The Republican Party’s 2012 presidential primary season is in full swing and election fever is high.
Currently, only four candidates remain: former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and Texas Gov. Rick Perry withdrew their presidential bids on Jan. 4, Jan. 16 and Jan. 19, respectively.
Paul is the only remaining contender who has not yet won a caucus or primary. Santorum narrowly won the Iowa caucus, Gingrich won the South Carolina primary and Romney won in New Hampshire and is projected to win in Florida on Tuesday.
Currently, Romney is in the lead with a projected delegate count of 31, followed by Gingrich who has 26, Paul with 10 and Santorum with 8. There are a total of 2,286 delegates, and it takes 1,144 to win the nomination.
Marissa Beldock, vice chair of the Binghamton University College Republicans and a senior majoring in history, said she believes that this near-even split represents indecision among Republicans.
“The primaries are proving how unhappy many Republican voters seem to be with our candidate options,” Beldock said. “So far a different candidate has won the first three primaries, indicating there is no sure thing or definite front-runner yet, as far as I can tell.”
Tara-Marie Lynch, executive chairman of the College Republicans, said the race only has two legitimate contenders.
“Seeing the race as strictly between Gingrich and Romney to win the nomination is just a realistic opinion to have,” said Lynch, a senior triple-majoring in economics, political science and international political economy.
Lynch said her predictions represent those of the majority of College Republicans.
“Many of us believe Romney will win the presidential nomination, but we are all a bit shocked with Newt’s recent upsurge in the polls,” Lynch said.
Leading members of the College Democrats held similar views on the progress of Republican primaries.
Diana Reyes, president of the group and a senior double-majoring in anthropology and political science, shared Lynch’s predictions.
“I predict that Mitt Romney will win the nomination because he is more of a moderate candidate, and that is what the Republican Party needs to have a chance against President Obama,” Reyes said. “I also believe it would be best for the country as a whole to have someone moderate, because there is so much division going on right now.”
Reyes also noted that the College Democrats have made plans for students interested in obtaining absentee ballots for primary voting.
“We work with Broome County Democratic Headquarters to obtain absentee ballots for surrounding states and can obtain any absentee ballot that is requested from us,” Reyes said.
Gregory Smaldone, political director of the College Democrats and a sophomore double-majoring in history and accounting, disapproved of the notion that Romney and Gingrich were the only candidates that mattered and considered this idea detrimental to the Republican candidates.
“I think that it is a product of the media’s ability to decide who are the ‘front-runners’ in a race,” Smaldone said. “I also believe that, ultimately, it is more beneficial to Obama than anyone. Not so much because it will turn independents against either candidate, but because it is dividing the Republican Party.”
Alvin Mathew, a sophomore majoring in integrative neuroscience, hopes to see Gingrich win the nomination — to benefit Democrats.
“Newt Gingrich should win the Republican nomination, which should ensure Obama’s reelection in November,” Mathew said. “If it comes down to Newt and Barack, America will almost certainly prefer the latter.”
Marcus Henderson, a sophomore majoring in chemistry, considers Ron Paul the most logical choice of the Republican candidates.
“From what I have seen, Ron Paul seems to make the most sense,” Henderson said. “Mitt Romney is just another drone that this country could use just to pass another four years.”
The College Libertarians said in a statement that Ron Paul is the group’s preferred candidate.
“Even if [Ron Paul] is not expected to win, no other candidate has done more to bring libertarian issues into the mainstream — like ending the War on Drugs, increasing transparency at the Federal Reserve, reforming the TSA, opposing REAL ID, etc.,” the statement said.
Michael McDonald, a political science professor and director of the Center on Democratic Performance, a research arm of BU’s political science department, emphasized the importance of following the primaries.
“The debates are producing a good deal of information about the candidates,” McDonald said. “It is good to have this sort of informational groundwork laid before we get into the fall campaign.”
The next state primary will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 31 in Florida.