GOP "Adrift" vs. "Energized" Dems

After two primaries (Iowa and New Hampshire), the Democratic Party has split its wins between two candidates, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Both before and after Iowa the Times celebrated the party's embarrassment of riches, the "delicious Democrats" on the delectable primary menu, the partythat could "be forgiven for wearing shades, so bright are their days just now." Meanwhile, the GOP has three winners in three primaries (Iowa, New Hampshire, and yesterday, Michigan) - and the Times says the party's on the verge of cracking up.

From "No G.O.P. Anchor in Sight," Wednesday's front-page "news analysis" by Adam Nagourney, after Mitt Romney's clear win in the Michigan primary.

"Can anyone bring the Republicans together again?

"The convincing victory by Mitt Romney in the Michigan primary on Tuesday means three very different states - with dissimilar electorates driven by distinctive sets of priorities - have embraced three separate candidates in search of someone who can lead the party into a tough election and beyond President Bush.

"Mr. Romney won easily in Michigan, where he grew up, with a pointed focus on the slowing economy, which voters there overwhelmingly identified as the top issue. Senator John McCain of Arizona won New Hampshire last week with the backing of independent voters, who are so influential there. And Mike Huckabee of Arkansas won the caucuses in Iowa powered by social conservatives who make up a substantial part of its population.

"On the most tangible level, the vote on Tuesday was proof from the ballot box of what polls have shown: this is a party that is adrift, deeply divided and uninspired when it comes to its presidential candidates and unsure of how to counter an energized Democratic Party.

"Even in victory, Mr. Romney stood as evidence of the trouble the party finds itself in. He won, but only after a major effort in a state he once expected to win in a walk. That was before he lost Iowa and New Hampshire, two other states where he had campaigned all out.

"More than any candidate in the Republican field, Mr. Romney has made a conscious effort to reassemble the coalition of economic and social conservatives that came together with Ronald Reagan and that President Bush kept remarkably unified in his two campaigns and through much of his White House tenure.

"Mr. Romney's uneven performance has highlighted the strains in that coalition, and a central question about his candidacy is whether he will be able to rally its fractured components to his side. It was no coincidence that he invoked Reagan more than once in his victory speech on Tuesday, though it was perhaps equally telling that he also invoked the first President Bush, who like Mr. Romney struggled to convince Republicans that he was Reagan's rightful heir."