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Romney vs. Gingrich in Florida and some VP picks

January 23, 2012

Well… what a week that was with Gingrich coming from way back to take South Carolina by 12-13 points.

But was it really so surprising?

Yes and No I think.

Gingrich had always planned on this as being the firewall that would halt Romney’s progress. He is a southern Republican from a neighbouring state and if Mitt can do what he did in New Hampshire then so could Newt in South Carolina. He speaks their language and his particular brand of confrontational politics plays well. Coming off the back og the negative ads by the Romney camp in Iowa he had the perfect environment to basically skip New Hampshire and focus on home ground in South Carolina and come out swinging. Newt does negative really well in person. Mitt doesn’t, his attacks are weak and never really seems to have the conviction that Newt has.

The debates were where it was won for Newt. He blew the house the down (twice) and won the hearts and minds of the SC Republicans.

Mitt battled with tax questions and never recovered.

And, as usual, we all got caught up in the media hype and bought into the “conventional” wisdom being touted that this was going to be a Romney juggernaut and over before it had really started. Why? We knew the result in Iowa was probably going to come down on the side of Santorum (I am still fighting with Betfair to honour the official result as announced last week, not the announcement on the night and give me the £300 I should have won) and Romney was never going to do well in a state like SC where they have an enormous amount of miss-trust in him. We you have the monicker the Moderate from Massachusetts you are never going to do well in a state like South Carolina.

Having said all that Romney did better in SC than the last time round in 2008.

Gingrich must be praying that he can do some sort of deal with Rick Santorum and become the only social conservative left standing. The GOP must be praying Santorum stays in the race as long as possible and makes things a bit easier for Romney by taking a few votes from Gingrich. The GOP leadership know that Gingrich is totally unelectable in a general election.

Romney needs to do a Newt and come out fighting in Florida. A poll this morning, the first taken after SC, bucked conventional wisdom and all the polls up to now and gave Gingrich a significant lead. But, a significant percentage (10% if not a bit more) of the electorate in Florida have already voted and so will not have been influenced by the SC result. This may be crucial in the summing up in Florida.

Gingrich might not do as badly as many are predicting – the demographics arent terrible for him. High proportion of evangelicals and a strong Latino population (which Romney hasnt dont well with in the past) and southern voters may just decide to vote for a southern candidate. Gingrich has it all to do though – Romney is still the front runner, he needs not to go into panic overdrive. But whatever the result this has a long way to go and despite the other two candidates in the race this is now a straight fight between Romney and Gingrich.

The first Florida debate tonight will be interesting.

I wonder if Romney and Santorum won’t come to some sort of deal – perhaps even a place on the ticket as VP, to stay in as long as possible. Santorum in his speech after the SC result says he is in for the long term. Romney could do worse – Santorum will energise the base and get people who otherwise might not to go out and vote for Romney. I think Romney could do better, but it is not the worst idea in the world. Santorum’s brand of (extreme) social conservatism will help to neutralise some of the moderate image of Romney in the eyes of the right. Whether they will be able to work together after the attacks already made by both sides is a serious question but given what might turn to desperation and/ or panic to secure the nomination for Romney it may be a marriage of convenience.

VP picks will depend what happens in this nomination process – if it extends past Super Tuesday, which it almost certainly will, then all sorts of factors come into play. If this is a relatively short campaign Chris Christie has got to be in with a good shout. Marco Rubio would be the dream VP candidate but he has ruled himself out on more than one occasion, he has time on his side and he is nailed on for a presidential run of his own.

I have it down to a choice from four:

Rob Portman

Paul Ryan

Rick Santorum

Chris Christie

But VP betting is like the Grand National – the winner can come from anywhere. And if it rains, all bets are off.



From → Politics

  1. Argument between Newt and Mitt (its own LOL) going on. Bottom line: we don’t care. Debate. Tell us your beliefs and policies. Enough jargon.

    • I didnt get to see the debate last night unfortunately. Saw some highlights this morning. For an election that is going to hinge on the economy they dont really seem to be spending much time talking about it….

  2. Not as many fireworks in the GOP debate tonight. If Newt wins Florida, Romney is in big trouble. GOP FLDebate 2012Election

    • I agree, and a closer look at the demographics really is worrying i think for Romney. Yes, Florida is a more moderate state but 40% of the GOP electorate consider themselves Tea Party supporters and with Gingrich from a next door state this is not going to be easy for Romney.

      This could be a long process, tit for tat all the way. Odds for a brokered convention anyone?

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