Traditional Republican values would suggest that the GOP would embrace the candidate most closely resembling rigid conservative values, indisputably epitomized by Newt Gingrich. Common sense would lead us to believe that the Republican Party would elect Gingrich as the Republican candidate, but when taking political and social factors into account, Mitt Romney is a more suitable selection in comparison with his fellow GOP candidates, and has the best shot at winning the presidency against the captivating incumbent. Super Tuesday next week, which will bear results from 10 states’ primaries with 437 delegates up for grabs, will either solidify his front-running position or dissolve his chances of a GOP nomination.
Enduring the longest economic recovery in history, Republicans have been vocal in their disapproval of Obama’s government management, healthcare policies, and overall “socialist ideals.” This would lead us to believe that most Republicans would favor Gingrich as their first choice, in hopes that he would repeal Obama’s “radical policies,” transform the economy, and shrink the government as much as possible during his term in office. And while many want to count Gingrich out of the race after Rick Santorum overtook the runner-up slot, with 39 states remaining and Super Tuesday approaching, the primaries are far from over. But if the Republicans want a realistic competitor to contend against Obama, Romney is the only candidate worth considering for several reasons.
The main political determinant of Romney’s front-running qualification lies in his cohesion with the Independent Party. The rise of the independents has gained authority and will represent the portion of voters who have the power to determine the presidential candidate.
“The swing voters who will play a pivotal role in determining his political fate are up for grabs,” Jeff Zeleny discussed the results of a national poll in a New York Times article. “[The poll] found just 31 percent expressing a favorable opinion of Obama. Two-thirds of independent voters say he has not made real progress fixing the economy.”
The ambiguity independents express toward Obama gives the winning Republican candidate an opportunity to collect the additional votes and sway their thought process away from liberal economic principles. Although independent platforms take various forms, moderates generally tend to associate themselves with liberal social ideals and conservative views toward the management of the economy—a viewpoint Gingrich disapproves, while Romney’s campaign intentionally exemplifies.
Romney generally avoids discussion of his social ideals, while advocating his conservative economic management models. Julian Zelizer, author and professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, credited Romney’s strategic avoidance of controversy in a political analysis for CNN. “He has stayed away from most of the social issues and remained generally calm during the most heated moments of the debates,” Zelizer said. His tactical evasion of social issues allies him with moderates, who will have a substantial impact on the final tally.
However, some consider this strategy a flaw in Romney’s campaign. While Republicans are stereotyped for catering to the elite, Romney has faced criticism for trying to please everyone, which critics suggest as lack of conviction demeaning his ability to lead. Although these allegations are somewhat inconsistent, Romney’s accusations of “flip-flopping” present a valid concern for his political platform, a flaw that Obama will surely tackle. Glen Kessler of the Washington Post determined three of 10 allegations hold substance, deeming the other claims a product of media distortion. For example, the media claimed that Romney supported Obama’s stimulus in 2009 and retracted doing so in 2011.
“This is a stretch,” Kessler said. “The transcript of the 2009 interview (on CNN) clearly shows that Romney is talking about economic stimulus in general. In fact, he says that he wished a stimulus bill was passed before George W. Bush (then still the president) left office. That’s different from saying he would support what emerged as Obama’s stimulus plan.” Should the moderates agree with Kessler’s take on the issue, Romney’s campaign will gain considerable power.
Brynn Dougherty is a fourth-year student majoring in economics and finance with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at BD670913@wcupa.edu.