In the past ten years, as self-proclaimed conservatives have increased from sixty-two per cent of the Republican Party to seventy-one per cent, the percentage of Republicans describing themselves as moderates has declined from thirty-one per cent to twenty-three per cent. The number who call themselves “liberal” is now close to the number who describe themselves as Aleut or Eskimo.
Whether what happens between April and June will improve Romney’s chances of beating Obama, or worsen them, depends on which Romney shows up on the campaign trail. The one that walked away with Florida was not the carefully groomed rationalist, given to describing Obama as a “nice guy” who is “in over his head”. He was a vicious and, at times, sarcastic campaigner who told sneaky lies (or maybe, he approved that anti-Gingrich Spanish-language ad in his sleep) and seemed to relish poking at Newt’s doughy rhetoric.
Voters, already lukewarm about Romney, are not fond of the new version. Up until last week, he had been skating by on a favorability rating of about 40%, with 30% unfavorable. The latest polling flips that ratio, and hitting a new low with independent voters: just 23% have a favorable view.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney trounced rival Newt Gingrich in Thursday night’s televised debate, revealing a pugnacious side to his character rarely seen in the campaign so far and giving him an edge going into Florida’s primary on Tuesday.
Da do Ron-Ron, da do, etc.
Representative Ron Paul of Texas finished a strong second in the state’s Republican primary on Tuesday, which in many ways was the more telling outcome in a race where Mitt Romney’s dominance was never in doubt.
Mr. Paul polled well ahead of the late-surging Jon M. Huntsman Jr., who ran third, and Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, who battled for fourth. Mr. Paul benefited from the large turnout of independent voters, getting the nod from about a third, a little more than Mr. Romney. He also did well with young voters and those who said they were liberal on social issues.
But even if political analysts continue to regard the libertarian-leaning Mr. Paul as a protest candidate, with no shot at the nomination, his success here — on top of a third-place finish last week in the Iowa caucuses — means he will probably continue his campaign for months and perhaps to the summer convention.