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Mitt, Florida and Beyond; Getting Caught Up in the Hype

February 4, 2012

With a rampaging win in Florida, Mitt Romney is back to receiving the plaudits and predictions from the press of an early conclusion to the primary contest. Do we ever learn?

After Iowa and then again after Massachusetts the media and conventional wisdom had the nomination down as a forgone conclusion. A combative New Gingrich in South Carolina and the eventual official result that Rick Santorum had won Iowa reversed prior commentary and all of a sudden the race looked as if it was going to stretch all the way to the convention.

After such a dramatic win in SC, Gingrich was full of momentum going into Florida and had overturned a massive deficit in the polls. For much of the race he was the frontrunner. But Romney came out swinging in the debates and wrestled the lead back, eventually winning the state with a 14 point margin. Now the commentary has switched back behind Romney and it would appear that the race is as good as over.

But this race has already proved conventional wisdom, regarding primaries, to be flawed. Nevada is next on the campaign trail and Romney is expected to win. But if one of the other candidates can come through with a credible challenge then we are back to where we were before Florida. Neither Paul or Santorum ran aggressive campaigns in Florida. They figured the best use of their resources was to concentrate on the run of western states that come next. The more that the public see of Santorum the more his numbers continue to rise. He is a confident and likeable guy and is having some cross party support. This is only going to grow as the GOP voters get to know him. I wonder how long it will be before Romney turns the massive firepower he has at his disposal fully against Santorum rather than Gingrich?

Gingrich seems to be a bit of a busted flush. He put in some extraordinary performances in SC but was found out in FL when he attempted to present a more presidential style. It just doesn’t fit. He will return to the combative style but whether that will garner the same kind of results it had in SC only time will tell.

The problem for the GOP remains the split field. Romney doesn’t inspire the party but whilst there are two conservative candidates fighting for the same section of the party it is unlikely that a strong enough challenger will emerge. Strength in this case being the ability to consistently challenge Romney state after state. I think the GOP elders are scared that this challenger might be Gingrich.

Santorum I think has a real chance of having a major impact in this race. I don’t think he can win it, at the moment, but if things were to change, I can see him getting stronger and stronger. He is not out of this contest yet – I would go so far as to say we have yet to see the best from him and he is the only real challenger to Romney getting the nomination.

This race has continued to throw up surprises and I don’t think we are done just yet.

 

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