January 30, 2023
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Commentary: Four-way brawl will hurt Republican party

It’s the end of March, and the Republican primaries are still under way. GOP candidates are fighting to be the campaign frontrunner in what seems like an endless four-way brawl. Recent polls show that the heavy contenders are Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, while Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul remain far behind in the dust.

Alex Litke

There is no telling who will win the nomination. Romney has shown strength in past state primaries, but with Santorum’s tenacious campaigning, it’s still too soon to determine whether Romney has the nomination sealed. The candidates have made it clear that nobody is ready to back down from the primaries. In fact, each candidate’s refusal to withdraw from the race is going to harm the Republican campaign during the race to the White House.

In the March 3 debate in Ohio, Santorum and Romney berated each other’s inconsistent policies and flawed economic plans. Last Thursday, Santorum said if he doesn’t become the Republican nominee, then Obama should serve another term.

Such heated rivalry within the party is slimming the candidates’ chances of claiming the White House. If the candidates refuse to go down without a fight, their clashing arguments will cause a divergence in the party. This stalls any GOP unification. The Republican rallies are split between the discerning candidates, and they show no sign of reaching one runner to reinforce the party.

The main cause of this endless primary is the recent approval for the Super PAC’s outside support. The Super PAC allows for the Republican candidates to accept funding from outside sponsors, so there is no demarcation to their campaign budget. Outside funds that continually support the GOP campaign runners give no reason for any of the remaining candidates to back down from the race.

Aside from outside sponsors pouring millions of dollars into the campaigns, there is also a new method in these primaries that delays any candidate from securing GOP representation. This new method awards candidates by summation of delegates, rather than awarding the state altogether. A state referendum allows for a winner-takes-all summation based on the state. This new system of voting has been drawing out the span of the primaries because it’s the delegates that now designate the primary’s voting results. The candidate who first reaches 1,144 delegates wins the GOP nomination. Romney has currently won 563, Santorum 263, Gingrich 135, and Paul at 50. There are still 2,286 delegates up for grabs.

Without a GOP candidate set in stone, the Democratic party has the perfect opportunity to scoop up the ballots of undecided voters. In the current circumstances, there is only one clear side that the undecided voter can choose from. The Democrats see the GOP primaries as a great chance to persuade undecided voters to their side.

Republicans may be alienating themselves from a broader audience, but there is still a chance for them to pull in some undecided voters — they just need to settle on a candidate already. While the GOP candidates are following that old American dialect of persistence and hard work, success may not rise as an outcome. This leads to a question that goes beyond who will win the GOP primaries — the Republicans should really be asking whether they can recover from this critical indecision.

Alex Litke is a junior cinema and photography major. Email him at alitke1@ithaca.edu.