The South Will Rise Again

South Carolina Republican Primary, January 21, 2012

Newt Gingrich           40%
Mitt Romney              28%
Rick Santorum            17% 
Ron Paul                 13%
Herman Cain               1%
Rick Perry                0%
Jon Huntsman              0%
Michele Bachmann          0%

Nevada Democratic Caucuses, January 21, 2012

Barack Obama (Incumb.)  Uncontested

So, Who’s Up, Who’s Down, and Who’s Out?

Who’s Up

Newt Gingrich

A Gingrich win would have been a big deal under any circumstances. But the blowout, double-digit win that he just hung on Mitt? In the words of our Vice President, that’s a big fucking deal. Newt didn’t just edge Mitt. He crushed him, sweeping all congressional districts and all 25 delegates up for grabs in the state.

Newt won, flatly, by playing ever ugly card ever devised by Lee Atwater, Dick Nixon, and George Wallace. He’s running against the media, people of color, women, and the Republican establishment itself — and this is something that will be unpredictable. Because let’s face it, the 2010 elections were all about the activists in the GOP throwing off the yoke of their more plutocratic masters, and seizing control for themselves.

Newt is probably going to lose Florida (a significant number of absentee ballots have already been cast, and it will be hard for him to close the likely gap). But he’s going to come in with a ton of momentum, and he could make it close. If he keeps it close or if he scores an upset, all hell could break loose.

Mitt is still the guy to beat, probably — he has better organization and more money, and the party apparatchiks are going to be backing him with guns a-blazin’. But at least for tonight, Newt has to be seen as the front-runner, the man with the most momentum, and the man to beat.

Barack Obama

Obama isn’t up because of his win in the uncontested Nevada primary. He’s up every day that the GOP continues to fight things out.

Let’s face it: the 2008 Democratic Primary was bitter and divisive at times. But it didn’t have a patch on this race. Newt and Mitt are ripping each other to shreds, and the only possible outcome of that is good news for Barack Obama.

Newt’s win tonight means that the GOP race should continue on through at least Super Tuesday. That’s great news for Barack Obama. And if Newt somehow wins? Oh, that’s to wonderful to imagine.

Who’s Down

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney has a glass jaw. That is now obviously, painfully clear. He took his first tough shot of the campaign over the last two weeks, and it knocked him to the canvas. He looked lost and disoriented in his attempts to react to Newt’s attacks, and indeed, managed to make things even worse through unforced errors. Then Mitt got thumped tonight, and while he hoped to roll out a Jeb Bush endorsement tomorrow to try to stanch the bleeding, this will not happen, which wouldn’t be so bad, except that they’d already been leaking that it would.

Now, in principle, the next few races should favor Mitt. He’s been banking absentee ballots in Florida, and has more money and more organization there than Newt does. Florida is followed by Nevada, which has a large Mormon population, and then Maine, which is in one of Mitt’s back yards.

In Mitt’s ideal world, by the time he hits Colorado and Minnesota on February 7, he’ll have won three straight races and four of six, and he’ll be back into inevitability mode.

But that said, if Newt can score an upset in Florida or Nevada or, ideally, both, Mitt could be dealt a fatal blow.

Mitt is in desperate, desperate straits. Things are so bad tonight that his campaign is actually trying to spin this as a great victory for Mitt, and a big loss for Gingrich.  That this is patently absurd is no matter; they have to explain this away, because this is the ballgame.

This can’t be said too much: Mitt now must win Florida. The good news for him is that he probably will. Probably. But that was “certainly” a week ago. And I do wonder if we’re starting to approach a tipping point, with Newt solidified as the tea party candidate and Mitt as the establishment candidate. And you can ask Mike Castle who wins that one.

Ron Paul

Paul isn’t out of the race, but there’s no question his mojo has been dented by his fourth-place finish. When Paul racks up 23 percent and second or third place, he’s interesting. When he’s finishing a distant fourth and taking 13 percent, he isn’t.

Paul is running, per his speech tonight, to get delegates and influence in the Republican Party, far more than to win the nomination. So he’ll keep slogging on, because, well, why not? But if he doesn’t do better soon, he’s going to stop being a story worth following, and at that point, Ron’s influence begins to wane. And hopefully, for denizens of the internet, that means we hear less from the Ronulans.

Who’s Out

Rick Santorum

Santorum won Iowa, and he had a brief moment when he could have become Romney’s main foil. But that moment has passed. He won’t win the nomination, and I’d say the odds of him quitting before Florida are 50/50. Unless Newt totally collapses again, I don’t see how Santorum has any path to the nomination; indeed, I really don’t see how Santorum has any path to the nomination, period. If Newt collapses, he’s more likely to come back to life yet again than Rick to make a move. Santorum is done. It was a nice run.

I’m not sure how to feel about Santorum, at least relative to Newt. He’s certainly far less evil and venal than Newt. Far less overtly hateful. His hate is much quieter, less overt. And far more radical. I think I’m glad that Newt is the foil for Mitt. Rick is good at seeming not horribly evil. That is not Newt’s forte.

Stephen Colbert

Colbert has done a lot of very interesting and hilarious work exposing the disaster that is our campaign financing system. But as one could have expected, he didn’t do particularly well in South Carolina; Herman Cain, his stand-in on the ballot, only pulled 1 percent.

So ends the dream of a Colbert presidency. It’s too bad. I was really looking forward to him putting Canada on notice, listing North Korea on the threatdown, and outlawing bears.

Buddy Roemer

Roemer wasn’t on the ballot in South Carolina; it really wouldn’t have mattered if he had. He isn’t having any impact on the race at this point. Really, he’d be better off just making the jump to a third-party run and being done with it.

Fred Karger

Karger also wasn’t on the ballot, and he’s having even less of an impact on the race than Roemer. Really, it’s time for Karger to go.

He Who Must Not Be Named

Beyond time for the anti-choice douchebag to drop out. Of the race, the world, whatever — go away, and don’t let the door hit you.

This entry posted in Elections and politics. Bookmark the permalink. 

2 Responses to The South Will Rise Again

  1. 1
    Hugh says:

    Santorum may be overtly more pleasant and reasonable-sounding than Newt, but when it comes to their actual views, Santorum is an out-and-out reactionary, while Newt at least has a few chinks in the armour of his conservatism. To take the obvious example, Newt doesn’t seem to have a problem with contraception.

  2. 2
    Robert says:

    Newt is a conservative progressive, that is, a follower of the progressive political tradition who comes at things from a traditionalist/conservative mindset and worldview. (He is the intellectual opposite of a Blue Dog democrat, someone whose official political positions are more or less liberal but who in reality ends up working with conservative political interests much more often.)

    Though Newt is not a particularly fine example of the genre, in general I think we would be better off with more conservative progressives and with more Blue Dog-type democrats (sans the racist motivations of many of the latter group).