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Michael Tomasky: Five Thoughts on New Hampshire

Michael Tomasky on where the GOP is headed after Romney’s decent but unexceptional win.

Five thoughts on New Hampshire:

1. Mitt Romney is obviously going to be the nominee. is obviously going to be the nominee. But this is not a strong showing. The average percentage for a New Hampshire winner is 39 percent, and Romney's at 40 percent with 95 percent of precincts reporting. And that's with him owning a house in the state! True, he leaves New Hampshire in a strong position, undeniably. But this is not a very impressive number. Similarly, turnout was low. State Republicans were hoping to break the record of around 240,000 from four years ago. The total ended up at around 225,000. Voters aren’t terribly energized by these people.

2. Jon Huntsman is basically finished, and I say good riddance to him. I can’t blame Romney for saying to him last Saturday night: look, you were serving a Democratic president while the rest of us were out trying to elect Republicans. Ambassador to China is a big job; it means he threw in with the Obama administration in a big way. I couldn’t blame dedicated Republicans for not liking that. I also hated Huntsman’s smarmy and self-righteous rebuttal to Romney the next day. Oh, please. He took the job because he saw some angle in taking it.

3. The right is probably out of steam now. Newt Gingrich will go hard with his Sheldon Adelson–backed ad, but Bain is going to be old news next week, and in South Carolina, it will seem weird that Republicans are criticizing capitalistic pursuit of profits. Rick Santorum didn’t have it in him to hold the room, as they say; people lost interest. But none of this means that the right is thrilled with Romney. It just means that voters decided the others are absurd. And it doesn't mean the attacks are over.

4. What an obnoxious boor John Sununu is. He’s been going on TV for days now, interrupting questioners, being belligerent. Tonight, Ed Schultz tried to talk to him about the Tax Policy Center’s analysis of Romney’s (his candidate’s) tax plan, which I’ve written about and which finds that it raises taxes on families below $40,000 and reduces taxes on millionaires. Sununu admitted that he knew nothing about the study and called it “crock of crap.” It was pretty obvious that he knew nothing about the whole business—not only the TPC study, but the Romney proposal to begin with.

5. To Ron Paul fans, I say: Ron Paul is still unimportant!