Newt Gingrich wasn’t the only winner in South Carolina. Democrats owe South Carolina Republicans a big thanks for making Newt Gingrich’s politics of race viable.
How big was Romney’s South Carolina collapse? Romney blew a 10 point lead to Gingrich according to the CNN poll. He blew a 14 point lead in five days according to Rasmussen. Romney had an 11 point lead according a January 15 Insider Advantage poll, and a 25 point lead on January 14 according to Reuters/Ipsos.
The DNC marked Romney’s collapse by tweeting, “BREAKING: Mitt Romney loses #scprimary after enjoying a 25-point lead in the state.”
Mitt Romney was hoping to lock up the nomination by January 31, but now it is debatable whether he is still the frontrunner. Romney’s double digit lead in the state evaporated as questions about his tax returns and two lousy debate performances made him vulnerable, and Newt Gingrich was right there to throw the South Carolina primary voters the red meat that they so desperately craved.
One statistic from the exit polling in the state should absolutely terrify the Romney campaign. When voters were asked which candidate can beat Barack Obama, Gingrich beat 48%-39% with Santorum at 8% and Paul at 5%. Conservative Republicans don’t think Mitt Romney can win. CBS News exit polling data found that South Carolina Republicans thought that Mitt Romney ran the most unfair campaign by a margin of 30%-26% over Gingrich.
If Mitt Romney can’t convince Republicans that he can beat Obama then it a virtual certainty that he won’t be able to convince America that he can beat Obama.
After his endless race baiting, Democrats would love a shot at Newt Gingrich. South Carolina gave Democrats the best gift that they could have ever gotten. Democrats, Independents, Republicans, and non-racists of all stripes would love to see Gingrich have to stand on stage, look Barack Obama in the eye, and call him the food stamp president.
If Gingrich is the Republican nominee the race based politics that the Republicans have been practicing for four years will be on trial. For Democrats a Gingrich nomination isn’t just about reelecting Obama, it is a chance to speak out against the strategy of trying to win elections through racial division.
Thank you, South Carolina Republicans. You’ve not only made Newt Gingrich viable, but you’ve also given Democrats the opportunity to strike back against the politics of racial hate.