The good news for world-weary Americans is that the Republican primaries are effectively over. The bad news is that the Republican primaries aren’t officially over for another four months – the last state, Utah, doesn’t to go the polls until June the 26th.
Former Massachusetts governor and consistent front-runner Mitt Romney has all but won his party’s Presidential nomination. At this stage, it would be nigh-on impossible for any of the other contenders to beat him to the official candidacy and go on to face Barack Obama in November.
Superficially at least, recent primary results make the race look misleadingly open – this month alone hard-right social conservative Rick Santorum has won seven. Ultimately, though, it all comes down to the total number of state delegates each candidate receives. With four months to go, Romney has secured an unassailable lead, his 568 more than double that of Santorum’s 273, and dwarfs the totals of both Newt Gingrich (135) and Ron Paul (50).
We’ve now entered what is affectionately known as the ‘walking dead phase’ of the Republican primaries. For Santorum, and especially Gingrich and Paul, the game is up. But such is the stubbornness/delusional optimism of your average American Presidential hopeful that Romney’s three opponents are likely to cling on the bitter end.
From an unashamedly left-wing European perspective that sees Barack Obama as the least worst of an abysmal bunch, the Primaries haven’t gone as badly as they could’ve done. Yes, the most electable Republican has basically emerged victorious, but it’s been a decidedly bumpy ride for Romney. His performance has been far from assured, he is clearly aggressively despised by an energetic section of grassroots Republicans, and the fact that he wasn’t able to assert his dominance earlier in the contest means that he has spent money that could’ve been used to attack the Democrats on fending off tenacious opponents in his own Party.
The media spotlight placed on the likes of Santorum and Ron Paul has provided a timely reminder of the existence of the Republican Party’s lunatic fringe, and the in-fighting between centrists and right-wingers. Hopefully both will contribute towards keeping wavering moderates disillusioned at the Obama Presidency in the Democrat camp come election day. For the tenterhooked non-Americans of the world, all there is left to do now is wait until November, when the 130,000,000 or so human beings who happen to have been born in the US get to make a decision with profound ramifications for the rest of civilisation.