During the last week Mitt Romney shot to the top of the polls — again — leaving us to ask: is Romney-as-presidential-candidate good or just lucky?
Last Friday, Romney trailed Rick Santorum by five points in the Republican presidential polling average that Real Clear Politics updates daily. But today Romney leads Santorum, 35-29, in the same Real Clear Politics national metric — marking an 11-point turnaround in only seven days.
On the front page of Friday's New York Times, an article with the headline "Romney Reopens Whatever-It-Takes Playbook" suggests that Team Romney is cold-blooded efficient at defining issues and dispatching would-be GOP challengers such as Santorum.
"The Romney campaign’s shortcomings have been on vivid display in recent weeks but even his battered rivals acknowledge that Mr. Romney is proving unusually adept at defining, diminishing and disqualifying a serial cast of challengers through relentless attacks."
Conversely, Charles Krauthammer argues in an op-ed piece for the Washington Post that Romney's recent resurgence is simply good fortune given that it's entirely attributable to some gigantic judgment gaffes by Santorum.
"When (Santorum) shockingly swept Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado these three wins instantly propelled him to the front of the field nationally and to a double-digit lead in Romney’s Michigan backyard. Then Santorum went ahead and lost it. Rather than sticking to his considerable working-class, Reagan-Democrat appeal, he kept wandering back to his austere social conservatism. He insisted on launching himself into culture-war thickets: Kennedy, college and contraception."
Two polls released Thursday show the former Massachusetts governor holding a double-digit lead over the former Pennsylvania senator: Rasmussen Reports gives Romney a 40-24 advantage nationally, while Gallup Tracking pegs Romney as leading Santorum by a 35-24 margin.