Well, there you have it. It has been a momentous primary season with 20 nationally televised debates, countless political blunders, innumerable frontrunners, and vicious Super PAC ads. But the victor is as we always predicted: Mitt Romney.
Adding delegates from Massachusetts, Vermont, Virginia, Idaho, Alaska, and Ohio to his inventory Tuesday, Romney has cemented his status as the Republican nominee for the 2012 general elections. As of Wednesday evening, Romney had accumulated a total of 416 delegates — with 1144 required to win the nomination — according to the New York Times. Trailing pretty far behind were Rick Santorum with 176 delegates and Newt Gingrich with 105.
While the primaries aren’t “officially” over, I believe the time is right to look back. We’ve had four serious contenders in the race. Let’s examine the campaigns of Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul, and see what ultimately culminated in a Romney win.
With his ever-enduring constitutional values and self-tailored consistency image, Ron Paul was one of the Fantastic Four to keep standing by Super Tuesday. His so-called libertarian views earned him great popularity, especially among younger voters. One aspect of his campaign that I particularly enjoyed was that despite being the only presidential nominee (including current President Barack Obama) who served in the military, Dr. Paul is the only one who advocates peace. While his libertarianism occasionally backs him into a corner, Paul has had more than a few ideas that brought a fresh perspective to the GOP field. But some other ideas, on the whole, were unpalatable to the Republican establishment and ultimately brought about his downfall. As it stands today, he has yet to win in a single state and is the most unlikely to have any chance at the Convention this summer.
Newt Gingrich, a former Speaker of the House, has been a vicious and aggressive contender in the race. Gingrich’s derogatory Super PAC ads against Gov. Romney, frequent jabs at his other opponents, and well-seasoned politician attitude made him an insta-hit among voters. Unfortunately for him, changing his relationship status multiple times over the years cast doubt on the legitimacy of his stance on family values. Gingrich’s opponents assailed him over his $1.6 million compensation from mortgage giant Freddie Mac over a six-year period for helping them out as a “historian.” It isn’t hard to notice the massive contradiction between Gingrich’s seemingly firm stance against D.C. insiders and his lobbying efforts. Gingrich’s status as the possible alternative to Romney faded quickly after his South Carolina win, ultimately paving the route for a new up-and-comer.
Seemingly coming out of nowhere, Rick Santorum currently stands as Romney’s most relevant adversary. Appealing to the family values voters, evangelicals, blue-collar workers, and the way-too-conservative-to-be-making-any-sense-whatsoever, Santorum has tried reaching out to voters that Romney can’t seem to reach. His social “values,” in which opposing birth control, abortion (even in situations such as rape), and homophobia place highly, have made him a favorite target for Democrats. To celebrate Santorum’s disconnection from reality, various websites have even gone the length of creating a new and exciting meaning for his last name.
Recently, Santorum was quoted as calling President Obama a “snob” because he wanted everyone in America to get a college degree. (It seems somewhat ironic, though, that someone who holds BA, MBA, and JD degrees would think this.) Nonetheless, Santorum has proven himself a strong foe to Romney, losing by only about one percent in Ohio on Tuesday. Gearing up to grab as many of the remaining conservative states as he can get, Santorum’s hopes of catching up to Romney, however unlikely, are certainly more plausible than either Gingrich’s or Paul’s.
This brings us to the sure winner of 2012’s GOP primaries: former Massachusetts Governor Willard Mitt Romney. Steadily continuing on his path to the nomination since the beginning of the race, Romney’s incredible organization and ability not to terrify all but the most conservative electors has been his main strength thus far. As the only Washington “outsider” among the candidates, Romney has counted on his real world business expertise to carry him to the lead. As it stands, Romney’s the most electable alternative to Obama and will definitely pose an important challenge in the general elections come fall.
It is still important to note, however, that Romney possesses an Achilles’ heel that may prove dangerous during the general elections. His apparent inability to relate to Joe Sixpack is likely to alienate the mid-to-low income population. Public gaffes such as “I am not an ardent fan of NASCAR racing, but I do have a few friends who … own NASCAR teams,” threaten to portray him as a candidate who is out of touch with the realities of America. If he wants to secure the presidency by November, he must begin to show that he can understand the challenges that much of the population currently face and dissolve the elite façade that has come to define him.
The GOP primaries have selected the victor. Let’s see now if the former governor has what it takes to challenge our current president.