By winning the New Hampshire primary, Mitt Romney has gained strong national momentum as the GOP frontrunner. But Saturday’s South Carolina primary may help other GOP candidates — Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) — gain pace on Romney and narrow the gap.
South Carolina is a very different political environment than New Hampshire and Romney will be challenged by the southern state’s large number of evangelical voters, his own background in corporate finance and on Wall Street which paints him as out of touch with rural America, and massive attack ads by other GOP candidates and their Super PACs. For Romney, South Carolina will be the hardest primary to win, especially as his competitors are growing fearful that this will be their last chance to stop him.
An Insider Advantage poll gives us a view on the leader board in South Carolina. Mitt Romney leads the polls 23%, with Gingrich coming in at 21%. A Rasmussen Reports poll paints an even more surprising picture, showing that Gingrich is in fact ahead of Romney with a 33% lead compared to 31%. The poll proves Romney’s momentum may be slipping.
Newt Gingrich has started to air his attacks ads against Romney, highlighting especially Romney’s pro-abortion positions. The ads seek to paint Romney as opposite conservative southern evangelicals. An estimated $3.5 million ad campaign by Gingrich is also making the case that Romney is bad for job creation, especially as he laid-off workers as manager of Bain Capital.
Jobs and the wider economy are both critical issues in South Carolina, so the Bain Capital scandal may resonate. Attacks demanding Romney show his personal taxes could also reveal that wealthy Romney is actually taxed under 15% would strengthen the notion that Romney can’t empathize with struggling South Carolina the state’s 10% unemployment.
Santorum has partnered with Gingrich in attacking the front runner.
The South Carolina race still has 45% of voters undecided enough to see Gingrich and Santorum make a run. Romney won’t come first this time.
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore