A lot would have to happen at this point for Romney’s path to the nomination to become thornier. Huntsman would need a late surge in New Hampshire, catching Paul in second place, thus giving him momentum to pull moderate votes from Romney going forward. Santorum and Gingrich would have to do poorly in New Hampshire and totally collapse in South Carolina so that Perry could come back from his current single digits there to win the Janaury 21st primary. Or, Gingrich and Perry would have to sink in South Carolina, allowing Santorum to win. And perhaps we’d have a Romney, Huntsman and Perry (or Santorum) race heading into Florida and beyond.
But just two days before the New Hampshire primary, it’s unlikely that this morning’s debate will allow that to happen. Even if Huntsman gained ground as a result of his performance, it probably won’t be enough to catch Paul and if Romney lost ground, it likely wasn’t enough to fall substantially in New Hampshire. Further, Perry’s strong debate performance, if it gives him a boost in South Carolina, will likely do more to split the conservative vote and keep Santorum from winning the state than it will make him a contender again.