The latest polling out of New Hampshire shows Gov. Rick Perry with nary a political pulse.
Since he notched a disappointing but nontrivial 10 percent in Iowa, one would be tempted to conclude that the transference of Perry's support to another candidate—say, former Sen. Rick Santorum—could make trouble for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
The assumption coming out of Iowa is that indignant former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Santorum have begun privately colluding to defeat Romney—to begin "defining Romney out of the Republican mainstream," as Gingrich put it.
What can they hope to accomplish? Because in New Hampshire, the GOP field will feature—while limited supplies last—the Jon Huntsman factor. The former Utah governor, who's been camped out, last ditch-style, in the Granite State, currently registers at around 13 percent—from Romney's perspective, just enough to be both ineffectual and decisively important.
Whatever momentum the Santorum-Gingrich alliance can muster will be swallowed up by Huntsman.
Let's assume, then, that Huntsman drops out after New Hampshire. On they will go to South Carolina—where Perry will make what could be his final stand.
Romney, again, will benefit from the fractured posse of conservative alternatives. Perry could be forgiven for thinking that, between Santorum and Gingrich, he's the only guy with the money and organizational capability to take out Romney. But he's obviously in no position to tell Santorum to butt out, given their respective showings in Iowa.
So they're all staying—and playing right into Romney's hands.
After South Carolina, it will be too late for Non-Romney, whoever he is.
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