Its looking more and more like a two-man race now. Romney v Gingrich. It looks to me like Rick Santorum may be the kingmaker this year for the Republican nomination. If he chooses to stay in the contest, he'll leech some votes from Gingrich - probably enough so that Romney will lock up Florida and the nomination. If he chooses to bow out before the Florida primary, and endorse Gingrich (as Rick Perry had in SC), Gingrich should have enough support to consolidate the base, win Florida, and force Romney into a fight that could go on for a few months yet.
I'm not sure which candidate has the better chance against Obama. They both have some significant flaws that play into Obama's hands. Romney looks and in many ways is the tall, slick dark-haired boss of your boss who will fire you without knowing you through a text message from the golf course with a smile on his face. In 2010 he made as much in 16 hours as I make in a year, and he paid the same percentage of taxes as me. Income inequality is definitely going to be an issue this year, and that sort of thing is going to a liability when unemployment, debt, and frustration are rampant. We'll see how effectively he can play the victim card as he attempts to defend the poor, defenseless, outnumbered wealthy against the big, scary, angry 99% with their torches and pitchforks and hammers and sickles.
Speaking of playing the victim, can Gingrich continue to pull the victim card when pressed by the media in a hypothetical match-up against Obama? The loyal Fox Newsers eat that stuff up, but the independents and moderates tend to see right through that sort of dodgery. How will he be able to maintain his stance as the conservative defender of marriage? How will he defend his position as a Washington outsider, when he was formerly Speaker of the House (which is about as inside Washington as it gets), and he has maintained a high profile ever since?
As an aside - these last few graphs are each great examples of why it is that I don't like graphs. Graphs take information and colorize it, and present it in an easy to understand way (that favors whoever made the graph). Take the most recently posted one - Unemployment rate in relation to the party in Congress at the time, going back to 1990. First, why not plot the same graph against the President in office during that period? 1992-2000 was the Clinton administration. Unemployment fell the entire time. Then what happens when Bush is elected? Unemployment spikes. Bush's fault? No. That was the dot-com bubble bursting coupled with the 9/11 attacks. Similarly, in 2008 unemployment spikes. Obama's fault? No. 2008 saw the stock market crash that started the Great Recession, with the housing bubble bursting as a result of sub-prime loaning. All of that happened before Obama was even elected. He wouldn't take office until 2009. If we extend that graph back to the 1970s, we'd find spikes as a result of the OPEC embargo (Ford) and the early 80s stagflation/recession (Reagan). All we can do after these things happen is ask ourselves if the situation in question is improving, and if it isn't getting better, does the other side have a better idea of how to fix things?
Or, if you like, take the second one as an example from the other side. I've been seeing this "Jobs Created" graph everywhere lately, which clearly is meant to favor Obama and the democrats. This is another game with numbers. We're seeing only the jobs created or lost. We're not seeing the fall or (mostly) rise of total unemployment, which looks far less rosy for the democrats (see the other graph just discussed). To the eye, we see a trend upward ever since Obama's election. In fact we were in the midst of an economic freefall that had reached terminal velocity and was no longer accelerating. Again, though, is the fall Obama's fault? Certainly not. Is the "recovery" Obama's fault? Possibly. The real question: is said recovery enough for him to be re-elected? Would a Republican administration have handled the housing crisis better? If so, how exactly?
You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one