Expert Comment: US Election UpdateWednesday 25 April 2012
Dr. Robert Busby, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Politics, History, Media and Communication at Liverpool Hope University
The win in Florida by Mitt Romney gives some meaningful hope to Republican party supporters that the poll bounces which have been experienced by candidates on the right of the party may have finally dissipated. With Santorum, Gingrich and Romney all having primary wins behind them Florida, one of the key states in the autumn election, was pivotal in providing momentum and in bringing predictability to what had been a chaotic race. Romney’s decisive win in the state, with 46% of the Republican vote, gives cause for optimism that the strongest candidate the Republican party has, can finally see off his dogged rivals and carve a route through to the summer Republican convention.
Romney’s win in Florida is instructive in several respects. He appears to have gained some unlikely support from Tea Party advocates – the new influential interest within the Republican party. Given a stark choice of Obama or Romney it may now be the case that the Tea Party will move to give formal backing to Romney and rally its supporters to his cause. Romney, with his moderate Republican stance, also has the greatest chance of getting financial support across the campaign, an important factor given the cost of running an effective primary campaign. In Florida Romney spent $16 million dollars in the last month alone. Romney agreed to release his tax figures last week, a move designed to lance a boil about the nature of his personal finances and one that had previously posed niggling questions about his personal integrity. That his disclosure did not derail his campaign in the short term suggests that he has come through perhaps one of the most testing periods of the primary race thus far and has enhanced his position, both personally and politically.
Santorum is effectively finished in the race, and Ron Paul may decide to continue, but he plays to a narrowly defined libertarian wing of the party and serves as an ideological beacon rather than a realistic presidential nominee. The race is now only between Gingrich and Romney. Romney has the money, the momentum, or the ‘mittmentum’ as his supporters like to call it, and a cross section of support from across the party. Gingrich appears to be lagging behind in all of these areas. On to Nevada….