Mitt Romney's Super-Pac, spent nearly twenty millions in the Florida primary campaign to beat Newt Gingrich. Newt accepted defeat as graciously as most trolls would do.
If the national campaign in the fall comes down to a charisma contest between the GOP candidate and Mr. Obama, the result will be the complete end of the GOP. They will go the way of the Whigs.
Despite the victory, here are the hard facts for Mr. Romney. His energizing campaign in Florida produced a large electoral victory over Newt, who barely scored at all with female voters. Despite the giant gender gap, Mr. Romney's energizing victory resulted in a turnout considerably smaller than the number of GOP voters who came to the fore for John McCain four years ago.
The number of persons who described themsevles as "conservative" or "very conservative" was smaller still. A majority of those voters chose Mr. Gingrich.
The lesson is simple. Mr. Romney may win the nomination but he does not register well with conservative voters. If he cannot energize this base he cannot possibly beat Mr. Obama in the fall.
Mr. Obama has the power of incumbency; patronage, money, position, Air Force One and the benefit of not having made the Big Mistake. The one chink in his armor may be the bankrupt solar energy company in California that his administration tried to make a silk purse. The company proved to be a sow's ear.
If the GOP nominates Mr. Romney they will have a hard time hanging Health Care Reform around Mr. Obama's neck. This could have been one of the polarizing issues of the campaign but Mr. Romney enacted Romney-Care in Massachusetts as governor. At best, Mitt will have to be mum on the subject.
Bain Capital will not be a galvanizing force for Mr. Romney either.
No, all in all, it looks like a tough year to be a Republican. Watch how other GOP candidates use or do not use the Romney campaign forces to help their runs. If it seems most down ticket Republicans run away from Mr. Romney it will signal the end of his candidacy and of his effect on the national political scene. Think Al Gore with a more ready smile.
Here is another set of facts, variously celebrated. So far, 150 delegates have been apportioned. Mitt gets all 50 from Florida. He needs 1,144 for the nomination. This could get settled by the end of March, unless Paul and Santorum leave the race and endorse Gingrich. If true neo-cons pull together to take on the more moderate Mr. Romney, the race could go to the convention and be brokered there. This is a pipe dream for a political junkie. It will not happen but, hey, you can dream, right?
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