Since the end of last semester, the race for the presidential nomination of the Grand Old Party has excited and opinionated political junkies everywhere. Just this past Saturday, Newt Gingrich managed a sizeable victory over the Republican favorite, Governor Mitt Romney, in the South Carolina primary, leaving a race that seemed settled even more questionable.
On Jan. 3, the race saw its first official contest in the Iowa caucus. The caucus drew considerable attention due to the extremely narrow victory of Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum over Mitt Romney.
The announcement of Santorum’s win came weeks after Romney was declared the victor by less than 50 votes. When the official election results were released last week, Santorum was officially given the win over Romney by only 34 votes.
The close race was not only between Romney and Santorum, but included Texas congressman and physician Ron Paul as well.
Paul, who some argue has the strongest and most vocal following of the Republican nomination contenders, earned only 3.1 percent of the vote in Iowa.
On Jan. 4, Representative Michelle Bachman, who came in last among the major contenders in the Iowa caucus, dropped out of the race. Bachman’s campaign tumbled between the summer, when she won the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa, and this month’s last-place finish in the caucus.
In a statement, where she announced her withdrawal from the contest, Bachman said, “Every generation serves as the next stepping stone to liberty… My message has been the complete repeal of Obamacare.” Finally, Bachman said, “I have decided to stand aside.” GOP strategists applauded her dropping out and looked to move on with a stronger pool for the Jan. 10 New Hampshire primary.
In a memorable statement on CBS’s Early Show, Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman said, “They pick corn in Iowa, they actually pick presidents in New Hampshire,” a sentiment that was shared by the Republican nominee hopefuls beyond the caucus frontrunners.
Romney secured an easy victory over the two other major contenders in New Hampshire, Paul and Huntsman. Romney (39.3 percent) pulled in almost 20 percent more votes than Paul (22.9 percent) and even more over Huntsman (16.8 percent).
Santorum saw his favoritism quickly wane, despite a huge rally of financial support and media attention, following Iowa when he pulled in less than 10 percent of the votes in New Hampshire.
Entering the South Carolina primary, the field got smaller by two candidates, when Huntsman and Texas Governor Rick Perry dropped out of the race before South Carolina.
Huntsman’s withdrawal from the race came as little surprise due to poor results in both Iowa and New Hampshire, where his campaign had spent considerable time and resources.
Huntsman was quick to toss his support to Romney, saying, “I believe it is now time for our party to unite behind the candidate that I believe is best equipped to defeat Barack Obama.” He went on to say, “Despite our differences…I believe that candidate is Governor Mitt Romney.”
The results of the Jan. 21 South Carolina primary proved semi-predictable but important. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich surged ahead, securing 40.4 percent of the vote over Romney’s 27.8 percent in the socially conservative, Southern state.
In a twitter post on primary night, Gingrich said, “On to Florida. Join our movement and let’s unleash the American people to rebuild the America we love.”
Nevertheless, many political analysts are skeptical of Gingrich having further successes because of the high-perceived disorganization of his campaign.
The Santorum campaign looks to experience serious problems moving forward as the primary race moves to the more populous and diverse state of Florida. Santorum’s successes have likely been based on his ability to connect individually with voters in smaller, more ideologically comparable states such as South Carolina and Iowa.
At the same time, Santorum is also much stronger with the support of many blue-collar and evangelical voters. Much of Santorum’s thrust involves boosting the country’s manufacturing might, a far-removed topic from those being discussed by former financial firm CEO Romney.
In a twitter post on Jan. 22, Santorum tweeted, “Three contests – three winners. The race for the GOP nomination is wide open! Join the fight!” But most Republicans have already discounted his ability to win.
In a statement following the South Carolina primary results, Case College Republicans president Gwen Gorse said, “We’ve seen an extremely volatile field this primary season, and while it is exciting to watch, I’m really looking forward to seeing the GOP unite around a single candidate.”
“The sooner we select a nominee,” she continued, “the sooner we can focus on our real goal: making Obama a one-term president.”
Polls pitting the major GOP candidates against Obama put Romney in the best position to beat Obama. A recent New York Times/CBS News Poll has Romney and Obama tying with 45 percent of the vote. Polls from other sources such as CNN, Rasmussen, and Fox News all have the contest within less than five percentage points.
Out of the other three GOP candidates, Paul fairs second-best against Obama in the CBS poll. In the poll, Paul has 42 percent, while Obama has 46 percent.
In a statement to The Observer, Young Americans for Liberty president Victoria Granada spoke about the issue of electability. “The 2012 GOP race, with all its enormous fluctuations, signifies a great dissatisfaction among Americans with many of our current politicians,” she said.
“Republicans and Independents alike are desperate to find someone who can defeat President Obama, but many are having a hard time balancing ‘electability’ with their desire for an exciting, anti-establishment candidate who shares their values and can turn around the economy,” she continued.
The Florida primary takes place on Jan. 31, followed by the Nevada caucus on Feb. 4.