Here’s all you really need to know. From CNN’s table of exit poll data:
Romney was the tea-party candidate, and not by a narrow margin either. (Fifty-one percent of voters called themselves TP supporters; among that group, Romney beat Paul by 18 points.) He also won Republicans by more than 30 points and finished a close second to Paul among independents. The only demographic in which he got crushed was Democrats. The leader in that group: Huntsman, of course, with 41 percent.
The key passage from his victory speech:
The President has run out of ideas. Now, he’s running out of excuses. And tonight, we are asking the good people of South Carolina to join the citizens of New Hampshire and make 2012 the year he runs out of time.
President Obama wants to put free enterprise on trial. In the last few days, we have seen some desperate Republicans join forces with him. This is such a mistake for our Party and for our nation. This country already has a leader who divides us with the bitter politics of envy. We must offer an alternative vision. I stand ready to lead us down a different path, where we are lifted up by our desire to succeed, not dragged down by a resentment of success. In these difficult times, we cannot abandon the core values that define us as unique — We are One Nation, Under God.
Too soon to say, I think, how much the Bain attacks hurt or didn’t hurt but there’s some suggestive exit poll data. On the question of who ran the most unfair campaign, Gingrich finished first — but with just 26 percent of the vote. Romney finished a close second at 24 percent. I’d love to see what those numbers looked like two days ago before Newt started ripping on him for “looting.” Meanwhile, Romney won a plurality of voters who said they decided today. He took 32 percent; Huntsman finished 10 points behind in second. Unless and until the Bain question is polled directly by someone, we’ll have to squeeze hunches out of those numbers.
Here’s the clip. Somehow this is even more depressing than McCain’s victory in 2008, no? There was no tea-party revolution back then to be betrayed by nominating the godfather of the individual mandate, and the field, quite frankly, was stronger than this one. Huckabee was a more effective social-con populist than Santorum and Fred Thompson was a more effective southern “true conservative” alpha male than Perry. And McCain, for all his faults, was a war hero. Somehow we’ve backslid to the point where not only is one of the also-rans in that race the frontrunner now, he’s a juggernaut — the first Republican since Ford to win both Iowa and New Hampshire. Despite the fact that only a small part of the party seems passionate about him, he’s 11 days and one win away from wrapping this race up. Unbelievable.
I think I’m writing in Tebow.