It was not even a contest, really. Mitt Romney won Tuesday's New Hampshire Primary without even breaking a sweat, cruising to a 39% victory over his nearest rival, Ron Paul, who could only get as close as 22%. The closest non-libertarian was Jon Huntsman at around 17%. Gingrich and Santorum were fourth and fifth, respectively, with about 10% each.
(Let me remind readers about my posts on Mormonism, where you can take a brief but serious look at the main issues surrounding Romney's faith. For an historical survey on Mormonism, look here and here. For a look at the 'top ten' peculiarities of the Mormon faith click here. And with a listing of the Mormon strengths as a 21st century American faith here. My full listing of posts on Mormonism is here.)
Conservatives who think Romney is too moderate or too wishy-washy are just going to have to suck it up and take him as he is. Almost certainly the harsh criticisms of the last week--especially by Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry--will cease, for fear of doing serious damage to Republican chances this fall.
As I've said here numerous times, Romney is certainly electable. He has real strengths to go into an election contest with Barack Obama, the foremost of which is his beautiful family, beginning with his poised and courageous wife Ann.
But he also has some real weaknesses, the foremost of which is personal. Romney comes across, as Richard Cohen put it yesterday in the Washington Post, like a superficial, rich kid (like Reggie in the Archie comic strip). Very rich today, always been rich, will always be rich.
Furthermore, as has been widely attested, Romney has very few friends, in the political world or anywhere else, for that matter. In fact, many of political acquaintances actually despite him, though no one seems to be able to say why that is.
His Bain Capital adventures in 'venture capitalism' will be another hurdle to jump. While it does give him 'business' experience, he'll have to show that it was the kind of experience that Americans respect more than they hate. From the experience of Republicans recently referring to his time in business at 'vulture capitalism', that could be a tough sell.
Finally, he comes across as very hawkish in his foreign policy. After a recent Bush administration who invaded two Middle Eastern countries with very little to show for it except wasted money and lives, I think that could be a tough sell for the American people. Hell, it could be a tough sell for the 25% of the Republicans who voted for libertarian non-interventionist Ron Paul.
But to Romney's credits, he now gets a chance to consolidate himself and get ready for this fall's challenge of President Obama. Congratulations, Mitt.