All of the candidates for the Republican Presidential nomination contend they will go on, even if they perform poorly in Iowa and New Hampshire.
But the historical reality is that unless one ends up in the top three in Iowa AND the top two in New Hampshire, there is no future for such a candidate.
The only exceptions are Bill Clinton in 1992 in Iowa in 4th place behind “favorite son” Tom Harkin, “Uncommitted”, and Paul Tsongas, but Harkin winning 76 percent of the vote; and John McCain, who in 2008 in Iowa ran behind Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson, but lost to Thompson for third place only by a total of 424 votes. NEVER has anyone in either party ending up lower than second place in New Hampshire won the Presidential nomination of either political party!
Thus, only five Iowa third or fourth place finishers have ended up winning New Hampshire and being the nominee: Bill Clinton fourth in 1992, Michael Dukakis third in 1988, George McGovern third in 1972, John McCain fourth in 2008, and George H W Bush third in 1988.
So, assuming the polls are correct, Jon Huntsman (not really competing in Iowa), Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and probably Newt Gingrich, are “toast”, with Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and probably Rick Santorum (due to a late surge at the proper time), the real contenders in New Hampshire.
That would mean that Rick Santorum would become the candidate of the “social conservatives”, but the odds are that Mitt Romney will win New Hampshire and go on to become the GOP nominee for President in 2012 against President Obama!