I have to be honest — when I left for maternity leave at the end of January, I was a little sad, thinking that by the time I returned to Care2, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney would have the endorsement contest pretty much wrapped up, and I would have missed the entire process.
Boy was I wrong.
Instead, we’re about to go into a Michigan primary that should have been a gimmee for Romney, and instead is leaning towards being a squeaker. Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has used his social conservative stances to cash in on Romney’s inability to connect with average Republican voters, and, up until the most recent debate, was projected to provide a likely upset in Romney’s “home” state.
Santorum and Romney have been trading leads nationally for weeks now, and once more the national edge is trending back to Romney. According to new Gallup numbers, Romney is once more in front – barely — after lagging far behind the Pennsylvania Republican.
Romney is also looking stronger in upcoming contests. Arizona polling shows him with a very small lead over Santorum in that state, too, at 39 percent to 35.
But not willing to be counted out, we still have to contend with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Gingrich has a mere 11 percent in Arizona, but that doesn’t seem to be affecting his plans. Apparently vying for a third and final surge, Gingrich is clinging onto his campaign for dear life, and hoping that a double digit lead in Georgia might provide him with the momentum he needs to come back yet again. Or, at the very least, give him some delegates to play kingmaker with at the party’s convention.
Can Gingrich really make it back into the competition, making the whole thing even more long and complicated than it already is? Even if he can’t, and it’s just Romney and Santorum continuing to slug away at each other, who’s the biggest winner? It looks like the answer to that is President Barack Obama. The latest polling from Politico shows the President with a 53 percent approval rating, and he is leading both Republican challengers by at least 10 percent in head to head matchups.
With the nomination contest looking far from over, one can only wonder whether that lead will continue to grow, and whether inevitable shortening of the general election season means losing precious months the eventual nominee will need in order to recover.
Photo from Matt Ortega via flickr creative commons