Imagine, if you will, that you're in high school and there's a big dance coming up. There's this really pretty girl that you want to ask out, but you're not experienced with the opposite sex and quite nervous about making your move. Than, once you've worked up the courage, a taller, more handsome guy swoops in, asks her to the dance, and she says yes.
Mitt Romney is the girl you end up taking to the dance.
It's staggering that we're in the first week of April and there are still four legitmate candidates vying for the Republican nomination for president. Most signs indicate that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has the nomination in the bag, but he's neither asserting himself nor running away from the pack. Decisive primary victories in the north have been negated somewhat by close losses in the south and Rockies. It's one thing to compare the gridlock to the Obama vs. Hillary struggle from four years ago, but this time there's four candidates and their supporters couldn't be more polarized or disparate. Clinton supporters eventually came around to their decidedly more liberal opponent for party unity, but the split in '08 is nothing like it is now. Nobody's conceding, everyone's fighting.
So why won't Gingrich, Santorum, and Paul quit? Are they stubborn, or waiting for some epic collapse? Maybe its because the final four represent seperate factions of the GOP: Romney appeals to mainstream and moderate conservatives, Rick Santorum to social conservatives, Newt Gingrich to neo-cons, and Ron Paul a mix of libertarians, bored college kids, and people that think the other three candidates are either corporate stooges or alien robots. (I'm only half-joking about that last one.) On top of that, some have argued that the Christian conservatives have been passed aside for much of the primaries, though whether they had an active or passive role in the pushover is up for debate. I suppose I don't have the best pulse on how the religious right thinks, but are they reluctant to support Romney because he's Mormon? Is an overly quirky, yet not totally dissimilar belief system at the crux of the situation? It doesn't seem like the rift is purely based on Romney's political platform, but maybe it's me.
Members of the conservative establishment are slowly but surely throwing their weight towards Romney, though Santorum is pretending that the party core is panicking. Romney has an overwhelming edge in money and delegates, but voters are slightly more begrudging. Blowout wins in Wisconsin, Maryland, and DC tonight do not seem to be fazing the competition. White flag or not, Santorum and Gingrich are ignoring their platforms and playing offense 24/7, trying to cut down the frontrunner with a stench of desperation. Ron Paul, on the other hand, continues to march to the beat of his own drum.