In the South Carolina primary, Newt Gingrich's 20-point swing in the polls in the last three days of the race is quite an accomplishment. I don’t know of any political campaign that has ever pulled off such a feat. For that, we have to give credit to Gingrich and his campaign staff.
This accomplishment is even more amazing considering where Gingrich was campaigning. Traditionally, South Carolina has been a bastion of the religious right, people who don’t take well to husbands who cheat on their wives. I would have expected that to weigh heavily against Gingrich, but it didn’t seem to have been a factor at all. Apparently, collective memory is short. The drubbing that Gingrich gave the moderator in Thursday night's debate when the subject of his personal life was brought up that may explain Gingrich's appeal. His response to the questions about his marriage may have shamed the religiously intolerant into some forgiveness.
This result has brought up an historic precedent. Never before have three different candidates won the first three states in the primary tour. While I believe Santorum to have been a flash in the pan in Iowa, he still won. There was no surprise in New Hampshire when Mitt walked away with the victory, and then Newt's taking South Carolina has set up a very interesting primary in Florida. At this point, all bets are off as to who will be the anointed one to run against Obama.
The problem for Republicans is finding the candidate who can defeat Obama. The three winners so far, at least in my opinion, stand very little chance. Romney will flip-flop, Newt carries too much baggage, and Santorum is too religiously and socially conservative. Independent voters are going to be the key to this election, and they seem to have a longer memory than the party faithful. They know about the downsides to all the candidates, as well as President Obama's flaws.
I don’t think there are any solid candidates running in either party.
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