Remember in 2008, after Obama pulled out a surprise win in Iowa, with the stunning upset of Hillary Clinton coming in third after John Edwards?  She rallied and narrowly won New Hampshire.  It seemed like she was regaining the lead by winning the first primary election, as opposed to the Iowa barn dance.

Hillary went on to win Nevada and was uncontested in Michigan.  But momentum in political races is a fickle friend, and before we knew it, Obama came back in South Carolina, thanks to the first use of the Race Card by some Obama supporters who claimed that remarks by the Clintons were racially negative.  But that’s old news and a different topic.

Super Tuesday in 2008 came early, first week of February.  It was Obama’s night, although Hillary won her fair share.  But that’s the day it became clear that Obama had momentum on his side.  Edwards had already dropped out by then, and the pundit class was already calling on Hillary to admit defeat, even though she was still very much in contention.

I was just comparing the jockeying for primary wins among Democrats in 2008 and among Republicans in 2012. The winning margins were relatively small in most of the early contests.  Not quite the 8 votes that separated Romney and Santorum in Iowa, but still somewhat close.  In 2008, John Edwards started out running in second place or third place early on, then dropped out.  He refrained from endorsing anyone for awhile, eventually favoring Obama in what many Clinton supporters considered a dirty deed.  Not quite as jarringly treasonous as the endorsement Bill Richardson gave to Obama, but still, not what was expected.

In 2008, Hillary was the leader going in and Obama was a surprise newcomer who somehow got traction.  I don’t think Santorum can count on anything similar.  It was just his turn to be the Un-Romney Conservative Flavor of the Week.  According to Rasmussen, as of January 6, Santorum is now polling at about 13% in New Hampshire, with Jon Huntsman at 12% .  Ron Paul is in second place with about 18%, but Romney is favored by 44% of registered Republicans likely to vote.  Gingrich is in single digit hell at 8%.  Rick Perry is at 1%.  He should have followed Michelle Bachmann’s lead and called it done.  Stick a fork in it, Gov!

What happened with Obama in 2008 was a combination of fluke and voters wanting to “be a part of history being made” by helping to elect the First Black President.  No such “come from behind” momentum awaits Santorum, as just about everybody knows.  The more voters learn about him, the more momentum he loses.  He’ll be gone by Super Tuesday, which is March 6 this year.  And the others?  Only time will tell.

There are two more Republican debates this weekend.  It should be very interesting in the next few days!

January 7, 2012 9pm ET / 6pm PT on ABC
Location: Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire
Sponsor: ABC News and WMUR
Participants: Santorum, Romney, Paul, Perry, Gingrich, Huntsman
January 8, 2012 9am ET on NBC (Yes, 9am)
Location: Chubb Theatre at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, NH
Sponsor: NBC News, Facebook and the Union Leader
Participants: Santorum, Romney, Paul, Perry, Gingrich, Huntsman

The thinning of the herd has begun in earnest.  Is Romney unstoppable?  Did Huntsman make a major mistake blowing off Iowa?  Will the Santorum Surge last until Super Tuesday, or will he be toast by New Hampshire Tuesday next week?