Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"I like Mitt." "Okay, but I like Newt." "Ha! I like Ron."

The Republican presidential race appears to be coalescing around two men -- Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich -- though the you're-up-and-now-you're-down-and-now-you're-out nature of the campaign makes it unwise to suggest those men will be the final two candidates left standing.

Right now, though, that's where we are. And as the Washington Post reports, there is almost no difference in the popularity between these two men...unless you start to dig deeper.
Romney has a 10-point advantage on the key question of who Republicans think is most likely to beat Obama. Romney also leads Gingrich when it comes to dealing with issue No. 1, the economy. Gingrich counters with a big advantage on experience: By about 2 to 1, more see him as having the best résumé for the White House and as being the most qualified to be commander in chief.
The wild card, if that's the proper term, in the race is a certain Texas congressman -- Ron Paul. And if Paul exits the GOP field but opts to run an independent campaign, then another Washington Post story suggests bad news for whoever is the Republican nominee
Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-Texas) is gaining steam in his race for the GOP nomination, up to his highest level yet — 15 percent — in the new Washington Post-ABC News national poll. He trails President Obama by a mere five points among registered voters in a possible general election matchup. But should Paul fall short of winning his party’s nod and opt to run as a third-party candidate, the survey finds he could seriously shake up the 2012 political calculus, largely to Obama’s benefit.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney ties Obama at 47 percent among registered voters in the poll, but fully 21 percent of all voters say they’d pick Paul as an independent candidate over either Romney or the president. Obama would win such a three-way match-up by 10 percentage points. The potential damage is less obvious for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who trails Obama by eight points in a two-way contest and 11 points with Paul in the mix.
You might recall just a few days ago there were rumblings that Rep. Paul would become target number one for the GOP establishment should he do well in the Iowa caucuses. Unelectable is the argument that will be used against him.

We are just two weeks from the Iowa caucuses.

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