Next up, South Carolina
History in the Republican Party has been made as Mitt Romney has swept the Iowa Caucus (although by only 8 votes) and New Hampshire Primary. So why would I say that it is not over, because things are different.
In an effort to either get a stronger voice in the primary or to just get some of the crazy money that candidates spend in ads, several states muddied up the mix by accelerating their primaries. When Florida left Super Tuesday for an earlier start, it caused several states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina to adjust. This compressed the campaign season. In 2008, Super Tuesday had 24 states participating; this year, Super Tuesday has only 10 states participating.
Basically, it looks like South Carolina and Florida will be the states that have the largest impact on the convention. That is why we shouldn’t see anyone drop out until after South Carolina. Then Florida will most likely set the field to three.
We know that Mitt Romney will be one of the three candidates. The “Massachusetts Moderate” as Newt has tagged him, deserves a ticket to Super Tuesday based on his precedent setting double win. While he has been campaigning for 4 years, his Iowa win had more to do with the large number of conservative alternatives. The South, Carolina and Florida, will show his real strength. I predict that he will lose South Carolina, but win Florida with all of their northern transplants.
Ron Paul, what can you say? SNL nailed it: tough as nails, ideologically pure, and not going anywhere. While Congressman Paul is not likely to win any of the major states, by hanging around, he could win enough of the caucus states to get on the ballot at the convention. This could introduce a major fly in the anointment for those Imperialist Republicans as Paul will most likely be able to add several antiwar planks to the platform.
Rick Perry has all of his eggs in the South Carolina basket. If he does not finish in the top two, I would imagine that he will drop. He has a focus on the Southern campaign where Florida and South Carolina he must win one of the two states. With the Texas primary all the way out in April, we may not see him for Super Tuesday unless he posts a “W” soon.
Newt Gingrich, is a lot like Perry in the fact that he needs to place well, if anything to continue to fundraise. The Virginia setback really hurt because that is considered his home state. With Virginia and Georgia still in Super Tuesday, Newt would have had a great chance to make an impact. However, the apparent lack of organization may cost him a chance at the nomination.
Rick Santorum, the surprise of Iowa is hurting from the fact that he couldn’t really raise funds before the Iowa win. Santorum worked his butt off and it paid off in Iowa, but 1 person can’t be in all these different areas at one time. With the compressed time schedule, he would be better off looking four years out while secretly hoping Obama wins.
I think we need to throw the record books out the window. With the compressed time in the early primaries, there is a new game plan to win and I think Mitt Romney is the only one that has figured it out.