The calendar of primary elections in the United States was apparently not generating any surprises or variants, as the Republican leaders of the so-called "traditional financial establishment" have from the start had a total of nine pre-candidates hoping to take on President Barack Obama.
Three of them — Herman Cain, the African-American businessman from Georgia and founder of a successful chain of pizzerias; former governor Tim Pawlenty; and Representative Michele Bachmann, both from Minnesota — abandoned the race for one reason or another before the Iowa caucus of January 3, where former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum won a surprise victory by just a few votes.
The victory of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, the favorite in the New Hampshire primary, eased some tensions and left two other candidates, Texas governor Rick Perry and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, heading home. Romney tripped over another rock, this time the former speaker of the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, who won over the conservative evangelical voters in South Carolina.
At the end of January, Romney returned triumphant in the state of Florida. In February, the electoral calendar leaves only four survivors — Romney, Santorum, Gingrich and Ron Paul, who have had to compete in the Nevada, Minnesota and Colorado caucuses, where Santorum won and where Texas congressman and free thinker Paul has made life impossible for Romney.
The Michigan and Arizona primaries are scheduled today. Both must be a victory for Romney. In the first, the 30 delegates will divide their votes among the four candidates, while the 29 delegates' votes in Arizona will all go solely to the victor. A defeat in Michigan would be a stunning blow for Romney, as it is the state in which he was raised and where his father worked as governor and founder of American Motors in the ‘60s in Detroit. It's good to remember that in 2008, in Michigan, Romney defeated Senator John McCain, who later was the presidential candidate.
Up until Saturday, the average among five polls favored Romney over Santorum in Michigan by 1.6 percent and in Arizona by 9.2 percent. This after Romney seemed to keep Santorum on the defensive throughout the debate in Mesa, Arizona. Romney seems to be regaining ground through his solid appearance in the debates and rise in the polls. Conventional wisdom or the generally accepted opinion among political scientists is that Gingrich won the debate and that he's anxiously waiting for the 22 primaries to be held in March, above all Super Tuesday, where 466 delegates will be in play in 11 states, Tuesday, March 6.
Dr. Paul also helped Romney's cause, calling Santorum's fiscal convservatism "false." "There's always an excuse," said Paul of Santorum's explanation. "That's the problem with politics in Washington," he added. The fact that two candidates (Gingrich and Santorum) are fighting for the conservative vote is an advantage for Romney, despite Michigan's large working class population and many Catholics, who tend to follow Santorum.
It was echoed in the hallways of Washington that if there is still no clear winner after Super Tuesday that gains the 1,144 delegates necessary to become the nominee, anything could happen, including seeing conservative governors like Charlie Christie, Jeb Bush and Mitch Daniels enter the arena.
The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and information organization RealClearPolitics signal that none of the current pre-candidates may arrive at the magic number. In the 1976 primaries, between then-president Gerald Ford and California governor Ronald Reagan, this brought their candidacy to the convention in Kansas City, because Ford did not reach the 1,130 delegates until the president of the delegation from Mississippi gave his vote to Ford, defeating Reagan 1,187 to 1,070. Ford later lost the White House to Jimmy Carter.
I leave you with the one-word definitions the candidates used when asked to describe their personality during the debate on CNN. Romney preferred "resolute," Santorum said "courageous," Paul chose "consistent," and Gingrich, between laughs, settled for "cheerful."