1. As I've been saying all along, Mitt Romney is a terrible candidate and a bad politician. It is extraordinary he's come this far. But when you lose an election to two of the biggest jokes in electoral politics, you're clearly a complete disaster. Romney coasted along because he never got exposed. Well, he's been exposed.
2. He's likely not going to get a single delegate out of South Carolina, having lost every single congressional district and just about every county. It was about as complete and brutal of a beating as we've seen.
3. This election was important because it was in the base of the party. So far, Romney has lost the base in Iowa, and significant lost the heart of the party in South. If Romney thinks he can win a general election with upper income New England blue bloods and the Mormon vote, he's clueless. He's going to have to win over the GOP base. I see ways to do it, but I'm not going to tip my hand until I see Newt beyond Romney's reach.
4. The Romney Campaign is under pressure from the GOP establishment. Pressure is what usually makes campaign make errors. Some just can't handle it. It is up to the candidate to project calm and right the ship. Clearly they've fumbled and thrown several interceptions to boot. They need to throw out the playbook and redraw the chalkboard. But let me be clear: the GOP establishment will not tolerate Newt Gingrich under any circumstances. They'll do anything to stop him.
5. Newt was outspent heavily and still won. Why? Message still matters.
6. Romney going back to the "defense of capitalism" stuff is an almost surefire loser. Know why? Look at this graph of the Gallup moving average:
Romney was gaining points every single day right up to the top of that graph which is the date of his New Hampshire victory. Then...he suddenly just stopped growing. Even after winning a primary, albeit in his home state. Still...despite that victory, he just stopped growing. Why? Bain. Newt's Bain ad rolled out the day before the New Hampshire primary and stopped Romney in his tracks shortly thereafter. He just hit a brick wall, and then he started falling and Newt rose.
Don't let the media fool you. That ad worked and THEY KNOW IT. Newt definitely knows. I saw his SuperPac guy tonight and he hinted that they're going to return to it. Know why? It fucking worked. The GOP establishment is so afraid of the Bain attack being legitimized by bipartisan agreement that they'll do anything to shut it down. Like Maddow said, it is almost like him saying "here's my glass jaw...don't hit me there!"
The debates won this election for Newt, for sure. But it was the Bain ad that stopped Romney from running away with this election.
7. Romney's hiding something devastating in his taxes. Where there is smoke, there is almost always fire.
8. Newt is running for the nomination. Romney, cluelessly, is still running for the general election.
8:17 PM PT: A post from Erick Erickson at Redstate:
The other day, Dan McLaughlin explained who the GOP establishment is. That characterizes Mitt Romney’s base even in the exit polls. Unfortunately for him, the base of the party is at war with that precise group.
The buzz in Washington now is that the Republican Establishment fears Gingrich will cause them to lose the House and not get the Senate. Put another way, the current Republican leadership fears that the man who helped the GOP take back the House for the first time in 40 years and his allies in the tea party who helped take back the House in 2010 will cause the GOP to now lose.