One of the most accepted theories among amateur political-watchers such as myself is that, despite running third or fourth in most national polls, Mitt Romney joins Rudy Giuliani as the two men most likely to win the Republican nomination. And, considering that the election is decided by individual state elections, rather than one national one, some people go as far as to call Romney the real frontrunner. This poses a major problem for Giuliani, because he has been pursuing a national strategy. Now, with Romney leading in almost every early state, it becomes a must that any candidate hoping to beat Romney finds a way to prevent Mitt from riding a wave of early-state momentum. The best – and possibly only – way to do that is to win at least one early state of their own. For Rudy Giuliani, he essentially has three options. However, as you will read below, he still may find it impossible to stop Mitt.
Florida:Florida is the only early state where Rudy has shown anything close to a consistent lead within the last two months. Many Giuliani supporters have suggested that, as long as he can win Florida, he still has the best, or at least a very good, shot at winning the nomination. This however, I see as flawed logic. While Florida is a big state, and does hold an important place in the general election, I’m not sure that, after Romney wins in IA,NH,NV,WY, and MI, that one win would be enough to prevent Romney from sweeping most of the Super Tuesday states. With all that said, Flordia is, as you will read below, probably Rudy’s best opportunity to remain in the race.
Michigan: Michigan is a state of considerable size, and does come earlier than Florida, but only just. Michigan was originally slated to be the third state to hold a primary, though Wyoming and Nevada have both moved earlier. In the end however, this scheduling switch may not be a bad thing for Romney – because he is expected to win WY, and leads in NV. If Giuliani can’t stop Romney before Michigan votes, I doubt he can win the Great Lakes state. Romney leads in most polls here, and, as a native son, has a moderate advantage. If Romney wins every state before Michigan, I don’t see how he loses in a state he is favored to win.
New Hampshire:Could Rudy upset Romney in New Hampshire? Well, he has shown gains in recent polls, though at least one – the CNN poll that showed a tied race, apparently included an oversample of independents. But in the end, I am completely unconvinced that Rudy could take NH away from Romney. For one, Romney is almost certain to win Iowa, which would likely give him a boost just days before the New Hampshire primary, would give Giuliani little time to counter that Momentum. Secondly, Romney has staked his entire campaign on early wins, and, with a substantial base of support, strong organization, and deep pockets, Romney will fight tooth and nail to win NH – and unless Rudy wants to risk handing Florida to Thompson, he cannot afford to spend that much time trying to beat Romney in New Hampshire. A third factor is that, in Michigan and New Hampshire, McCain is also a factor – and will likely remain so until he drops out. If Rudy wants to try to attack Romney in either of those states, he is first going to have to beat McCain to be the “alternative” candidate. A nasty fight for the second place spot – which it would likely be – could be damaging to both campaigns.
Romney is not “inevitable”, nor is he “unbeatable”, but if the current situation continues, with Romney leading in most early states, I have to believe that he would win the nomination.