GOP Primaries: It's Romney, But It's Not Over (But It Should Be)

BlogHer Original Post

I'm out. I'm just all out. I can read more, talk more, opine more. But really -- how much more is there to actually say, that hasn't already been said, about the Republican candidates remaining in the primary battle to be the party's nominee for the 2012 general election?

Even his three wins last night, in Wisconsin, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, have failed to seal the deal for the delegate leader, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. For more background on last night's elections, check out the exit polls and see how moderate the voters were in those three states, especially in comparison to several already-counted primary or caucus states; watch Romney's victory speech given in Wisconsin, and see Santorum's "we're still going for it speech" from Pennsylvania.

Why is this fight not over?

Romney Wisconsin primary
(Credit Image: © Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/MCT/ZUMAPRESS.com)

For months now, we've seen brilliance come and go in the GOP's field of candidates, mostly hailing from the "not Romney" category. In no particular order, 'member these folks: Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman, Herman Cain. But voters of the conservative persuasion have tried and failed to unite behind one individual who, in their voters' eyes, can win in November (this is the "can beat Obama" criterion), possesses the requisite ideology, and has the know-how that they're looking for.

As of this first week of April, conservative voters' choices are down to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Congressman Ron Paul, competing for last place among the remaining four candidates -- plus Romney, who is padding his delegate lead over second place contestant, former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum.

It's widely accepted that Gingrich and Paul are playing for planks -- platform planks, that is. Gingrich says he will mess with individual delegates. And some speculate that Paul wants to continue to power what he sees as momentum behind his policy positions -- possibly with the hope that his son, U.S. Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul, will continue the drive in future years.

Why has it been so hard for one candidate to emerge more definitively than Mitt Romney has been emerging? In my opinion, two reasons: Romney's money and Santorum's stubborness.

Those two elements play together like the philosophical notions of free will and determinism: The tug of war between them could go on endlessly, unless and until the devotee of each one decides to stop advocating for his position.

In the case of Romney and Santorum, that cessation just isn't happening until at least Pennsylvania's April 24 primary, unless of course there is some divine intervention. Depending on who you are rooting for, the potential interventions are going to look like polar opposites -- votes and cash from heaven for Santorum; adoration and confidence from voters for Romney.

To be fair to Santorum, speaking as a former candidate for office myself, I totally get what it can feel like to not want to give up or give in. To feel like you know exactly what you're fighting for, and you know there are people who support you and believe in what you're fighting for, all the while knowing that the battle is going to be gut-wrenchingly exhausting and may still land you on the losing end of the field. And there does come a time when you have to choose a path that will end it all, one way or another. What will Rick Santorum ultimately deign as the break point? Very hard to say right now -- it might be perhaps the single murkiest issue to pinpoint. And, of course, Santorum is still out there saying he believes it won't come to that because he will win. God bless his soldiering-on soul.

But, overall, it's not just the evangelicals keeping this fight going -- religion-wise, Romney is doing just fine. And it's not just the women. Women have gone both ways in regard to these two candidates, depending on the state -- as well as the proportion of evangelicals, the economic circumstances, and the individual state's prevailing policy mood (female voters in states jamming down on women's reproductive rights and health care seem to be going more for Romney, as in Ohio and Wisconsin).

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