Romney Has The Momentum Again. For Now.
by Scott Cox
posted Feb 12 2012 10:32PM
So, Mitt Romney has regained the latest round of simulated momentum. As soon as the GOP race narrowed to 4 candidates, the assumption was that Mitt was the obvious nominee. Then he had that really bad day in Florida, where he not only lost to Newt Gingrich, but also found out that Rick Santorum had beaten him in Iowa. Then, all of the sudden it was a 2 horse race again. Newt was right in the thick of things. Santorum and Ron Paul were novelty candidates. Or so everyone thought. Next thing you know, Newt starts talking about colonizing the moon, and drops off the national radar. So, it's all about Mitt again. Everything is going according to plan. or so it seemed.
Then, things got weird again. Santorum swept the 3 caucuses in the midwest, and somehow we were back to a 2 man race, but with the wrong 2 men. Now it looked like Santorum was the only other republican capable of giving Mitt a run for his money. Newt's billionaire superpac donor announced he was thinking about heaping all that cash on Santorum if it looked like he had the best shot at defeating President Obama in November. So now Santorum is raising cash like crazy, and in a lot of states, polling ahead of Romney. So everything is coming up Rick Santorum, right? Well, actually not so much. The ridiculously low voter turnout in Missouri, Colorado, and Minnesota means that voters there aren't too fired up about any of the candidates, and whomever the candidate is will need much bigger turnout to turn those states red this year. And the big-time fundraising people know this, and will spend accordingly. Speaking of spending, Santorum's other problem is simply that Romney's superpacs will focus their negative ads on Santorum instead of Newt. So, how is all this starchy unfolding? Very well, if you're Mitt Romney. He won Nevada and Maine easily, and most recently he won the straw poll at CPAC, the largest conservative get-together of the political season. Sure, those straw polls are unreliable, and generally all those votes are bought and paid for, but it is an indicator that conservatives are perhaps more comfortable with the idea of Romney as their nominee than previously thought. So, what happens now?
All the strategies in play now revolve around Super Tuesday, and they should. 10 states will pick their guy, and if any candidate should gain a big advantage at the end of the day, then we will have a clear idea of who's going to take on Obama. The fireworks in the meantime will be provided by Romney and Santorum, as they throw everything they have at each other going into Super Tuesday. And for Santorum, it's all about how much cash he can raise in the meantime to keep taking the fight to Romney. That's why I say Romney is the current holder of fake momentum. There are still tons of delegates yet to be decided, and until Super Tuesday, we can only speculate on how they'll go. Until then, people around the country will be able to enjoy as many negative ads as they can stand. And then some. Then we can all sit back and watch Santorum struggle to keep up with Romney in a huge spending contest. And we all know how that will turn out. Maybe he can run with Romney for a while, but I doubt he can do it for long. So unless Newt comes back (highly unlikely), or a new candidate gets into the race (even more unlikely), it looks like we can all look forward to Romney vs Obama in November. Oh boy.