Not long after the polls closed Tuesday night, I surfed over to the New York Times website and was amused to find this headline splashed across the page in bold-face type: “Romney Wins Republican Primary”. Readers could be forgiven for thinking that the Times was referring to more than just New Hampshire. (They weren’t, but they might as well have been.) As if you need them, here are five more signs from today that the Mittening is nigh.
The New Hampshire exit polls. Romney won 20,000 more votes last night than he did four years ago, even though fewer Republicans turned out this year. He also won his share of Tea Partyers and Evangelicals, and six in ten voters said they’d be satisfied with Romney as the nominee, about the same proportion who thought he was the most electable. In short, there wasn’t really any chink in the armor.
He has a boatload of cash. The fourth-quarter numbers from 2011 are out and Romney raised $24 million in three months, his best fundraising period yet. Sure, it’s not really news that Romney is well funded, but now there’s absolutely no doubt. Romney has more than enough money to fight the nasty battle looming in South Carolina and the expensive one that lies beyond in Florida. Speaking of money…
His Super PAC is erecting a firewall in South Carolina. Remember that episode of Mad Men where the pro-Nixon advertising exec airs a bunch commercials for Secor Laxatives in order to box out Kennedy in key television markets? OK, this isn’t really like that, but Romney’s backers over at Restore Our Future have the biggest presence on South Carolina TV right now. Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich’s PAC has yet to follow through on its promise to buy $3.4 million of airtime. Team Romney can probably spend enough money in the next ten days to make sure that every anti-Mitt ad is bracketed by pro-Romney stuff. Pete Campbell would approve.
Jim DeMint thinks Romney will win. There’s probably no better bellwether of Palmetto sentiment than Senator DeMint. The guy is an arch-conservative with the respect of his state’s activist base and he’s out there on conservative radio not only predicting that Romney will win, but making the case that it won’t do any harm to the conservative cause. Sure, DeMint endorsed Romney last time around and has no reason to love anti-Right to Work, pork legend Rick Santorum, but his hat-tip and his handicapping still mean something.
Oh look, it’s a TV ad. In Florida. In Spanish. So Romney not only has enough cash to run ads in exorbitant Sunshine State TV markets 20 days out, but he can go bilingual as well. The spot is an appeal to Florida Hispanic population, which is mostly Cuban and breaks more Republican than in other states. (Those are some Spanish-speaking Republican lawmakers featured in the ad.) But this is also a fine introduction to a key general election demographic in a key general election state, even if it doesn’t address his real challenge with non-Cuban Hispanics, which lies in the Southwest. “Soy Mitt Romney y apruebo este mensaje” indeed.