There was no suspense leading up to the Nevada Republican caucus results. As expected, Mitt Romney won in the state (which he also won in 2008, and which has a significant population of fellow Mormons) with a commanding lead. Newt Gingrich came in second, followed by Ron Paul and Rick Santorum.
Romney's second consecutive victory hasn't stopped the other GOP candidates from soldiering on, but it matches the Obama campaign's apparent understanding of the race. Although the president's re-election operation publicly maintains that this Republican primary is unpredictable and that the race is too early to call, campaign officials have largely focused on Romney as their most challenging opponent for the general election.
From the Democratic National Committee's "Mitt v. Mitt" ad campaign, which highlights the former Massachusetts governor's habit of completely reversing his stands on hot-button issues, to pouncing on Romney's comment this week that he was not concerned about the very poor because they have a safety net, a chief strategy has been to distinguish Obama's principles from Romney's.
On Wednesday, just before Romney's anticipated victory in Nevada, Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter released a scathing statement arguing that Romney's current lead is nothing to get too excited about.
"Team Romney wants voters and the national media to believe its [Florida] victory reflects its candidate's positions. In reality, it is a product of the fact that Romney and his super PAC allies carpet-bombed Gingrich by spending five times as much money on Florida's airwaves," Cutter wrote, adding that several polls show that Republicans and independents are increasingly disappointed and dissatisfied with Romney.
"It's difficult for Romney to claim Floridians voted for him rather than against his opponents, since less than one-tenth of one percent of the ads in Florida promoted Romney positively," Cutter continued.
For his part, Romney fired back with plenty of his own digs against the president in his Obama-centric victory speech from Las Vegas on Saturday night. In the first two minutes of his remarks, Romney pointed out that in 2009 President Obama wrongly predicted his stimulus bill would keep national unemployment below 8 percent.
"This week he's been trying to take a bow for 8.3 percent unemployment. Not so fast, Mr. President," Romney said. "This is the 36th straight month with unemployment above the red line your own administration drew, and if you take into account all the people who are struggling for work, or have just stopped looking, the real unemployment rate is over 15 percent. Mr. President, America has had enough of your kind of help."
With the attacks mounting, the Obama campaign is sure to double down on their strategy to characterize Romney as an out-of-touch, weak front-runner. Do you think they should be nervous about Romney's growing primary wins?
Cynthia Gordy is The Root's Washington reporter.