The race for the Republican Presidential nominee in the USA is getting interesting. Last Tuesday the good people of Iowa voted for their favourite Republican, with no clear outcome. Willard “Mitt” Romney won the popular vote by eight over Rick “please don’t google my surname” Santorum, but the actual allocation of delegates is unknown since Iowa uses a complex caucus system that no normal person understands. The only certain consequence from the Iowa vote is that Michele Bachmann has dropped out, leaving six serious contenders.
While all of the remaining candidates have an interesting story to tell, it is the rise of Ron Paul and a growing libertarian voting block that has the biggest long-term consequences. When I wrote about Ron Paul for “the drum” a month ago he was still being largely ignored by the mainstream media (MSM) despite consistent good polling and fund-raising. That is slowly changing. Given that Paul came 3rd in Iowa (with 21% of the vote), is currently polling 2nd in the next voting state of New Hampshire (~20%), and is the only candidate other than Romney with money and campaign infrastructure around the country, some people have started paying attention.
In November next year, Barack Obama will go up against a Republican candidate for the Presidency of the United States, and defacto leader of planet earth. But before then, the Grand Old Party (GOP) of the Republicans will need to pick their candidate, which involves an eight month marathon of rolling mini-elections in 55 States and territories (including Guam and American Samoa) starting in Iowa on 3 January 2012.
While sane people have been ignoring the political circus, election junkies have been closely watching the long campaign as various candidates have come and gone. At the beginning of the year the pundits pontificated as a string of potential candidates — Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, Chris Christie, Rudy Giuliani, Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan, Mitch Daniels, Haley Barbour, and Mike Huckabee — all opted out of the race. Tim Pawlenty said “yes” then “no”. Tease.
And so when debate season rolled around, the field had been narrowed to a rag-tag bunch of about a dozen, with the most prominent being the millionaire Mormon ex-Governor of Massachusetts — Mitt Romney. From the start, Romney has consistently been 1st or 2nd in national polls among GOP voters with about 20-30% support, and he has been seen as the frontrunner due to his decent polling, wealthy friends, establishment support, and high media profile. The race has then been seen as a contest between Romney and “anti-Romney”, a mythical creature who has so far taken four human forms — Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain and now Newt Gingrich. Cain has since dropped out of the race.