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NBC reports:

Romney drew the support of 23 percent of likely caucus-goers in Iowa – identified based on interest, chance of voting and past participation – ahead of Paul, at 21 percent.

They are followed by Santorum at 15 percent, Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 14 percent, Gingrich at 13 percent and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann at 6 percent.

Most analyses of GOP presidential primary 2012 have assumed that Romney would not win Iowa. What if that isn’t the case, though? Romney was already picked to be the shoe-in to win New Hampshire. And polls there show that he’s still solid – beating Ron Paul by 15 points.

E.J. Dionne spells out what an Iowa-New Hampshire double victory would of course mean:

The key to wrapping up a nomination quickly has always been an Iowa-New Hampshire one-two punch, and the Granite State, which votes Jan. 10, seems to be a Romney fortress. Romney’s headquarters here on Elm Street was bustling with activity on Tuesday night, as if Iowa didn’t matter. Leaving nothing to chance, Romney made campaign stops that day in Londonderry and Portsmouth before he left for his final Iowa push. If Iowa is Romney’s venture capital, New Hampshire is his nest egg.

Given how rough and tumble the primary season has been so far — with new front runners rising and falling on an almost monthly basis — could the actual voting process yield less tumultuous results and a smooth victory for Romney? Or is this going to be a drawn-out fight going all the way to the convention with Gingrich, Paul, Santorum, and Perry hanging on for months? Which would be better for the country, the party, and the effort to defeat Barack Obama?