COMMENTARY | Republicans have three winners in the first three primary states — Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Reuters reports Rick Santorum won in Iowa, Mitt Romney was the clear front-runner in New Hampshire and Newt Gingrich won South Carolina with 40 percent of the vote. Romney is set to release his income tax returns in response to criticism that may have cost him a huge lead in South Carolina. A victory in the Palmetto State may have helped Romney win the overall GOP nomination.
The Democratic candidate is running unopposed. President Barack Obama hasn’t had to spend money on expensive advertising. He hasn’t had to take tours across entire states or even pay money for traveling. The Washington Post reported in early April that Obama declared his candidacy ahead of any of his rivals. He launched his re-election campaign on April 3.
Meanwhile, eight Republican candidates have been whittled down to four after nearly two months of non-stop campaigning. Debates have been aired since the late spring and GOP voters seem to be undecided as to who can best beat Obama.
In the end, once the nominee is selected for the Republicans, it may not even matter who is chosen. The Republican nomination process may continue into May or June. Super Tuesday isn’t until early March, another six weeks from now. Some primary and caucuses run into June.
The longer the GOP nominating process goes, candidates will have to spend money against each other instead of someone in the opposing party in the general election. Meanwhile, Obama’s war chest simply keeps getting bigger.
Republicans in 2008 at least had the benefit of the same process happening on the Democratic side. CNN reported Hillary Clinton and Obama, both Senators at the time, had back-and-forth primary victories through the whole spring.
Hampering the Republicans is that history isn’t on their side. The last time someone won the White House without being involved in politics at the time was Ronald Reagan. He hadn’t been in office since the mid-1970s in California when he ran for president on the Republican ticket in 1980. In the race now is a former governor, former Speaker of the House, former Senator and current Representative from Texas. Rep. Ron Paul is the only one of the four remaining mainstream candidates who hasn’t won a state yet.
The only good news is that the 2012 election may be eerily similar to 1980. Reagan ran against incumbent Jimmy Carter when the economy wasn’t the best, foreign policy was muddled by the Iran hostage crisis and Carter’s policies weren’t popular.
The only way the GOP will win back the White House is if the 1980 election happens all over again. Otherwise, four more years of Obama is guaranteed.