Five Paths to the GOP 2012 Nomination

The fourth strategy would be to win Nevada, which would require a strong showing in either Iowa or New Hampshire in order to withstand the momentum and media coverage the winners there receive. Romney won here last time, so this will be tough to do especially if he wins New Hampshire. The closeness of this contest to the others means that the results in Iowa and New Hampshire will be the biggest factor and so it is a long shot for any candidate to claim Nevada as his staking ground. It didn’t work out so well for Duncan Hunter last time, and it probably won’t work this time, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be tried.

You may notice that John Bolton and Newt Gingrich have not been included yet. That is because, as of right now, I don’t see what primary strategy they can have. Gingrich will have too much baggage for social conservatives in Iowa and his fiery partisanship won’t play well in New Hampshire and he’ll have a lot of catching up to do to tackle Romney. Absent a meltdown of the leading candidacies and his emergence as a compromise candidate, Gingrich’s only chance appears to be to embrace a fifth strategy made possible by changes to the primary calendar.

The Republican Party has voted to only allow Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina to hold their contests in February. In March, the states with proportional representation of the vote will hold their contests and in April, the winner-takes-all states will have their chance.

That means that it is possible that at the end of the February as the race falls to two or possibly three or four candidates, another alternative like Gingrich could emerge as each candidate’s negatives grow as they attack each other. However, this is not terribly dissimilar from the Super Tuesday plan of Clinton and Giuliani last time around. The candidates who have won contests will have tremendous momentum going into March and it will be hard for another candidate to break in.

At this juncture, Mitt Romney is the in the best position to win the nomination, but it is a fragile lead. The Tea Party could easily turn its wrath upon him for his health care plan in Massachusetts.

The 2012 race has already begun and with so many candidates considering a run, it should be expected that a few will essentially declare themselves in the contest in the weeks following the congressional elections.

The next election cycle began on November 3, 2010.