The problem facing Republicans heading into 2012 has been laid bare by a series of polls that show Newt Gingrich leading the race for the GOP’s nomination, but also show that only Mitt Romney has a strong chance of beating Barack Obama for the presidency.
Romney has been the frontrunner in the GOP nomination campaign for months, despite the fact that many analysts believe the GOP’s support base doesn’t really support him. Romney is seen by some as a RINO (Republican in Name Only), and by others as too similar to Barack Obama (seriously!). There’s also the question of his Mormonism, which – rightly or wrongly – seems to be deterring some voters.
Gingrich, on the other hand, seemed to be almost out of the race just a couple of months ago. But he has picked up much of the support that has ebbed away from the likes of Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and the now departed Herman Cain. Socially conservative Republicans support Gingrich over Romney despite Gingrich’s somewhat chequered personal history.
The question, therefore, is whether the party will go with its heart (Gingrich) or its head (Romney). Many observers believe Romney would have a good chance of beating Obama, but that Gingrich would not. There’s also the question of who would be VP candidate for each of the runners. In 2008, Sarah Palin and Joe Biden had little influence in the race. But for 2012, the VP nominations could be crucial, and could even swing the election one way or the other.