Two new reports from Gallup have perhaps the best news for Mitt Romney of this campaign season.
For the first time, Romney's support among Republicans nationwide has reached or exceeded 30 percent, breaking through the 25-percent "barrier" that has been a common talking point among Romney opponents and pundits.
More importantly, Gallup data released Tuesday morning show that Mitt Romney has the highest "acceptable" and lowest "unacceptable" ratings of any Republican candidate.
These numbers fly in the face of the "anybody but Romney" cheerleaders who suggest that Republicans will not support Romney should he get the nomination. (I've been extremely skeptical of that theory since in this cycle Republicans are -- and should be -- motivated primarily by beating Barack Obama.)
Other points of interest:
• Ron Paul's "unacceptable" rating is twice his "acceptable" rating.
• Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman have no business still being in this race.
• Only one other candidate, Rick Santorum, is more acceptable than unacceptable -- by 6 percent -- though I expect that to change for the worse if Santorum remains a viable candidate and thus a target for Romney and Gingrich supporters.
• Romney -- who critics attack for his business success, for his religion, and for being a "moderate" -- has a 28 percent margin of acceptable over unacceptable.
It may be an air of inevitability, it may be a perception of electability, but you also have to give credit to Romney for (except for his poorly chosen words about liking "to be able to fire people," which have been taken wildly out of context by Republican and Democrat opponents alike) running a disciplined, consistent, conservative campaign and primarily training his fire on Barack Obama rather than other Republicans. Whatever you may think of Romney, few would argue that he would strike the average American as the most presidential of the GOP field -- and more presidential than the man currently holding the office.
Betting odds have Romney over 70 percent to win the South Carolina's January 21st primary and 83 percent to win Florida's primary 10 days later. (Romney is 98 percent to win New Hampshire's primary today.) Despite all the talk about how the nominee might not be known until May, it could all be over but the shouting on January 31st.
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