Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Too Early for Romney Campaign to Pop the Champagne Corks
Politico Arena Topic: Is Mitt Romney the Republican Nominee?
There is no question that Mitt Romney had a good night. He resumed his status as frontrunner.
But before the Romney campaign starts popping the champagne corks, there are some troubling clouds gathered over the Florida landscape. Though Romney swept most of the CNN exit poll categories, Newt Gingrich was the first choice among evangelicals, tea party folks, and those that identified as “very conservative.”
These people have always been Romney’s Achilles heel and that pattern continued in Florida. Turnout was also down significantly - about 10 percent or 280,000+ GOP voters - from 2008. These factors indicate that the conservative base has yet to warm to Romney. Yes he has a huge advantage in money. Yes the outside groups supporting him also have deep pockets and are clearly willing to unleash the negativity on Gingrich and other rivals. However, until Romney solves his problem with conservatives, particularly those on the Religious Right, the GOP primary will last for several more weeks - especially heading into Super Tuesday and beyond where a number of Southern states will hold primaries - the kind of political landscape Gingrich should do well in.
More importantly, should he be the nominee, unless Romney solves his conservative problem, he will struggle in the general election where you must turn out your base in order to have a chance at winning. The fact that Florida GOP voters stayed home in droves yesterday indicates a base that has yet to warm - any may never warm - to Romney or his fellow GOP candidates.
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