Our most recent primary, South Carolina. counties won by Romney in orange, Gingrich in purple. Released in to public domain
New Hampshire primary by town. Orange is Romney, Gold is Paul, Crimson Huntsman. Public Domain
Iowa caucus by county. Orange is Romney, gold is Paul, dark green Santorum, dark blue Perry. Public Domain
At this point in the Primary season, all three primaries thus far were won by separate candidates. Iowa was taken by Santorum, New Hampshire by Romney in a landslide, and South Carolina by Gingrich in a landslide. The number of delegates so far per candidate is 31 Mitt Romney, 26 Newt Gingrich, 10 for Ron Paul and 8 for Santorum. 2nd placers include Romney in South Carolina and Iowa, and Paul in New Hampshire.
Prior to this point, there were a whole bunch of shooting star candidates, starting with Michelle Bachmann at the beginning of the year and continuing with Rick Perry, Herman Cain, and then Newt Gingrich. All of them followed nearly the same trajectory, a steep graphed chart for the RCP Polling Average in all 50 states, reaching a peak, and then coming down with the same velocity that they arose, like a little boy throwing a ball. Then, Gingrich took South Carolina, by a landslide, and all the sudden everything changed. What's more, the very last of these trajectory candidates, Santorum, is still on the map and is looking strong in the Florida Panhandle.
Even before this surprising result of three states in three hands, we should've known we would be in for a very different primary season. The historic nature of this election had forced turnout way up. The Tea Party had greatly changed the Republican Party in the last 2 years. Several major candidates (including Gingrich and Santorum) failed to make the ballot in a couple states. Lastly, RNC rule changes made all early primary states proportional representation out to at least 3rd place, bringing the traditional early state landslide to an end. Now, at this moment, we see not a short primary season of the 2004 or 2000 variety effectively ending on Super Tuesday but a protacted 50 state duel between Gingrich, Romney, Santorum and Paul. Paul inevitably wins Virginia, as he is the only candidate on the ballot besides Romney and 60% of Republicans will not vote for Romney under any condition, and so then Paul too shall be right up there with the victors of our three early states.
So what precisely brought us to this point? There is a growing sense in both parties that the same puppet masters control both, and yet there was always a percentage that either refused to accept this conclusion or was comfortable with it. Add in a few Mormons and a few New England moderates, and you have Mitt Romney, the inevitable one.
But this time around, too much had been done, and the Tea Party was too fully aware that it had rescued the GOP from the dustbin of history. Revenge was desired. Many candidates came forward, and the GOP being a new movement with few experienced members, most of them were of fairly low caliber. As a result, they were catapulted with vengeance, recognized, and then forgotten. Eventually they even took on a member of the establishment who sympathized with them, I believe you the reader can figure out who that is. Then something happened with the very last two, Santorum and Gingrich.
In the case of Gingrich, it was finding his old fire as the glorious speaker of the House of Represntatives from 1994-1998. We saw him, in those last days of the election, command the respect that had made him palatable to the Tea Party to begin with. See, Gingrich was never a natural choice, he had BEEN a member of the establishment, and as a result of this fact had to prove himself. Having proved himself, the voters knew how he had proved himself, and when he proved himself once again, he returned.
In the case of Santorum, many people still did not accept Gingrich. He was still dirty, and lets face it, he made many questionable decisions and pseudo-decisions, including support for the Individual Mandate at the federal level, which he calls "a tactical decision against HillaryCare" [divide and conquer?], his decision to support TARP, which is probably more then anything else his university professor side coming out, and his decision to continue supporting social conservatives despite hardly being a role model for them, which, in Georgia, is called winning your election. Being a real politician, he doesn't come out looking real clean. For these malcontents, Santorum and Paul were the remaining choices, and Paul is considered by many to be of questionable judgement and temperament, leading to a vote by elimination for Santorum. Combine some social conservatives and Iowa farmers, and you have Santorum.
Ron Paul voters, of the typical kind, are simply too unique to be explained in this small space. However, in addition to his regular supporters, Ron Paul has received an edge from both malcontents of the kind that supported Santorum, and states where, in this remarkable election, two of the major candidates did not make the ballot, and Romney is still not accepted.
But aside from all of this there is the simple fact that the election is now on. The trajectory candidates were around when there was still time to find someone new - that time is gone. We, the Tea Party, can't replace shooting stars anymore. We are at our last chance. The time is now, the election has begun.