Winning the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary puts Mitt Romney in a good place for the remaining primaries in South Carolina and Florida this month. But a grimmer economic picture in these states has the potential to damage his momentum. New Hampshire, with an unemployment rate of 5.2 percent in November, had the fourth-lowest unemployment rate in the country, and Iowa's 5.7 percent was similarly below the national rate. South Carolina and Florida, with unemployment rates of 9.9 and 10 percent respectively, will be much more focused on the candidate's economic credentials, and perhaps be open to platforms offering more radical change—like those of Ron Paul or Rick Santorum—than Romney's comparably moderate economic plan.
At the back-to-back debates in New Hampshire last weekend, it looked as though Mitt Romney's challengers had been consigned to defeat. As Huntsman, Paul, and Santorum jockeyed for second place, Romney could have joined Perry on the side of the stage for a nap.
But that's not the case now. Realizing that South Carolina may be their last stand, the other candidates are exploiting every chance to slow down Romney’s momentum as the race moves south.
The Internal Revenue Service recently updated its tax-gap estimate using 2006 tax year liabilities, and the numbers show that underreported income—largely from the one percent—remains a big obstruction to collecting taxes. Even though 83 percent of the country voluntarily pays its taxes, there are still $450 billion worth left unpaid. The IRS believes tougher enforcement could help it collect an additional $65 billion, but that still leaves $385 billion that will never be paid. That's a lot of money—enough to pay for more than 11 payroll-tax-cut bills like the one passed by Congress at the end of last year.
After largely ignoring Mitt Romney during Saturday's debate in New Hampshire, the Republican candidates have started attacking the front-runner where it hurts most: his economic résumé. A new 28-minute television advertisement focusing on Romney's time at Bain Capital has the most potential to hurt the candidate given that the former governor touts his experience there as indicative of his ability to fix the U.S. economy. Newt Gingrich-supporting Super PAC "Winning Our Future" produced the film. The advertisement strikes back at Romney's $3.7 million-worth of negative, anti-Gingrich advertising in Iowa, which effectively ruined the former speaker's end-of-the-year momentum.