I’ve been traveling and unable to access the Internet or news for the past few days, so unfortunately – or perhaps fortunately – I did not have the opportunity to watch the Fox News and CNN pundits excite themselves to climax watching Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum battle to a tie.
I have spent the past few hours catching up, however, and from what I’ve seen it seems that Mitt Romney has the nomination all but sewn up. His polling numbers have surged massively since the Iowa results, whilst the numbers of his only credible competitor Newt Gingrich have collapsed. Romney looks set to win New Hampshire; he has always had a strong lead there. More surprisingly, Romney also is now posting leads in conservative evangelical South Carolina. Newt Gingrich is still leading (or is he?) in Florida, but that lead may collapse as quickly as Rudy Giuliani’s national lead did in 2008, after Giuliani placed badly in the early primaries.
The second and third-place finishers in Iowa, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul, simply do not have the ability to win the nomination. Rick Santorum is simply too far behind; his surge has barely pulled him up to double-digits nationwide. As for Ron Paul, as Jay Cost memorably put it – “Ron Paul will never be the Republican nominee for the simple reason that he is not actually a Republican.”
So it looks like Mitt Romney is all set. His last serious opponent his crashing. Romney will almost certainly win New Hampshire. He will have the momentum of Iowa and New Hampshire heading into South Carolina, where he’s already posting leads. If Romney can win in the heartland of the South, where his popularity has always been lukewarm, then he’s probably the nominee.
This is quite surprising, for me at least. I had not expected Romney to get such a polling boost from his performance in Iowa. After all, Romney actually won fewer votes than he did last time in 2008. For months Republicans have shied away from backing Romney due to his weaknesses on consistency. Yet now suddenly Gingrich is falling like a rock, while Romney is surging.
Here’s one final thought. What a boring nomination it’ll be if Romney ends up winning this easily. It really seems like there is something different about the conservative and liberal psyche in the Republican and Democratic Parties.