January 25, 2012 2 Comments
I must admit that I was a little surprised at the result of the Republican Primary in South Carolina; not that Romney was unable to attract much more than his usual 25% of the ballot, but rather that the anti-Mitt vote gathered quite so strongly around Gingrich.
Having thought about this for a while, I have come to the conclusion that Newt appeals to the GOP base because of his image an angry man, an angry man who is able to articulate that anger in a way that resonates with a conservative electorate that is frightened and bewildered by the current economic uncertainty. Gingrich is talking their language when he rails against the supposed political and media elite, and he does this so well that his supporters are willing to overlook inconvenient details, like the fact that Newt has spent much of his career as a Washington insider, or that he took millions from Freddie Mac at a time when the company was foreclosing on the mortgages of families all over the country.
The fight will probably get nastier in Florida, but I still think Romney will take the nomination; he has the money, the organisation and the support of the party hierarchy. He’s going to come out of the process damaged though; labelled as a super-rich predatory capitalist who understands little and cares less about the plight of ordinary citizens.
This is music to the ears of the White House of course; Obama’s State of the Union address may not have been the declaration of class war that the right are shouting about, but it’s clear that the Democrats want to fight the campaign on the economic concerns of the squeezed middle class. It’s hard to imagine Romney making much headway on that terrain, so, barring disaster, Obama is looking good for a second term.