The contest to choose a Republican nominee for the US presidential election in November is in high gear. The population of Taiwanese Americans is about 1 million, so it is a significant voting bloc in deciding who will get into the White House and which party will control the US Congress on Nov. 6. It is not too early to ponder which party to support in the fall.
However, first, a summary of the protracted Republican primary race: On Super Tuesday, March 6, 10 states voted. Former US House of Representatives speaker Newt Gingrich won his home state of Georgia, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum won North Dakota, Oklahoma and Tennessee, and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, the presumptive front-runner, won the remaining six states, including bellwether Ohio, where he eked out a 1 percentage point win over Santorum.
While Romney garnered more than half of the delegates on Super Tuesday, media observers said his slim victory in Ohio demonstrated Romney’s limited ability to connect with the average American and that his support comes mainly from the better-educated, higher-income professional groups.
His loss in Oklahoma and Tennessee means Romney’s support in the South is weak. On Tuesday, Santorum earned double wins by picking up Alabama and Mississipi, further underscoring weak support for Romney in the South.
The media have been unkind to Romney. He is not an attractive candidate. He flip-flops on issues. His awkward asides highlighting his wealth alienate struggling blue collar workers. His credentials as a conservative are suspect, and so on.
The Republican contest has pushed all the candidates to the right, with adverse consequences for the party’s prospects in November. Romney’s strong stand against illegal immigrants has eroded Latino support. Santorum is a devout Catholic who appeals to the social conservatives and evangelical wing of the Republican Party, also known as the “Grand Old Party” (GOP), but his stance on birth control has alienated women, who represent 53 percent of voters.
As of Tuesday, Romney had 495 delegates, compared with 239 for Santorum and 139 for Gingrich. With more money and better organization, Romney is expected to maintain his lead, although whether he can reach the 1,144 delegates required to clinch the nomination before the Republican Party convention is not clear.
The media tend to blame the recriminatory war of attrition within the party on Romney’s ineptitude. Actually, there have been three structural changes in the primary process that have caused this self-destructive slog.
This year both parties have adopted incentives for states to hold their primaries later in the spring. Four years ago, 80 percent of Republican delegates were chosen before March. Super Tuesday was in February, and it involved 21 Republican contests. Recent court decisions allowed unlimited amounts of money and super Political Action Committees, which enables a weak contender to linger in the race so long as he has a single wealthy backer. The proportionate apportioning of delegates also slows down the pace of the contest.
So what is ahead? It is possible the war of attrition will continue until June 5, when primaries in five states — including California (172 delegates) — will favor Romney. He is well positioned to win the nomination, but many not clinch it until the primary season is over.