be very damaging and he would have to come back and win a convincing victory in Florida on January 31 (assuming he will not win in South Carolina on January 21) to regain his status as frontrunner and probable nominee.
New Hampshire's primary rules allow independents to vote in either the Republican or Democratic primaries so it is more difficult to determine voters' intentions than in a closed primary where a voter has to be registered as an R or D and can only vote in that party's election.
Remember Newt's theory of how he expects to win the nomination (which was first explained to me by former Pennsylvania Congressman and long-time Gingrich ally Bob Walker):
-- Ron Paul will get between six and ten percent of those voters
-- That leaves 65 percent of the Republican available for Newt.
The World According to Newt is: He doesn't have to beat Romney, he just has to consolidate the non-Romney conservative votes.
The Union-Leader endorsement might help do that in dramatic fashion.
On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to the text of the Union-Leader's endorsement and to the results of the 2008 New Hampshire primary. Also an interesting Mullfoto from my Western Mass trip last week and a Catchy Caption of the Day.