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Friday, January 20, 2012

Has Newt Caught his White Whale?

On January 11, I wrote the following about Newt Gingrich's obsession with taking down Mitt Romney:

Gingrich might be on his last breath, but with hate's sake, he'll spit his last breath at Romney. Mitt Romney, my friends, is rapidly becoming Newt Gingrich's white whale. . . . He [will] pile upon the Romney's white hump the sum of all the rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down. If his chest was a cannon, he would shoot his heart upon it.

Nearly every phrase was taken from Herman Melville's "Moby Dick," the classic American tale of a ship captain obsessed with catching the sperm whale that had taken his leg. The analogy, here, is clear. Pro-Romney SuperPACs dismantled the Gingrich candidacy toward the end of December. Gingrich, once flying on top of national, Iowa, South Carolina, and Florida polls, was decimated by the attacks. Like Ahab lost his leg to the whale, Gingrich lost his lead to the Romney.

Since then, of course, Gingrich has seemed to be on a single-minded focus in the 2012 Republican Primary. Sure, he wants to win; but if his ship is going down, he wants Romney to go down with him. Ahab's rage thrust him across the seas as the crazed Captain was willing to sacrifice himself to gain his revenge. Similarly, an irate Gingrich has been on a nearly suicidal mission in South Carolina.

Ultimately, Ahab found his whale, but it cost him his life and ship. Is Gingrich, however, re-writing the end? Don't look now, but Newt Gingrich has taken the lead in three South Carolina polls. That link refers you to the Real Clear Politics polls. Take a look at this trend:

On 1/16, Rasmussen reported a 14-point lead for Romney.
On 1/17, NBCNews/Marist reported a 10-point lead for Romney.
On 1/18, Politico/Tarrance reported a 7-point lead for Romney.
But that last poll was taken across 1/17 and 1/18. The following polls began on 1/18:
On 1/18, PPP reported a 6-point lead for GINGRICH. Insider had it as a 3-point lead. Rasmussen had it at a 2-point lead. Today PPP reaffirmed its 6-point lead for Gingrich.

The Rasmussen polls most interest me. Rasmussen reported a 14-point lead for Romney on 1/16, but that same polling service reports a 2-point lead for Gingrich just two days later. That's a 16-point swing by the same polling company. That is an incredible turnaround.

It's also a clear pattern across the polls. An enormous lead for Romney--one he had four days ago--has completely evaporated.

In its place is a lead for Captain Ahab.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rick Perry Drops Out!

Wow! Two days before the South Carolina primary, Rick Perry is dropping out of the Republican Primary, and probably endorsing Newt Gingrich.

This development is just the latest in the former Speaker's growing momentum. He's gaining in the polls and is even leading in one of them, and now both Sarah Palin and Perry have come out in support of his candidacy. Has the "Non"mey finally been identified?

South Carolina will tell us. Perhaps, of my six "Path to Victory" hypothetical scenarios, it was Gingrich's that was most accurate!

Unfortunately, this afternoon, I'm leaving for a four-day conference at Yale and will likely not be able to post updates. (Before you get too impressed, I'm simply leading a Model United Nations delegation.) But never say never. A Gingrich run might be too juicy to pass up.

My goodness that's a gross sentence.

-IC

PS. Now I'm reading on CNN.com that Santorum actually won Iowa by 34 votes! Uh oh, Romney!

Mitt Romney's Path to Victory

(Editor's note: This post is the last in a six-part series between now and Saturday's South Carolina Primary. Each part will examine how each candidate might pull off a nomination.
For Rick Perry's, which can be found at my Construction Lit Mag column, click here.
For Jon Huntsman's (awkward), click here.
For Rick Santorum's, click here.
For Ron Paul's zombie apocalypse, click here.)
For Newt Gingrich's, click here.)

On August 27, you something something.

After all the build up to the Republican Primary, after all the lead changes and debates, after all the anti-Romney candidates rose and fell, not only did Mitt Romney win the Republican nomination, but he won it by winning 50 states.

Despite a late surge from Newt Gingrich in South Carolina, Romney held onto his lead there. After three primaries, he was 3-0. Each of the other candidates--the "Non"mey candidate still not yet identified--stayed in the race to try and win the "winner-take-all" Florida Primary. Such a win would make them the clear conservative alternative to Romney and perhaps build momentum for the month of February.

But it didn't work. Romney already had leads in the Florida polls before his win in South Carolina. His win there simply bolstered his Florida and national leads. His win in Florida decimated any chance for any other candidate. Ron Paul stayed in until he was mathematically eliminated, then threw his support behind the presumptive nominee, Mitt Romney.

After all that. No drama.

And that's how Mitt Romney became the Republican nominee for President.

(Editor's note: This was the last in a six-part series on each candidate before the South Carolina Primary. See previous posts for the first five.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Newt Gingrich's Path to Victory

(Editor's note: This post is the fifth in a six-part series between now and Saturday's South Carolina Primary. Each part will examine how each candidate might pull off a nomination.
For Rick Perry's, which can be found at my Construction Lit Mag column, click here.
For Jon Huntsman's (awkward), click here.
For Rick Santorum's, click here.
For Ron Paul's zombie apocalypse, click here.)

On August 27, you return from something that's kept you gone a long time. You make a joke about nurses and then turn on some random news station that's covering the beginning of the Republican National Convention. You make a joke about the commentators. You think that a blog will give you better information and visit Presidential Politics for America, though you see that despite becoming the most popular website in the history of the Internet, IC has grown weak, tired, and lazy from writing one post a day along with holding down a time-consuming job and writing a thesis all at once. Anyway, here's what IC had to say.

Newt Gingrich's South Carolina debate performances saved his flailing candidacy. That's not to say he had discernibly stronger South Carolina debates than his opponents. It is to say that the raucous crowd swayed heavily in the favor of the articulate, feisty Georgia conservative. The Gingrich Campaign knew how the standing ovation into the commercial break looked. It looked great. It looked like South Carolina--and perhaps conservatives in general--anointed a leader. Team Gingrich played the commercial over and over in South Carolina, calling it "The Moment." Supportive crowds do not ensure a strong candidate, but they do influence voters watching at home. This crowd and this standing ovation did just that.

Gingrich seized upon the opportunity given to him. He called for Perry and Santorum to drop out and rally support around a true conservative--himself--explaining, "I am respectful that Rick has every right to run as long as he feels that's what he should do, but from the stand point of the conservative movement, consolidating into a Gingrich candidacy would in fact virtually guarantee a victory on Saturday."

Virtually guarantee a victory on Saturday. They didn't drop out, but this kind of leadership--albeit selfish--was enough to put him over the top of not only his fellow conservatives, but Mitt Romney, as well. Enough Santorum and Perry supporters saw in Gingrich the aggressive nature necessary to make a run at Romney. Even Sarah Palin came out in support of a Gingrich win in the Palmetto State.

The South Carolina win thrust him into the clear lead among the conservative pack (though even a top two should have made him the clear "Non"mey). Perry, in a third straight disappointing finish, dropped out and endorsed Gingrich. The Santorum Campaign held off on a decision for a few days, taking stock of their financial situation and national polling figures, but they ultimately realized he could not continue to compete. However, he fell short of a Gingrich endorsement. Rather, it's Romney's VP position on which he had his eye, and a Gingrich endorsement would have hurt that opportunity. Still, endorsing Romney before Gingrich would have been highly questionable after the campaign he ran, so he waited to see who gained the upper hand in the primary.

Gingrich's momentum converted into a Florida win. Both candidates split states throughout February and March, including Super Tuesday. They and Ron Paul put on numerous debates across the country, and with each one, Gingrich looked better and better. He finished the primary season with the delegate lead. The Convention itself will determine the nominee, but every pundit agrees that Gingrich has all the momentum and is the guy.

And that's how Newt Gingrich became the Republican nominee for President.

(Editor's note: This was the fifth in a six-part series on each candidate before the South Carolina Primary. See you back here for the series conclusion, Part VI.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ron Paul's Path to Victory

(Editor's note: This post is the fourth in a six-part series between now and Saturday's South Carolina Primary. Each part will examine how each candidate might pull off a nomination.
For Rick Perry's, which can be found at my Construction Lit Mag column, click here.
For Jon Huntsman's (awkward), click here.
For Rick Santorum's, click here.)

On September 1, you return from your secret 30-week solo mission to collect Martian mineral specimens. You've always loved geology, and you learned to love Martianology just as much. Still, living in isolation for more than half a year has left you yearning for human connection. You fondly recall the pre-departure memories with your three neighbors. It's been a long six months.

But perhaps your more pressing concern was the abrupt termination in communication with Mission Control. Everything seemed fine heading into August 28 but for the last three days, you haven't heard anything.

When you're a few hours away from your planned re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, you put down your Martian mineral samples and take out your space-laptop. Now in range of Earth satellites, you tap onto your WiFi Network, "MarsRocks," to see if you can find an explanation. What you find shakes you to your very core.

On the evening of August 27, the Republican National Convention began with earnest in the Tampa Bay Times Forum. The party was ready to nominate Mitt Romney, the runaway winner of the Republican Primary contests, and then forge ahead in the general election against President Obama. It seemed as if nothing could stop them. That is, except,

THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE!

What an event! Nearly every news outlet stopped reporting by August 30. The very last news reporting out there--the August 31 post of Presidential Politics for America--relayed the following timeline.

August 27, 6:00 PM--Commotion during opening ceremonies.
August 27, 6:09 PM--First video of zombie in delegate crowd.
August 27, 6:22 PM--Rick Santorum, playing dead, lies down with other men who are doing the same (18:22 military time--Leviticus joke!)
August 27, 6:31 PM--Military sends attack troops into the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
August 27, 6:48 PM--Attack troops are zombies.
August 27, 6:52 PM--Rick Perry ripped apart by three zombie delegates--one from Ohio, one from Georgia, and the third one could not be identified.
August 27, 7:02 PM--Rick Santorum goes from playing dead to being dead to being undead.
August 27, 7:11 PM--Ron Paul and a delegate from Texas barricade themselves in kitchen's walk-in fridge.August 28, midnight--Newt Gingrich turns from a pumpkin into a zombie.
August 28, 2:00 AM--Zombies break through surrounding military quarantine.
August 28, 2:13 AM--Mitt Romney, surrounded by nearing zombies, asks what views he should adopt to win their vote. He offers single-payer, universal brains supply.
August 28, 2:14 AM--Mitt Romney turns into a zombie.
August 28, 12:00 PM--Everyone at the Republican National Convention is presumed dead by remaining military and national media.
August 28, 1:00 PM--Paul and Texas delegate emerge from walk-in fridge. They see the carnage around them, though the arena has fallen silent and still. They walk outside.
August 28, 1:14 PM--Sole remaining CNN news crew finds Paul and Texas delegate.
August 28, 1:35 PM--Texas delegate votes for Ron Paul to be the Republican nominee.
August 28, 1:36 PM--Ron Paul becomes the Republican nominee for President.
August 28, 1:51 PM--Nominee Paul killed by zombies.
August 28, 2:07 PM--Zombie virus reaches White House lawn. President Obama begins a speech to try to get them to stop.
August 28, 2:09 PM--President Obama's teleprompter breaks.
August 28, 2:10 PM--President Obama becomes Zombie Obama.
August 28, 2:20 PM--Zombie Obama heads to the US Capitol.
August 28, 2:50 PM--Speaker Boehner killed by Zombie Obama.
August 29, midnight--Zombie virus in every major American city.
August 30, midnight--Zombie virus spreads throughout Americas, with the exception of the condo of PPFA author, IC, who continues to post this timeline.
August 31, midnight--Zombie virus consumes planet. (Last post of IC)

And that's how Ron Paul became the Republican nominee for President.

(Editor's note: This was the fourth in a six-part series on each candidate before the South Carolina Primary. See you back here for Part V.)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Rick Santorum's Path to Victory

(Editor's note: This post is the third in a six-part series between now and next Saturday's South Carolina Primary. Each part will examine how each candidate might pull off a nomination.
For Rick Perry's, click here.
For Jon Huntsman's (awkward), click here.)

On August 27, you remove the enormous rock from over your hole for the first time in 30 weeks. Living under it has been a difficult experience, but with the impending 2012 apocalypse, you were sure it was the safest place to be. However, with dwindling supplies and a huge craving for Taco Bell, you surface. You're fortunate that despite malnourishment, you know you can go across the street for medical and other kinds of "attention." After receiving said attention, you have two goals in your handful of days above ground. First, chalupas. Second, catch up on the Republican Presidential Primary at Presidential Politics for America.

You go to your living room and turn on Fox News and its coverage of Day One of the Republican National Convention. You listen as Sean Hannity guarantees the Republican nominee will win fifty states in the general election, because everyone in the country see the United States in exactly the same way as Sean Hannity does. He knows this must be true because everyone at his network agrees on everything.

You wonder who the nominee ended up being. "Surely it was Mitt Romney," you tell yourself. But then Hannity reveals who it actually is. Beaming like a proud papa, Hannity reports that the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party is Rick Santorum.

"Whaaaaaat?" you skeptically exclaim to Hannity's punchable face. You lean in as the panel of the fair and balanced network proudly recounts how Santorum took down the Massachusetts favorite.

New Hampshire was an aberration. Rick Santorum's success in Iowa was much more indicative of what was to come. Rick Santorum never played well away from conservative areas, but not too many states' Republicans are as moderate as New Hampshire's.

Santorum's comeback began in receptive South Carolina. On the January 21 primary, he finished in second--behind Romney but ahead of everyone else. Jon Huntsman had withdrawn days earlier and Newt Gingrich's "All or Nothing" strategy failed. Rick Perry finished out of the top 3 and dropped out. Three candidates remained after South Carolina: Romney, Santorum, and no-chance Ron Paul.

Of course, this was exactly what Romney had always feared: all but one conservative candidate drops out, and a massive anti-Romney movement finally coalesces around one candidate. With Santorum's 2nd in South Carolina, Romney's worst fears were realized. Santorum took his far right social conservatism to the south. After South Carolina, there was a huge influx of money for Santorum. He and Romney were in a dead heat in Florida and most other states. Pretty soon, Republicans and political pundits began asking the question, "Why hasn't Romney won yet?" This question fed into Santorum's momentum. Heavyweight conservatives--including evangelical clerics and major southern governors and senators--rally in support of Santorum. Romney conceded by May.

Of course, Romney, at the end of his political career, positioned himself to be the VP choice. When asked who would be his vice-presidential nominee, however, Santorum remarked that, "I've had many conversations with God about this difficult question. I simply cannot find it in my heart to forgive Mitt for his past views on abortion and gay rights. I'm going with Marco Rubio."

And that's how Rick Santorum became the Republican nominee for President.

"Wow," you react upon hearing the story. "I better get back into that hole!" But not before you print out every article of the now overwhelmingly huge Presidential Politics for America blog. After all, you'll need to do some reading as you ride out the apocalypse underneath your rock.

(Editor's note: This was the third in a six-part series on each candidate before the South Carolina Primary. See you back here for Part IV.)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Jon Huntsman Drops Out

In a surprising move--more surprising because of its timing than its occurrence--Jon Huntsman will drop out of the Republican Primary tomorrow, CNN reports.

The timing surprises me for two reasons.
1) Why now and not at any time in the five days since his less-than-necessary New Hampshire finish?
2) Moreover, this withdrawal comes shortly after South Carolina's largest newspaper, "The State," endorsed him.

That's a weird combination, isn't it? My best guess is that he wasn't receiving the influx of money on which he was counting after New Hampshire. Perhaps his wealthy father finally asserted he would not extend financial support.

Of course, that's not the way it will be spun by Huntsman tomorrow. He'll endorse Mitt Romney. Do not be surprised if Huntsman cites Republican unanimity as his main reason to drop out and support Romney. It's a convenient justification and perhaps even true, but it will still smell of disingenuousness after Huntsman's vocal criticisms of Romney not one week ago.

If I had to conjur some backroom deal between the two, it would make sense insofar as Romney's fear that potential Huntsman momentum (The top 3 in New Hampshire and the endorsement from "The State") could divide Romney's moderate support in the Republican Party. Said backroom deal, however, would certainly not involve a vice-presidential promise. You will never see two Mormons on one ticket, barring the re-discovery of the Golden Tablets. However, do not be surprised if a Romney Administration has Jon Huntsman in a nice cabinet position, including Secretary of State. In fact, it's a good bet.

Of course, the worst part about all of this was that earlier today I hypothesized about a Huntsman path to victory. Oh well. Let me see if it'll work for Rick Santorum tomorrow.

-IC

Jon Huntsman's Path to Victory

(Editor's note: This post is the second in a six-part series between now and next Saturday's South Carolina Primary. Each part will examine how each candidate might pull off a nomination.
For Rick Perry's, click here.)

On August 27, you return from your 30-week hike across the Himalayan Mountains. It was an eye-opening experience. You spent months in India, Bhutan, and Nepal, hiking trails and scaling peaks. You were granted an audience with the Dali Lama, who taught you about compassion, enlightenment, and the Buddha. You breathed the freshest air, had the most surreal time, and grew the biggest beard of your life.

Upon your return home, there are scores of voicemails and emails from your closest family and friends who want to see you. You also see the three nurses from across the street looking at you through your windows, their longing eyes pleading that you invite them over like you did that night before you left for southern Asia.

But you have your priorities in order. You need to catch up on the Republican race. Today, August 27, is the first day of the Republican National Convention. You want to see by just how much Mitt Romney won and his selection as his vice-presidential nominee. You turn on MSNBC to see Rachel Maddow's dramatic declaration to liberal America that the Republicans don't care about the American middle class as her monolithic co-hosts vociferously nod in agreement. Twenty minutes later, they relay the Republican nominee.

Jon Huntsman.

"Jon Huntsman?!" you incredulously bark. "How in Gautama's name did that happen?" To get the answers, you go to what has become the most popular presidential politics blog on the internet--Presidential Politics for America. Here's what you learn:

There was one more Republican surge left. Jon Huntsman's 17 percent, third place finish in New Hampshire was the beginning of that surge. A majority of Republicans were still dissatisfied with Mitt Romney, but their first-choice conservative alternatives never really showed a complete package. Voters wanted Rick Perry's executive experience, Rick Santorum's social conservatism, and Newt Gingrich's intellectual ferocity and articulation. But Perry was also terrible in debates, Santorum was too polarizing and lost his home state in his last senate campaign, and Gingrich was, well, Newt Gingrich. Each had a meteoric rise and moment in the sun, but each found themselves back in the shade just as quickly.

But Huntsman had just enough of everything to make his surge last. As the enormously popular former Governor of Utah, he had executive experience, like Perry. He's historically a much more consistent conservative than Romney, thus appealing to the Santorum constituency. He is articulate and bright in debates and stump speeches, much like Gingrich. Moreover, he had foreign policy experience in an essential area--Cino-American relations--and he could match Romney's "electability" argument as Huntsman, too, appealed to Independent voters. All he needed was some money and viability for the Republican Party to take him seriously.

After a better-than-expected showing in South Carolina--not top 3 but ahead of expectations--Huntsman's father, billionaire Jon Huntsman Sr., gave his son's SuperPAC a generous donation of five million dollars. This sudden influx of primary oxygen allowed Huntsman to stay breathing while Perry dropped out. Huntsman's presence in the race increasingly limited Romney's overwhelming success with Republican moderates, meaning Romney did not run away with the primary as many pundits expected he would after South Carolina. Eventually, without the kind of money Huntsman could spend, Gingrich and Santorum fell off the pace. With less attention on them, Huntsman coalesced the sizeable anti-Romney/Paul majority of the Republican Party.

Huntsman gave Romney a run in Florida, which also helped Huntsman's legitimacy. Just as Huntsman polled poorly in conservative Iowa but well in moderate New Hampshire, so, too, did similar circumstances allow him a strong showing in moderate Florida after a finish out of the top 3 in conservative South Carolina.

Throughout February, Huntsman continued giving passionate speeches concerning troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, Congressional term limits, and Romney's not-so-conservative history.

"But wait a minute," you said to yourself, "There's no way that Huntsman could compete nationally with Romney. One state at a time is one thing, but Super Tuesday should have knocked Huntsman out!" But then you went on to read about the most important endorsement of the Republican Primary.

Ultimately, the turning point occurred right before Super Tuesday. Plucky Ron Paul--who, by March, is the only other candidate still in the race--acknowledged he had little chance to win the nomination and that he had shaped the debate as far as he could. Moreover, he saw two distinct, viable options for the Republican nomination: Huntsman's fervent plea to withdraw troops, versus Romney's hawkish "military so powerful that no one would think of challenging it." Consequently, Paul dropped out, urging his passionate, networked, coast-to-coast supporters to back Huntsman on Super Tuesday. They did, and Huntsman was Super Tuesday's big winner.

For the balance of March, Huntsman performed well in state after state, competing in all, winning many. The race was as close as Obama-Clinton was four years ago, and it dragged on throughout the spring. In fact, the primary scrutiny continued through the last state of the primary season, which was held on June 26. The state?

Utah.

In what pundits call the Mormon Showdown, Huntsman, its former governor with an 80 to 90 approval rating, won the state easily and clinched the nomination. Of course, Romney, at the end of his political career, positioned himself to be the VP choice. When asked who would be his vice-presidential nominee, however, Huntsman combined two of his hallmark phrases from the campaign: "There is a trust deficit in this country, and it's because of candidates like that." He went with Rubio.

And that's how Jon Huntsman became the Republican nominee for President.

"Wow," you remark, stroking your gargantuan beard. "That almost seems like an impossible story. Seriously impossible. Like, there's no way that could actually happen impossible."

Yeah, probably.

(Editor's note: This was the second in a six-part series on each candidate before the South Carolina Primary. See you back here for Part III.)
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