Mitt Romney scored a solid vote of confidence from New Hampshire voters yesterday. With 39 percent of returns, nearly double that of runner-up Ron Paul, it was a decided result in what has been a confusing race so far.
Up until now, the Republican Party's search for a presidential candidate has been tumultuous to the point of inducing motion-sickness. Just ask former favorites Michele Bachmann or Herman Cain to testify to its unpredictability – moving faster than a modern-day news cycle.
Now we welcome a reprieve in the form of the storied tradition that is the New Hampshire Primary. The old dance between candidates and the salt-of-the-earth types in New England might finally be the thing that settles this race and our stomachs. For there has only been one man since 1972, poor Edmund Muskie, who won both Iowa and New Hampshire then lost the nomination.
So the pressure is on Mitt Romney, who has every other man on the ballot battling him. Romney's high ground has been to take on President Barack Obama, possibly a winning strategy judging by exit polls. About a third of primary voters said their main demand in a candidate was someone who can beat Obama.
South Carolina is up next, where Romney's victory is not assured. Republicans in the southern state could favor social conservatives on the ticket, such as Texas Gov. Rick Perry or Rick Santorum. Can Romney be caught? What does Ron Paul's unabated surge signify? Does Jon Huntsman's third place finish mean much? What issues are top concerns in exit polls?
Mark Barabak, Political Correspondent, Los Angeles Times, joins us from New Hampshire
Lynn Vavreck, Professor of Political Science, UCLA, joins us from New Hampshire
Dan Schnur, Director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC and adjunct faculty at USC Annenberg School