Thursday, January 5, 2012

South Carolina's Winner-Take-All Nail-BIter

The January 21 South Carolina Republican primary will be a nail biter.

The state's 25 delegates will ALL go to the highest winner. (Its delegate count got chopped in half from 50 because S.C. GOP moved its date early, to preserve its first in the South status.)
It's an open primary, which brings in Independents and Democrats in a no Democratic contest year. This is the only plus factor for Mitt Romney, and maybe for Ron Paul. But this is the evangelical Protestant Christian South, so look more to the avowedly social conservatives.
It's set for a Saturday, which should bring in more blue collar voters. A plus again for the social conservatives.

Hard to say who will win the state.

Easier to address who will have trouble:
RON PAUL: the libertarian won't win because of --as the New York Times pointed out on January 4, the day after the Iowa caucuses-- the high military enrollments and the military base(s) in the state. He hasn't had any peaking period. His controversial newsletters and emails shouldn't be a problem in this very conservative state. He only peaked at 12 percent in December.
RICK PERRY: will be seen as a goof because of his debate and memory goofs/flubs (which caused him to sink from his S.C. polled high of 50 percent at the end of August --and this was in a selection of a field narrowed to Perry, Mitt Romney and Michelle Bachmann, so a poll excluding Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich). The last time he polled 10 percent or more was in October.

ROMNEY: He peaked in the polls at 27 percent on September 20. Plenty of flip-flops, expect an onslaught of Gingrich TV ads bringing up Romney's liberal or moderate positions on guns, abortions, and maybe gay and lesbian civil unions.

So the race is really between Gingrich and Santorum. The question is whether the former House Speaker's bitter, vengeful vendetta tone against Romney will backfire. Look also to who polls third (Gingrich or Santorum) in New Hampshire.
In SC expect Gingrich and Santorum to have 55 percent easily to split between the two of them.
(How long will the new charges against Santorum as a tax and spend beltway insider stick? They're dubious criticisms when you consider the interest group ratings of him and Newt. google: the no-partisan Project Vote Smart. The two Washington veterans have VERY similar records. But Gingrich has more heterodox positions that might hurt him, such as his perceived leniency on illegal immigrant families and his positive comments about Massachusetts' "RomneyCare" health program.)

Poll sources: (drawing from different polls, albeit latest poll was December 20, 2011 amidst the Newt Gingrich surge (and before the Romney machine ad money barrage vs. Gingrich))

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