For every eager left-leaning Wannabe Yank, it couldn’t get much better than this. Three Republican primaries, three different victors. The one contender who could probably give Obama a serious run for his money walloped first by his hiring-and-firing past and, yesterday, by a vast income revealed against his will showing a tax rate roughly half that of the President.
Latest polls from Florida – the next GOP primary – show Gingrich’s surge continuing, which isn’t surprising really when you consider how thoroughly Newt won across almost all groups of voters in South Carolina. As John Heilemann writes in New York magazine:
…Gingrich beat Romney soundly across the board: 42–26 with men and 38–29 with women; by nine or more points in every age cohort; by double digits in every educational cohort except those voters with postgraduate study (which Romney won by a bare two points); among both married and unmarried voters; among the poor, the middle class, and the rich…
The list goes on (that’s not just a rhetorical device: I’ve chopped Heilemann’s paragraph in two!).
We shouldn’t assume that Florida will be as big a win as SC, not least because a large chunk of voters have already voted, when Romney was still the presumed won-already nominee.
But as Nate Silver writes on his consistently excellent FiveThirtyEight blog, the extent of the anti-Romney voting in South Carolina does suggest a genuine paradigm shift in what weighs most heavily in voters’ minds.
The theory is that the backing of party grandees and a well-organised campaign on the ground matters far less these days than personalities and ‘media moments’ (like the one Gingrich managed when he lashed out at the moderator in the last debate before the SC poll).
This is a win-win situation for Democrats. If – as unlikely as this seemed just a fortnight ago – the GOP chooses Gingrich (the bane of the Republican establishment from his time as Speaker of the House) then he will have a mountain to climb to beat Obama: current polls show the President with a lead of at least 10 per cent.
Irrespective of how quickly the party coalesces around a single candidate the race will go on, with Romney, Gingrich and Paul able and likely to continue, for different reasons. Further in-fighting, factionalism and bickering. Marvellous.