Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Where does the GOP race go from here?

Entering the last week before the Florida primary, Newt and Mitt are nearly tied in the polls.  The nomination may well be decided in the next week.

Florida is actually a good state for the GOP nomination to be decided.  Unlike IA, NH, and SC, it is heterogeneous, with distinct regions and varied demographics.  Unlike the smaller states that came first, it is too large, and too short a time span for retail politics to win out.  This state will be decided by organizational might. By the ability to get out a message over the airwaves, and across several distinct media markets.  Money is needed here.  And the ability to leverage local power brokers and turn it into a GOTV operation.

So what will happen?  All the organizational requirements seem to be a Mitt advantage at this point.  But Newt has been capturing the imagination of conservatives, and Mitt has been on the defensive for two weeks now over issues he should have been able to put to bed.

Of course, Newt has plenty of skeletons of his own, and since a win in FL might put him in the drivers seat, he's facing a heavy round of inspection and critique as well.

Personally, I think a Mitt win in FL gives him a near hammerlock on the nomination.  Were Newt not to be able to maintain his slim lead here, despite having consolidated his position as the anti-Mitt in the field, I have a hard time seeing him recapture his mojo.

A Newt win, on the other hand, does not lead a directly to a Newt nomination.  But it would guarantee that the process drags on for weeks, if not months, longer--and the outcome would be in doubt.  More oppo research on Newt would get dumped, and all the scrutiny would cut into his appeal.   Mitt, however, would have been seriously wounded at that point, especially if he's unable to go from defense to offense on the issue of his wealth.

A late entry on the GOP side can not, IMO, be ruled out--especially if Mitt seems permanently compromised and Newt is winning.  There are too many power brokers in the party that are publicly committed to preventing a Newt nomination, for him to slide smoothly into the driver's seat.  It doesn't mean Newt can't win.  It just means to buckle up, and get ready for some turbulence, if Newt wins in Florida.


SheaHeyKid said...

I think mitt wins a close one. Agree totally with fredo's analysis. A mitt win in FL basically neuters gingrich's run, while a newt win just guarantees mitt and others will triple down on digging up newt's skeletons and likely preventing him (newt) from getting the nomination.

Rubio's dig at newt yesterday and today must have helped mitt, and drudge is doing his best to shill for Romney and bury the Gingrich ascent.

Extended debates and attacks are healthy to make sure that our nominee is battle tested before getting into the ring with Obama. However, IMO the sooner that mitt locks it up, the better to make sure that we can get the entire base to rally behind him and drive energy into this election. The longer this goes on, and people keep waiting for another entrant (which is an absurdity this late in the game), the tougher it will be for mitt to rally the troops. Once mitt goes head to head with Obama and gets attacked by his ultra-left-wing philosophies, however, I suspect any holdouts will quickly come around to mitt.

Fredo said...

You said it SHK: Drudge in the tank for Mitt, big time.

A late entrant is not yet an absurdity, though a difficult one. And there won't be one as long as Mitt seems viable. All the heavy hitters are already Mitt supporters.

If Gingrich KO's Mitt, only then would it come into play.


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