Six weeks from Tuesday – January 10, 2012 – all eyes will be on the New Hampshire Primary. Here's my prediction: That day – and night – will be the end of Mitt Romney’s six-year quest to become president of the United States.
Here is how things are going to go between today and January 10th – and thereafter:
• The GOP primary voter hates the GOP Establishment; that is why the Tea Party was born;
• These voters do not like Mitt Romney. He has never connected with them. His recent disastrous and churlish interview with Brett Baier on Fox News Channel accelerated his decline and thus the inevitable end of his campaign;
• The Tea Party and Christian Evangelical voter – and they are two distinct groups – have never liked Mitt;
• These voters are now the heart of the GOP;
• They are coalescing behind Newt Gingrich -- for now;
• Cain’s remaining voters will now go to Newt as the best vehicle to rebel against the GOP Establishment;
So here is the chronology: Newt Gingrich will solidify in the polls over the next month as the Anti-Romney/anti-GOP Establishment vessel– even as he says things filled with hubris and arrogance that make people begin to wonder if he is really the right man to be the GOP nominee;
The New Hampshire Union Leader will – as they did four years ago when they tore Romney apart after endorsing McCain – begin using their news pages to excoriate Romney’s record in government and business; his polls numbers in New Hampshire will thus continue to decline;
Newt will win the Iowa caucuses on January 3rd; Romney might come in third or even fourth;
Immediately thereafter the bottom will drop out of Romney’s remaining support in the Granite State as Newt surges there. Then, a week later, Newt wins New Hampshire.
The polls – which today have Newt crushing Mitt in both South Carolina and Florida – will reflect the end of Romney. And Romney’s remaining national support will sink like a stone.
That is when Phase Two of the GOP Race will begins and here's how it will unfold:
• Voters and GOP office-holders and officials will realize that Newt Gingrich is not the candidate to lead the Republicans in the 2012 general election.
• His negatives will grow because to see a lot of Newt is to not like him.
• Republican Congressmen and Senate candidates will be in an absolute state of panic over a November general election with Newt at the top of the ticket.
• Talk will begin of an "anti-Newt" candidate getting into the race – in March or April – to save the Republican party. But how that will all unfold is for another column.
Right now we are witnessing the grass-roots GOP primary voter rising up and rejecting Mitt Romney. But here's what else is happening. Newt Gingrich is misreading that phenomenon and believes these voters "buy" him. But they don’t really know him -- yet. He is a vessel for angry, anti-establishment, outsider voters. Nothing more.
Ironically, these voters are embracing – temporarily – the candidate who encompasses everything they loathe: insider, money-making cronyism, lobbying, rigging the Washington, D.C. system to better himself. Newt is the champion of this behavior – and yet these voters are championing him!
But Newt’s biggest problem – an unrestrained megalomania – will soon overtake him. He will wear badly – and by the spring the voters will be crying for someone else.
Fasten your seatbelts for a wild few weeks to come! And let us hope something unexpected will happen to give us another choice.
Former New York Republican Congressman John LeBoutillier is co-host of "Campaign Confidential" on FoxNews.com Live which can be seen every Monday at 2 p.m. ET.