Friday, January 27, 2012

GOP Primary Status

I called my dad on Wednesday, and told him that he needed to watch the Thursday GOP debate, because it was the last one before the Florida primary. I told him he needed to watch it, because of how significant it would be for the race.

Throughout most of the race, Romney has been the assumed front runner. He's had a default advantage in money and support because of it.

Gingrich on the other hand made his mark with incredible debate performances. Their impact first manifested itself in November as he started rising in the polls. However, it was such a long time before the first Caucus that Romney had plenty of time to use his huge war chest. He spent millions in Iowa and for all practical purposes destroyed Gingrich.

Granted, it was still Iowa, hotbed of religious conservatism, so Santorum tied Romney. But Romney then went on to win New Hampshire, and suddenly things looked inevitable. Then two things happened.

Gingrich got a large donation and had money to fight back in South Carolina. The ads started flying both ways instead of all one, which removed Romney's huge advantage. Second, there were two debates within a week before the SC primary. In both of them, Gingrich dominated, drawing the first and second standing ovation of the campaign debates. Not only did he make himself look great, he made Romney look like a fumbling idiot.

The debates were so close to the primary that Romney didn't have a chance to recover, and suddenly Gingrich won SC in a landslide, and the race isn't over.

Fast forward to Florida. It's a large state, and it's the first Winner Take All, so there's no second place. If Gingrich wins is, then he's truely broken the back of the Romney inevitability, and we're in for the long haul. If Romney wins though, especially if he wins be a large margin, he reestablishes himself. SC was a blip, an anomaly, he'll be able to say.

That's why the debate yesterday was so significant. There were two debates scheduled between South Carolina and Florida. At the first, Gingrich didn't really do poorly, pe say. He just didn't do incredibly well. And Romney did better. Boiled down, it meant Romney won, because he didn't Have to win, he had to tie.

So, Thursday's debate was the last chance Gingrich had to come out swinging. To pound Romney, or hell anyone. And ... it didn't happen. Wolf Blitzer smartly avoided becoming a target, and Romney actually came out swinging harder then anyone. Gingrich responded in kind, they went back and forth, and then Santorum had a great moment where he told them both to shut the fuck up and talk about real issues. (He actually had a pretty great performance in general, as did Ron Paul, but neither of them matter anymore).

And so, Romney has a cleared path to win Florida. And the latest polls are certainly supporting him. He's got a 9 point lead over Gingrich as of yesterday.

I'm going to call the Florida primary for Romney, with Gingrich second, Santorum 3rd, and Ron Paul 4th. Depending on how well Gingrich and Santorum do, one or both will probably drop out at that point. Paul will remain in it for quite a while though.

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