Manchester, New Hampshire
Up until this point, all the Republican candidates had an interest in taking Romney down a peg or two. Huckabee needed to weaken him to win Iowa, Romney was—and is—McCain’s main competitor in New Hampshire and Giuliani feared a Romney sweep of the early states that could have derailed his Florida and February 5th strategy. But now the calculus has changed. If McCain wins New Hampshire he’ll have effectively ended Romney’s presidential bid and the race could look like a McCain – Huckabee showdown. In these circumstances, national security conservatives and fiscal conservatives would likely rally to McCain to stop Huckabee. Backing Giuliani who would not have won a state at this point and whose social positions are such anathema to evangelicals and social conservative—the group Huckabee most appeals to—might just seem like too much of a risk.
I have a feeling, though, that Romney will still be the Republican with a bulls-eye on his back in New Hampshire. This isn’t really for reasons of political strategy but just because all the campaigns dislike him. As Joe Klein reports in Time, “He is wildly unpopular among his peers. "I just hate the guy," says a rival campaign manager. "If we can't win, I want to be sure he loses."