In October, State of the Race declared Mitt Romney the heavy favorite to become the Republican 2012 candidate for president of the United States. Since then, much has changed in the Republican field, but the most important change is this: Mitt Romney is no longer the heavy favorite to become the Republican nominee; he is the prohibitive favorite. His polling numbers against other candidates, his polling numbers against Obama, his institutional support, his campaign funding, his superior organization, his wins in Iowa and New Hampshire, and the political positioning and messaging of his campaign have given him a virtual lock on the nomination.
Something happened in South Carolina last weekend that few people expected. While many figured that current frontrunner Mitt Romney would have difficulty in South Carolina, most people, including myself, did not expect the results to be this shocking. In a stunning turn of events, Newt Gingrich placed first in the South Carolina primary with 40.4 percent of the vote, far ahead of Romney who placed second with 27.8 percent of the vote.
As the fierce battles of the presidential primaries fade into history, the attentions of politicos turn to three questions: Who will win the 2012 presidential race? What electoral strategies will be employed? And who will Mitt Romney pick for his running mate?
Some of the damage done by Obama in the recent presidential debate has likely been mitigated by good numbers for current employment from the Department of Labor, but the polling still tells a dismal verdict for Obama’s performance. A strong debate for a presidential challenger normally turns around polls by about three points; Romney’s win turned around the polls by a whopping 4.6 points, turning a 3.1 deficit versus Obama into a 1.5 point lead in RealClearPolitics’ aggregation of polls. On Intrade, Romney’s odds have climbed 15 points, from 25 percent to 40 percent, while Nate Silver, who runs The New York Times’ prediction model, has Romney improving by 18.2 points, more than doubling to a 32.1 percent chance of victory.