As Dinah Washington once sang, “What a Diff’rence a Day Makes.”
At the beginning of this week, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was riding high. After a knockout victory in South Carolina’s traditionally bellwether Republican presidential primary, there seemed to be no stopping him as he cruised down to the Sunshine state, which holds its primary next Tuesday.
Then, in the words of the Phil Collins song, “Something Happened on the Way to Heaven.”
This thing was not a single event, but many of them strung together, leading to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s current ascent in polling data. First and foremost, Gingrich reverted to his default setting of being his own worst enemy. A series of blunders, ranging from lying about his status as a pseudo-lobbyist for failing taxpayer-subsidized mortgage giant Freddie Mac, to two lackluster debate performances, has thoroughly done him in. Secondly, Romney’s filling the airwaves with commercials blasting Gingrich’s long record of professional malaise has undoubtedly turned more than a few heads. Last, but most certainly not least, the increased negative sentiment by voters against the former speaker has led them into the camp of defeated Pennsylvania senator and self-appointed public moralist, Rick Santorum.
Santorum’s platform, which has gone beyond the realm of typical Christian conservatism to outright theocracy, is certainly appealing to many prospective Gingrich voters as the vast majority of these are aggravated by America’s increasingly secular cultural shift. The GOProletariat, it seems, will not budge, as the latter’s unbridled anger is simply too addictive for them, as I have noted at length over the last several weeks. With a sizable contingent of socially right wing voters splitting ranks between two separate candidates, Romney’s ability to shore up a strong, winning plurality of moderates appears all but assured.
His style of remaining calm, cool, and collected at all times really has paid off. While the former governor is by no means an entertainer, his determination and competence lend credence to the opinion that he is the Republican best suited to defeat President Barack Obama in the fall. On Tuesday, I plan to vote for him, and urge all of my fellow Florida Republicans to do the same. The stakes have never been greater, not only for finding an electable nominee, but also for determining the path that our party will take over the years to come. Will the GOP be an organization centered around viable center-right ideas, or fantastical far right rhetoric?
I am cautiously optimistic that the former will be the case. As with anything in politics, though, only the the future will tell.