Here are the people who think no one will stop Mitt Romney: his own campaign (of course), some in rival campaigns, the media, evangelical leaders who'd like to stop him, many voters. "It's a machine there's nothing we can do about it," a voter in Derry, New Hampshire, told NPR's Steve Inskeep. "It’s hard to find anyone in the campaigns or the media who think Romney won’t win the nomination -- if not this month, soon," Politico's Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei report. Romney's own advisers "privately talk up hopes for a 3-0 sweep of the opening contests - and a quick kill to win." Not only is Romney 20 percentage points ahead of his competitors in New Hampshire, he's 10 points ahead in South Carolina, which was supposed to be a tough state for him.
National evangelical leaders are meeting this weekend to coalesce behind a Not Romney candidate agreed in a pre-meeting phone call that the coalescing probably won't happen. The Washington Times' Ralph Z. Hallow reports. “That coalescence is not going to happen before South Carolina, and since these early primaries are not winner-take-all, as in the past, we have time,” Family Research Council president Tony Perkins told the Times. But they don't really. Politico writes that while a candidate can't win enough delegates before April 24, "party officials and even rival campaigns expect the math to become clear for a presumptive nominee long before that." And Hallow reports that the evangelical leaders are leaning toward guys polling in fifth and sixth place -- Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry. They don't think Rick Santorum, who almost beat Romney in Iowa, can do it. They don't like Jon Huntsman, who is surging in New Hampshire. Plus, Politico argues, they probably couldn't change much anyway:
"Conservatives could coalesce around another candidate and mount a serious, all-out effort to stop Romney. But there are not only too many conservatives running for that to happen -- there aren’t any big name conservatives who can simply lay hands on a candidate and move polls."
The New York Times' Nate Silver writes that Huntsman "seems to have the late momentum in New Hampshire." His poll forecast projects a third place finish for Huntsman, but that would "put him in a sort of no man’s land." Sure, he'd beat media expectations, but "Huntsman has a very modest organization in South Carolina and is not polling well there, it is not clear how he would capitalize upon it," Silver says.
Romney can only be hurt now by being unable to live up to these expectations, The Washington Post's Aaron Blake writes. "The question for Romney isn’t so much whether he will win Tuesday, but by how much," Blake writes, but Romney has dropped in the Suffolk University tracking poll. If his lead drops to single digits, that will hurt Romney, Blake says, because "while Romney hasn’t shown much upward mobility in the polls, he also hasn’t gone down in them. At all. So, if he starts to, it will raise new questions about his inevitability as the GOP nominee."