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Gingrich's Win in SC GOP Primary

Very early, our kids learn the song "The-Wheels-On-The-Bus-Go-Round-And-Round". For Mitt Romney's campaign, their theme song for the SC GOP Primary became: "The-Wheels-On-Our-Bus-Keeping-Falling-Off"!

In what is being touted as an amazing comeback, Newt Gingrich has tonight won the primary. Not only did he win, he thumped Gov. Romney by a margin almost larger than the vote totals for the other two candidates! If trends continue (at this time, the results are: Gingrich 41%, Romney 27%, Santorun 17%, & Paul 13%), the vote totals for the 3rd and 4th place finishers will be greater than Romney's 2nd place totals as well! For a candidate who was reportedly ahead by 10% just a week ago, this sharp of a drop in so short a time (in addition to reports that he did not win Iowa as initially reported) is casting a cloud of uncertainty around his entire campaign.

So what happens next....

Declaring a "time-of-death" on his campaign would be premature. His advantages with both organization and campaign coffers will represent a daunting obstacle in Gingrich's path to the Republican nomination.

Ron Paul, knowing his campaign has no chance at the nomination, is simply gathering delegates for influence on the Republican Platform. He will remain a fixture for quite a while. He will be of little consequence in Florida as his campaign is already targeting subsequent caucus states.

Santorum may remain in the race until the Florida primary on January 31st. However, in this year's volatile campaign, 10 days can represent almost an eternity. (Just ask Mitt Romney who watched an air of invincibility and assumptions of inevitability dissolve to vapor among the Palmettos.) If I were inclined to gamble, I suspect that Santorum's time in this race is not measured in DAYS not weeks. Like Rick Perry, Santorum is directing a long-shot campaign (even more underfunded than was Perry's) and his real decision is whether his principles are better met staying in the race (thereby providing a divided Conservative vote that could allow Romney to hold on for a much-needed Florida win) or suspend his campaign allowing a Conservative-Moderate head-to-head race that, given Gingrich's current momentum, could lead to a victory.

Make no mistake - were Gingrich to win Florida and "breach" what Romney's campaign now identifies as their "firewall", there would be few clear paths to the nomination for the Governor.

So far, my October prediction that we'd get to a two-candidate race between Gingrich and Romney is looking an almost certainty. Time will tell if my expectation that the nomination will ultimately go to Gingrich comes to fruition as well. The next few days will answer whether the outcome is achieved quick or plays out over a longer haul.