Is the writing on the wall?
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney eked out a win in Iowa on Tuesday (well, maybe), and he’s looking very strong in New Hampshire, leading the field by about twenty points as the state gets ready to vote on the 10th. Now there’s new data that shows Republican voters in South Carolina are moving into Romney’s corner as well: A new Rasmussen poll showed Romney up by three points in the Palmetto State, a CNN/TIME survey showed an 18 point lead, and Public Policy Polling (D) Pollster Tom Jensen tweeted that their results (out Saturday) will show the race somewhere in between.
In short — if South Carolina moves to the Romney column, that’ll be the first three states, and it’s hard to see how any other Republican candidate could mount a serious challenge after that.
Romney’s biggest political advantage may be his relatively low (for a frontrunner) but consistent support, which has put him at the top of many polls while his competitors fight with each other for what’s left. From TIME, emphasis added:
The new data, which come a little more than two weeks before the Palmetto primary, confirm the broader contours of the GOP race. Romney’s solid position is strengthened by the splintering effect produced by his rivals-his 37% support is equal to that of Santorum’s and Gingrich’s combined. The largest remaining threat to Romney is a conservative bloc coalesced behind one candidate.
As of Friday, that simply isn’t happening.Romney is getting his share of born-again Christians (35%), Tea Party supporters (32%) and self-described conservatives (37%). This is, however, South Carolina, notoriously one of the nastiest political battlefields in the U.S., and the anonymous backstabbing, radio spots, Church fliers and super PAC attack ads have yet to saturate the state. And a 49% plurality of likely voters said they are still open to changing their minds. A New Hampshire surprise could tilt expectations. Santorum might just need more time. But for now, everything’s coming up Romney.
Romney has secured the endorsement of South Carolina Governor, Nikki Haley, and still has the most well-funded campaign in the state, along with the support of multiple super PACs committed to his candidacy. It seems that Mr. Inevitable has essentially walled off avenues to his defeat in the early primary states, despite GOP voters trying other candidates out for months.
Kyle is the Editor of TPM Media’s PollTracker. He graduated from Beloit College (WI) and began working in politics before getting an M.A. in magazine journalism from New York University, where he interned at TPM and the website of The New Yorker.