BUFFALO, N.Y. -- As they head into the Florida primary, noted
presidential election scholar and forecaster James Campbell says
the battle between Republican hopefuls Newt Gingrich and Mitt
Romney is likely to intensify and become even more negative.
"I think a Gingrich victory is more likely than not, but whoever
wins, victory will come at the end of a highly charged and raucous
battle," says Campbell, UB Distinguished Professor, Chair of the
Department of Political Science at the University at Buffalo, and
author of "The American Campaign: U.S. Presidential Campaigns and
the National Vote" (2nd edition, Texas A&M University,
The results of the South Carolina Republican presidential
primary, Campbell says, suggests that the struggle between the
party's establishment, which generally supports former
Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, and the party's conservative
base, which has been searching for a more conservative
standard-bearer, will continue for some time.
"Gingrich's double-digit victory over Romney in South Carolina,
despite being outspent, put a big dent in what many were coming to
regard as the inevitability of a Romney nomination," Campbell
"In fact," he says, "it was a big step toward making Gingrich
the single conservative alternative to Romney."
Former Senator Rick Santorum is still vying with Gingrich for
the role of the conservative choice, but Campbell says his
prospects were set back quite a bit by South Carolina primary
"My guess is that Santorum's candidacy may not survive beyond
Florida's primary," he says, "but that Ron Paul will continue in
the race as a distant third place candidate because of his strong
appeal to libertarian Republicans."
Campbell says he expects the race to intensify and possibly
become even more negative fueled by campaign finance laws that
prevent large direct contributions to candidates, but permit large
sums of money to flow into the unaccountable "Super PACs" that are
not restrained by the possibility of a backlash from being
excessively negative about the opposition.
"With the establishment committed to the well-funded Romney
candidacy and the conservative base far more enthusiastic about
Gingrich and quite clearly very reluctant to accept Romney as the
GOP candidate, a protracted struggle is likely," Campbell says.
"Although it is impossible to determine with any certainty
whether the establishment or the base will 'cry uncle' first,"
Campbell says, "overall, I would say the odds are in Gingrich's
favor -- though Romney remains a good bet to win in the next
primary in Florida.
"The conservative base has the votes to determine the nomination
in a primary dominated system and it appears so far that Romney is
an exceptionally hard sell with them. As the Gallup Polls have
shown for some time now, Gingrich generates enthusiasm among
Republicans and Romney does not."
Campbell is past President of Pi Sigma Alpha, The National
Political Science Honor Society, and Chair of the Political
Forecasting Group, a Related Group of the American Political
Science Association (APSA). He is a former APSA Congressional
Fellow and a program director at the National Science Foundation.
He has served on six editorial boards of political science
journals, seven executive councils of political science
organizations and has published four books and more than sixty book
chapters and articles in political science journals.
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