Whilst Mitt Romney won Iowa it was hardly by an earth shatteringly large majority. Just eight votes between him and Rick Santorum. Santorum may publicly say that he does not expect to do so well in NH but who can really tell.
Santorum will be chasing the blue collar voters, the Catholics and perhaps those people of other Christian religions also. Mitt Romney belongs to the Church of the Latter Day Saints, otherwise known as the Mormons. His religious beliefs could pose a problem for him. In the US faith is important in politicians, especially in some States.
Mitt however is expected to take New Hampshire with a comfortable win. Whether it will be a significant lead is not truly known. He may after all fail to win through. What could change voter's minds is tonight's political debate. Another one will follow tomorrow morning.
Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Ricky Perry, John Huntsman, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich will face each other. John Huntsman has barely been mentioned in recent weeks and it could be he who is the next to leave the race. Each candidate will be hoping to avoid gaffes. Whether it will be a "gentlemanly debate" or one where the gloves come off remains to be seen.
The full schedule of these GOP debates can be found here.
Tonight's debate, January 7, 2012 will be aired on ABC at 9pm. It will be missable entertainment for many. For others it could be important, vote changing or vote deciding TV. There are guidelines though which the five candidates will be expected to follow. These are:
"In an effort to provide viewers the best opportunity to hear from the candidates, the co-sponsors of the ABC News, Yahoo!, WMUR debate at Saint Anselm College on Jan. 7, 2012 have agreed on a set of criteria for a candidate’s participation. The candidates have been informed of these criteria, which are the same criteria ABC News applied during the 2008 election cycle.
In order for a candidate to meet the standard of eligibility to participate in the debate, they must either:
1) Achieve 5 percent or higher in a poll of likely NH Republican primary voters conducted by UNH Survey Center, Harvard/Saint Anselm NHIOP, or any polling organization on the list below, conducted between Nov. 1, 2011 and Jan. 6, 2012;
- OR -
2) Achieve 5 percent or higher in a primary trial heat of registered Republican voters in any of the national polls designated on the list below, conducted between Nov. 1, 2011 and Jan. 6, 2012;
- OR -
3) Place first, second or third in the Iowa Republican caucuses.
Polling organizations include: ABC News, AP, Bloomberg, CBS, CNN, FOX, Gallup, NBC News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post
Opinion: Looking from across the pond all of this seems a strange affair. There is no doubt that veteran but embittered Republican Newt Gingrich will be after Mitt Romney. So will the other GOP hopefuls though. Their hope will be to reduce his popularity. What could prove tricky is being able to do so whilst not losing any face themselves. If a candidate comes across in the wrong way it could be curtains for his GOP nomination.
In the UK such public political debate usually features politicians from different political parties. It is generally believed that those from a particular party should be roughly following the same song sheet. They of course will have differences but these are to be debated behind closed doors. Airing dirty laundry in public is usually bad news.
A public debate from the GOP leading lights could end up showing all of them in a bad light and ultimately bolster the Democratic vote.
It does look though as if the viewing audience will be in for some very entertaining name calling.