|Former Speaker Newt Gingrich|
In a race for third place, Rick Santorum edged out Ron Paul, 17% to 13%.
A number of political analysts have suggested that this is the end of the road for the former House speaker, that Gingrich doesn't have the organization that Romney has and therefore won't be able to compete in the races ahead. I don't buy that and here's why. Romney can have a great organization in every state to come, the problem though is at the end of the day when voters go to vote and see a ballot with a Romney choice and a non-Romney choice . Head-to-head, with a single anti-Romney, Romney loses.
An unpopular candidate can be rehabilitated if he or she is not well known. But if the candidate is very well known by the electorate and disliked, all the organization and money the candidate has cannot fix that perception of the candidate. Romney is strongly disliked by 2/3 of Republicans. Even if he is lucky enough to get the nomination, the narrow band of establishment Republicans who support him will not provide enough of a foundation to win a general election. Most people in this country, when asked an ideology refers to themselves as "conservative." Nominating a Massachusetts liberal turned moderate turned pretend conservative isn't a way to win a general election.
Finally, an overlooked story out of South Carolina is that the voters of that state rejected the notion that Mitt Romney is the most electable. Exit polls showed that of South Carolina voters who said "electability" was the key factor in their vote, 50% voted for Gingrich while Romney received 40%. Romney's chief argument for his nomination from the beginning has been that he is the "most electable." If voters in other states follow South Carolina's lead in viewing Gingrich as the most likely to beat President Obama, the case for nominating Romney is over.