Will Kentucky's Presidential Primary matter? [Opinion: The Arena]



The past several months, national news has largely focused on the Republican primary cycle and the continuing drama that it inspires. Between Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and more, public favor has ebbed and flowed its way along, having a difficult time finding consensus in individual primaries or caucuses. Super Tuesday passed, and while many thought it would spell an end to the search for the next Republican presidential nominee, it failed to definitively end the contest. As Kentucky's primary draws closer, the question begins to loom whether it could play a role in this larger national debate. 

The tentative date for the Kentucky primary this year lands on May 22nd. While that seems far away, a good number of states hold theirs even later into the summer months. Kentucky's primary hasn't always held much weight in the decision of presidential nominations, largely because the race doesn't last long enough to need the opinion of a late held primary. This year, however small the chances, the current field for Republican presidential nominee does not seem to lessen as the months pass and Kentucky's role within the greater nomination process appears to prove more important as time goes by. 

Mitt Romney has traveled a rocky road along what many saw as a smooth pass to the presidential nomination. Though he has consistently had more money and a more organized campaign than his rivals, firm Republican base support has been elusive. Many of the more conservative factions of the Republican Party remain skeptical of his moderate record and his governing of a long-time blue state. These factions remain open to an alternative candidate who represents their values to a greater degree. This has caused the seesaw of support between Romney and his main opposition: Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul. As the primary season moves into more Southern states, generally thought more conservative, analysts have wondered whether roadblocks will continue to rise in Romney's way. It remains to be seen if Romney's presidential bid truly could run off the rails, regardless, the fact the suspicion exists adds greater attention and importance on upcoming primaries.  

So where does Kentucky currently stand with regards to the primary? With four Republican Representatives in the House and both of its Senators allying with the GOP, Kentucky clearly remains a red state. Along with this clear distinction, one of its Senators is the son of nominee Ron Paul who has kept a consistent, yet vocal fourth place. As of yet, polling centers have not yet gathered a great deal of data. Senator Rand Paul has swayed some prospective votes by endorsing his father, Public Policy Polling has found Gingrich to hold a tentative lead over Romney, and Magellan Strategies has Romney barely leading the pack of possible voting options (in their poll they asked about other candidates and found Sarah Palin to actually have the lead). Last fall, Kentucky polled enormously for Rick Perry on the eve of actual voting. Along with the national GOP sentiment, Kentucky seems yet to firmly decide which candidate to support. 

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