It sure looks like a presidential primary. There are media vans and debates, stump speeches, and diner stops. But Mitt Romney has such a huge lead over his competitors that it all feels kind of empty, observe Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei of Politico. The airwaves are free of the usual stink of negative ads, hotel rooms are in ample supply, with the journalists (big names like Tom Brokaw and Gail Collins included) who usually fill them headed to South Carolina instead. "The whole political circus surrounding the first-in-the-nation primary is taking on an increasing air of make-believe," they write.
The problem is that not only is Romney almost sure to win New Hampshire, he seems almost sure to win the nomination—every scenario in which he doesn't seems just plain far-fetched. For instance, that dream that Mitch Daniels or Paul Ryan will still jump in? "If they didn’t when Romney looked beatable, why would they when he doesn’t?" they write. And even if things go wrong, Romney is uniquely prepared for a long campaign, and guarding against complacency. "If you could win a game in a quarter, that would be great," one adviser said. "But the campaign is prepared for four quarters and a couple overtimes."