On the eve of the first primary in the 2012 presidential election, the big question isn't which Republican will win in New Hampshire but, according to Bob Schieffer of CBS' "Face the Nation," whether conservative voters around the country will be able to unite behind one candidate.
According to a CBS News poll of Republican primary voters released Monday, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leads the field of candidates hoping to challenge President Obama in the general election, with 19 percent. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich ranked second with 15 percent, followed by former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum with 14 percent.
With six major candidates remaining in the race after the exit of Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann last week, Schieffer said conservatives won't be happy with the result if they don't coalesce behind a candidate not named Mitt Romney.
"Until they do that, I think Romney is going to stay ahead of the pack," said Schieffer. "I mean, he stays at about 20, 21 percent. ... He doesn't go up. He doesn't go down. The others come and go as it were, but until they coalesce around one person I think Mitt Romney's going to be in pretty good shape."
Schieffer also doubted whether conservative voters would be able to unite behind one candidate. For example, he was dubious whether supporters of Texas Rep. Ron Paul could rally behind Santorum and vice versa. He also said it was likely that Paul, who previously announced he wouldn't be seeking re-election to the House, could run as a third-party candidate.