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Obama vs. Romney in 2012? Is it over already?

January 15, 2012

As the primary season has moved on to South Carolina, Mitt Romney finds himself with back to back wins. Is he now a shoe in for the nomination?

Probably. But the election has shifted and we are entering a new phase. Before Iowa relationships, particularly between Romney and Gingrich, were pretty amicable. Both had stated that they would be prepared to serve as VP in the others administration. But then the gloves came off and through the Super Packs Romney launched a series of aggressive negative adds aimed directly at Gingrich which saw him come in a very poor fourth in Iowa on 13%.

Now the primary has moved back down south Gingrich has launched his own negative campaign aiming both barrels at Romney. And it seems to be working, Gingrich is now within 4 points of Romney.

South Carolina is the first trip to the south and Gingrich is pinning his hopes on being the southern conservative vs. the moderate from Massachusetts – yesterday attacks on Romney included the fact that he can speak French.

But who is this benefitting in the longer term and why when most of the current thinking says that Romney has an almost unbreakable lock on the nomination? Which would be confirmed with a win in South Carolina on Saturday; if he can win here, he can win anywhere… Obama must be loving every minute.

Perhaps that whilst these primaries are proportional in the number of delegates that are won, Gingrich is hoping to stay close enough so that when it comes to the winner take all primaries in March and April he can wipe out some of the early Romney gains. Hoping that by then the other social conservatives will have dropped out of the race and coalesce support behind him. With the backing of evangelical leaders in a meeting in Texas over the weekend, Rick Santorum is probably hoping for the same thing.  

Whilst the field is crowded the social conservative vote is split, “anyone but Romney” campaigns are going to face a tough battle to have much of an impact. Meanwhile the GOP rip each other to shreds and confirm all the doubts that the rest of the country has about them as viable candidates in a general election.

Speaking with my father whilst we watching some of the coverage he made an interesting comment, that the GOP “can’t actually be serious about wanting to win this election”. His argument being that there is plenty of talent in the party to mount a serious candidate but frankly who would want to win an election and land in the middle of the current economic crisis with very little ability to shape events – who in their right minds would want to win four years of that scenario?

All of the opinion polls in the US are saying that an Obama vs. Romney general election would be close with a Romney win being the most likely. I am not so sure. If the GOP campaign continues in the same vain I don’t think they will recover and Obama could win by quite some margin.

If Romney does win the nomination he is going to have to do something quite special that not only unites his own party but brings something to the table that changes the perception of him. His VP choice is going to be very interesting.

 

 

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From → Politics

3 Comments
  1. I think President Obama is definitely the biggest winner so far. The GOP candidate tracking as most likely to beat him was Gov Huntsman, but as he is an intelligent, moderate leader who is willing to work with his opponents for the good of the country, there was no chance of him winning the nomination.

    Romney can be pleased that he has not experienced outright rejection from the evangelical Christians this time around – nightmare scenario for him would be winning the nomination but then facing a disruptive challenge from a Tea Party affiliated candidate in the general election. This is a scenario that is looking less likely but is still not impossible – for many in the Tea Party ideological purity comes along way above electoral success.

    South Carolina is key now. Romney is already the first ever non incumbent President candidate to win both Iowa and NH – if he can take evangelical South Carolina then the nomination is his. Realistically I think Santorum is the only one who can threaten this outcome (Romney’s team destroyed Gingrich in Iowa with uncharacteristic efficiency and Perry is…well, Perry), however he is trailing far behind Romney…

    Has been fun so far, only going to get more enjoyable…

    • Huntsman was only polling at 1% in South Carolina and is just about to withdraw from the race and endorse Romney. He was too tied to the Obama administration having been a ambassador. His campaign never felt very serious – he consciously did not campaign in Iowa feeling he was better served in New Hampshire, which was true, but he then failed to make any sort of impact in SC. All the talk over here is this was really a dummy run for a possible 2016 run if a Republican doesnt win this time round. Republicans are much more likely to vote for a candidate that has run before than Democrats.

      I think it is a bit of a shame as he was, as you say, the most intersting candidate and yesterday he picked up the endorsement of the largest newspaper in the state.

      Santorum only really stands a chance if Gingrich gets out of the way and the size of Gingrich’s ego pretty much rules that possibility out. Gingrich is a southern Republican (Georgia) and will split the vote amongst the right and far right across the south.

      There is a massive scrap going on at the moment to get back into the Virginia primary. Perry, Gingrich (and i think Santorum) have been excluded from the ballot as they did not file enough names of supporters in time. Perry today is appealing the decision.

      Perry again yesterday failed to be able to recall the three government departments he would cut – but his polling is now so poor that nobody is really paying much attention at all; but again whilst he stays in the race Santorum is going to find it very hard to mount a realistic challenge.

      A Tea Party governor today backed Ron Paul!

      The Republican party really is all over the place at the moment.

      One interesting stat was a CNN poll a couple of days ago which polled evangelical christians whether in the event of a Romney candidacy they would be prepared to vote for a Mormon in a general election against Obama – 91% said they would. Whether that turns out to be true or not remains to be seen.

  2. I know what you mean about the Huntsman campaign, he certainly didn’t throw everything into the ring – interesting that he received a lot of support from high profile celebrity donors, many of whom were Democrats…

    I think Romney will win it now, much of it coming down to his success in building on a pretty poor campaign last time around. Even evangelicals are not convinced by Santorum, and Gingrich is a poor echo of the power he once held.

    Romney-Obama is going to be interesting. Both will have to rush back to the centre, and hope that their core vote sticks by them.

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