The end of the road for Gingrich?

By Luke Freedman in Sydney, Australia

30 January 2012


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Five days ago Newt Gingrich held a 10 point lead in Florida and looked poised to carry his momentum from South Carolina down into the Sunshine State. Alas, five days is a lifetime when it comes to campaigns. Over the last several days, Mitt Romney has surged back ahead and now is the clear favourite to win the January 31 Florida primary.

This is obviously bad news for Gingrich, but it’s especially damaging given the campaign schedule. The four upcoming states (Nevada, Maine, Colorado, and Minnesota) were all carried by Romney in the 2008 Republican primary. If Gingrich stalls in Florida, it will be exceptionally difficult to regain momentum.

And, as the support dries up, so do the campaign contributions. Money is always important in the primary, but in the earlier, smaller states like Iowa and New Hampshire, a candidate can somewhat compensate for a lack of resources by campaigning aggressively across the state, and holding face to face meetings with voters. However, as the campaign drags on, this becomes an increasingly difficult task. The number of days between each state primary shrinks, and a number of states begin holding their elections on the same day. A candidate simply doesn’t have the time to personally visit all the counties in each state. Under these circumstances, having the resources to blanket the airwaves with advertisements is an enormous advantage.

Of course, if we’ve learned one thing during the campaign, it’s not to count out Gingrich. Every time he’s been left for dead, he’s managed to rise from the ashes in a blaze of populist rhetoric. And the creation of Super PACs means that Gingrich can potentially rely on advertising campaigns financed by wealthy individuals, even if his own direct campaign contributions begin to dry up.

Still, given the unfavourable upcoming primary schedule and increasingly harsh attacks from other Republicans, Gingrich is facing an uphill battle going forward. South Carolina was critical for Gingrich, but it was also essential for him to build from that performance by winning Florida as well. Now, he needs to find a way to recapture momentum — and hold on to it for more than a week — if he wants to stop the Republican primary from becoming a Romney blowout.

Tags: Election 2012, Electionwatch, Florida, Florida Primary, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Republican Party, Republican Primary 2012, South Carolina, South Carolina Primary, Superpacs

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