With Herman Cain, for all intents and purposes, out of the 2012 GOP primary race, the party can now focus on one of the many other stars in the yet large constellation of contestants. But to be honest, this is still a Romney-o-centric solar system.
Since several infidelity claims surfaced against Mr. Cain, and especially since his abandoning of the race, Newt Gingrich has further rocketed in the polls—up a whopping 20% since early November. Perhaps most significantly, he is currently ahead of Mitt Romney by nearly 10%.
With the Iowa caucuses fast approaching, with debates becoming less frequent, and with the ensuing Christmas season shifting focus away from politics, being the frontrunner in early December must be the closest thing to breathing room that any of the candidates has experienced thus far. The Gentleman from Georgia, then, looks well positioned to remain on top through the end of the year. Yet Newt’s victory is anything but certain.
Gingrich is the public’s favorite not-Romney candidate at the moment, but if we are to see anyone dethrone the wannabe-Leviathan Barack Obama, primary voters must, and likely will, default back to Mitt Romney.
While both Newt and Mitt have 100% more experience in the private sector than our current crony-in-chief, Romney has actually been a free-market job creator, whereas Newt has created Gingrich Holdings, which includes a think tank and two companies to bolster his public appearance.
Additionally, tantamount to lobbying, Gingrich accepted a seven-figure compensation for the “consulting” he provided to everyone’s favorite subsidy-peddler Freddie Mac. Newt’s consulting at Freddie, which resulted in him singing the tune that they wanted to hear, is an example of crony capitalism—a political sin that our current president has been notorious for committing.
Romney, on the other hand, has more of a free-market track record. He has also made millions in the private sector, but unlike Newt, he made his money by greatly improving the profitability and overall success of a company, namely the private-equity firm Bain Capital LLC.
Furthermore, on many of the issues for which Mitt Romney has received much Republican criticism, notably climate change, health care and treatment of terrorists, Newt Gingrich has also been guilty. Even Newt’s numbers, while at first glance promising, could prove fatal for the party overall.
Despite leading in national polls among his fellow GOP candidates, and even despite leading strongly in some of the early caucus/primary states, most notably Iowa and South Carolina, many of these states will undoubtedly vote Republican in the general election regardless of the candidate. Besides, Romney also has some aces up his sleeve.
Not surprisingly, Romney is still the candidate of choice in New Hampshire, where he has never not had at least a 15 point lead. But more importantly, in Bush 43’s linchpin, Florida, Gingrich is currently behind Obama by four points, while Romney is actually ahead of the president by one percentage point. Obviously, this is not a clear-cut victory, but considering the fact that Florida holds 29 electors, and that Florida is fourth in the primary election schedule, it is certainly nothing to dismiss either.
Unfortunately, however, Gingrich still polls ahead of Romney among Florida primary voters. If and when Florida Republicans wake up to the fact that, in national polls, Newt is losing to Obama by 7%, while Romney is losing by a significantly more competitive 1%, they will realize that picking Newt in the primary would most likely shoot the Republicans’ presidential chances in the foot.
Newton Gingrich might be the first flavor-of-the-month GOP candidate—who is not Mitt Romney—to have ample political experience and eloquence at the podium, but ultimately, if the Republicans want to make Obama a one-term president, they will need to hold their noses, and accept that, realistically, their choice must be the perennial presidential hopeful: Mitt Romney.