In part because we do not know who is running and we do not know exactly what is going on at the congressional level or even at the state level in many cases, it is difficult to pin point exactly where the political landscape stands with regards to the whole Primary process. However, as inaccurate as certain polls may be, we do have a variety of polls (with different results and different sets of candidates) that give us clues as to where the race stands. As of right now, some elements in the Romney camp claim that not only is Mr. Romney the frontrunner, he is so far ahead that he cannot be stopped. On the other extreme, some argue that he is not the front runner at all. I for one state that as of this moment, he is the definite front runner, but at the same time, I would not say he is a strong front runner per se.
Again, many Romneyite as well as some Palinites and other would disagree, but I for one would argue that prior to his announcement to not seek thenomination, I argue that Mr. Mr. Huckabee was the front-runner at the time he withdrew. Many can point to a variety of polls where Mr. Huckabee was either not winning in terms of national per cent or at if he was ahead, it certainly was within the margin of error. However, I argue that if we look at the current delegate rules, (and yes not only are these rule subject to be tweaked, I realize that not all states will vote on the same day) Mr. Huckabee certain would win the delegate race because of his strength in the South and in rural areas.
By last Christmas, to one degree or another both Mr. Romney and Mrs. Palin slipped enough in popularity to give Mr. Huckabee a lead in a hypothetical delegate race. He probably could have got 800 delegates by February. Meanwhile, Mr. Romney would probably be just over 500 delegates with Mrs. Palin a little under. Eventually Mr. Trump entered the race, Mrs. Palin dipped further and Mr. Romney, Dr. Paul and Mr. Gingrich stayed level for a while. Even with Mr. Trump in the race, Mr. Huckabee would have likely received 600 delegates on the day before he left the race. By default, Mr. Romney went from about 500 to over 600 delegates overnight. Mr. Trump then left the race and Mrs. Palin did not get her fair share of Huckabeeites and Trumpians and despite Mrs. Bachmann and Mr. Pawlenty starting to gain a bit of traction, Mr. Romney then jumped to well over 700 delegates.
Mr. Daniels left the race, but because Mr. Cain then caught on like wild fire, and Mr. Guiliani and Mr. Christie made a bit of noise, Mr. Romney dropped back to about 650 delegates. Since then, Mrs. Palin went back on to the upswing, Mr. Gingrich went on the downswing, Mr. Cain has stabilized, Mr. Christie has been making less noise poll wise and the two folk from Minnesota continue to advance forward on balance a little bit.
While, Mr. Romney may have cross the 20% mark in terms of national popular vote (such was probably not achieved by Mr. Huckabee.) Mrs. Palin is probably at least in the mid-teens now in term of national popular vote. So although she may not be far behind, Mr. Romney’s popular vote lead over Mrs. Palin (the current next closest rival) is at least beyond the margin of error according to most polls. So while Mr. Huckabee could probably claim a popular vote lead over his rival(s,) it would be difficult to argue that it was beyond the margin of error. Geography is not the only reason that Mr. Romney is not running away while the delegate count yet. In many states, not all, there could easily be 7 or 8 candidates who would probably cross the 5% line (which would entitle them to at least one delegate.) This does not include the additional 3 delegates per CD they’d get in certain cases. This is a double edge sword. One the one hand, a crowded field (the vacuum left by Mr. Huckabee, Mr. Trump and others) leaves Mr. Romney with about only one fifth or so of all the voters. Not very impressive in deed, but most front-runner need to crack the 30% mark at some point even in a somewhat crowed field. On the other hand, he only has at best one person literally breathing down his neck; where as Mr. Huckabee had two or three serious rivals at one point who were not far behind in popularity.
To be sure, the dust will continue to settle, we will have a better and better idea of who is running and the Undecideds (or former Huckabeeites, and Trumpians among other) will eventually find a new home. So no doubt, Mr. Romney will inch forward at the same time, a non Romneyite candidate (be it Mrs. Palin or somebody else) will also inch forward. The Romneyites can simply argue that among other things, the race is all, but over because Mr. Romney is leading in all the early states. Yes, as of this moment, he appears to have some kind of lead in all the early states. However, as sure as we do not have a national primary day, history has shown us that it is possible for things to change from June of the year prior to a Presidential race until the caucuses and primary voting begins. The cookie will crumble further and it is still unclear who gets the various crumbs in the end. If a candidate can win all early states by a significant margin, the race is over, but if a candidate cannot beat expectations and win a significant amount of both delegates and popular vote, the process could become somewhat exciting shall we say.
In short, I actually agree believe that on balance Mr. Romney is in a better situation now than Mr. Huckabee was. At the same time it is not all cut and dry and it is more complex than many might think.