Since no one has gone out on a limb posted any predictions (as requested by my last post), I thought I might. Before Romney's strong performance at last night's Fox Forum, I would have said McCain had a clear leg up, but now I'm doubly unsure. McCain clearly had momentum coming into this weekend and, in my view, Saturday nights debate did nothing really to blunt it (even if McCain might have come off as petty to some with his several personal shots at Mitt).
Last night's debate, however, gave Romney a much needed shot in the arm. He did very, very well and was helped even more by the fact that Chris Wallace seemed to needle the other candidates on past statements and positions, McCain and Huckabee in particular, a little more than he did Romney. I think Republicans in New Hampshire will tend to think Romney came out on top in his tax and immigration exchanges with both Huckabee and McCain. And while McCain did less to hurt himself than Huckabee (whose answers sometimes bordered on incomprehensible), any support Huckabee loses would seem to indirectly hurt McCain.
The question is whether this was too little too late. How many people in New Hampshire saw his performance and how much play can it really get in one day? Romney can't like the fact that it was on cable television the night after a double-header debate on network television (a debate which was re-aired by CNN opposite
last night's Fox Forum no less). Plus, it almost seems like the slew of polls yesterday showing McCain on top of Romney have drowned out discussion of the debate some.
So... on to my prediction. I'm REALLY unsure, but in my gut I still think McCain may edge out Romney by a percentage point or two. The closer it is, however, the better for Romney because it will allow him to hang on for a win in Michigan. The big development from last night's debate, in my mind, is that it gave Romney's candidacy renewed life even in the face of a possible New Hampshire loss. A bad performance at last night's debate could have finished Romney off, instead, he gets more longevity.
Who disagrees with me here? Was Romney's performance last night and McCain's failure to truly shine in either of the debates good enough to give him the bounce he needs to win tomorrow? Or does Romney need to find a way to somehow remain competitive in the face of another bruising loss?
: I'm feeling less and less sure about my prediction... this Obama'mania may end up costing McCain the primary. His most likely voters may be drawn to vote in the big attraction. And Mitt's not taking this lying down... he seems to have been everywhere today. It's a complete toss-up in my mind.]