So, yes, the overwhelming result from the last night is that 75 per cent of Republicans don’t want Mitt Romney to be their candidate. And the media is portraying Romney’s showing as pretty weak overall, in order to gin up interest in more political coverage.
But actually Mitt Romney is absolutely crushing it in the contest that matters.
He could have the nomination effectively wrapped up in one week – sooner than anyone major party candidate in a competitive primary in recent history. He only looks vulnerable compared to invincibility. He may be invincible next week.
So what if he only got 25 per cent of the vote? Along the way he effectively ended the campaigns of his two most formidable rivals: Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich. The “anti-Mitt” became Santorum by default.
Forget the myth about Santorum’s shoe-leather work. He only had a late surge because his campaign had been so inept it never attracted scrutiny from his rivals and the media. In Iowa he was the last place left to land for voters who hate Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, of which there are plenty. There are plenty of unattractive things in the Santorum file – sure to be coming out this week. And he barely has a campaign beyond Des Moines, Iowa.
So all that really stands between Mitt Romney and the nomination is Jon Huntsman’s last stand in New Hampshire. Huntsman has several things going for him: he’s electable, he’s more conservative than Mitt Romney, has a better record as governor, has foreign policy experience and he could plausibly raise a ton of money in a general election. But Huntsman has been stuck in the low double-digits. He’ll have to pick up former Perry and Bachmann supporters, and pray that Newt Gingrich’s kamikaze attacks on Romney this week depress turnout for Romney.
But if Mitt Romney turns his 40 per cent poll numbers in New Hampshire into 40 per cent of the vote next week, then it’s over. Romney will have never captured the love and adoration of his party. But he’ll have the nomination. All that would be left are a few desultory performances by the remaining rivals, and a small flotilla of Ron Paul delegates at the convention.
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