Most, but not all, readers who responded to the Friday question on the consequences of the South Carolina primary picked Mitt Romney to win and argued that this would seal the Republican presidential nomination for him. DMar2 writes, in part:
The smart money is on Mitt Romney to win South Carolina. Despite all of the talk of “anti-Romney sentiment,” the newest Gallup polling shows him polling ahead of all of the other candidates in all of the Republican groups including Very Conservative and Evangelical. It appears Gingrich is trying to ensure his defeat in SC by harping on the Bain issue, one that does not resonate at all with conservative voters except perhaps to push them closer to Romney. Despite his bounce from the near Iowa win, Santorum is suffocating from all of the oxygen being sucked in by Gingrich and the Bain ads and has not pivoted well to talking about economic issues.
Should Romney win in South Carolina he will have won in the more evangelical, rural, Midwestern Iowa, the more independent, economically conservative, North Eastern New Hampshire, and the deeply conservative, Southern South Carolina. If other candidates can’t beat him in any of these very different states, can they really beat him anywhere?
Others were more skeptical that South Carolina would end things. Workrage makes the case that “Florida is the make-or-break primary for Romney. If he wins there, he’ll run the table. If the not-Romneys want to stop him, they have to consolidate before then.”
Certainly Romney is the prohibitive favorite to win in South Carolina. All available polling shows him in first place, although the margin differs wildly from poll to poll. Barring a severe mishap in the debates, he will in all likelihood prevail, although with a smaller margin of victory than in New Hampshire. The real question is whether Rick Santorum can break from the back, finish strongly and become the not-Romney heading into Florida. If so, and if he can connect with his economic message, he’s the last, albeit long-shot, contender who can stop Romney.