First, from Nate Silver.
... His fund-raising pace was fairly weak despite wins in New Hampshire and Florida. And Mr. Romney spent far more than his rivals in January — $18.8 million, compared with $5.9 million for his next-closest competitor, Mr. Gingrich.
More worrisome, Mr. Romney spent more than he took in; his cash flow was negative $12.2 million for the month. He exited January with just $7.7 million in cash on hand.
That sort of pace is not sustainable. Were Mr. Romney’s campaign to continue to raise and spend money at the same rate as in January, it would have only about 20 days of expenditures before money ran out. ... Silver, NYT
Then Jonathan Easley at The Hill.
A slew of new polling data for the GOP presidential primary released on Wednesday tells conflicting stories, but makes one thing clear – the race is very close.
Mitt Romney has pulled back into a tie with Rick Santorum in his home state of Michigan, according to the latest NBC News-Marist poll.
Romney leads with 37 percent followed by Santorum at 35 percent, but that’s a statistical tie considering the poll’s 1.8 percent margin of error. Ron Paul is in third place at 13 percent and Newt Gingrich rounds out the field with eight percent.
Some conservatives have predicted chaos in the GOP primaries if Romney were to lose Michigan, where his father was once governor and where he maintains close ties. ...Easley, The Hill
Quinnipiac shows Santorom's lead to be very solid.
Santorum has 35 percent of support nationally, followed by Romney at 26 percent, Gingrich at 14 percent and Paul at 11 percent.
Santorum extends that lead in a head-to-head match-up against Romney nationally, 50 percent to 37 percent. ...Easley, The Hill
The flow of money -- and the gradual slowing of that flow -- really tells the tale, according to Nate Silver.
The “super PACs” ...have spent almost all of their money on television advertising — much of it negative — leaving candidates without the robust organizational infrastructures that the Democrats built in 2008 or Mr. Bush did in 2000. Although Mr. Romney’s “ground game” is strong compared with that of his rivals, it is fairly weak by historical standards, with his campaign generally establishing just one field office in each major state, according to his campaign Web site.
Even if Mr. Romney’s fund-raising pace were to pick up, it might be too late to rectify the difference. Barack Obama’s campaign spent $40.9 million in fourth quarter of 2007, much of it in field offices and infrastructure. By contrast, Mr. Romney’s campaign spent $19.0 million in the fourth quarter of 2011. And whereas Mr. Obama’s fund-raising pace significantly accelerated in January 2008 — his campaign brought in $36.8 million — Mr. Romney’s has not. ...Silver, NYT
There's another fly in the Republican ointment, according to a poll on voter enthusiasm.
As the GOP primaries drag on, Republicans are losing interest in the presidential race. Just 40 percent say they have a great deal of interest in the contest, down from 48 percent in December, according to an AP-GfK poll. ...Think Progress
Jane Mayer notes that contributions to the Obama campaign from George Soros this time around have not materialized. Why?