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Richelieu: Only Obama Can Beat Obama

5:13 PM, Jan 7, 2008 • By RICHELIEU
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Time to adjust some final predictions from my barstool here in New Hampshire.

I thought Huckabee would get something going here. He has, but not much. Romney gave him a good beating in the first minutes of the Fox debate last night, and the Huck's schedule here has been light. No shocker-second-place in store for him, so I retract that one. He'll most likely beat Fred/Rudy for third and declare victory. It struck me that some of the smiling veneer came off the Huck at the debate and he looked small. With a likely loss coming in Michigan as well, he seems to be sliding back into Pat Robertson '88 territory. He'll be around, but not to much avail, and not heard again with any force until South Carolina. I think ol' Ron Paul will actually beat somebody, probably Fred Thompson, here, like he beat Rudy in Iowa. One story missed by the media, Rudy's significant subterranean total spending in Iowa: probably more than McCain and Huckabee combined, for just 4,000 votes.

The big fight here is obviously McCain versus Romney. It's been McCain city, but Romney has re-grouped in the last 48 hours with a good debate and finally an effective message. I still would bet on McCain winning tomorrow, but a Romney upset is possible. Call it 60/40 odds. Michigan will be the next stop, and my view is that any Republican candidate who has not won a major contest by next Wednesday is living on borrowed time.

On the Democratic side, as often predicted here, the Obama steamroller rolls along. He'll beat Clinton solidly tomorrow, and a new round of polls following that will start showing him beating her in many other states too, possibly even in New York. Heads will roll at Clinton HQ by the weekend, but the outlook seems grim. Only Obama can now beat Obama in the primary.