Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has a significant amount of momentum heading into Tuesday’s caucuses in Minnesota and Colorado.
After narrowly losing the Iowa caucus vote to competitor Rick Santorum and weathering a barrage of sharp criticism from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Romney has managed to win elections in Florida and Nevada to go along with his New Hampshire delegate victory. Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who bypassed Florida to concentrate on caucus states, will look to add to his delegate total Tuesday in an effort to raise awareness of his issues by gathering delegates in states that do not have a “winner-take-all” format.
Polls in both Minnesota and Colorado will be open throughout the day Tuesday with 40 delegates up for grabs in the Minnesota election along with an additional 36 in Colorado. The state of Missouri has officially moved its caucuses from February 7th to March 17th.
The eventual Republican presidential nominee will be formally named during the Republican National Convention, which will be held in late August in Tampa, Florida. Barring a third-party entrance into the presidential contest, the winner of the Republican race will face-off against President Barack Obama (who is unopposed as the Democratic Party’s 2012 presidential nominee) in the November general election.
Following Tuesday’s Minnesota and Colorado elections, the candidates will move on to Maine, Arizona, Michigan and Washington before Super Tuesday on March 6th; a date when voters from Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia will decide on their presidential candidate choices.
Momentum Swing for Romney
Just two weeks ago, the Republican presidential primary race appeared to be tightening after Gingrich won a double-digit victory in South Carolina by effectively criticizing Romney’s private equities background as an executive for Bain Capital. However, Romney has regained a large amount of his initial New Hampshire momentum since then and appears to be the clear-cut front runner in a race which many believe could be all but sewed up if he has a strong Super Tuesday showing.
The three largest states by delegate count – California, Texas and New York – will hold their primary elections on June 5th, April 3rd and April 24th respectively.
If Gingrich and Santorum have weak showings Tuesday, some believe one or even both of the Republican presidential hopefuls could withdraw from the race altogether; likely endorsing Romney in the process. A poll published by PublicPolicyPolling.com showed Santorum leading Romney in Minnesota by two percentage points – 29% to 27% – while Gingrich’s support was gauged at 22% with Paul receiving 19 percent. However, Romney was up 40% to 26% over Santorum in that same poll for the state of Colorado.
Quick or Prolonged Race?
Republican and Democratic strategists alike have been giving a growing number of opinions on the various pros and cons involved for each side when it comes to how quickly (or how drawn-out) the Republican nomination process becomes.
Some believe President Obama’s campaign would benefit greatly from a nasty Republican primary election while others counter that an early Romney sweep could result in giving Obama’s staffers more time to prepare negative ads against the Republican nominee. Arguments have also been made that the above-mentioned scenarios could both provide a huge advantage to Republicans heading into November depending on future economic news and other market factors.
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