With Mitt Romney way ahead in New Hampshire, the more interesting fight, NBC News' First Read says, is for second place -- Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are fighting for conservatives, while Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman are going for independents. A couple polls show that Huntsman has the momentum in the state, but even if he can "beat market expectations," as he likes to say, what can he do after that? Here's our guide to the day's polls and why they matter.
Findings: Jon Huntsman has the support of 16 percent of voters in New Hampshire, up from 12 percent in late December.
Pollster: Public Policy Polling
Methodology: Robo-calls to 1,771 likely Republican primary voters between January 7 and January 8.
Why it matters: Two more facts indicate Huntsman's numbers might keep rising: his positive favorability rating is much higher than second place Ron Paul's, and he's the second choice of far more voters than Paul. "All of these same arguments for Huntsman potentially overtaking Paul could have been applied to Santorum overtaking Paul on our Iowa poll last weekend and of course that's what did happen when it was finally time to count the votes," PPP's Tom Jensen writes. A new poll from WMUR/University of New Hampshire also shows Huntsman's support growing, up four points to move him into a tie with Santorum for third.
Caveat: "The problem for him is there won't likely be another primary where 25% of the voters chose Obama in 2008," Jensen says. Huntsman has little organization in South Carolina, and evangelicals don't like him.
Findings: Mitt Romney is now in the lead in Florida with 36 percent of likely primary voters.
Methodology: Telephone interviews of 560 likely voters in the Republican primary (both cell and land line users) from January 4 to January 8.
Why it matters: We're running out of places where Romney can be stopped. First South Carolina, which was expected to be hostile to Romney, showed him ahead last week. Three polls found Gingrich with a double-digit lead over Romney in December. And Huntsman originally based his campaign in Orlando, thinking he'd win the moderates in New Hampshire and then win big in Florida.
Caveat: 54 percent of voters say they could still change their mind.
Findings: Mitt Romney has 19 percent of Republican primary voters nationally, down a tiny bit from December 11, when he had 20 percent.
Pollster: CBS News
Methodology: Telephone interviews of 440 registered voters who say they plan to vote in the Republican primary from January 4 to January 8.
Why it matters: Romney didn't get a surge in support following his Iowa victory, but Santorum did for finishing eight votes behind him. In less than a month, Santorum has gone from 3 percent of 14 percent. Gingrich has fallen from 20 percent to 15 percent. And Santorum has taken some Tea Party voters away from Gingrich. Gingrich once led among Tea Partiers by 16 points; now Santorum leads among them. Ron Paul has stayed the same, with 10 percent.
Caveat: And yet, 55 percent of Republican primary voters expect Romney to be the nominee.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.