Can Newt Gingrich Win In The General Election?
Voters asked why they preferred Gingrich and Santorum pointed out values like honesty and integrity, and overall political ideology. In other words, conservative values. Electability, and ability to beat President Obama in a general election, came much further down the list of importance.
This raises a crucial question: can the winner in South Carolina win in the general election? The GOP is too far right in South Carolina to elect a viable candidate which tonight's election results confirm.
A trend that I've noticed for the past two election cycles is that potential moderates are forced to bend to the demands of the extreme right. This helps those potential moderates win the nomination, but hurts them severely in the general election. South Carolina is one of those states that shifts candidates to the right, and the more conservative candidates generally do well there. This success however comes at a price. That price generally is that the candidate has moved out of the mainstream, and out of the range of electability.
If someone not named Mitt Romney comes away with the victory in South Carolina, the race for the Republican nomination could take a lot longer then expected. A long, bitter battle would splinter the GOP electorate and drain funds from the party coifers. A GOP that is not unified cannot beat President Obama in the general election.
Southern states pick hardline conservative candidates. Hardline conservatives are unlikely to win in the general election. I doubt America ever will elect a hardline candidate of any kind. It's just not something we do. This leaves us with something to think about as we watch the Republican candidates shift as fast as they can to the right to appeal to hardline conservatives.
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