Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
If you’re sick of news of the run for the White House, I’ve got some really bad news for you: It’s about to get worse.
Today is the first step in the assumed coronation of Mitt Romney as the Republican standard bearer. The latest polls in both Iowa — with their caucus today — and New Hampshire, the next step in the primary process, have Romney in the lead.
After today’s assumed win, followed by the Granite State, Romney is expected to roll over the rest of his GOP counterparts on his way to the nomination.
I can’t help but recall eight years ago when a certain Democrat was expected to roll over competition on his way to his party’s nomination and then defeat George W. Bush in the 2004 general election.
I remember watching caucus returns on CNN or MSNBC or whatever, expecting to see Howard Dean win. I was a huge fan of the Vermont governor and genuinely excited about the future with him at the helm. In truth, he’s one of the few politicians I’ve ever been excited about.
But the returns didn’t come in as Gov. Dean — or I — had hoped. Dean came in third behind Sens. John Kerry and John Edwards. And in an effort to reinvigorate his base, Dean made a speech that would eventually derail his campaign. You may recall it.
“Not only are we going to New Hampshire, Tom Harkin, we’re going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico, and we’re going to California and Texas and New York ... And we’re going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan, and then we’re going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House! Yeah!”
That “Yeah!” was broadcast on a loop, remixed, and made into songs, turning Dean into a joke.
What was assumed to be a sure thing turned into a disaster, and Kerry ended up the nominee, with Edwards his running mate. Dean became chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
So just because the pundits are telling you today that it’s a done deal and it’s Romney’s nomination to lose, doesn’t mean he can’t lose it.
His lead in the latest Iowa poll was razor-thin and, while his New Hampshire lead seems insurmountable, there’s no such thing in politics. Just look at who’s polling third in Iowa. Rick Santorum — dead in the water just a couple weeks ago and now running third.
Following New Hampshire are South Carolina and Florida — with Newt Gingrich leading the polls in both. If the former speaker can make a decent showing in Iowa and New Hampshire, his stock could skyrocket.
Of course, Ron Paul could win tonight and turn into the party’s front runner.
This is one of the reasons I love politics. It’s a huge game of chess. And it the match starts in earnest tonight.
Scott Leffler, night/city editor for the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal, has been in the local print and broadcast media for the past decade. His column appears every Tuesday. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.