Add to Technorati Favorites Presidential Politics for America: 2/12/12

Friday, February 17, 2012

"It's Going to be Bedlam"

"It is going to be bedlam in the Republican Party if he can't win Michigan." -Political analyst Jamal Simmons

Can we get that lucky? Can we have Mitt Romney, once considered a lock by countless pundits (including me), lose the state where his father was governor and where he himself grew up? Can the month of February really be that disastrous for Romney?

Yes. I won't take too much space to re-hash what has happened to the Romney campaign in the month of February, but remember that the Florida Primary was on January 31. Romney won all 50 of its delegates and, through advertising and the strength of victory, dismantled his nearest competition, Newt Gingrich. With a commanding delegate lead and no rival in striking distance, the nomination was his.

But then the calendar flipped to February. On February 7, Rick Santorum swept the three-state day. He only slightly closed the delegate gap, but the shift in momentum was palpable. Romney's narrow Maine Caucus win over Ron Paul did little to shift public sentiment. The week was Santorum's.

Still, with over two weeks until the next contests--the Michigan and Arizona primaries on February 28--conventional wisdom said that Romney could regroup and get back on track ahead of Super Tuesday on March 6. Due to the background of the Romney family and its corresponding status as a "home state" for him, Michigan was a lock for the Romney Campaign. With Michigan an automatic win, Romney could focus on Arizona, blitzkrieg the airwaves with anti-Santorum ads, win both states, and regain momentum heading into Super Tuesday and put away the field.

Annnnyy time now, Romney. Wheneeeeever you're ready.

Michigan, it turns out, is no lock. Not even close. The latest polls from the Motor State consistently show Rick Santorum with a lead. What a difference two weeks make.

On February 2, two separate polls showed Romney with 15-point leads (and one of those was with Gingrich in second!). There was then no polls released until this week, where we've seen five different polls published, all of which now show Santorum with the Michigan lead. Two of those have the lead at 3 to 4, but the others yield a 9-, 10-, and 15-point lead for the former Pennsylvania Senator. In Michigan. In Romney country.

And the funny thing is, we're all forgetting about Arizona, where a poll by the American Research Group this week showed that, despite all the Santormomentum, Romney still has a 7-point lead. Remember, the Arizona Primary is a winner-take-all contest. If Romney holds onto that massive lead, he'll win all 29 Arizona delegates. Therefore, even if he loses 30-delegate Michigan by, say, 10 points, Santorum will only clear a few more delegates than him in the state. Thus, Romney will win 2/28 with a net gain of over 20 delegates and ultimately extend his delegate lead.

But it won't matter. Michigan is his home state. It's where he grew up. If he splits the two February 28 primaries with Santorum but the one Romney loses is Michigan, it might be a net gain in delegates, but it'll be a net loss in momentum. Santorum is already playing better across the country. He has edged ahead in national polls, including a sizeable 12-point lead in a Rasmussen poll. A week after the 2/28 contests is Super Tuesday. With it, the primary goes transnational, with 10 states and 437 delegates up for grabs in that one night. If Santorum holds his momentum on February 28, he could subsequently win the big day, matching Romney in total delegates or even taking his lead. With Gingrich and Paul doing their stubborn thing and Romney and Santorum splitting delegates down the stretch, we could be careening toward a brokered convention.

This is all a realistic scenario if Romney loses Michigan.

Bedlam, indeed.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

VP Valentines

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! In celebration of this contrived gimmick of a holiday, let's roll out a contrived gimmick of a column. Below are my top three valentine matches for each remaining candidate's vice-presidential nominee. In each case, I ask myself two questions. 1) Who makes the most sense for this candidate's general election chances? 2) Who would this candidate actually pick for running mate? Vice-presidential choices have to qualify for both lists to make the cut.

Here they are--valentine matches for each candidate. Both the presidential candidates and vice-president possibilities are in descending order of probability.

Ron Paul3. Andre Marrou--Ron Paul is a tough one to pair up. No one in the Republican Party would leave their job and party to drive down a one-way, dead-end street. Therefore, for all three choices, I had to search outside the GOP and head for the Paul-ish Libertarian Party. There's actually precedent for Paul running with Marrou. In the 1988 election (Bush over Dukakis--the first election I remember!), Paul was the nominee of the Libertarian Party, and Marrou was his running mate. Could they turn back the hands of time? Probably not. Both are septuagenarians, and as unlikely as Paul is to be the Republican nominee, Marrou is less likely to be his running mate.

2. Gary Johnson--Incredibly, the best line of the entire Republican Primary was not uttered by one of the four remaining candidates, nor by one of the four candidates who dropped out before them. It was uttered by a man who got into only one nationally televised debate. Standing on the far left of a panel of nine candidates, the former Governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson, offered this beauty: "My next door neighbor's two dogs have created more shovel ready jobs than this current administration." His lack of success in the Republican Primary caused him to bolt for the Libertarian Party and run for its nomination. For Paul's #2, it makes some sense. Both have similar ideas about the size of government. Johnson, as a former governor, brings the executive experience that Paul lacks. (Wait, am I rationally breaking down Ron Paul VP choices? Good lord. Moving on...)

1. Wayne Allyn Root--A 40-year-old, disillusioned Libertarian (lost his presidency bid at the 2008 Libertarian National Convention and then lost a bid to become the Chair of the Libertarian Party two years later) with a great tan? Perfect security for Paul's experienced-looking face.

Onto the real candidates...

Newt Gingrich3. Jon Huntsman--For the last three elections, the Republican Party has had either George W. Bush or Sarah Palin on its ticket. Whether their reputations in the media and across the country are fair or not, they do have reputations in the media and across the country. They're not exactly known as "curious" people who sit down with James Joyce to unwind. With a Gingrich/Huntsman ticket, we have what probably amounts to the two smartest-sounding Republicans from the entire primary on one intellectual ticket. That's a welcome image for a Republican Party that is too often associated with southern, "salt of the earth" folksiness rather than northern university "book smarts." A bonus to the pairing is we have Gingrich's congressional experience from the southeast with Huntsman's successful governing experience in the midwest. Both are well-read on international affairs and would make a powerful diplomatic team in uncertain times.

2. Rick Perry--When Rick Perry dropped out before the South Carolina Primary, he immediately threw his support behind Gingrich. That could be a prelude to a ticket partnership. Perry could use four to eight years as VP to hone is rough public appearance skills, and Gingrich could use someone to really electrify the evangelical base of the party. Perry's organization is much more structured and widespread than Gingrich's. Plus, once again, we pair a legislator with an executive.

1. Marco Rubio--You'll see his name again. And again. Wait for it.

Rick Santorum3. Rick Perry--Similar to the case I made for Gingrich, Perry brings Santorum some executive experience and a candidate that pumps up the base of the Republican Party. Actually, given a Santorum/Perry tandem, you'd have a ticket that conservatives haven't been this excited about since, well, maybe ever. There would be a massive effort from the pro-life community to get these two elected. After Romney gets in line and supports the two--probably positioning for a cabinet position like Treasury--you'd see an incredibly potent fund-raising machine.

2. Mitch Daniels--Like Perry, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels brings executive experience to pair with Santorum's experience in the US Senate. Daniels is in his second term, winning reelection in 2008 with an impressive 58 percent of the vote, good enough for an 18 point win over his Democratic challenger. More impressive is that in that year, Indiana voted for Democratic Senator Obama in the presidential election, but overwhelmingly kept their Republican governor. Since then, Daniels has grown his popularity, boasting a 75 percent approval rating in the middle of his second term. Daniels has boasted a conservative record that Santorum would appreciate, including significant budget cuts and enacting socially conservative legislation. Showing his status in the national party, the RNC chose Governor Daniels to give the rebuttal to President Obama's 2012 State of the Union.

1. Marco Rubio--Wait for it, I said!

Mitt Romney
3. Chris Christie--If the Republican Primary goes all the way to the convention, I think Governor Christie of New Jersey is the most likely outsider to be nominated by the panicked floor. Barring that, once Romney secures the nomination earlier, Christie must be on his VP short list. He already did the right thing by Romney through endorsing him early in the process back in October. Christie brings legitimate conservative credentials, and is a darling of numerous national conservative voices, including Ann Coulter. He won the 2008 gubernatorial election in a year where Obama easily carried New Jersey in the presidential election. In fact, Christie became the first Republican to win a state-wide New Jersey election in 12 years. Considering Romney's supposed strength with moderates in a general election, pairing him with a red governor of a blue state could win a lot of independent voters.

Christie is not a lock--and is ranked behind two others on this list--for a few reasons. One, like Romney, he's a governor which doesn't diversify the ticket; while they might boast executive experience, they lack foreign policy experience, and neither has ever worked in a legislature (Romney a business man, Christie a lawyer). Two, not only do they lack background diversification, they're both from the northeast, which means no geographical diversification either. Finally, Christie has a tendency to say some bombastic things (or at least say them in a refreshingly straight-forward way), and while that might play well in New Jersey, it won't sit well with many independents across the country.

2. Marco Rubio--Marco Rubio is the only lock to be on all the shortlists of all three legitimate candidates. The junior senator from Florida brings three enormously important attributes to a Romney/Rubio ticket.

  1. If the Republicans want to compete with President Obama in the minority vote, they have to do it with Latinos. The President will carry a heavy majority of African-Americans. We know this. But the Latino vote across the country could be brought over to the GOP column if Cuban-American Marco Rubio is on its ticket.

  2. With a more focused lens, Senator Rubio could bring the ever-important swing state of Florida back to the Republican column. After voting for President Bush one-and-a-half times, it was wrestled away by Barack Obama in 2008. The state, it goes without saying, is an important piece of the electoral puzzle. In fact, only once in the last 50 years, and twice in the last 80, has Florida voted for the losing candidate (Voted for Bush I in 1992 and Nixon in 1960).

  3. With conservative apprehensions toward Mitt Romney, securing the "Crown Prince" of the Tea Party could go a long way toward shoring up conservative support. In fact, at this past weekend's Conservative Political Action Conference, they voted Rubio as their preferred vice-presidential candidate.
Yet, despite being the #1 VP valentine for both Gingrich and Santorum, Marco Rubio is not #1 for the most likely presidential nominee of the bunch. Romney's #1 is...

1. Rick Santorum--Think about it. This pairing makes a lot of sense. Just off the top of my head:

  • Governor/Senator combo

  • Santorum shores up concerns of Romney's Mormonism.

  • Santorum shores up concerns about Romney's moderate past.

  • Anti-Obama moderates can live with Romney if Santorum doesn't have any actual power.

  • Conservatives can live with Romney if they know Santorum is around the corner.

  • Santorum is young and has a future with the party.

  • They will probably finish first and second in the delegate count, and August's Republican National Convention will see them unify the party after an acrimonious primary.

  • And perhaps the most important reason of all: I just love making Rick Santorum some other guy's valentine.
It makes a lot of sense. Get used to it.

Until next time,


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Republican Delegates, 2/12

(Note: If you came here via a google search, or even if you didn't, these standings are outdated. Click here for the latest standings and coverage.)

Mitt Romney slowed the bleeding last night with his Maine Caucus win. He took 39 percent of the vote to Ron Paul's 36. Rick Santorum won 18 percent of the vote, while Newt Gingrich was far back at 6. In other words: my Maine Caucus Preview? Nailed it!

Below are the updated 2012 GOP Primary Standings, followed by a brief status update for each campaign:

CNN Standings
1. Romney--124 (9 from Maine)
2. Gingrich--38
3. Santorum--37 (3 from Maine)
4. Paul--27 (7 from Maine)

Real Clear Politics Standings
1. Romney--98 (8 from Maine)
2. Santorum--44
3. Gingrich--32
4. Paul--20 (7 from Maine)

Wikipedia Standings
1. Romney--123 (8 from Maine)
2. Gingrich--45 (1 from Maine)
3. Santorum--44 (4 from Maine)
4. Paul--37 (8 from Maine)

Status of Ron Paul campaign
Bummer! Maine was the state for Ron Paul to win, and he came up just short. Looking around, I'm not sure what other state is in play for the Texas Congressman. Maybe Alaska? Regardless, it's not a total loss; the Paul campaign has never been about winning the nomination, and 36 percent was his highest percentage of the primary. At this point, he's Santorum and Gingrich's best friend. For every delegate he wins, it's one less that Romney can win. Moreover, both Santorum and Gingrich concentrated elsewhere this past week while Paul gave Romney a run for his considerable money.

Paul continues to show that, although he can't win, he's good for a chunk of every state's vote and continues to shape the debate. That was always his mission, and he continues to accomplish it.

Status of Newt Gingrich's campaign

Remember when this guy was attached to every development? Now he's an afterthought. This week was about Santorum's sweep, Romney's precarious situation, and Paul's run at Maine. Gingrich was uncompetitive on Tuesday, irrelevant to Romney's fall, and yesterday finished in a distant fourth.

Of course, this position in the primary's periphery is partly out of necessity and partly out of design. He could not compete with Romney's money and organization throughout the month of February, so he's saving up his resources. Instead, he moved all his eggs into the Super Tuesday 10-state bonanza basket on March 6. Specifically, he's targeting Super Tuesday's largest two prizes--Georgia (his home state) and Ohio (a general election swing state where's he's spending most of his time). Georgia, in fact, will be the biggest contest thus far, and he can expect to win the state he represented in Congress for ten terms. However, it's Ohio that could be the bigger boost. While it carries only 66 delegates to Georgia's 76, if any candidate wins 50 percent of the Ohio vote, they get all 15 "at large" delegates, which would be a significant windfall. If I were Gingrich, I would spend every second of my time in the Buckeye State. If he can win it, he has a shot at 100 delegates just from Ohio and Georgia. Assuming relatvely normal proportional allocations across the other eight Super Tuesday states, he'd be thrust back into the clear #2 position, and if he can win the massive Texas Primary a month later (155 delegates), he's back as a serious contender. More pressingly, strong showings in Georgia and Ohio would hurt Romney's chances at ultimately garnering 50 percent of the national delegates before the convention.

Status of Rick Santorum's campaign
Things are looking up! He has as many victories (Iowa, Minnesota, Colorado, Missouri) as Romney (New Hampshire, Florida, Nevada, Maine) and had all the momentum heading into the weekend. Last night's loss in Maine meant little, as he spent no time or money in the state while Romney was forced to buy television time just to defeat Ron Paul by three points. What probably hurt more was Santorum's surprising loss to Romney at CPAC. If there was ever a time for the conservative base of the party to point to a conservative and say, "This is our guy," last night was it. Yet, they went with Romney.

It's funny how one event has shown us all we need to know about the 2012 Republican Primary. The Conservative Political Action Conference was a who's who of conservative American titans. Speakers included Bachmann, Cain, Coulter, Jindal, McConnell, Palin, Rubio, Ryan, Walker, and Republican candidates Gingrich, Romney, and Santorum. For three days the place was packed with conservative throngs. If Michael Moore walked into the building, he might have burst into flames.

Is what transpired not a microcosm of the entire primary? Paul was marginalized, Gingrich went all anti-establishment, Santorum swooned the crowd, but still Romney won... with under 40 percent support. You'd think such a crowd would have ultimately supported the tried and true conservative, the mainstream Republican, Rick Santorum. Yet, when they held a straw poll near the conference's conclusion, Romney won with 38 percent of the straw poll vote to Santorum's 31. Conservatives love Santorum, yet they feel it's Romney's turn, as the so-called "electable candidate," to go up against President Obama. A microcosm, indeed.

As for that electable candidate...

Status of Mitt Romney's campaign
Electable? He's lost a majority of the Republican contests. He's only once garnered 50 percent of the vote. Regarding his win in Maine, which stopped his three-state losing streak, the New York Times wrote, "Mitt Romney averted embarrassment on Saturday when he was declared the winner of a presidential straw poll in Maine’s nonbinding caucuses." Apparently, finishing with under 40 percent of the vote, in a next-to-home-state contest, where only one other candidate tried to win, and that one candidate was Ron Paul, and the victory over Ron Paul was by only three points, is averting embarrassment.

While he's still the heavy favorite--for reasons I outlined here--I'm going to start keeping a closer eye at his numbers. If we take his most generous estimate of delegates--CNN's 128--we see that he's 11 percent of the way to the 1,144 needed for the nomination of the 2,286 total. CNN has allocated 226 total delegates so far, meaning 2,060 are not yet allocated. Romney needs to win 1,016 of those remaining 2,060. That's 49.3 percent of remaining delegates. After nine states, only once has he even won 47 percent of the vote of a state, and that was when he won 50.1 percent of the vote in Nevada. (If you're wondering why Romney only needs 49.3 of the remaining delegates despite only once winning more than 46 percent of a state, remember that his victorious 46 percent of the Florida vote earned him all 50 delegates from the winner-take-all contest.)

Remember, we've had one dominant theme ever since Florida, which I wrote about the day after its primary. Since Florida, this primary has not been about what candidate can beat Romney to 50 percent of the delegates. They can't. Santorum can't, Gingrich can't, Paul can't. The primary, rather, is about how those three candidates can keep Romney from winning 50 percent. If Santorum or Gingrich, for examples, win 40 percent of the delegates to Romney's 51, that's a failure. If, however, Santorum and Gingrich each win 25 percent of the delegates and Paul wins 10, that leaves Romney at 40. That's a victory for Santorum and Gingrich, despite ultimately winning fewer delegates in the second scenario.

I hope that made sense. Until next time,

cash advance

Cash Advance Loans