If the new Suffolk University poll predicts future trends, things get interesting. Mitt Romney will get some credit for being far ahead, but since he is a neighbor to New Hampshire, the benefit is limited. What is really interesting is that Ron Paul is now in second place, and what could prove more significant is that Jon Huntsman is in third place in the poll, and Rick Perry is nowhere, in fourth. Will any pundits suggest New Hampshire is now a two-way race between Mitt Romney and Ron Paul (wink)?

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Paul has real opportunity here, but also risk. Can he get his number above 20 percent, or is he trapped at 14 percent? New Hampshire gives Paul a real shot at center stage, but he has to make the most of it. And I love his move about Dennis Kucinich. Assuming no Democratic primary, could Ron Paul win some anti-war crossover votes, as I have been suggesting is possible?

Huntsman in New Hampshire is a big deal. If he really is at 10 percent, this is a big move, with some big mo’, perhaps. If Huntsman continues to climb, and finishes in second place, he is a big winner. The history of New Hampshire is that second-place winners can be treated like first-place winners, and if Huntsman pulls off a strong second, there will be a big showdown in South Carolina.

As for Perry, if he stays under 10 percent, it is a major humiliation and disaster for him. Too early to tell if New Hampshire becomes such a disaster for Perry, but it is striking how little support he has in the Granite State, and how high his negative ratings are.

Could Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman both beat Rick Perry in New Hampshire? Could be. If this continues, watch how quickly Perry could collapse nationally and be seen as a regional or fringe candidate.

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