AUSTIN -- With the Iowa caucuses in the rear view, the remaining six Republican contenders for the presidential nomination face the year's first primary and a whole new ballgame in New Hampshire.
"It's a primary, not a caucus, so it's more of a traditional election," explained Jeremi Suri, Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs at the University of Texas.
"People go into a booth and actually vote for someone," he said. "They don't get in groups and decide who they're going to as a group endorse, and it's a population, unlike Iowa, that is much closer to the kind of places where Romney and other more mainline Republicans have come from."
Unlike Evangelical-friendly Iowa, New Hampshire favors its own brand of candidate.
"The best way to think about New Hampshire and the way the citizens of New Hampshire view politicians is that they like people to be competent, boring and helpful to them," said Suri.
As one of the oldest states in the Union, New Hampshire residents share a common view of their role in the national conversation.
"Citizens in New Hampshire really feel a connection to what they see as the origins of our society," explained Suri. "It was created around Massachusetts and that part of the country, and they believe that there are certain core principals, particularly in the Republican Party, that Americans need to stand for."
New Hampshire is also different demographically from Iowa. With a more Caucasian, upper-middle class constituency, New Hampshire voters are often fiscally conservative and may have more moderate views than Iowans on social issues. Like Texas, New Hampshire residents also pay no state income tax.
"They are a small government state," said Suri. "They are a state that believes in the United States playing an international leadership role, by model and example as much as by military force, and they believe in capitalism."
After briefly reassessing his campaign, Rick Perry recommitted Wednesday to a run through New Hampshire. Perry suggested that his disappointing finish in Iowa may have been due in part to Democrats allegedly involving themselves in the caucus process.
It's a scenario Suri finds implausible.
"The Republicans who go these caucuses have been doing this for generation after generation," Suri countered. "It's like trying to infiltrate tailgaters at a football game. People know what they're doing, and they know who you are. Everyone knows everyone, so this is an exaggeration."
Jon Huntsman bypassed Iowa entirely to stake his entire campaign on the Granite State, where the former Utah governor's first television ad aired this week.
"They pick corn in Iowa. They actually pick presidents in New Hampshire," Huntsman said on CBS's "The Early Show."
It's an oft-repeated phrase that Suri finds somewhat disingenuous.
"Iowa matters enormously in New Hampshire, in spite of what people say," said Suri. "Rick Santorum is a serious candidate now. He was not before the Iowa caucus. He has to be taken seriously."
In Texas, the primary is still months away, so there's still plenty of time for voters to make up their minds, but could they be influenced by the outcomes of early races in Iowa and New Hampshire?
"I'm more pro-life so I have to lean toward Santorum, but at the same time, I'm looking also for somebody who's going to beat Obama, so I'm kind of torn right now," voter Jon Bruce told KVUE Thursday.
"New Hampshire's definitely going to influence my vote," Bruce admitted.
"New Hampshire can play a mixed role," furthered Suri. "It can give momentum to candidates, it can help a candidate who's in the lead, but it won't determine the race. This will go on."
According to the latest poll conducted Jan. 3 through Jan. 4 by 7 News / Suffolk University, Mitt Romney leads the field in New Hampshire with 41 percent of likely primary voters. Ron Paul follows with 18 percent, followed by Rick Santorum with eight percent.
Jon Huntsman and Newt Gingrich are tied in the bottom rung with seven percent each, with Rick Perry receiving zero percent support from those surveyed. The poll's margin of error is +/- 4.4 percent.