When the dust settles from the Republican primary fight, odds remain heavily in favor of Romney because of his organization in what's expected to be a lengthy fight for delegates. And if he wins the nomination, disaffected Republicans most likely will rally to his cause.
Overriding nearly every issue with Republican party voters is a dislike of Obama, particularly his health care law that forces all Americans to buy health insurance. And in a general election against Obama, Romney is likely to appeal to independents more than the more-conservative Santorum or Gingrich would.
The question could boil down to how much the current GOP focus on social issues will alienate that key bloc of independents, once the party's nominee turns its focus to beating Obama.
EDITOR'S NOTE — Steven R. Hurst is The Associated Press' international political writer in Washington.
An AP News Analysis
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