The Iowa Caucus is less than a week away now and the GOP has another contender surging in the polls in the shape of former Senator Rick Santorum. A CNN Poll released yesterday showed Santorum at 16 percent in Iowa, which currently would place him third with former speaker Newt Gingrich now placed fourth with 14%.
Although Iowa holds considerable tradition in American presidential elections, the fact is only 119,000 voters will take part in the caucus next Tuesday. The GOP race has been in truth too topsy-turvy over the last year to seriously worry the Obama campaign machine entering into 2011.
The mainstream media has done an excellent job at picking off the declared GOP candidates one by one most recently, Newt Gingrich and by the look of things Ron Paul is likely to join the ranks of the chastised and demonised before the week end. The traditional conservative news channel Fox News has clearly being touting for Romney subtlety since Gingrich hit the front in the polls. The punditry of Dick Morris who had lent advice to Romney and his campaign is neither impartial nor objective in its content. Morris should take his famous dog “Dubs” out for a long walk if his commentary can’t be objective. He wants Romney to win that fact is clear for all to see.
Most of the GOP candidates are hoping a strong showing will propel them into top tier status and improve their chances in New Hampshire, which votes Jan. 10, and in other early voting states. Only 5 percent of Iowa’s electorate is Hispanic and only 3 percent is black, compared with a national electorate that is 16 percent Hispanic and 12 percent black. I believe this year is different, I believe due to the shifting dates in the caucus and early primary races this year, the real battle and potential winners will only emerge when Super Tuesday occurs on March 6, 2012.
The challenge for the GOP candidates is to try and raise enough finance, to stay in the race until then and hone their messaging. I believe former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman has been the cleverest politician in the GOP field, not squandering money or time on what essentially is, a tiny proportion of overall voters. He has focussed his efforts on New Hampshire, which I believe, has been the most prudent ad effective decision made by any GOP candidate to date.
It is good to see Santorum finally making a surge, he must be credited for the huge effort he has put into the state of Iowa and due to his socially conservative values, and it was a good decision strategically too. He couldn’t hope to compete with some of the other candidates financially or in terms of media coverage, he has adopted the retail politics approach holding over 350 town halls meetings and is now reaping the rewards. Santorum was the first candidate to visit all 99 counties, garnering solid support throughout the state. I like Santorum however, he will come under much more scrutiny then he has been used to up to now. Santorum is clear where he stands on Iran and traditional value’s but his economic policies and vision are less specific and detailed.
While Santorum’s rise is positive for the GOP field, Ron Paul’s high standing and foreign policy stance has to worry republicans and surely, they recognise the damage it is doing from a credibility viewpoint?
The truth about the field is that it simply isn’t dynamic enough. No candidate has stepped up to the challenge of proving themselves to be durable enough to take on President Obama in the General election. I had hoped former speaker Gingrich would’ve demonstrated some of his old fashioned fighting spirit, to fend of the attacks. He has tried to stay positive however, Gingrich, just didn’t lay the foundations required in each early state, to enable his to focus his efforts in fighting off the attacks mostly from fellow conservatives and republicans.
Romney in my view hasn’t been tested yet. Sure he’ll put up a good campaign if nominated, but can Romney really inspire? I simply don’t believe he can energise voters in the manner required to beat President Obama in 2012.
The lesson of 2011 has been that the GOP field have failed to distinguish themselves enough, so as to be identified as the natural alternative to President Obama. There has been a series of blunders, scandals, faux pas’s and favouritism evident in the GOP race thus far, which simply has left voters and supporters without the required inspiration or passion.
The result has been a Gallup poll showing President Obama getting 46 percent approval rating from American adults. This is the highest rating he has achieved since July. It is unimaginable that an incumbent president with such a disastrous economic record, polarising approach and arrogant enough, to compare himself above other brilliant presidents like Truman, Jackson & Coolridge appears on course for re-election.
Unfortunately, the cost of ignoring the president’s economic performance may prove too much, five years from now for Americans. Surely there has to be a Republican somewhere out there prepared to step up and challenge the president who is capable of earning the confidence and support of the electorate. A disappointing end to the year for republican supporters and it is hard to see anything else but an Obama re-election come November 2012 unless there is a major shift in messaging.