Thursday, January 12, 2012

It's Way Too Early to Say I Told You So ...

... but instead of getting a New Hampshire bump, Mitt Romney's taking a South Carolina dump.
Mitt Romney - CaricatureImage by DonkeyHotey via Flickr
The first post-Granite-State-primary poll [PDF] in South Carolina shows Romney tumbling seven points from his pre-New-Hampshire 30%, to 23.1%. I don't see a margin of error listed, but it looks like Newt Gingrich would be well within said margin at 21.3% (not because he's gaining -- he isn't -- but because Romney's nosediving).

In freefall instead of rising the day after his second putative victory in this race, and the target is on nobody's back but his for the next eight days. The Republican Establishment is trying to gin up a "backlash" on the Bain attacks, but that would at best likely be a holding action. Things aren't looking very good for Mitt.

Absent some kind of game-changer, I (still) expect Gingrich to at least de facto tie Romney in South Carolina, and possibly beat him; to knock him on his ass in Florida after Perry and possibly Santorum drop out; and to romp on Super Tuesday.

Update, 01/13/12: Just got a campaign email from Newt.

Subject line? "Poll: Newt surging in SC -- we can still stop Romney."

First graf: "The InsiderAdvantage poll of South Carolina likely Republican primary voters shows Newt Gingrich surging, coming within a statistical tie of Mitt Romney."

Like I said above, yes, Gingrich is probably within the margin of error ... but it's not due to a Newt "surge." The last pre-New-Hampshire poll, by PPP, had Gingrich at 23%. He's not gaining ground on Romney, Romney's losing voters to Santorum and Perry. Here's the South Carolina poll track at Real Clear Politics.

Not that it matters in the grand scheme of things -- whatever gets him even with or ahead of Romney will do, and of course a purported surge is better advertising than "sittin' here, watching my opponent fall past me." But it's our job to notice what's really what. We are, after all, professionals.

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