Saturday 21 January 2012

Polling day in South Carolina

It's been a week that one candidate's ex-wife claimed he wanted an open marriage. Another seemed to either lack or have the business acumen that made him successful as he stumbled over his tax returns. One was no longer strong enough to carry on and you didn't need to go to church to know that. One was actually ignored by the moderator in a debate (though the crowd booed that oversight). The one who speaks Chinese bowed to the inevitable and stopped his campaign. The other may have been declared winner in Iowa and looked deeper into the issue of fundamentalist Islam in a more thoughtful way that most GOP candidates before him.

In South Carolina voting is under way is what is heating up to be a GOP race. There are only four men left Mitt Romney who won in Iowa and New Hampshire, Rick Santorum who came second first in Iowa but performed poorly in New Hampshire, Ron Paul has shown strongly in both and Newt Gingrich who has come close to winning some counties but hasn't done so...yet.

Since 1980 the winner of the GOP South Carolina Primary has gone on to be the Republican nominee for President. So what does today hold for them all?

Mitt Romney picked up the endorsement of Jon Hunstman when he stepped aside on the 15th. He is still seen as the one to beat by the others and is running neck and neck with one of his rivals this time Gingrich. However, in the debate on Thursday night there were yet again concerns that the successful business man is using off shore banking to keep his taxes below that of the average working American. While this may be shrewd business practise in the world of politics it is seen as tax evasion especially to the Reagan Democrats that he seems keen to bring back from the Obama fold.

Newt Gingrich  has ridden the wave of his marital issues. Of course his marital issues are not so much the problem as at the time his second wife said he was suggesting an open marriage he was calling for a special prosecutor into the affairs of the man at the White House, Bill Clinton. So it smacks of hypocrisy. But he is doing just what he needs to do to keep his hope alive, a win or strong second here will keep him in the race. He picked up the backing of Rick Perry when he dropped out and Sarah Palin, though he did promise her a position once she came out in support, which may smack against the constitution and a promise of appointment by candidate.

Ron Paul will no doubt by the end of today be saying that this year the trend since 1980 is there to be broken. Not least because there is proportionality in the delegates this time rather than winner takes all. In all possibility even if Gingrich wins here today he would still be second in the number of delegates. He's ticking along with his libertarian take on what is needed to beat Obama and his $1 Trillion cuts in Washington spending by slashing 5 Departments he sees as superfluous is gathering momentum with a certain electorate.

Rick Santorum  may well be wishing that the eight Iowa districts that forgot to call in their results in the caucus had done so before New Hampshire. Then he would have been taking on New England's son having already beaten him once. As it is he trailed in behind the other 3, if only just behind Gingrich. He hasn't gone for the full out blood path that Romney and Gingrich seem to be playing on each other and Ron Paul. maybe it is true that the nice guy can't win, especially in the GOP. However, the fact that he is still here after some of the former front runners Bachmann and Perry have dropped out shows there must be some fight in him somewhere. If he stays in for the next stops on the itinerary he will have to bring it to the table and get back to the top of the lists to stay in this race. Of course not everywhere can be won by shaking every hand like Iowa and he is lacking the big financial backers to allow him to compete on a  even footing.

So after today at least three if not all four will probably still be feeling they have a chance to win this thing, as we head off to the sunshine state of Florida, where there is a scheduled debate on Monday night.

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