Is Mitt inevitable?

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney campaigning in South Carolina 6 January 2012 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mitt Romney is considered the current front-runner

I suppose you could call it a party within a party. In Iowa I went to a Romney rally in a garage and a caucus in a fire station. Now I am in New Hampshire and Jon Huntsman is making a speech in somebody's front room.

True, it is a very large front room, in an impressive Georgian-style home, overflowing with people who want to hear President Barack Obama's former ambassador to China, former Utah Governor and current least popular, most moderate Republican candidate to be president of the United States.

It is like a giant game of sardines, with bodies filling every inch of the spacious home. Phones and cameras are hoisted aloft to capture his image as the man enters.

Standing in front of the fireplace, Jon Huntsman promises that when he is president he will launch an industrial renaissance, clean out the cobwebs, bring the troops home. He warns that unless action is taken this will not be the American century. A man in the crowd makes a noise like a donkey being hurt, which I take as a sign of approval.

In my corner of the kitchen, those crushed with me against the canapes listen politely. But several have already told me they have already made up their mind. They are going to vote for Mr Romney.

The Republican race, particularly in New Hampshire, but more generally, is beginning to have an air of inevitability about it. Of course, some will maintain the end was always obvious. Conservatives and journalists always hoped otherwise.

An article arguing Mr Huntsman's performance in the Sunday morning debate was his best yet - honest and direct - also concludes that it is too late to pull off a surge. He is now the only candidate not have had one.

A blog in Redstate by an influential conservative all but concedes no current candidate can beat Mitt Romney, but argues that another candidate could come in late in the game.

There is a great article in New York Magazine arguing an alliance of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich could allow the former to win the next leg of this primary contest in South Carolina. But it concludes that to believe that Mr Romney will not win the nomination requires "mixing mescaline and bathtub gin".

Given that fear and loathing in New Hampshire remains unwritten, a Romney win here is pretty much a forgone conclusion. It will mean more voters will jump on his bandwagon.

A Romney nomination seems to many a grim inevitability, like death and taxes. Some Republicans may be sipping from the bathtub before long.