When I speak in private and people ask me for handicaps of the different races in the news on I always assign percentages. Recently I had been giving Romney an 85 percent shot of taking the nomination and a 60-70 percent shot at taking the general. Often times after giving these numbers I’m asked why and asked why I’m only giving slight advantages rather than more certain statements. Well, it’s because of days like this.
National elections always have days like this. Everything is going as expected and then suddenly several major stories drop from the sky and change the entire entire landscape of things within a matter of hours. In South Carolina, that is exactly what has happened.
As you can see to the right (earlier numbers at the bottom), the most recent poll numbers have Romney trailing Gringrich by roughly 4-5 points. This is a tremendous reversal of fortune for Romney, who was leading Gingrich by a healthy 10 point lead. The move probably has several contributing factors including the closeness to the election, general dissatisfaction with Romney and Gingrich’s solid performance in the last debate.
Today we also saw Perry fold his campaign up and endorse Newt.
This comes as good news to Newt who expects to have his dirty laundry aired out on national television by his wife. While his personal trespasses are well know, having the ex-wife detail her apparently horrific experience being married to the current SC front runner may have major implications amongst Newt’s most important voter group – the evangelicals (values voters).
To top all of this off, the final recount in Iowa has Santorum on top by an irrelevant number of votes.
What does all this mean?
Well, beyond the fact that tonight’s debate is set to be the most important debate of the campaign, it is hard to say. Perry dropping out is bad for Romney, good for Gingrich. Santorum taking Iowa is good for Santorum and bad for Gingrich and Romney. Gingrich’s performance tonight is clearly bad for Gingrich and good for Romney. But, most of all, Gingrich’s surge is horrible for Romney and revitalizing news for Gingrich.
During the debate tonight I’ll be looking for Gingrich to deal some sort of death blow to Romney in the form of a confrontation/question that will force him to provide a terrible answer. Romney needs change things up and get on the offensive against Gingrich.