Let's review the concept of winning:
Winning, in our culture, means coming in first. You don't win by coming in second or fifth. You win by coming in first.
Mitt Romney kicked butt last night in New Hampshire with (as of this writing) a 15 percentage point win over Ron Paul.
As of 10 PM last night, Romney had received about 38 percent of the votes. Was it 50 percent? No. But the next closest guy had 23. And the next closest guy to him had 17.
And remember the continuing mantra: Romney has a ceiling of 25 percent of support.
To quote Rick Perry: Oops.
That, in spite of a couple of pretty dramatic stumbles in the run-up to voting day and a determined assault on the part of most of the popular press in an attempt to turn this into real news, i.e. Gov. Romney was going to be unpleasantly surprised on election day.
Let's go back to that Ron Paul thing.
Third place finisher Jon Huntsman pretended to be perfectly thrilled losing to Ron Paul.
Tonight I lost to a 75-year-old screwball. I feel blessed.
Huntsman didn't barely lose to Ron Paul. He lost 23 percent to 17 percent. He ended comfortably ahead of the Power Twins: Newt Gingrich & Rick Santorum who more-or-less tied for fifth at 10 percent.
Thing about Huntsman is: He played exactly the same hand in New Hampshire as Rick Santorum played in Iowa: He was here for about six months, mostly by himself, and came in third.
Santorum tied for first in Iowa because he spent six months there. He couldn't translate that into anything resembling forward momentum in the six days he had in New Hampshire.
Rick Santorum is the political version of a one-hit-wonder in music [See Also, Bobby McFerrin - "Don't Worry Be Happy" 1988]
He got to claim a moral victory in Iowa a week ago, but the best he will be able to claim this morning is: "I beat Newt Gingrich."
whoo … hoo
Assuming the numbers at 10 o'clock last night hold, Newt Gingrich will have beaten only Rick Perry and Rick Perry was only in New Hampshire long enough to participate in the two debates this past weekend.
Rick Santorum's momentum out of Iowa lasted about six days.
Is there an alternate spelling for "thud?"
Gingrich appears to have come in fifth - which, in this particular election equates to last.
Ok, he beat non-participant Perry, and crushed former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer, but that is not going to generate a ton of on-line donations overnight.
There were no noticeable anti-Gingrich ads run by Super PACs against Gingrich in New Hampshire. There was no "Anybody-but-Newt" activity. Aside from the Washington/New York-based media, no one much cared about Gingrich.
I like Newt. As you know I have worked for, and around, him for the better part of 30 years. We understand each other the way people with egos the size of Wyoming understand each other: We recognize and wave to one another going opposite ways on the Interstate.
Newt's anger at Mitt Romney colored his thinking about how he needed to proceed in New Hampshire. His purchase, through his own Super PAC, of a pre-packaged anti-Romney movie which will be played in South Carolina over the next 10 days, appeared to have drawn more anger toward him, than toward its intended target, Mitt Romney.
Newt attracted 13 percent of the vote in Iowa and about 10 percent of the vote in New Hampshire. It is difficult to see how he is going to get to the nomination (as he assured us he would do just 30 days ago) at an average support level of about 11.5 percent per contest.
The circus now moves on to South Carolina with a far higher percentage of evangelical conservatives than New Hampshire.
If Mitt Romney wins there after winning in Iowa and New Hampshire, the other candidates will see the arc of this campaign and will conclude - along with their donors - that Romney will be the Republican nominee, will thank their supporters, and will return to their regular programming.
No one dropped out of the race last night, so the non-Romney vote will continue to be diffused.
Paul, Santorum, Gingrich and Perry will split the support of South Carolinians who want someone other than Mitt Romney meaning effective tonight no one with any sense will write a check to the Presidential campaign of anyone not named Romney or Obama.
It is clear to me that the Romney team can now begin planning how it wants the Republican National Convention in Tampa to look in August.