If I had to select an example of an attention-grabbing lead for a journalism textbook then the opening paragraph of Karl Rove’s Wall Street Journal op/ed today would be a contender:
In an open race for the GOP nomination, no Republican has won both Iowa and New Hampshire, as Mitt Romney has. No one has come in fourth or fifth in New Hampshire, as Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum did, and become the nominee. No one has entirely skipped Iowa, as Jon Huntsman did, and won elsewhere. No one has recovered after grabbing the 1% that Rick Perry received in the Granite State. And no one became the nominee after failing to win one of the first two contests, a position in which Ron Paul finds himself.
All this means history will be made this year, no matter what happens next.
This point in particular deserves emphasis:
South Carolina will be the last chance for several candidates. It will be hard to justify going on after being at the back of the pack in three contests—especially with Florida’s 10 expensive media markets and four million registered Republican voters for this closed primary looming at month’s end.
You wouldn’t know this from listening to some Republicans’ lamentations. It sounds pretty strange when the former House speaker (Mr. Gingrich), the former No. 3 in the Senate Republican leadership (Mr. Santorum), a past chairman of the Republican Governors Association (Mr. Perry), and a former vice-presidential chief of staff (William Kristol) and others warn against letting “the establishment” choose the Republican nominee. If there is a “GOP establishment,” they are surely part of it.
More to the point, a small membership committee does not govern the process. No group of power brokers can pressure others into uniting behind one candidate. Millions of primary voters and caucus-goers will select the GOP’s nominee. That’s good enough for most of us.