Mitt Romney earned a much-needed bounce back win in the January 31st Florida primary. After getting pummeled in South Carolina, the Romney campaign regrouped and then retook the momentum by defeating Gingrich, and doing so by a wider margin than their margin of defeat in South Carolina. Now they look ahead to the Maine primary where they’ll be heavy favorites and the Nevada caucuses where a quarter of Republicans are Mormon. With a momentum, delegate, and money advantage Romney is in great shape.
One really interesting aspect we’ve seen is the impact that the national debates have had. Romney had the early lead in South Carolina, but after two great debate performances by Newt Gingrich, the momentum swung. The story was the exact opposite in Florida with Newt losing an early lead after two strong debate performances from Romney. 2/3 of Floridians said the debates were an important factor in their vote, and I think that’s great. I think it means Republican and conservative voters are engaged and learning about their candidates, rather than just listening to negative ad campaigns.
I think that level of engagement, combined with the now likely nomination of a fairly moderate and frankly pretty likable candidate in Romney has to worry the Obama campaign. Romney does well with independents and I believe most would say he’s closer to the center than Obama.
With oil executives saying gas prices are likely to rise to as high as $5.00, Obama could become extremely vulnerable. His policies have been extremely detrimental to domestic energy production by way of coal, nuclear, and oil, and the Republicans will be sure to drill him on those issues (pun unintended, but welcomed). While Republicans want the Keystone Pipeline because it’s great for America, if Obama really won’t pass it and gas prices sky-rocket… ouch!
The Obama campaign must be hoping Romney will stumble. Surely they would much rather face a candidate with less money, weaker infrastructure, excessive baggage, extreme libertarian views, or a focus on social views, but it appears Romney is on the verge.
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