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The High Stakes for Republicans in New Hampshire

Jan. 9th, 2012 - Nashua Newhampshire - Jon Huntsman, presidential hopeful visits a local bakery in Nashua, New Hampshire.(Liz Lynch)

January 9, 2012

The suspense is killing us. Seriously.

Sure, Mitt Romney is a near-certain bet to win the New Hampshire primary Tuesday. But the size of his margin will be an important measure of his survival skills in the face a bombardment that promises to continue into South Carolina, the next battleground.

The stakes for the other Republican presidential hopefuls are, if anything, even higher. One or two could burst out of the state with new energy. The rest will stagger into South Carolina for what likely will be a last stand. But the polling of New Hampshire is tight enough that's hard to predict who will be in each category.

The first-in-the-nation primary comes against a backdrop of GOP malaise. A new CBS News poll shows nearly six in 10 Republicans want another candidate to join the field. That's not exactly a ringing vote of confidence for the White House wannabes who have been eating and sleeping on the road for months. Even worse, that number has actually gone up 12 points since October -- suggesting that familiarity is not breeding content.

Assuming no sudden reversals by Jeb Bush, Haley Barbour, Chris Christie or Mitch Daniels, this is it. With Rick Perry waiting for the race to move to South Carolina, here are the stakes for the five-man New Hampshire field:

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