Politics Counts: What N.H. Can Tell Us About Romney’s Chances

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This was a good week to be Mitt Romney. Not only did he eke out an eight-vote win in the first nominating contest of the year – the Iowa caucuses – but afterward he got to go home. The former Massachusetts governor has an estate in New Hampshire, where Tuesday’s primary vote will be held.

At this point winning New Hampshire almost looks like a formality for Mr. Romney.  Polls currently show him sitting with about 40% support there and, as we have noted in this space before, Patchwork Nation’s geographic/demographic breakdown shows the state’s electoral terrain is made for him.

Only four of Patchwork Nation’s 12 county types are represented there – the Monied Burbs, Boom Towns, Campus and Careers and small town Service Worker Centers counties — and Mr. Romney won three of those four in Iowa, all except the Service Worker Centers.

With all those Romney advantages in place, what exactly is there to look for in Tuesday’s results? Two things: Can he continue to capture the vote in the Monied Burbs and can he improve his standing in the small town Service Worker Centers?

Mr. Romney’s strategy in Iowa might be described as targeted. He didn’t visit the state often – only former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who didn’t compete in Iowa, spent less time there. But the Romney campaign’s focus, and ultimately its appeal, was in those wealthy and more heavily populated Monied Burbs counties. Mr. Romney won three of the four Monied Burbs in Iowa. (Click on the chart to the left to enlarge.)

In fact, the Burbs were the only county type in that state where Mr. Romney did better in the 2012 caucuses than he did in 2008. In the majority of the state’s counties overall, Mr. Romney did worse than he did four years ago as the map below shows.

READ THIS WEEK'S ENTIRE POLITICS COUNTS COLUMN ON THE WALL STREET JOURNAL'S SITE.