Sunday, January 22, 2012

Newt in South Carolina

Man of the Hour
What a huge difference a week makes!  All the air seems to have gone out of the Romney balloon of inevitability.  Last week, Romney's initial "win" in Iowa was overturned in Iowa with a recount that favoured Santorum by a whisker.  Yesterday, he lost to Newt Gingrich in South Carolina blowing a significant lead in the polls from barely a week ago, in spite of outspending Newt 2 to 1.  Newt's superlative performances in the last two debates, with two standing ovations, have clearly galvanised his candidacy.  Newt was also aided last week by endorsements from Rick Perry, Chuck Norris and, informally,  Sarah Palin.

Newt has always been the most intellectually gifted of all the Republican candidates.  He also has, by far, the greatest record of legislative achievement of any candidate including Obama.  The three main questions about Newt are...

1) Will the baggage which is attached to his record and personal life will drag him down?
2) Is the American electorate willing to vote for an intellectual? (the Adlai Stevenson curse)
3) Will his unfortunate attack on Romney's tenure at Bain Capital from an anti-capitalist perspective hurt him with primary voters?

Romney still has lots of financial backing and support from the party establishment.  He also has better hair than Newt.  If the USA wants a better CEO to fix the economy, then he is the man.  Romney does, however, seem to keep floundering on the rather predictable issue of his taxes.  South Carolina and 2008 have tarred him with a "loser" image which will be hard to shake.

Florida is now up for grabs in a winner take all primary on January 31st.  Santorum, Romney and Gingrich have each won one state thus far.  After Florida, one of them will have won two.

I strongly suspect that Palin is correct in desiring the process to continue.  Steel sharpens steel.  Rather than weakening the Republican party this intensification of the contest (the substance of the debates has been ratcheted up markedly) will make the ultimate winner all the stronger and more battle-tested for the general election in the fall.

The only absolute certainty is that a ton of money will now be spent on local broadcast stations in the primary race at least through Super Tuesday.

The roles of Santorum and Paul will also be very interesting to observe.  I note the chorus of "Veep" that was heard during Newt's post-election speech in south Carolina at the mention of Santorum's name.  There is now the distinct possibility of a brokered convention.  It is quite possible that either Santorum or Paul could play the role of Kingmaker (or spoiler) in helping to make the choice between Romney and Gingrich.


Adam said...

Newt is the kind of candidate that makes me want to flee the country if he gets elected. Fortunately, he has no chance of winning the nomination since he is ineligible to win about 25% of the delegates for failure to get on the ballot in several states, including the state he lives in (VA). In other words, Newt is not running a serious campaign for President. He does not have the organization for a 50-state campaign. The only two have that are Mitt Romney and Ron Paul.

Paul never expected to do well in SC and won't do well in FL either, but watch the caucus states in early February. That is where his strength is -- ME, MN, CO, and NV.

FWIW, there is a huge movement within Paul supporters -- No One But Paul. Republicans will not win the Presidency without us. You may want to reconsider the way you treat us.

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