GOP voters should focus on who has best chance in November

Oklahoman Published: February 2, 2012
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Less than five weeks away is the Oklahoma presidential primary, when Republicans will help choose the GOP nominee to oppose Barack Obama.

Didn’t know Oklahoma had a primary? Perhaps that’s because the state hasn’t yet shown up on the radar of the remaining contenders or the media.

On March 6, the state will join 10 other “Super Tuesday” states. Between now and then, a primary or caucus will be held in eight other states. By then, we hope, Mitt Romney will have emerged as the clear choice for the nomination. Romney’s front-runner status was on display with his convincing victory in Florida, but this is far from over.

The prolonged campaign and debate schedule is tiring enough for voters. Imagine how hard it is on candidates. Yet Romney himself rejects the argument that competitive primary seasons hurt the eventual nominee.

Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have alternated as the primary and caucus winners so far. They remain the only contenders (Ron Paul isn’t really in it to win it). Seven Republicans (and five Democrats) filed to be on the Oklahoma ballot, but three GOP candidates no longer seek the office.

From the limited, preliminary polling results here, we conclude that Romney’s support has remained soft in Oklahoma as other candidates have risen or fallen over time. The Gingrich appeal here could mirror South Carolina: Intense dislike of Obama may translate into support for the candidate mostly likely to give Obama fits in the fall debates.

Yet national polling continues to indicate that Romney has a far better chance of beating Obama. Voters should weigh the appeal of Gingrich as a fighter with the appeal of Romney as a winner.

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