Gingrich Crushes Romney in South Carolina
Harold Wilson's famous remark "In politics, a week is a long time" was never more true than in South Carolina
this year. An ORC poll taken for CNN Jan. 13-17 put Mitt Romney ahead of New Gingrich by double digits,
33% to 23%. Yesterday, Gingrich won by 12%, a change of 22% in a week. Here are the primary results.
| Newt Gingrich
| Mitt Romney
| Rick Santorum
| Ron Paul
Gingrich's win was as wide as it was deep. He
all counties except two wealthy coastal counties (Charleston and Beaufort) and Richland, where the state capital is.
He also won most demographic groups, except people earning more than $200,000, those with post-graduate degrees, and voters
who are pro choice on abortion.
To make the picture even stranger, a Marist poll taken Dec. 4-6 for NBC put Gingrich ahead by 18 points,
48% to 30%. The problem isn't that the pollsters' computers are infected with viruses and are spewing out garbage.
The problem is that voters seem to be infected with mad-voter disease and are shaking their heads frantically from side to side,
changing their minds almost daily.
of the final day before the South Carolina primary hit the nail right on the head, predicting a Gingrich win of 40%
to 26%, right on target for Gingrich and off by only 2% for Romney.
So the polls were fine.
So why is the race so volatile? The truth is that about three quarters of the Republican voters really don't like
Mitt Romney. They see him as a slick phony who doesn't have any core principles at all, let alone conservative ones.
But the problem is that all the other candidates are deeply flawed. Michelle Bachmann is nutty as a fruitcake.
Herman Cain never ran for public office before and is demeaning to women.
Jon Huntsman is a plausible not-Romney, but he worked for Obama and embraces science.
Rick Perry has a fantastic resume but he is all hat and no cowboy.
Rick Santorum is too far to the right to be a serious general election candidate.
Newt Gingrich has a volcanic temper and no ability to run an organization without the help of his various wives.
All the Republican heavyweights who could have stood up to Romney, like Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) and
Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), declined to run (much as all the top Democrats took a pass in 1992, letting an
unknown governor from Arkansas, Bill Clinton, grab the nomination).
So we have seen a Republican primary electorate wildly flitting from one not-Romney to another.
Only a week ago (Wilson, again), it looked like Romney was going to win the first three elections and end the
nomination process today. Things started moving in the wrong direction when the final count in Iowa showed that
Rick Santorum actually won it. Now Gingrich won in South Carolina, and with a bigger percentage of the vote than
any candidate in any of the elections so far. So we are definitely moving into uncharted territory now. Since 1980,
the winner of the South Carolina Republican primary has always gone on to get the nomination, but this year that is
far from certain.
Politico has a
of nine takeaways from the vote. Briefly summarized, they are:
- Romney may not realize he is having a near-death experience.
- Gingrich needs to avoid blowing it.
- Billionaire Sheldon Adelson could really give Gingrich a shot in the arm.
- Santorum has nothing to lose by going forward.
- When Mitch Daniels gives the response to the state-of-the-union speech, people will ask him to run.
- Governor Nikki Haley suffered a big loss since she backed Romney strongly and couldn't deliver.
- Rick Perry's backing mattered.
- Gingrich did surprisingly well with women, despite his ex wife's rant Thursday.
- Romney is about to get all sorts of unsolicited advice.
The next contest is the Florida primary on Jan. 31, which favors Romney. Florida is a vast and
expensive state to campaign in. Unlike Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, where an unknown candidate can win
by shaking enough hands (as Santorum did in Iowa), Florida is simply too big for that. The campaign will be fought
with dueling television ads. With dozens of media markets, a candidate needs a lot of money to wage an
effective air war here.
Romney has the money and organization. Right now, Gingrich does not and Santorum certainly does not. If Gingrich
can get Adelson or one of his billionaire friends to write him a nice fat check, he conceivably could be on the air enough
to make a go of it, but Santorum has no chance. South Carolina was Santorum's golden opportunity, with an electorate consisting
of 60% evangelicals, and he didn't make it.
One thing that Gingrich has going for him is that he is a powerful debater when speaking to conservative
Republicans. He can latch onto their sense of victimhood and hold on like a pit bull. Romney, who was born rich
and became richer just can't come off as a victim. Two debates are scheduled for this week, Monday night at the
University of South Florida in Tampa and Thursday in Jacksonville. Up until now, Romney has tried to stay above
the fray, treating his opponents as pesky flies to be swatted away while concentrating his fire on Obama. In effect, he
has been assuming the nomination is already his and the debates are just a formality. That may not be true any more.
While Romney is still the favorite (in no small part because the Republican establishment is wetting its pants
at the thought of Gingrich as their nominee), a Florida victory for Gingrich would break the race wide open.
Could the Republican base actually nominate someone (Gingrich) whom Obama would surely crush?
It made no sense, but Republicans in Delaware nominated Christine O'Donnell and Republicans in
Nevada nominated Sharron Angle for the Senate in 2010, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
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-- The Votemaster
Jan20 Perry Drops Out and Endorses Gingrich
Jan20 Gingrich Surging in South Carolina
Jan20 Gingrich's Second Wife Attacks Him
Jan20 Romney Loses His Win in Iowa
Jan20 Romney Reported to Have Millions of Dollars in the Cayman Islands
Jan20 The Final Four Take Off the Gloves in the Last Debate before the South Carolina Primary
Jan17 Hard-Hitting Debate in South Carolina Changes Nothing
Jan16 Huntsman Expected to Drop Out Today and Endorse Romney
Jan16 Why is the Republican Field So Weak?
Jan16 South Carolina Debate Tonight
Jan15 Social Conservatives Agree to Back Santorum
Jan13 Eleventh Commandment Repealed
Jan11 NH: Romney 39%, Paul 23%, Huntsman 17%, Gingrich 9%, Santorum 9%
Jan11 Charlie Cook: Redistricting is Politically Neutral
Jan10 Romney Leads Going into the New Hampshire Primary Today
Jan10 Gingrich Goes Negative in South Carolina
Jan08 Romney Survives Debate Unscathed
Jan08 Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it
Jan05 Bachmann Drops Out
Jan05 Perry Hesitates, but Stays In
Jan05 Movement Conservatives Attempt to Find a Consensus Candidate
Jan04 Iowa: Romney 24.6%, Santorum 24.6%, Paul 21.4%, Gingrich 13.3%
Jan03 All Eyes on Iowa Today
Jan03 The Horse Race as a Horse Race
Jan01 Happy New Presidential Election Year
Jan01 Iowa Caucuses Are This Tuesday
Jan01 Final Selzer Poll: Romney and Paul on top but Santorum Rising
Dec16 No Fireworks in Final GOP Debate
Dec11 Romney Offers Perry a $10,000 Bet During Debate
Dec11 Where is Sarah Palin?
Dec11 The 2012 Contest: Whole Foods Clients vs. Cracker Barrel Shoppers
Dec07 Gingrich Way Ahead in Iowa
Dec07 Obama Gives Fiery Speech Attacking the Republicans
Dec07 Pelosi Backtracks on Releasing Dirt
Dec04 Herman Cain Drops Out
Dec04 Gingrich Pulls Away in Iowa
Nov29 Woman Accuses Cain of Long-Running Affair
Nov23 Romney's Extended Family Could be a Problem
Nov23 Republicans Ignore China, Eurocrisis in Debate on Foreign Affairs
Nov19 Newton Defies Gravity
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