Here we are, at the first pri­mary elec­tion of the 2012 sea­son. And how do things look today? Let’s run down the can­di­dates, and see where they’re at.

For­mer New Hamp­shire Gov­er­nor Mitt Romney

As most have long sus­pected, New Hamp­shire is Mitt Rom­ney coun­try. His his­tory of more mod­er­ate Repub­li­can stances on poli­cies, cou­pled with hav­ing been Gov­er­nor of nearby Mass­a­chu­setts, made him the man to beat from the first day of campaigning.

But it’s not as if he’s going to walk away with a major­ity of votes. The lat­est polls show him in the mid-​​30s. But that’s good enough for a double-​​digit lead over…

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ron Paul (R-​​Lake Jack­son, TX)

I’m well aware that the Live Free or Die State is noto­ri­ously con­trar­ian, and that should have clued me in that we were look­ing at him being a good choice for the runner-​​up spot.

Nonethe­less, Ron Paul has polled in New Hamp­shire below all of the Ghosts of NotRom­neys Past: Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Michele Bach­mann (R-​​Stillwater, MN), Texas Gov­er­nor Rick Perry, Her­man Cain, and Newt Gin­grich. For this rea­son, I didn’t expect us to see Ron Paul in this slot in New Hamp­shire. From the over­all trend­ing, it’s prob­a­bly because the surge from…

For­mer Utah Gov­er­nor Jon Huntsman

is too late to bring the most lib­eral of the pack into the sec­ond posi­tion. Instead, Hunts­man is most likely to fin­ish a solid third place. This does not bode well for him, though. New Hamp­shire is his best shot at build­ing a story of cred­i­bil­ity before Super Tues­day. He may be able to do well in Nevada’s cau­cuses, but the momen­tum of South Car­olina and Florida are not in his favor, par­tic­u­larly with Rom­ney show­ing a clear lead in both states’ lat­est polls.

Per­haps his best hope at this point is to build on the story that he has beaten…

For­mer Sen­a­tor Rick San­to­rum (R-​​PA)

San­to­rum has been falling as quickly as he rose in Iowa last week, where he (unof­fi­cially) beat Rom­ney by a hand­ful of votes. Los­ing in New Hamp­shire is not that tragic for him, but he’s in dan­ger in South Car­olina and Florida. In both states, he finds him­self bat­tling with for­mer House Speaker Newt Gin­grich for the NotRom­ney votes. In South Car­olina, he’s essen­tially tied with Gin­grich, while he con­tin­ues to trail in Florida by a nearly double-​​digit mar­gin. Worse yet, in New Hamp­shire he is essen­tially tied with…

Newt Gin­grich

Gin­grich has seen a small surge in New Hamp­shire polls of late, mak­ing him pretty much tied with San­to­rum and Hunts­man in the race for the third spot. For Gin­grich, show­ing in this race is crit­i­cal for build­ing a momen­tum story for South Car­olina and Florida, both states within reach. If he comes in third in New Hamp­shire, and then wins the next two, he could still be con­sid­ered the lead­ing NotRom­ney. But would that do more harm than good for the Any­one but Mitt crowd? At least he’s not…

Rick Perry

who has found him­self bounc­ing along the bot­tom of the polls at a whop­ping one per­cent. While Perry would cer­tainly like to think of him­self as the obvi­ous NotRom­ney can­di­date, his polling in South Car­olina and Florida is scarcely bet­ter than in New Hamp­shire. His war chest will allow him to hang on until at least as far as the end of the month, when Florid­i­ans head to the polls. But his odds are dimin­ish­ing rapidly, regard­less of what hap­pens today in New Hampshire.

So what do you all think will hap­pen today? How will this trans­late to the next two primaries?