Confusingly, it’s all change over the pond after a week that’s been turbulent even by American political standards.
Within the space of a few days, Mitt Romney went from being confidently ahead of the pack, optimistically looking forward having secured two states-worth of delegates, to being stripped of one of those victories then getting decisively hammered into second in South Dakota by a resurgent Newt Gingrich.
On Thursday, a recount of the votes cast during the Iowa Caucus found that Rick Santorum had actually won 34 more than Mitt Romney, who’d apparently scraped to victory by just eight votes on the night. Substantially, this doesn’t make much difference to the Romney camp – second place simply means Romney gets 12 delegates from Iowa, rather than 13. Symbolically, the effects are profound, especially in the light of events in South Dakota. Continue reading
Last Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary left Mitt Romney the victor by a comfortable margin, surely reassuring for the frontrunner after he barely scraped a win over surging social conservative Rick Santorum back in Iowa.
The fate of the aforesaid Senator Santorum nicely demonstrates how mercurial the primaries can be, especially at the beginning – strong second in Iowa, Santorum floundered in fifth in liberal New Hampshire, berated for his hard-line opposition to gay marriage. The result gives Romney a commanding lead. Like Iowa, New Hampshire doesn’t yield that many delegates to victorious candidates – the Romney camp has only secured 20 from two successive wins (a candidate needs 1,144 to secure the nomination). Continue reading
So far, the Republican presidential race has been characterised by the fact that Mitt Romney is probably going to win, but that many rank-and-file Republicans are desperate for him not to.
Attempts to find a viable Anything But Romney candidate from among the other contenders have failed so far – each time one seems to surge ahead, usually resulting from a strong debate performance, it’s not long before gaffes, negative advertising or private life revelations have knocked them off their perch.
In a field dominated by the Republican hard-right, Romney’s a relative centrist, and the most able to win over middle-of-the-road voters who have become disillusioned with Obama. As far as winning round the rank-and-file is concerned, his Mormonism has drawn hostility from the highly influential evangelical Christian demographic – many evangelicals don’t see Mormons as ‘proper’ Christians – as have his flip-flopping views on issues like abortion and gay marriage. Expect him to continue tacking right as the contest progresses to try and win their support, and, if nominated, choose a notable social conservative as his Vice Presidential candidate to compensate for his lack of right-wing credentials – ‘balancing the ticket’ in US political jargon. Continue reading
American politics is especially painful for non-Americans, seeing as though we have to deal with its far-reaching fallout while having no say whatsoever in what happens.
In a sane world, the citizens of earth would all get a vote in November’s presidential election – who wins has the potential to drastically affect all of our lives. Even with American military and economic clout palpably on the wane, the victor will unchallengeable remain the planet’s most powerful single individual. As it happens, we just have to sit and watch.
Now is a good time to start paying attention. The Republicans have started the slow process that will culminate in August’s National Convention in Tampa, Florida, where the Party officially chooses its Presidential candidate. Also, some of the Republican race’s zanier outliers have begun to drop out, meaning that a clearer picture of who will eventually face Obama is beginning to emerge. Continue reading