In a surprising turn Newt Gingrich won the South Carolina primary. He had a commanding victory taking 40 percent of the vote while Romney came in second with 27.8 percent. Up until now everyone seemed to assume Romney would be the Republican nominee but that is not as clear after last night. By all accounts that is good news for the President. Romney has always been seen as the one candidate who could possibly beat Obama but after three primary elections it is possible Romney will not be the nominee. Newt’s surge in South Carolina could spoil Romney’s run and give Obama a much easier path to a second term in the White House.
Newt is a much less formidable opponent for a few reasons. First, a large portion of the Republican Party does not like him. Former Republican Congressman, Joe Scarborough, said Gingrich is a danger to the country and just a bad person both personally and politically. This same sentiment is held by a lot of Republicans.
Second, the dynamics of the Republican primary sets up candidates for an uphill battle in the general election. The Republican primaries force candidates to cater to the very conservative and very right wing portion of their base. These extreme right wing views are helpful in a primary but detrimental in a general election. This is why Romney is the most viable candidate to beat Obama. He receives criticism for his moderate views on a lot of issues, i.e. healthcare, which has been hurting him now but would be an asset in the general election. Newt on the other hand has been moving further and further right, which will hurt him in a contest against Obama. The country as a whole is relatively moderate and extremism be it to the left or the right does not play well in a general election. Due to this and the fact many Republicans do not like Gingrich make his win in South Carolina good news for the President.