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Romney and Gingrich polling close in SC as Huntsman takes support from Romney and Santorum

The latest Insider Advantage Poll — the only SC poll after NH — shows Huntsman surging up to 7%.  Meanwhile Santorum has fallen to 14%, and Romney has fallen to 23%.   Gingrich, meanwhile, has held at 21%.  Paul is at 13%; and at 6th place at 5% is Perry.  Clearly this is showing that Huntsman has momentum, and — very importaintly — that Huntsman supporters are being taken directly from Romney.  For this reason, the latest poll shows Romney actually down 6 points below his average. 

Santorum’s fall may easily continue as Santorum voters — more than any other — are largely supporting him based on the idea that he has the best chance to beat Romney.  It is very likely that 1/2 of Santorum supporters will eventually move to Gingrich if Gingrich remains substancially above Santorum in the polls.  Paul’s 13% and Perry’s 5% are likely to mostly stay with them and it is very unlikely either will see a substancial increase in support.

There are a few key factors that could potentially make a substancial difference:

  1. Palin.  Her husband endorsed Gingrich.  If Palin does so also it would serve to precipitate the movement from Santorum voters to Gingrich, and increase that effect.  It may also take a small sliver from Perry, and from Paul.  Given the tightness of the race, that would make a substancial difference.
  2. Cain – A Cain endorsement would also give a 1-2% boost for a candidate.  Small, but enough to make a difference in a close race.
  3. Romney’s Surprise –  I expect that Romney has some cards left in his hand.  If the race looks close, I expect him to get 1 or more key endorsements that would help and maybe ensure a win for him.  Cain could be one of those, or not.  If the race is not close, I would not be surprised for Romney to hold them.
  4. Bain – The Bain ads are highly effective and the GOP base does not agree with Romney’s activities at Bain.  I’ve heard a few — including Rush — defend Romney.  However, Romney’s actions are not defendable.  Free-market conservatives (like me) beliee that we need to tolerate/allow selfish activity.  It does not mean that we condone it or that we practice it.  There is a huge different between objecting to a government that is big enough to throw people like Romney in jail for what he did, and agreeing with the decisions Romney made.  Like most conservatives, I believe we need to allow free enterprise.  That includes allowing for the weeds to grow with the wheat.  That said, Romney is the weeds.  We doesn’t vote for the weeds as president.  We vote for honorable men who build companies and provided good and services.  Mitt Romney was never a model example of a good business man, and never will be.  His activities portray the free market in a bad way and hurt the cause of folks like myself who want a free market.  Many buisness leaders, many rich folks who actually did create jobs, many people who support free market are afraid of having a Mitt Romney represent them.  Mitt Romney makes the 1% look bad, when most of the 1% are job creaters, donors, and honorable men.  He is not the image that the rich want; and if he is the GOP nominee.  He will lose, and Obama will start talking about a tax on the top 1% of folks Like Mitt Romney.  Voters will support taxing Mitt Romney like people, and will group all the rich into the class of Mitt Romney.  That would be a disaster.  The Ads are highly-effective, and –along with Huntsman taking Romney voters — will serve to make SC a close election —assuming that conservatives follow the expected pattern of uniting behind Gingrich, or the less-expected pattern of uniting behind Santorum.

I do want to comment on what is unquestionably bad news for the Perry Campaign.  Perry just barely was determined as qualified for the SC debate.  This was a double-loss.  First, Perry faced a series of articles about how he would not qualify.  Then, Perry ends up qualified for the debate.  Perry would have been much better if he missed qualification.  He is in 6th place now; if he continues in these debates it is far more likely that Perry will end up hurting himself than it is that Perry will end up helping his cause.  If he didn’t qualify he could have argued media-bias and accused “washington insiders” and the “media” of conspiring against him.  Now, he is stuck at the debate and without the issue.  This is another set-back for his campaign.  The sad part of it is that Perry’s campaign things being invited is a good thing.  His team fails to remember the huge boost it gave Alan Keyes to not be invited, and that Keyes got more free press (and good press) from not being invited than Keyese would have gotten from the debate.  The same is true of Perry.  The debate will focus on the 5 folks ahead of Perry in SC, and Perry will get few questions and little time.  Had he not been invited, he’s be covered centeral to the story of the debate.

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