The Florida Primary is set for Tuesday, January 31st. Romney, Gingrich, Paul and Santorum are running. For a while there it looked like Gingrich was an easy winner, because his numbers were jumping rapidly in the polls, but things have settled down and it is starting to look more like a Gingrich-Romney horse race. Here are the numbers:
The “Date” is the approximate mid point of the polling period, and this crosses several polls summarized at Real Clear Politics. Notice that Santorum and Paul are a) sharing the same pole position in the polls. Last. That is what we expect of Paul and it is of no importance in his case because he is utterly irrelevant. But for Santorum, this is more interesting because he is a candidate that could move into a position of relevancy, and whom I will not rule out as a factor yet in this race. Still, he is in a holding pattern.
Gingrich’s move forward prior to the South Carolina primary seems to be holding; He is giving Romney a run for his money. It is not clear who will win this primary but if the final polling numbers are roughly like those in these polls, then neither candidate can really claim a clear victory, a sense of momentum, or any sort of dominance.
But a lot can happen in just under one week (to Florida) and in the time between now and the first Tuesday in March (Super Tuesday).
It has been pointed out (summarized by Ed Brayton) that the Republican Establishment is very worried about Gingrich running for President. There are two numbers that underlie this particular fear: 100 and 60. The second is Gingrich’s unfavorability number. It is a high number and it is solid. Unless he rescues a baby from a burning building and then stops himself from ruining it by talking about it, that number will not go down, though it could possibly go up. The first number is his name recognition. This is a huge problem. If his name recognition was lower he could try to shore up his dislikable-ness among those who have not learned to despise him yet (good luck with that, Newt!) but since everybody already knows him, and a strong majority of people dislike him, there is no chance of that happening. It is important to note at this time that Obama’s likability rating is much better than Gingrich’s.
If Newt Gingrich runs for the Republican Party, they will surely lose. If anyone else runs, they will probably lose as well, but if Gingrich Runs, they will defiantly, really, for sure lose.
For this reason, we can expect sabotage.
Ironically (and I chose that word because it is New’s favorite word … have you noticed that?) Romney is very likely to falter as the race continues for the very reason that Gingrich is the better candidate. Gingrich represents the Republican Party better than Romney does because Gingrich is a stupid hateful hypocrite who is as mean spirited as a rabid dog, and a racist shit. Romney, on the other hand, is merely stupid and hypocritical. More importantly, Gingrich has spent a lot less time acting like a Democrat than Romney has. When people around the country get to compare what is bad (from the point of view of a Teabagger or other Republican) about each candidate, they will be forced to admit that Gingrich is more like them, and represents their views, better than Romney.
Over time, Gingrich could actually turn his temporary lunge forward into a regular lead and defeat Romney.
Here’s the thing: Gingrich is likely to falter because he opens his mouth. Romney is likely to falter because he wont. Gingrich will say things that will get him in trouble, while Romney will refuse to address his changes in positions or his tax and income problems or Bain. Romney is especially bad at the demagoguery. When he tries it he smarm-overloads even the most cynical Right Winger.
So, there are two open questions before us, aside from that of the question of when it will all happen: 1) Which of the two current front runners will stumble clumsily into the mud on this track first and most and worst, and 2) will the Santorum, running a steady third place, be able to prance by the two of them in time to get some delegates.
There is no front runner. Santorum could become a contender. And, I’m not ruling out a brokered convention.