Gingrich says he’ll drop out: Let the moneyball begin

Newt Gingrich signalled this morning that he’ll join the “real world” and drop out of the Republican primary after Mitt Romney’s sweep last night in Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

“I think you have to at some point be honest with what’s happening in the real world, as opposed to what you’d like to have happened,” he told supporters in North Carolina last night.” I think obviously that I would be a better candidate,” he continued, “but the objective fact is the voters didn’t think that. And I also think it’s very, very important that we be unified.”

Gingrich will officially withdraw his bid for the White House this week, reports the New York Times.

With Gingrich gone, the massive game of moneyball that is the US general election will begin. Except there’s no real Billy Beane in this picture: Both Obama and Romney will run their campaigns like the New York Yankees.

This year, for the first time, both candidates are expected to opt out of accepting public campaign financing. In 2008 Obama opted out so he could exceed the fundraising limits that come with accepting the already hefty allotment of public cash, but McCain took the money, apparently not confident he’d exceed the threshold on his own.

This year both Obama and Romney will opt out of accepting public money and flex their considerable fundraising muscles to raise ungodly amounts of cash. Obama is expected to set a goal of raising $1 billion to spend on the campaign, and Mitt Romney’s famously close ties to big money will no doubt bring in a haul. And that’s not even including the so-called “SuperPACs,” which for the first time ever will allow unlimited anonymous donations to support presidential candidates.

The economy overall may still be struggling to claw its way back from the crater left by the federal government and Wall Street collusion known as deregulation. Without a drastically different mindset held by anyone on the political scene these days we may not see the middle class return to its former prosperity within our lifetimes—even for those of us under 30.

But make no mistake: presidential elections are now a billion-plus dollar industry. And finding a way to play moneyball against these guys is going to be considerably harder than beating the Yankees.