As we approach Saturday's Republican primary in South Carolina, Mitt Romney’s nomination is looking more and more likely. Political futures market Intrade now gives Romney an almost 90% chance of winning the Republican nomination—up 4 points from a week ago—as conservative opposition to him remains split among his opponents. Even so Romney was apparently damaged by his admission that in spite of being one the wealthiest men in America he pays just around 15% federal income tax, less than the average rate paid by Americans in $60,000 and $103,000 tax bracket. ABC News reports Romney does it in part by keeping millions of dollars in offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands. Romney’s admission was made worse when he dismissed the roughly $370,000 he makes a year in speaking fees—more than 7 times the median yearly income of U.S. households— as “not very much.” Although Romney is merely taking advantage of tax laws that he did not write, Citizens for Tax Justice calculates that Romney’s tax plan would cut his own taxes by at least 40%, a much larger percentage than it would cut taxes on people in lower tax brackets.
Political Futures Markets
Chance President Obama will win reelection: 51.4% (Intrade)
Chance Mitt Romney will win the Republican nomination: 89.8% (Intrade)
Chance that Republicans will win control of the Senate: 75.0% (Intrade)
Chance that Republicans will maintain control of the House: 67.6% (Intrade)
President Obama’s approval rating: 45.3% (Pollster)
Mitt Romney’s favorable rating: 38.7% (Pollster)
Democratic advantage on a generic congressional ballot: 1.3% (Real Clear Politics)
U.S. unemployment rate: 8.5% (December) (BLS)
One-year growth in real personal disposable income: -1.9% (Q3 2010) (BEA)
“The country is going to be spend much of the next year talking about taxes. And leading one side of the debate is going to be a silver-templed exemplar of how inequitable the system has become. Again: is this really the man Republicans want for this moment?”—Alec MacGillis
UP NEXT: the South Carolina primary on Saturday, January 21
UPDATE: After I set this to post the news came out—see Peter Lawler's post—that after a recount Rick Santorum really won Iowa by a handful of votes and that Rick Perry is dropping out of the race. I'm not sure either piece of news matters much. Santorum doesn't get any delegates for winning Iowa, and the news that he technically won it may not make a difference now. And if Rick Perry had many votes for other candidates to divide up, I don't think he would be dropping out. Nevertheless, it does seem like Newt Gingrich may have some momentum in South Carolina. If Gingrich could win the state, Romney's nomination would look a little less inevitable.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore