After a strong second place finish in Iowa and a tremendous rally to finish in second place in New Hampshire, Gov. Romney has won the most votes of any Republican candidate. The Republican race remains wide open. Here’s why:
Gov. Romney’s message of change generated momentum in New Hampshire. As recently as Saturday, Gov. Romney trailed in New Hampshire by as many as 14 points (ARG Poll, 1/4-1/5). To come back from a double-digit deficit to finish just 5 points behind John McCain is a tremendous achievement, made possible by Gov. Romney’s debate performance on Sunday night. Frank Luntz of Fox News declared that “Mitt Romney consistently got the best responses of the entire evening” from a focus group of Republican primary voters. And it wasn’t just Sunday’s debate—Gov. Romney’s emphasis on retail politics and our superior grassroots organization also tipped the scales back towards us in the final hours. Gov. Romney closed a great deal of ground very quickly and we expect to continue this strong momentum into Michigan.
Gov. Romney is the best candidate in the Republican field to match up against the Democrats in the fall. Regardless of who wins the Democratic nomination, the contest between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama has refocused the Republican race. Gov. Romney is the Republican candidate who can stand and successfully debate the Democrats about the future of this nation. Republicans know that we must wage a campaign that offers a choice between two clearly different visions for the future, not a choice between the past and the future.
No other candidate is competitive in as many states as Gov. Romney. Gov. Romney is the only candidate who is competitive in every state before February 5: building on our victory in Wyoming and strong finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, we head to the remaining states with strong organizations in place. Note that Gov. Romney actually beat John McCain among Republicans yesterday (35%-34%) and most of the upcoming primaries and caucuses attract an electorate far more Republican than New Hampshire’s. Yesterday’s results also show that most independents will choose the Democratic ballot in open primary states.
We are taking nothing for granted in any state. But being competitive in every contest over the next month means Gov. Romney will continue to be in the headlines, will continue to pick up delegates, and will continue to build a strong grassroots organization nationwide while other candidates sit on the sidelines. Gov. Romney will also benefit from a base built by our paid and earned media over the past month—no other candidate is in as solid a position in all the remaining January states. Also it is important to remember that the delegate-rich states of Michigan and Florida are winner-take-all by congressional district—a format that will benefit campaigns that have organized their field efforts to focus on key districts.
Bottom line: Gov. Romney has a clear path to victory moving forward. We are prepared to fight and win in the key states throughout the rest of January – putting us in position to win both Super Tuesday and the nomination.