With the steady fade of Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachman, the Republican nomination for president appears to be narrowing into a two-way race between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry. That doesn’t mean, of course, that things couldn’t turn suddenly; four years ago, John McCain appeared dead in the water but mounted a strong comeback to win the nomination. But in this instance, it looks like it might be hand-to-hand combat between Romney and Perry, with the rest of the candidates left on the outside, looking in.
The latest polls show Romney with a commanding lead in New Hampshire, where the first-in-the-nation primary gives that state uncommon clout. Many are surprised that Perry, who jumped into the race late but with great fanfare, hasn’t closed that gap, but Romney is a former governor from a neighboring state and also has a vacation home in New Hampshire, which gives him a natural leg up. Later primary states, including South Carolina, will tell the tale more closely.
Romney is a more broad-based candidate, and polling information shows he will be more attractive than Perry to independents, a core constituency that moved into the Obama fold in 2008. Many of those people are now disenchanted with Obama and the job he’s done. Being able to attract them to the polls during the general election will be a major task for the GOP.
We’ve often said presidential politicking is too lengthy, and we still believe that. Various candidates have been criss-crossing the nation virtually since the 2008 race was over. But now, as we enter the last year before the vote takes place, the real battles will begin. South Carolina Republicans haven’t always picked the most conservative candidate, as the rest of the nation usually expects the state to do, so it will be interesting to see how things play out in a Romney-Perry race.