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Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney celebrates his victory at the Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, February 4, 2012.
This year’s GOP race has been the most rambunctious in decades, with four different candidates in as many months taking turns at the top of the food chain. Most recently, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have threatened to make it a two-man race, but a handy victory in Florida’s primary and now the Nevada caucus have made Romney the clear front-runner – for now. But Newt’s not going away, either, and his appeal to hard-line conservatives may carry him through the week and tomorrow’s caucuses in Colorado and Minnesota.
Republicans continue to push the “anybody but Obama” agenda, but after last week’s encouraging jobs report -- 243,000 jobs added in January, the most in nine months, and a drop in unemployment to a three-year low of 8.3% -- that message may have lost some juice. On Sunday, Romney and Gingrich camps both kept all their plates in the air, spinning the economic numbers against Obama while continuing to hammer at each other.
As the march of caucuses continues through Colorado and Minnesota, will Rick Santorum or Ron Paul find their footing and come from behind? Or is this showdown coming to an end? Will the improving economic outlook sway the moderates in Obama’s direction?
Jonathan Wilcox, Republican Strategist; former speech writer for Governor Pete Wilson
Lynn Vavreck, Professor of Political Science, UCLA