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The GOP Race & the First 3 Primaries

Posted by Peter Brian Barry on

Peter Brian Barry

Peter Brian Barry

The final downturn in Mitt Romney's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week was coming in a distant second place in South Carolina's Republican primary.

Newt Gingrich won just over 40 percent of the vote, earning 23 delegates in the process; Romney was more than twelve points behind.

Of course, Gingrich couldn't convince even a bare majority of South Carolina Republicans to support him, and in the grand scheme of things 23 delegates is not a tremendous amount (Florida has 50 and that was after being punished by the Republican National Committee).

But Romney only won just over 39 percent of the delegates in the New Hampshire primary that was widely regarded as a given, and the most recent polls have Gingrich with an increasingly comfortable lead in Florida.

So, while only days ago it looked as though Romney was primed to run the table, he has won only a single, lonely Republican primary and panic has to be setting in.

Is this any way to run a primary?

Admittedly, Super Tuesday is still two months away, but make no mistake about it: the results of the first three primaries are already having tremendous impact on how candidates will be branded in the months to come and their current ability to raise money, among other things.

Yet according to the 2010 census, the net population of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina combined amount to just under nine million people, a little less than 3 percent of the United States population as a whole. And I doubt that anyone can seriously claim that any of these states is representative of the United States or the GOP as a whole.

After all, it is no surprise that a candidate like Newt Gingrich played as well as he did in a state like South Carolina, home to state senator Arthur Ravenel who made national headlines in 2000 when he defended the flying of the Southern Cross over South Carolina's capitol and referred to the NAACP as the "the National Association of Retarded People." (He later apologized—to retarded people, for associating them with the NAACP.)

No surprise that Gingrich receives standing ovations when he describes President Barack Obama as "the food stamp president" and confessed puzzlement when asked about why his remarks about African Americans and welfare might strike some as offensive.

If you don't think that race still plays a role in American politics, you haven't been paying attention. Post-racial society, my foot.

There has to be a better way to do this, a fairer and more principled way. And the best evidence for it is that a morally depraved, hypocritical, intellectual lightweight like Newt Gingrich is benefiting from it.

Opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Andy Rapp, Q-TV, Delta College, or PBS.

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Currently Speaking host Andy Rapp

Veteran journalist Andy Rapp has been hosting Currently Speaking since 1999.

Each week, he's joined live in the studio by journalists, academics, and experts. Along with viewers at home, they tackle the local, national, and global issues that matter most.