With New Hampshire secure, Romney became the first Republican non-incumbent presidential candidate to win both Iowa’s and New Hampshire’s primaries.
“Tonight we made history,” Romney told cheering supporters before pivoting to a stinging denunciation of President Barack Obama. “The middle class has been crushed,” in the past three years, he said, “our debt is too high and our opportunities too few” – remarks that made clear he intends to be viewed as the party’s nominee in waiting after only two contests (Associated Press).
New Hampshire was a no-contest, really, as Romney’s ground game and support was too much for any candidate to overcome. Ron Paul and John Huntsman each made hardy efforts in the state but were unable to effectively challenge Romney. Since Huntsman chose New Hampshire to make his stand and finished third, it’s hard to see the wisdom of staying in. If he was unable to convince New Hampshire, there’s no way he can convince the folks in South Carolina.
Now Romney looks to roll in, or through, South Carolina and Florida. It will be the last chance Gingrich, Santorum, and Perry have at ending what is now shaping up to be a very real chance of clean sweep by Romney. If he wins South Carolina, which he is currently leading, he will almost certainly win Florida.
After which, nothing else will matter. Romney will have secured the nomination in the same month in which it all began.