Archive for the ‘–Republican Presidential Nomination’ Category

Mitt Romney’s No Good Day

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Yesterday was a preview of coming attractions for Mitt Romney as the focus has increasingly turned to his record at Bain Capital and his apparent need to constantly try to be like the common man, instead of just being himself.   

Look for more of this as the campaign continues. If even the Republicans are talking about Romney’s record as a corpoorate raider and a phoney, you can bet that Barack Obama and the Democrats are going to be all over that. 

Romney’s apparent weakness is being revealed at a bad time for the Republican party. As Jonah Goldberg notes, Romney is on his way to the nomination, but the base’s lack of enthusiasm for him continues and may be an anchor around his neck for the general election.

The Fight for 2nd Place in New Hampshire

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

Students at St. Anselm College in Manchester serve as stand-ins for presidential candidates during rehersal for the ABC/Yahoo debate Saturday evening in Manchester, N.H.

Here’s Real Clear Politics Scott Conroy on the four way fight for 2nd place in New Hampshire. With Mitt Ronmney expected to win New Hampshire walking away, the focus now shifts to who will emerge as a possible challenger to him in South Carolina and beyond. Now that Perry’s support has collapsed in New Hampshire and throughout the country, the race for 2nd in NH comes down to Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, and Newt Gingrich. To date Ron Paul has held 2nd place in New Hampshire, but is something close to a consensus that Paul’s floor of 15% isn’t far from his ceiling of about 25%. Meanwhile, Santorum, Gingrich, and Huntsman are all clustered at around 10%. 

If Paul comes in 2nd, this is good news for Romney, almost guaranteeing that the 2nd tier will continue to be divided bwtween a number of candidates, allowing Romney to continue to win primaries with pluralities.

If Santorum takes 2nd place by a large margin, that’s also not a bad scenario for Romney. It is possible that you will see the cultural right coalesce around Santorum as the social conservative in the race much as they did Mike Huckabee in 2008, with probably a similar outcome, a short run of primaries with Santorum making a symbolic stand against eventual nominee Romney.

If Newt comes in 2nd, look out. He’s taking the drubbing he took at the hands of Romney surrogates in Iowa personally and he’s on a one man mission to wound Romney. A head of steam going into South Carolina could once again make this a Gingrich-Romney race.

Perhaps the most interesting outcome would be a 2nd place finish for Huntsman in New Hampshire. While Huntsman isn’t expected to compete seriously in South Carolina, a strong Huntsman finish would setup a dangerous situation for Romney, with the conservatives continuing to snipe at him as the race moved on to other states and Huntsman waiting in the wings as the heir apparent of the “most electable” title. Just yesterday the idea of a Huntsman surge seemed unlikely, but a new ARG poll out today puts Huntsman in exactly that spot. Whether this is an outlier or a trend is still to be determined, but one thing is sure: New Hampshire is make a break for Huntsman. He’s staked his campaign on it and, if he doesn’t have a strong performance there, he’s done.

The stakes can’t be much higher for Romney’s four challengers. A new Time/CNN Poll shows him pulling away from the field in South Carolina and losing the nomination after wins in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina would be unprecedented for a Republican candidate.

Should make for an interesting debate tonight.

Toto, We’re Not in Iowa Anymore

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

Talking Points Memo’s writeup on how Santorum’s God and Gays message is falling flat in New Hampshire.

Does Newt’s Collapse Clear The Way for Romney?

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

As the caucuses are just about to begin in Iowa, we need to face the possibility that this entire wacky Republican campaign has been the equivalent of what Shakespeare might have called “a tale of sound and fury told by an idiot signifying nothing.” To put it less melodramatically, as EJ Dionne did last week,

what’s most astounding is that a Republican contest characterized all year by melodrama and comedy now seems headed toward the most conventional and predictable conclusion possible.

Specifically, there is a chance that Mitt Romney just might win not only Iowa, but New Hampshire, which, if past is prologue, might secure the nomination for him. Perhaps more significant than the electoral victories is the total lack of viable alternatives to Romney for conservatives. To summarize the race, Perry effectively demolished his chances after appearing less intelligent than the village idiot, Bachmann turned out to be too crazy for even the GOP, no one seemed to mind that Herman Cain had never heard of a neo-con, but a few too many sexual harassment allegations did him in, no one is willing to make Ron Paul the Commander in Chief and, until last week, no one took Senator Santorum seriously.

The pattern of non-Romney candidate surges is now apparently continuing with the most recent not-Romney candidate to falter being Newt Gingrich, who just a few weeks ago looked like the not-Mitt candidate that would dog Romney for the rest of the race. But Gingrich’s descent turned out to be about as meteoric as his ascent was. Over the past few weeks, Gingrich has dropped precipitously in the polls as a barrage of Romney-allied Super PAC spending buried him in Iowa and (for whatever reason) Newt seemed incapable of responding to the attacks. In a period of less than a month, Gingrich went from the low 30′s to the low teens in Iowa as voters in the state learned that he was an erratic Washington insider who took money to lobby on behalf of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, supported the individual health care mandate and shot commercials with Nancy Pelosi warning about global warming.

The Gingrich surge has been replaced by the Paul surge, which increasingly looks in danger of succumbing to the Santorum surge. The Santorum surge is perhaps the most unlikely development of the campaign, and the fact that the former Pennsylvania senator (who lost by 14 points in his last statewide election) may be on the verge of becoming the Romney alternative must have Romney’s team popping champagne corks. If Newt Gingrich was (to put it mildly) an unlikely candidate to defeat Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul are even less likely to pose a threat to him.

Perhaps the strangest aspect of this race is the fact that Romney has not seemed to surge significantly across the country. Throughout the process, Romney has had a ceiling at about 25% both nationally and in Iowa and he seems to have maintained this ceiling throughout the process. In fact, his polling numbers are not far off from the 25% of the vote Romney received in the 2008 Iowa primary, but the key difference is that his opponents are now splitting the not-Romney vote, and a 25% vote share in this years election might be enough to propel him to a victory in Iowa. From Iowa, the race would then shift to the Northeast where Romney has surged over the past few weeks, with polls showing a significant bounce in New Hampshire, a state that borders Mitt’s homestate of Massachusetts.  To be sure, Romney would do well to expect the unexpected and there’s still a chance he could lose this one. Newt promised to turn all of his fire on Romney beginning today but this could turn out to be too little, too late. The pattern in this election has been that no candidate has been able to surge again after their initial surge was beaten back. Barring a major John Huntsman surge in the next week or so, that chance of anyone mounting a credible challenge to Romney looks slimmer and slimmer.

Sarah Palin, Mitch Daniels, Tim Pawlenty and Chris Christie must be having some serious regrets about not getting into this one.

The Appeal of Newt Gingrich

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Great discussion on Hardball with Chris Matthews, Howard Fineman and David Corn about Newt Gingrich’s appeal to the Republican base.

It all comes down to four words: He’s a bomb thrower. That’s been what the Republicans were after all along. That lack of political correctness was a main reason they fell for Cain’s schtick, Michele Bachmann’s wild eyed craziness, Rick Perry’s faux gunslinger persona, and Donald Trump’s thinly veiled racism. They’re not looking for someone like Romney, who says “I think this president is over his head…but I don’t think he’s a bad person, I don’t think he’s an evil person,” they’re looking for someone who might stand on a stage with President Obama and say “you’re a closet socialist from the Saul Alinsky school and the only way I can explain your policy positions is through the lens of a Kenyan anti-colonialist.” They want a guy who, no matter how wrong he is, can stand on a stage and say of Palestinians “these people are terrorists.” and “they are an invented people.” Most Republicans (right along with most Americans) wouldn’t even be able to point out Palestine on a map, but they sure like Gingrich telling them they’re “an invented people” and painting their whole population as terrorists. You tell em Newt!

Gingrich is the worst kind of demagogue. He is bad for the country and bad for the national debate. But, just as I said about Herman Cain, if the Republicans would rather nominate a bomb thrower than a statesman, then I’ll be happy to help Barack Obama kick his ass in the general election.

Newt 2012!

Handicapping the Republican Race

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011


As Newt Gingrich has surged ahead of Mitt Romney in the Republican race for president, the Conventional Wisdom has become that the Republican Presidential Race now comes down to Romney vs. Gingrich. Like many others, I have always believed that Romney would be the eventual nominee. I thought that the Republicans would flirt with other candidates, but would eventually come around and support the heir apparent, as they do in most elections. Now, I’m not so sure.

Writing a few weeks ago, Ezra Klein’s blog post, “The Case Against Mitt Romney’s Inevitability” sums up some of the arguments on this topic. He cites Ron Brownstein, who has made the case that the Republican nominating race can be seen as “two races running along parallel but very distinct tracks,” the Tea Party Primary and the Non-Tea Party Primary. At the time of Brownstein’s writing, Romney had been dominating the Non-Tea Party primary, but losing in the Tea Party primary.

Last week brought more bad news for Romney. As Brownstein chronicles, polling from Iowa, South Carolina and across the nation has shown significant erosion of Romney’s position, not only among conservatives, but among less conservative Republican voters:

In all three surveys, Gingrich is not only lapping Romney among the ideologically conservative and religiously devout voters who have resisted the former Massachusetts governor throughout the race; Gingrich is also running step for step (or ahead) with Romney among the less ideological, more secular, voters who have been Romney’s base.

This pattern has been subsequently confirmed in national polls as well as the key primary states of Iowa, South Carolina and Florida, all of which show an amazing surge for Newt, from polling in the single digits two months ago, to polling over 30%, and even 40% in a some polls. All of this is bad news for Mitt Romney. While this has been a repeating pattern for Romney throughout the race, somehow this seems different. Even though Tea Party types have always been skeptical of Romney, his support among moderate Republicans kept him in the race. If this base is threatening to crumble, Romney could quickly go from front runner to also-ran.

To be sure, even if Romney stumbles out of the gate, he would still have time to recover. As Nate Silver points out, the schedule of primaries in this election is built for just such a comeback, with Super Tuesdday coming a full eight weeks after the New Hampshire Primary, instead of the two to three weeks which has been more common historically. Silver argues that this elongated calendar could dampen the “slingshot effect” that has often propelled candidates to victory after winning in Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina. Silver also points out that Romney would be ideally situated to mount this comeback, given the institutional advantages in fund raising, campaign infrastructure and institutional support he has.   

In the National Journal, Charlie Cook writes about the organizational and personal obstacles Newt will need to overcome to get the nomination:

From my perspective, I believe that fundamentals still matter. Someday, someone who has raised very little money may win a presidential nomination. Someday, someone with minimal campaign organization and infrastructure may become the nominee. Someday, someone who has served in Congress with hundreds of fellow party members and dozens of former staff but who has very, very few of them endorsing him and working on his campaign may win. But we are asked to believe that all of this is going to happen in 2012… I want to get further into the process before I am willing to concede that the political laws of gravity aren’t going to apply this time.

In many ways, Gingrich seems like an unlikely nominee. Ezra Klein provides a list of 21 reasons why Gingrich won’t get the nomination, writing that “Gingrich might generate sufficient momentum to win a few primaries. But he can’t survive seven months as the frontrunner. The more interesting question is whether he could damage Romney badly enough that the GOP needs to find a new candidate to serve as their nominee.” Klein goes as far a to say that, if Gingrich is close to getting the nod, establishment Republicans will do all they can to force a brokered convention and pick someone of their own choosing. I can’t think if what I’d like better, a Gingrich Nomination or a brokered convention where the Republican Establishment overturns the will of the Tea Party…

I’ve given up trying to predict this one. As history has shown, four weeks out from the New Hampshire Primary can be a lifetime in Presidential politics.

But fasten your seat belts folks, this is going to be an interesting one.