Rick Perry appears poised to drop out of the race today, just two days before the South Carolina primary where he and his associated political action committees spent over $2.5 million. This comes on the heels of news that Perry is not even polling first in his home state of Texas.
It’s hard to pinpoint a single moment where his campaign derailed. Most people would point to his public struggle to remember which three departments of the federal government he would shutter, but there were many other moments which I think would have been more meaningful to Republican voters.
Remember, this is the same party who voted for a marble-mouth like Bush. Perry’s support for educating the children of illegal immigrants probably lost him more support than his utter lack of poise. This really speaks to how pathetically cruel and ignorant the Republican Party has become.
In any case, Perry is out. I can only speculate as to why. Did he look at his single digit poll numbers in South Carolina, a state where he spent more money than anyone but Romney, and decide he didn’t even want to face the embarrassment? Did his donors realize failure was inevitable?
Perry is said to be officially endorsing Gingrich, but don’t expect much to come from that immediately. It’s doubtful that even the bulk of Perry’s supporters will flock to Gingrich. I think it’s quite likely his supporters will split between Romney, Santorum and Gingrich. There’s even a chance Paul will pick up some steam from this second candidate to drop out this week.
What I’m most unsure of is, what will become of the multimillion dollar Super PACs backing Perry? Since they are not officially associated with Perry, they may turn their support towards another candidate. They might also dissolve. I really have no clue how that works. I’m fairly sure that no one can just pocket the money, so I imagine either they will back new candidates (or rather, just keep attacking certain candidates), or they will remain active until the next relevant election.
In any case, Romney is still projected to grab another blow-out victory in South Carolina. Republicans love backing a winner, and Romney is the first non-incumbent to win both Iowa and New Hampshire. His nomination is almost assured.
Gingrich, perhaps for lack of money, has been personally vocal this week, making laughable claims and pandering to anyone he thinks he has a shot at getting to listen to him. He has boldly claimed that if he wins South Carolina, he will become president (though he also admitted that if he loses South Carolina, his run will be over). This morning, I found out he said that if elected President, he would select Sarah Palin for an important position, perhaps in a bid to reach out to Tea Party voters, among whom he is splitting support with Santorum.
If this plays out as I expect, Gingrich will not win South Carolina, though I question if he will drop out before Florida 10 days later. If he has a strong second place finish ahead of Santorum, I seriously question if he will drop out before Santorum. Don’t expect Paul to drop out, even if he never gets another second place finish until it’s down to just him and Romney. I have heard it said among some people that they think Paul will hold on until Super Tuesday, or even all the way until the convention.
At this point, Romney has to be glad to be rid of Huntsman and Perry, both of whom have actively attacked him of late. The campaign had entered a vicious phase leading up to New Hampshire, and it has truly culminated in a flurry of attack ads from all camps in South Carolina. The debates have largely been “Everyone vs. Romney” events since Iowa. Romney is the guy to beat, and everyone is giving him a beating.
In many ways, they are ensuring Obama’s re-election. Obama’s entire campaign is being written by Republican strategists. Terms like “vulture capitalist” may be making a comeback leading up to November. Coming from Obama, people might just write-off such claims as Socialist propaganda… but these are Republicans complaining about how Romney is abusing the system by using vast sums of cash.
Besides that, one can see a certain hostility for Romney among some Republicans. Sure, many just don’t like him, but they’ll begrudgingly hold their nose and vote for him. However, there are some who simply won’t vote for him. Not a lot, perhaps only just enough to matter in a race where a few hundred thousand votes in key states make all the difference. But what are the odds that such a situation will occur…