In large part due to a split in the opposition, Mr. Romney in now leading in every state except for 5 southern states. He has between 30 and 41% in every region of the country so the landscape is somewhat uniform across the country. Even without Mr. Huntsman leaving the race, he gained over 200 delegates this week to sit at 1273. Mr. Gingrich loses almost 200 delegates to fall to 358. Mr. Santorum slips a bit to sit at 213; Dr. Paul gains a bit to sit at 191 and Mr. Perry slips slightly to 71. Finally, had Mr. Huntsman continues to remain in the race and maintain his level of national support; he would have ended up with 16 delegates.
The next contest is in South Carolina where Mr. Romney has about 33 or 34%, Mr. Gingrich is about at 23%, Mr. Santorum at about 15 or 16%, Dr. Paul crack the 14% mark, Mr. Perry should get about 6% and Mr. Huntsman was at close to 5% as he exited. He will likely get a point or two even though he is out, but what is left of his support in SC will essentially go mainly to Mr. Romney and then the others. Regardless of whether Mr. Romney hangs on to win Saturday’s contest, he is in a strong position relative to the remaining candidates. Mr. Perry is essentially out and Dr. Paul’s number’s will most likely stay stable throughout the whole primary season regardless of what happens. Thus, the only thing standing in Mr. Romney’ way is the slight possibility of Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Santorum joining forces. While there were rumors of Mr, Gingrich dropping out to back Mr. Santorum, that scenario is now out of the question as of last night if not before. All things being equal, Mr. Santorum has run a decent campaign, he is a decent debater and he is even bringing in a bit of money finally. However, he is at a disadvantage being a Northern Conservative. His national numbers may be almost as good as Mr. Gingrich, but the next two contests are in the South. Despite the fact that Mr. Santorum is more Conservative than Mr. Gingrich, most Southern Conservative in the South will lean to Mr. Gingrich in large part because of geography.
So should Mr. Santorum drop out of the race and back Mr. Gingrich? I for now say no. Mr. Santorum should stay in and do his best because while Mr. Gingrich may be acting and sounding the part lately, Mr. Santorum is the best Conservative. Mr. Gingrich scored points by winning yesterday’s debate to the point where he excited the crowd unlike anybody else has this season. Unless, Mr. Romney continue to perform poorly last night, Mr. Gingrich will not be able to stop Mr. Romney in the end, but Mr. Gingrich while not being able to totally knock Mr. Santorum out of the picture, Mr. Gingrich probably knocked Mr. Santorum out of contention for the next in line candidate never mind the nomination. While Mr. Romney is still in a safe place regarding the nomination, Mr. Gingrich exposed Mr. Romney’s general weakness when he brought up SS and Super PACs. While Mr. Romney was weak last night, he does have a chance to come up with better answers. He will most likely not need better answers in further primary debates, but he will need better answers for the general election campaign.
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