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Charles C. Johnson


Posted February 6, 2012

by:   Charles C. Johnson

Romney greets a voter in Maine

Mitt Romney has now decisively won (or statically tied) in four states that went for Obama in 2008: Iowa, New Hampshire, Florida, and Nevada. He will assuredly win in Colorado and Arizona–two other parts of the Mormon corridor–and in Michigan, where he is a favored son.

And yet all but Arizona (which John McCain, a carpet bagger, barely held) went to Barack Obama in 2008. What does this mean?  For Republican primaries, this is very odd. No presidential candidate in American history has ever won the nomination without winning South Carolina.

In Nevada, Romney won among nearly every group he was expected to (only 9 percent of Mormons voted against him) and did nicely among groups he wasn’t expected to (the Tea Partiers and evangelicals). It may well be that the evangelicals and Tea Parties that voted against him in Iowa and South Carolina were an aberration.

His challenge, though, will be to win in a red state and he hasn’t done it and the emerging narrative of the 2012 GOP race is this: Will Romney win 1144 delegates before the convention in Tampa or will he have to fight it out at the convention?

To be sure, that’s a long way out. Romney currently leads the delegate count by 50, to Gingrich’s 28, Santorum’s 8, and Paul’s 7.

None of the races tomorrow will settle this issue, but they will bring us one step closer to a nominee.

  • In Colorado, Romney is expected to cruise easily to a victory, according to the polling. Romney’s at 45% to 25% for Santorum, 18% for Gingrich, and 13% for Paul. If Romney wins there in 2012, it will reverse a trend of blue-state voters. Interestingly, Romney’s Mormonism is actually an asset in these Mountain West states because pretty much the only group fired up about him are his co-religionists.
  • Minnesota, also caucusing Tuesday, looks like a toss up with each of the four candidates having some shot at winning. Santorum holds a small edge there with 29% to 27% for Romney, 22% for Gingrich, and 19% for Paul, according to Public Policy Polling. Though Santorum nominally leads, I would wager that Romney will win in Minnesota with the more conservative districts split between Gingrich and Santorum.  Public Policy Polling has tended to have a hard time polling caucuses. Expect Romney’s organization to be up against Santorum’s diehards. It’s a rematch, in other words, of Iowa.
  • The Maine caucuses began on Saturday and will end on Friday. Romney is expected to win. He won last time by 30%+, according to The New York Times.  The contest for distant second is largely between Paul and Gingrich. Just to be sure he’ll win, Romney has visited Maine 10 times since 2008.

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