Romney sweeps Nevada, leaving Gingrich with some hard choices
Even though last night's caucus results were long predicted, Romney’s only one-tenth of the way toward amassing the delegates he needs
In 2008 Mitt Romney brushed aside Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, John McCain and the other challengers in the GOP race in Nevada. Delivering over 50 percent of the field, Romney showed that his ability to organise in the Silver State was second to none. Given that he's now effectively been campaigning in Nevada for five years, Saturday night's caucus results were little surprise.
But that doesn't mean that it wasn't still fascinating.
As you'll hear all day, Romney managed to win by attracting a coalition of voters intent on choosing the “most serious contender“ to face Barack Obama. There were Tea Party types, social conservatives, Mormons and independents that ensured Mitt cruised to victory over his rivals. The Mormon demographic in fact counted for around one quarter of eligible caucus-goers.
Ron Paul, who was eagerly chasing Newt Gingrich using the alternative tactic of appealing to some of Nevada's more rural areas, is failing to bring out this “true conservative“ base that he and his supporters often lay claim to.
It's true, when asking voters who they think is a “true conservative“ (without defining the term), Mitt Romney is rarely the name that rolls off their tongues. Entrance polling from Nevada showed that only five percent of caucus goers uttered the name “Mitt Romney“ when this question was posed.
This tells us something more about what Nevada Republicans are looking for in a candidate. Not the ideologue like in South Carolina, where Newt Gingrich was able to whip up social conservative sentiment to deliver a hammer blow to Romney. But, rather, a pragmatist-in-chief -- a man intent on making Barack Obama a one-term President, rather than winning the race to be crowned “Mr.Conservative“.
This was reflected in the fact that in their speeches on Saturday night, no other candidate even mentioned the President, while Mitt hit at him over a dozen times.
With Romney only one-tenth of the way toward amassing the delegates he needs to secure the nomination, the race is far from over. The question is whether the other campaigns can keep up with Romney in terms of fundraising and racking up victories in the upcoming contests.
Newt says he's “going to Tampa“ -- stating that he won't bow out before the Republican convention this summer. But despite the fact that he might pick up a few victories in more Newt-friendly states, such as Georgia, the momentum is now against him.
That's not to say that he can’t pull off a few good tricks. He surprised many in South Carolina, and a renewed campaign focus on the weakness of Obama may yet be a winning ticket for him.
With an increasing likelihood of some kind of showdown with Iran on the horizon, and given that the US economy is picking up pace, Newt may also wish to switch his talking points to foreign affairs and play on American exceptionalism.
Certainly he could pull some voters away from Santorum on this. But if he opts to stay the course he's set, my prediction is that he'll trundle embarrassingly along into Tampa, being handed his hat on the way in.
Raheem Kassam is the Executive Editor of The Commentator and tweets at @RaheemJKassam
Read more on: Romney sweeps Nevada, Romney win in Nevada, Gingrich Nevada, Santorum Nevada, Romney Nevada, Nevada caucus, Romney presidential candidate, Romney and Obama, Can Romney beat Obama?, Raheem Kassam, Raheem Kassam Henry Jackson Society, the commentator, and US Election 2012
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