Ron Paul Surprise in Virginia and Romney's Leadership Woes

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Romney Paul
Republican presidential candidate Romney listens as Paul makes a point during the Republican presidential candidates debate in Jacksonville.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney posted a convincing victory in the Virginia GOP primary, but the victory was not as expected. According to the opinion polls and common perception, Romney was headed for a total victory in his duel with former Texas rep. Ron Paul.

The election results came as a shocker to the Romney camp as Paul put up an impressive performance by scoring 40.5 percent of the votes polled against Romney's 59.5 percent. The latest polls ahead of the Super Tuesday contest in Virginia had shown Romney with a massive 69 percent of support and Paul with just 26 percent of vote share. With the win Romney has won 43 of 46 delegates and Paul won the remaining three delegates.

The Virginia ballet had the names of only two candidates in it, as other two candidates Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich had failed to collect required signatures within the deadline prescribed by the state law.

The lack of competition made the contest in Virginia lackluster with a predictable outcome. However, the election has brought in a surprise with Paul surging in an unexpected manner. He got the maximum percentage of votes he garnered in any presidential primaries so far.

Paul's performance has raised serious doubts about Romney's acceptability and his ability to win the November duel, against President Obama. Virginia, a Republican citadel for more than four decades, had gone to Democrat Barack Obama in 2008 elections.

The election results are indeed an eye opener for Romney, who still is struggling to outsmart his rivals with convincing victories. If we analyze the reasons behind Paul's impressive vote share, it points to several factors that should be of concern to Romney.

Romney is unable to connect with all sectors of GOP voters and there is still considerable dislike against him among the republican voters. The contest being a one-on-one match has exposed the vulnerability of Romney when voters get divided into pro- and anti-Romney segments. Despite the recent surge and wins, he has failed to achieve a Super Tuesday knockout to seal his nomination. Though he successfully projects himself as the best candidate to unseat President Obama in the November elections, he so far has failed to convince GOP voters that he is the best leader to lead the nation. 

On records he has won six Super Tuesday contests extending his lead, but he had to face a tough fight from resurgent Santorum in key states. In Ohio, considered a crucial state to win nomination, he won with a nominal lead of one point over Santorum. This depicts his inability to fight his case strongly with the GOP voters, who are still unsure about their chosen candidate. 

Paul's Virginia wonder also points to Romney's inability to garner loyal and enthusiast supporters, who would remain dedicated. Virginia registered low voter participation and the voter turnouts in the elections were around 5 percent. 

Therefore, the reason for the low turnout could be that Romney's supporters, who expected him to win anyhow, would not have bothered to vote. This in fact could have chipped away the majority he was expecting to get here, while bolstering Paul's vote share. In a fight with Obama, Romney would be crippled if he is unable encourage his supporters to come out and vote.

Romney also has to worry about the anti-Romney feeling among certain sections of the GOP and independents, because even among the people who have voted, Paul has benefited from the strong anti-Romney feeling. This is apparent from the assumption that Virginia, being an open primary, several independents and Democrats along with the Santorum and Gingrich supporters have voted for Paul.

It indicates the unpopularity of Romney rather than the popularity of Paul. This puts Romney in a danger zone, in a head-to-head matchup with Obama, because independents play a key role in presidential elections.  

It is high time that Romney consolidates his support and makes inroads into the independent voter base, because Obama who is already riding high on the benefit of incumbency and early candidacy has built a strong campaign organization in the states and has the charisma to creat an enthusiasm in the voters.

Now with the race set to go beyond the Super Tuesday into other mid-March polling states, it is better for Romney to oust his rivals out of the race as fast as possible, or else he will be left struggling to match up to Obama, who has a strong campaign machinery and aura that help him connect with the masses easily.

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