Insiders: GOP Nominating Contest Will Be Wrapped Up After Florida
Look for the roller-coaster ride of the Republican presidential nominating contest to pull into the station by the end of the month. And much like a roller coaster, it's likely to end right where it started -- with Mitt Romney at the top. That's the view of roughly three-quarters of the strategists and experts surveyed in this week's National Journal Political Insiders Poll.
|After which of these remaining primary dates will the Republican presidential nomination be effectively cemented?|
|South Carolina (Jan. 21)||23%||25%|
|Florida (Jan. 31)||55%||49%|
|Nevada (Feb. 4)||1%||7%|
|Super Tuesday (Mar. 6)||18%||17%|
There was little difference in how Democrats and Republicans expect the next few weeks to unfold. About a quarter from each party predicted the nomination would be effectively wrapped up after the South Carolina primary on January 21.
"Romney is on a roll," said one Republican Insider. "A first- or second-place finish for him in South Carolina pretty much will seal the deal."
"If Romney wins South Carolina, it's over," agreed a Democrat. "Barring a total collapse there, he'll be the GOP nominee."
"Huntsman, who was Romney's only competition for mainstream Republicans, is essentially out," explained another Democrat. "The right-wing anti-Romney field remains split. Unless they can consolidate around one candidate, Romney will soon be the presumptive nominee."
Or, as another Republican put it, "If a conservative can't stop Romney in South Carolina, it won't happen anywhere."
Approximately half of the Insiders expected the primary race to carry on to the end of the month, with Florida's January 31 primary bringing the process to a practical close.
"Everyone but Romney will be finished after South Carolina," claimed a Democratic Insider. "The problem is, they won't be able to believe it until Florida."
"Mitt wins Florida, and it's all over, even if he places second or third in South Carolina," said a Republican.
"Four survive South Carolina," predicted another Democrat, "and after Florida, just Ron Paul continues.""South Carolina will make it a two-man race," echoed a Republican respondent. "Florida will be the first two-man race where Romney will need to show he can win."
Another Republican pointed out the financial reality of the Sunshine State's large population and expensive media markets. "Florida will break the bank for everyone [but Romney]."
At least one Republican expected a Florida conclusion and was none too happy about the prospect. "On January 31, Republicans get squishy Mitt Romney, and Obama gets his second term."
Despite the overwhelming speculation that Romney will wrap things up by the end of the month, a few Insiders expect the race could linger on until the cluster of primaries known as "Super Tuesday" on March 6.
"Republican voters still have not warmed to Romney, and there continues to be a window for an alternative," explained one Democratic respondent.
A Republican Insider agreed. "South Carolina and Florida will eliminate two or three of the candidates, but conservatives will want to consolidate behind one candidate to see if they can knock out Romney for Super Tuesday, which has several southern states."
"Proportional awarding of delegates through March will keep this saga going until the big roundup," predicted another Republican.
Democrats: Jill Alper, John Anzalone, Brad Bannon, Dave Beattie, Andy Bechhoefer, Cornell Belcher, Matt Bennett, Mitchell W. Berger, Mike Berman, Stephanie Bosh, Paul Brathwaite, Donna Brazile, Mark Brewer, Ed Bruley, George Bruno, Bonnie Campbell, Bill Carrick, Guy Cecil, Martin J. Chavez, Tony Coelho, Larry Cohen, Jerry Crawford, Brendan Daly, Jeff Danielson, Peter Daou, Howard Dean, Scott DeFife, Jim Demers, Tad Devine, David Di Martino, Debbie Dingell, Monica Dixon, Patrick Dorton, Pat Dujakovich, Anita Dunn, Jeff Eller, Steve Elmendorf, Carter Eskew, Vic Fazio, Peter Fenn, Scott Ferson, Jim Fleischmann, Tina Flournoy, Don Foley, Jeffrey Forbes, Vincent Frillici, Gina Glantz, Niles Godes, John Michael Gonzalez, Joe Grandmaison, Anna Greenberg, Stan Greenberg, Pat Griffin, Larry Grisolano, Michael Gronstal, Lisa Grove, Marcia Hale, Jill Hanauer, Dick Harpootlian, Paul Harstad, Laura Hartigan, Doug Hattaway, Mike Henry, Karen Hicks, Leo Hindery Jr., Harold Ickes, Marcus Jadotte, John Jameson, Steve Jarding, Jonathon Jones, Jim Jordan, Gale Kaufman, Lisa Kountoupes, Celinda Lake, David Lang, Penny Lee, Chris Lehane, Jeff Link, Bob Maloney, Jim Manley, Steve Marchand, Jim Margolis, Paul Maslin, Keith Mason, Susan McCue, Gerald McEntee, Steve McMahon, Tom McMahon, Phil McNamara, David Medina, Michael Meehan, Mark Mellman, John Merrigan, Michael Monroe, Steve Murphy, Janet Napolitano, David Nassar, Marcia Nichols, John Norris, Tom Ochs, Tom O'Donnell, Jeffrey Peck, Debora Pignatelli, Tony Podesta, Jefrey Pollock, Jack Quinn, Larry Rasky, Mame Reiley, Ed Rendell, Steve Ricchetti, Will Robinson, Steve Rosenthal, David Rudd, Ryan Rudominer, John Ryan, Michael Sargeant, Stephanie Schriock, Terry Shumaker, Sean Sinclair, Phil Singer, Erik Smith, Doug Sosnik, Greg Speed, Darry Sragow, Ken Strasma, Doug Thornell, Jeffrey Trammell, Ed Turlington, Rick Wiener, James Williams, JoDee Winterhof, Brian Wolff, Jon Youngdahl, and Jim Zogby.
Republicans: Dan Allen, Stan Anderson, Gary Andres, Saulius (Saul) Anuzis, Rich Ashooh, Whit Ayres, Brett Bader, Mitch Bainwol, Brian Baker, Gary Bauer, David Beckwith, Paul Bennecke, Clark Benson, Wayne Berman, Brian Bieron, Charlie Black, Kirk Blalock, Carmine Boal, Jeff Boeyink, Ron Bonjean, Jeff Buley, Luke Byars, Nick Calio, Al Cardenas, Danny Carroll, Alex Castellanos, Ron Christie, Jim Cicconi, Jonathan Collegio, Rob Collins, Cesar Conda, Jake Corman, Scott Cottington, Jay Cranford, Greg Crist, Diane Crookham-Johnson, Fergus Cullen, Tom Davis, Mike Dennehy, Ken Duberstein, Debi Durham, Sara Fagen, Frank Fahrenkopf, John Feehery, Don Fierce, Mindy Finn, Mindy Fletcher, Carl Forti, Alex Gage, Bruce A. Gates, Sam Geduldig, Adam Geller, Benjamin Ginsberg, David Girard-diCarlo, Bill Greener, Jonathan Grella, Lanny Griffith, Janet Mullins Grissom, Doug Gross, Todd Harris, Steve Hart, Christopher Healy, Ralph Hellmann, Chris Henick, Terry Holt, David Iannelli, Ed Ingle, Jim Innocenzi, Clark Judge, David Keating, David Kensinger, Bob Kjellander, Ed Kutler, Chris LaCivita, Jim Lake, Steven Law, Steve Lombardo, Kevin Madden, Joel Maiola, Gary Maloney, David Marin, Mary Matalin, Dan Mattoon, Brian McCormack, Mark McKinnon, Kyle McSlarrow, Ken Mehlman, Jim Merrill, Lisa Camooso Miller, Tim Morrison, Mike Murphy, Phil Musser, Ron Nehring, Terry Nelson, Neil Newhouse, David Norcross, Ziad Ojakli, Jack Oliver, Todd Olsen, Kevin O'Neill, Connie Partoyan, Billy Piper, Van B. Poole, Tom Rath, Scott Reed, David Rehr, Tom Reynolds, Steve Roberts, Jason Roe, David Roederer, Dan Schnur, Russ Schriefer, Rich Schwarm, Brent Seaborn, Rick Shelby, Andrew Shore, Kevin Shuvalov, Don Sipple, Ken Spain, Fred Steeper, Bob Stevenson, Terry Sullivan, David Tamasi, Eric Tanenblatt, Richard Temple, Heath Thompson, Jay Timmons, Warren Tompkins, Ted Van Der Meid, Dirk van Dongen, Jan van Lohuizen, Stewart Verdery, Dick Wadhams, John Weaver, Lezlee Westine, Dave Winston, Ginny Wolfe, Fred Wszolek, and Matthew Zablud.