John, you are correct. What I should have said is the polls are of little use in predicting the winner. Given that, you can sift through the news of the days looking for hints as to who is up and down. McCain's crowds are large and enthusiastic. McCain gets in his licks on the economy and commander in chief qualifications and of course there is always a YouTube to show Romney said something different a few years ago. However Romney is getting kudos for staying on message and upbeat.
If McCain wins, Romney will be "down for the count" -- except he has the money and desire to stay in the race through February 5. If McCain loses he'll "suffer a setback" -- except he'll contend it was Romney's home state and look for a quick victory in SC. Would it be worse for Romney if he lost? Yes but in this race apparently nothing is decisive.
Meanwhile, McCain's win in NH did what Romney had hoped it would have done for him: vault him to a commanding lead in national polls. NY/CBS
has him with 33%, Huckabee at 18%, Rudy at 10% and Romney and Thompson at 8%. (McCain holds a commanding advantage in favorable/unfavorable ratings; Romney's is the only one in negative territory). According to the same poll, 62% think he shares GOP vales while 63% think Huckabee does and 48% say the same for Romney. McCain also laps the field on the electability argument. Does THIS (and other national
polls showing a less dramatic bump) mean anything ? Perhaps for three reasons: 1) February 5 big states may follow similar patterns; 2) It may help McCain convince donors to put their money down on the "leader" and 3) There is a reservoir of support for McCain that may cushion the blow if he loses in Michigan and sustain him through SC, Florida and February 5. Or it could all be meaningless and change in the blink of an eye if others win the next few primaries. UPDATE: Wash Post/ABC
also has McCain in the lead (28%), with Huckabee next(20%) but Romney and Rudy not that far behind.