Following the Iowa caucuses, polls and pundits were predicting a long primary season ahead. A week later, after Tuesday's New Hampshire primaries, the GOP has its man in Mitt Romney, with the media's story line being that a Romney victory in South Carolina next week will effectively end the primary season.
Facts: Just two states, with small populations of mostly whites, have voted. And only .61 percent of the nation's Republican voters have had a chance to choose between the candidates. [Ron Paul Won't Be Much of Thorn in Romney's Side.]
"There is a group mentality after every election that something is decisive. And, the reality is it's not. These things can change and can drag on for a while," says Michael McDonald, director of the elections project at George Mason University.
Only two weeks in, a mere 368,495 people have participated in the Republican caucuses in Iowa and the New Hampshire primary. To compare, John McCain received 59,934,814 votes in the 2008 presidential election; that means Romney's earned .61 percent of the voters who cast ballots for McCain.
"It's remarkable how the political community tries to shut down the nominating process after just a couple of unrepresentative small states have voted," says Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. [See a collection of political cartoons on Mitt Romney]
What's more, New Hampshire and Iowa look little like the rest of the country. New Hampshire's known for its moderates, while Iowa's more conservative. In the Granite State, the U.S. Census reports that just over 92 percent of residents are white, just under 3 percent are Hispanic, and only 1 percent are black. Nationally, just under 64 percent of the population is white, 16 percent Hispanic, and 12 percent black.
One other point: So far Romney, dubbed the presumptive nominee, has won just 20 of 1,144 delegates to win the nomination, meaning he has less than 2 percent of what he needs. [Read Walsh's Washington: After Strong New Hampshire Finish, Ron Paul Not Backing Down]
"This is par for the course every four years," Sabato says. "As soon as it's over, the same political community will complain about boredom and start a tedious, six-month-long discussion about possible VP candidates."