Quin Hillyer, who has been pretty brutal in his posts about Newt, details the reasons to doubt that Romney can beat Obama, Why Romney is Weak vs. Obama:

Then there’s the attacks on his tenure at Bain Capital. The attacks are over-the-top and unfair. But coming from the left in a general election campaign, they will work. That’s how a weakened Ted Kennedy in a Republican year blew open a tight race against Romney and won by a landslide — by attacking Bain (and by some subtle but effective exploitation of anti-Mormon bigotry, which unfortunately and unfairly and sickeningly will probably cost Romney a point and a half from otherwise GOP voters this year as well). What’s particularly devastating here is when a candidate’s big vulnerability is in the very area he tried to, and expected to, make his biggest political strength. Romney’s main selling point has been that he is a good businessman who proved himself in the private sector; if that gets taken away, he’s toast, because his record as governor was nothing to write home about, with his only significant “achievement” being the execrable one of Romneycare. This is very much akin to what happened to John Kerry, who tried to make his major selling point his supposed military “heroism,” when the highly on-target Swift Boat attacks made that same military service into a slight net liability. You can’t win when your biggest selling point is actually a vulnerability.

Among other things, Hillyer notes growing concern even among those favorably inclined towards Romney that he cannot overcome the Bain and other problems in a general election.

If Mitt Romney wins in South Carolina by a substantial margin, the narrative of inevitability will gain even more momentum, and we will head towards the nomination of a candidate without giving the electability concerns a chance to mature.

The most recent polling points towards Newt as being the only candidate with the potential to beat Romney in South Carolina.

As discussed yesterday, Insider Advantage has Romney up 2 over Newt.  American Research Group today has Romney up 4 over Newt, and Rasmussen up 9.  In all of these polls, Santorum and Perry are far behind.

PPP polling released a poll a few minutes ago which is consistent with these other polls.

Mitt Romney continues to hold a modest lead in South Carolina’s Republican primary for President.  He’s at 29% to 24% for Newt Gingrich, 15% for Ron Paul, 14% for Rick Santorum, 6% for Rick Perry, 5% for Jon Huntsman, and 1% for Buddy Roemer.

Voter in South Carolina have a choice.  Split the conservative vote among Newt, Perry and Santorum, and allow the narrative of Romney inevitability to continue before Romney’s general election problems sort themselves out.  Or coalesce around the candidate who is most competitive with Romney.

It’s not going to be something Perry and Santorum supporters will like to hear, but reality in this primary season is what it is.  A vote for Perry or Santorum in South Carolina is a vote for Romney’s inevitability.

 
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