June 12, 2015

It’s Official: Iowa Straw Poll Dead

  9:28 am Iowa Watch, Straw Polls  

May 29, 2015

What if Iowa Holds a Straw Poll and No One Comes?

When Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee announced they would not compete at the (new and improved?) Iowa Straw Poll this August, all eyes turned to the other candidates to see what they would do. After all, Iowa’s own Republican governor publicly said the straw poll has outlived its usefulness and should be allowed to die, but the Iowa GOP voted to continue the circus for at least one more go round. Would anybody show up? Or would the conventional wisdom — a candidate has almost nothing to gain and everything to lose by competing — prevail, meaning the straw poll would be playing to an empty room?

The body blows continued: Shortly after he announced he was running for president, Lindsey Graham announced he would not be competing. Then Marco Rubio’s campaign said it would be “highly unlikely” the Senator would compete, either. And now, we might be able to write the pre-mortem for the Iowa Straw Poll everybody is itching to write.

The Iowa GOP held an informational meeting for campaigns who are interested in the August event, and only seven campaigns (out of a potential 18) showed up:

  • Ben Carson
  • Chris Christie
  • Ted Cruz
  • Carly Fiorina
  • Lindsey Graham
  • Rick Perry
  • Donald Trump

Making it worse, one of those seven campaigns was Lindsey Graham’s, who made it clear they weren’t joining the straw poll but were just attending out of respect for the Iowa Republican Party. So in reality, only six campaigns are even interested in competing this year. Six out of eighteen — let that sink in for a moment.

Noticeably absent: Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, and Scott Walker. Rand’s father used to make a political career out of gaming straw polls; it looks like Paul the Younger has no desire to follow in his father’s footsteps. Santorum’s lack of interest in the straw poll matches Huckabee’s in terms of seriousness: both have won the Iowa caucuses, but now face the reality of weakened support and severely negative press should they compete and lose here in August.

Scott Walker’s absence may be the most startling, however. With Bush and Rubio both bowing out, one would think this would be a prime opportunity for Governor Walker to score an early and easy victory. Plus, the Iowa caucuses are an absolute must-win for him come February, being a neighboring conservative governor, so the Straw Poll would give him a chance to put a slew of organizational pieces into place early. He must have decided the risk wasn’t worth it, though — and who could blame him?

So who is planning to compete? Donald Trump and Ben Carson. That’s it. Those are the only two candidates who have committed to attend the 2015 straw poll. Even if Christie, Cruz, Fiorina, and Perry all decide to get in (remember, Perry famously skipped the straw poll last time to announce his candidacy at the Red State event), that’s not much of a lineup to attract voters. While it might be a few minutes of fun to watch Christie bloviate all over a roomful of Iowans, nobody would mistake this for a serious event in any way, shape, or form. (Which is why I think Fiorina will ultimately skip it as well – she is desperately trying to be seen as a serious candidate, and running around at an event where Donald Trump could be the main headliner certainly doesn’t play into that.)

And so it is that the straw poll fizzles out and finally dies, with little fanfare or recognition. RIP, Ames Straw Poll, 1979-2015. It was fun while it lasted.

January 21, 2015

Bush Reaches Out To Iowa’s GOP Chairman

The Des Moines Register reports:

Jeb Bush buoyed Iowa Republican leaders hopes today that he won’t spurn Iowa if he runs for president in 2016.

During a telephone call with Iowa’s Republican party chairman, Bush repeatedly said he’s not a candidate, he’s just exploring a bid for the presidency.

“But there was a resolve in his voice,” Chairman Jeff Kaufmann told The Des Moines Register this afternoon. “What I heard is a man that’s ready to come out and tackle the Hawkeye state.”

Kaufmann said he thinks Bush lined up the telephone conversation because he’d commented recently in the media that only two major candidates from the GOP potential 2016 lineup had yet to contact him: Bush, a former governor of Florida, and Mitt Romney, the party’s 2012 nominee.


  5:35 pm Iowa Watch, Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney  

December 7, 2014

What’s Been Happening in Iowa?

Iowa is home to the Iowa Caucuses, the first real contest on the road to becoming the next President. The Des Moines Register recently published a tally of what possible future Presidential primary candidates have been up to in their state:

Fifteen Republican potential presidential candidates are on Iowans’ radar, ranked here by their events in Iowa since the 2012 elections. Also presented: their support in an Oct. 1-7 Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll.

Candidate Trips Events Days Caucus Support % First Choice % Second Choice %
Rick Perry 8 *33* *15* 13 7 6
Rand Paul 6 24 10 18 10 8
Rick Santorum *9* 19 12 8 3 5
Ted Cruz 6 12 8 13 7 6
Bobby Jindal 4 10 7 5 1 4
Chris Christie 4 8 4 11 6 5
Marco Rubio 4 8 5 5 2 3
Mike Huckabee 5 7 6 17 9 8
Rob Portman 1 7 2 0 0 0
Ben Carson 2 6 3 18 11 7
Paul Ryan 3 4 3 18 8 *10*
Mitt Romney 2 4 3 *25* *17* 8
Scott Walker 2 3 2 9 4 5
Mike Pence 1 1 1 1 0 1
Jeb Bush 0 0 0 12 4 8

Thoughts on the above:

  1. Rick Perry appears to be serious about running. He’s been to more Iowan events in the past two years than anybody else — eleven more than his closest rival, Rand Paul.
  2. Rand Paul has as much support as either Ben Carson and Paul Ryan, yet he has made more trips and has more than doubled the events that they have done put together.
  3. Rick Santorum was the last ABR (Anybody But Romney) standing in 2012. He’s made more trips to Iowa than anybody else. He even won the caucuses last time, yet he registers only single digits in support.
  4. Mike Huckabee has only made a handful of trips to the state yet pulls in a respectful 17% support. He’s a man to watch.
  5. Rob Portman has been to seven events in Iowa during a two day marathon, yet he is the only person with 0% support.
  6. Ben Carson and Paul Ryan only have a small number of visits and events yet each pulls a respectful 18% support. They are definitely men to watch.
  7. Mitt Romney has only made a couple of trips to Iowa. He continues to say he’s not planning on running, yet he has considerable more support in Iowa than anybody else. If you recall in 2012, he didn’t even campaign in Iowa except in the last week or two before the caucuses were held, yet he finished second by less than 25 votes.
  8. Scott Walker doesn’t seem to be doing that well in spite of being a fellow Midwesterner. (Shades of Pawlenty and Bachmann perhaps?)
  9. Jeb Bush has not visited Iowa at all in the past two years yet pulls down double digit support.

Edited to add Jeb Bush line to chart and the comment about his level of support in my thoughts.

October 25, 2012

Today’s Des Moines Register’s Front Page

Byron York tweeted this photo:

Wow! Just look at all the ways they subtly dig Obama to Romney’s benefit:

  • Obama’s got a scowl. Romney has a smile.
  • Obama’s looking back over his shoulder. Romney is looking forward.
  • Obama’s headline is negative. Romney’s is positive.
  • Obama’s subtitle talks about “Romnesia”. Romney’s talks about overcoming challenges as a country.
  • Obama’s head is lower than Romney’s and is place in the lower center of his picture. That is about the worst place, composition-wise, to place it. Romney’s head, on the other hand, is placed at the ideal upper left 1/3 x 1/3 spot.
  • Obama’s crowd shows little energy. A fair chunk of them are looking elsewhere. Romney’s crowd have the arms raised reaching for the candidate and are focused on him. Only the bodyguards are looking away.
  • The top line of the paper speaks of Halloween and features a Jack-o-lantern. Which candidate looks more like a scowling Jack-o-lantern? And in case you missed the subtlety, which candidate is the Jack-o-lantern over?

If some newspaper had done the reverse to Romney, we would be screaming bias.

The Register hasn’t yet officially made their endorsement, and they have insisted that they would not hold Obama’s pettiness against him, but the way they’ve composed this front page certainly makes one wonder.

  9:13 am Barack Obama, Iowa Watch, Mitt Romney  

October 20, 2012

Minnewisowa Rising Again?

The imaginary superstate of “Minnewisowa,” first suggested in 2004 as the electoral combination of three demographically and politically similar individual adjoining states — Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa — now in the closing days of the 2012 presidential election emerges again as a battleground phenomenon.

In 2008, all three states voted for Barack Obama, and by sizable margins. Only four years before, one voted for George W. Bush (Iowa), one voted for John Kerry (Minnesota), and one was too close to call until the wee hoursof election night (Wisconsin). These three midwestern farm states, each with one large metropolitan area, and origins of similar ethnic immigrants in the 19th century, offer a total of 26 electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins them all (more than Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, or Illinois offer individually). Furthermore, because of their proximity, a TV media market buy for one state can affect the neighboring state, and a campaign appearance in one if often widely reported in the others.

At the outset of the 2012 campaign, only Iowa seemed a possibility for the Republican ticket, whoever that would be. After the nomination of Mitt Romney for president and Paul Ryan (from Wisconsin) for vice president, however, it became quickly clear that Wisconsin would also be in play. Finally, after President Obama’s disastrous first debate with Mitt Romney, even traditionally Democratic Minnesota is showing signs of becoming in play by election day as a potential electoral tsunami moves across the nation, with a clear momentum for Mr. Romney in virtually all polls.

I remain skeptical that Minnesota will cast its electoral votes for Mitt Romney in the meeting for that purpose in the U.S. Congress on December 17, but it is, for the first time in this cycle, at least imaginable.

If indeed what is now considered a provisional “trend” is a true momentum, a sweep of Minnewisowa will happen, as it did in 2008, and be part of a decisive Romney victory.  I must hasten to add, however, that one more presidential debate remains, and slightly more than two weeks will occur before most voters (many have already cast absentee and “early” votes) will make their final choices. No clear outcome in the presidential race is visible yet.

So far, Minnesota has seen very little of the presidential campaign. Both Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama, as well as Mr. Biden and Mr. Ryan, have appeared for private fundraisers (there is a lot of political cash in this state). But political ads have been virtually non-existent except when they are broadcast from Minnesota stations for the purpose of reaching voters in northern Iowa or western Wisconsin. The Obama campaign has a minimal presence in the Gopher State, and the Romney campaign has almost nothing visible. The 10-point margin for Mr. Obama here in 2008, according to most local polls has dwindled, perhaps to half, but all the “battleground” action has appeared elsewhere the presidential race. The final result in Minnesota, if this condition continues, could bring another 10-point margin or a nail-biter (the latter perhaps more likely if the national trend to Mr. Romney follows unabated).

Wisconsin and Iowa, too, have uncertain outcomes. Team Obama has  poured significant TV ad expenditures into both states. Mr. Obama probably cannot afford to lose both, especially as he is likely to lose Indiana, another midwestern state he narrowly won in 2008. Mr. Ryan is not necessarily as popular in all of Wisconsin as he is in his home district. The Democratic U.S. senate candidate Tammy Baldwin is also so far doing better than expected in her race with popular former Governor Tommy Thompson. On the other hand, several failed recall elections of GOP officials instigated recently by the state Democrats have tended to demoralize the liberal party here.

Republican voter registration in Iowa in recent months exceeded Democratic registration for the first time in years. That advantage, while relatively small, has grown since then. Mr. Obama won his first upset victory in Iowa in 2008, defeating Hillary Clinton, and his campaign, despite the state’s small number of electoral votes, considers it critical, and has put notable resources here. The state lost a congressional race in redistricting, and two incumbents. one Democrat and one Republican are running against each other. At least one other congressional race could be close. Mr. Romney virtually tied Rick Santorum in the presidential caucus here earlier in the year (a recount gave the win to Mr. Santorum by a handful of votes), but he has so far not pulled away (as he has in neighboring Missouri and Nebraska).

With less than two weeks to go, therefore, little is settled in the lands of Minnewisowa. There is enough suspense, however, to make the superstate a bellwether on election night, although the numerous battleground states on the east coast (which will report their results earlier), may remove the suspense when those eastern returns come in.

Copyright (c) 2012 by Barry Casselman.  All rights reserved.

January 2, 2012

Rick Santorum Ad: “Best Chance”

The Rick Santorum campaign has completed its closing argument: [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fKXkAhAFts&feature=youtube_gdata_player[/youtube]
Recent polls have showed that while the Senator has made tremendous progress in the past week or two, he still has room to improve on his electability perception. It appears his team intended to directly address that with this production.

Romney’s Plan in Iowa: Dispatch Gingrich & Perry on the Cheap

“Whether he wins Iowa or not, Mitt Romney is on a path to victory.”

Those are the words of Roger Simon, Politico reporter who sat down for a candid interview with a senior Romney aide for this piece which came out today. The piece begins:

If Mitt Romney wins the Iowa caucuses, the race for the Republican nomination is over.

If Mitt Romney comes in second in Iowa, the race for the Republican nomination is over.

And if Mitt Romney comes in third in Iowa, the race for the Republican nomination is over…

[B]ecause the Iowa caucuses do not pick winners as much as they eliminate losers. And the Iowa caucuses Tuesday are likely to eliminate from serious contention the only two men who might have blocked Romney’s path to victory: Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry.

This, it turns out, is the Romney campaign’s master plan for the Hawkeye State. They don’t really care if Ron Paul or Rick Santorum win tomorrow night… as long as Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich are eliminated from the competition. And falling to fourth place or lower, which is likely for both men, would be their coup de grace.

The Romney aide went on to say:

The Romney campaign believes its game plan is working here.

“Iowa is about eliminating Gingrich and Perry without us having to spend a lot of money to do so,” the aide said. “Last time, we spent $2 million just on the [Ames] straw poll, $10 million on television and had over 30 paid staffers. This year we’ve been on TV for only a month and have not spent much on ads, we’ve have five paid staffers and we didn’t do the straw poll.”

December 28, 2011

Bachmann’s Iowa Chair Switches Support to Ron Paul

Ron Paul has to be happy about this coup. Michele Bachmann’s Iowa chairman (now former), State Senator Kent Sorensen (R-Indianola) has decided to switch his support from Bachmann to Congressman Paul, saying “Ron Paul has established himself as the clear choice.” In a switch that was as amicable as could be, Sen. Sorensen stated he maintains immense respect for Rep. Bachmann, but noted:

“The fact is, there is a clear top tier in the race for the Republican nomination for President, both here in Iowa and nationally. Ron Paul is easily the most conservative of this group. … If you are as frustrated as I am with what’s been done by the ruling class, I urge you to join me in supporting Dr. Paul. We can send the national big government political establishment a message they will never forget by voting for Ron Paul for President in the January 3 Iowa Caucuses.”

  8:15 pm Iowa Caucuses, Iowa Watch, Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul  

December 27, 2011

As Iowa Goes, So Goes Iowa

Renowned political and election analyst, Michael Barone, was out with a an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal discussing the Iowa Caucuses and their poor track record of predicting the GOP nominee and general election winner.  This is nothing new to most readers of Race 4 2012 since numerous commenters and writers have pointed out low predictive record of Iowa’s ubiquitous Caucuses.  Yet, there were a couple of nuggets in Barone’s commentary that are worthy of attention and thought.  Barone points out that a) overall participation in the GOP Caucus process is on the decline (and has been for sometime), and b) the average age of the GOP Caucus goer in 2008 was 60; younger voters are staying away in droves.  To this he comments:

If I were running the Iowa Republican Party, I would be seeking to vastly increase the turnout at the Jan. 3 caucuses. After all, those who turn out can be recruited to help in future Iowa Republican campaigns. I would be especially interested in attracting new young voters; the median age of 2008 caucusgoers was nudging up toward 60.

Yet despite polls showing that Republicans are enthusiastic about the coming campaign and determined to defeat Barack Obama, Iowa Republican insiders are predicting that turnout will not exceed and may not even reach the 119,000 of 2008, when Republicans were dispirited about their party’s chances. Puzzling.

If those turnout predictions prove true, the Iowa Republican caucus-going electorate will continue to be unrepresentative of the 645,000 registered Republicans or even of the 227,000 who voted in the 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary (in which Mr. Branstad, a previous four-term governor, defeated Christian conservative Bob Vander Plaats). That’s the fault of those who don’t bother to show up. But it’s not a reason to take the winner on Jan. 3 as indicative of what’s to come.

The problem of declining participation in GOP national, state, and local nominating processes, and especially the avoidance of such by younger voters, is not restricted to Iowa.  It is a major problem for us nationally and one about which party officials and candidates at all levels should be very concerned.  The demographic trends have not been in our favor since the 1992 election and its resulting major shift in voting patterns.

It will be particularly interesting to watch what happens next week.  Will Ron Paul bring in enough new Caucus goers to increase overall participation?  Will his more youthful supporters turn out and lower the average participation?  Let’s stay tuned.  Read the full Barone op-ed here.

  9:52 pm Iowa Caucuses, Iowa Watch, Republican Party  

Paul/Romney Pulling Ahead in Iowa

Public Policy Polling reports that Ron Paul and Mitt Romney are making some room between themselves and the rest of the field in Iowa in an upcoming poll to be released tonight. PPP emphasizes that Paul and Romney are “clearly” in the lead in the first caucus state. It doesn’t seem as though there is any last minute break-out in the cards for other candidates–it’s coming down to a two-man race.

  5:44 pm Iowa Watch, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul  

December 21, 2011

December 20, 2011

Ron Paul for President

As a transplant to the state of Iowa, my support in the primaries carries a little more weight than the average voter’s. For that reason, I have taken my time to observe and evaluate the field of Republican candidates as the race has unfolded.

Early in the campaign, I wholeheartedly backed Tim Pawlenty, even casting my vote in the Ames Straw Poll for him. After his disappointing placement and subsequent exit, I didn’t know exactly where to go. Initially, I leaned toward Mitt Romney, enticed by his potential to expand the Republican Party’s electoral reach, regain the GOP’s historical perception as the party of competence, and train his laser-like focus on the economy. However, I held off on making anything formal, wanting to see how the race evolved and seeking to maintain as much objectivity as possible for as long as possible.

Rick Perry’s entrance made things a little more interesting, with his sensational campaign kickoff speech and famed ability to connect with voters on a personal level. However, my arms-length approach to the race proved rewarding once Perry encountered his debate struggles.

As the January 3rd Iowa deadline grew nearer and nearer, I found myself going back and forth between Romney, Jon Huntsman, and Ron Paul. Romney has many traits that appeal to me, in addition to those I’ve already mentioned. However, as recent events have suggested, Mitt may, quite simply, have a serious problem with establishing an emotional, visceral connection with voters. A concerning number of Republicans (and I have seen firsthand examples of this in Iowa) frankly do not trust him. They view him as lacking guiding principles and willing to say whatever it takes to win an election. Now, I do not agree with them, but when a candidate cannot win over the individuals who should embrace him with the greatest fervor, I begin to worry. After all, despite the assertion by many Romney supporters that he makes for a poor campaigner but a tremendous executive, a president’s campaigning never truly ends; in actuality, he becomes a permanent campaigner, constantly striving to marshal public support and political capital for his agenda. Romney’s struggles to increase his base of support beyond a solid 20%, or so, of the party bodes poorly for this consideration. Furthermore, the skills he has gained and utilized to great effect in the business world – and this also applies to his experience with the Olympic games and the Massachusetts Governor’s office – wouldn’t lend themselves as well to the presidency. After all, the president has less unilateral power over the federal bureaucracy and budget than, say, a CEO has over their company or a governor has over their state budget. A president’s role much more resembles Influencer-in-Chief, and they register their greatest successes when they can tap into and meld the public mood to suit their aims.

Huntsman’s diplomatic temperament, optimistic disposition, inclusive rhetoric, fantastic tax plan, and economically based foreign policy all tugged at my heartstrings. His nomination would go a long way toward remaking the GOP into a party of ideas, as opposed to identity politics. His positions on the issues do a phenomenal job of applying conservative principles to modern issues and sensibilities. And he would make substantial inroads into the emerging demographics Republicans must desperately win back if they hope to maintain long-term viability: young voters, the creative class, suburbanites, Hispanics, and Asians. Alas, his personality appears fundamentally out of step with the current mood of the GOP, and his campaign has pursued a perplexing strategy of attacking the party as a whole from the left and Mitt Romney alone from the right, leaving him a very narrow range of possible scenarios that would result in him winning the nomination. So, in short, I really like Gov. Huntsman, but it just doesn’t appear in the cards for him.

So, where does this leave me? No candidate in the field offers the total package of electability, emphasis of the issues that matter the most to me (the deficit/debt and the economy), and supreme political skills. Kind of disheartening, but that’s what happens when superstars like Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, and Bobby Jindal don’t run. Thus, the choice becomes akin to running the ball up the middle versus throwing it deep in a football game. With President Obama gearing up for a painfully negative campaign against Romney, the “safe” route may not prove so safe. That brings me to the candidate I voted for in the 2008 Illinois Primary, Dr. Paul.

Now, I realize that many within our community will disagree with this decision. And, to steal one of President Obama’s favorite phrases, let me be clear: I don’t agree with Paul on every issue. I don’t consider myself a dyed-in-the-wool non-interventionist like him. His lack of pragmatism concerns me. His dearth of legislative accomplishments troubles me. But in the end, he is my choice for both political and practical reasons.

The number one reason I back Paul is simple: more so than any of the other candidates, he understands the sheer magnitude of our debt problem. He understands that the growth in the U.S. economy in the last half-century, or so, has essentially mirrored the growth in public and private U.S. debt. He understands that instead of perpetuating our indebtedness and delaying the inevitable de-leveraging, we should pay down our obligations as soon as possible, while we still have some control. He has outlined the most serious, aggressive plan to address the issue, cutting $1 trillion of federal spending in the first year of a Paul administration and balancing the budget by the third, without relying on optimistic growth assumptions. And while the constraints of the political system would prevent him from enacting the entirety of his proposals, his strong initial negotiating position would likely result in more progress than any of the other candidates would achieve

Again, I do not agree with all of Dr. Paul’s foreign policy, but I’ve arrived at the understanding that America cannot hope for long-term fiscal solvency while maintaining our current military posture. We simply can’t afford it. In addition to the sheer hundreds of billions we spend on defense, the possibility of securing the massive cuts we need elsewhere in the federal budget plummets if Republicans assume the negotiating position of, “Absolutely no haircuts, period, for the Pentagon”. Furthermore, with our perilous fiscal situation, we simply cannot afford to provide security umbrellas for other nations and regions of the world. Our foreign policy needs a heavy dose of reality.

Although I abhor the tactics (and most of the aims) of Occupy Wall Street, they nonetheless represent the undeniable sense of anger and distrust many Americans harbor toward our major institutions. More than any other candidate, Ron Paul speaks to these frustrations, and he can offer these individuals hope for a president who finally “gets it”, “feels their pain”, and will advance reforms that can heal these wounds and ease the palpable friction and discord in our society.

No one can deny the enthusiasm Paul has generated among young voters. A party desperately searching for a means to win back these individuals should view him as a godsend. As studies have shown, party affiliation doesn’t tend to change once it gets established. According to some pundits, voting behavior solidifies after two presidential elections. The GOP made a horrible first impression on many young Americans in 2008. We lost them once. If we lose them in 2012, we could lose an entire generation.

As media outlets have begun to report, Paul draws considerable support from Independents and Democrats. Some on this site and elsewhere in the party tend to criticize candidates who receive favorable attention from these groups. My response is, why is this a problem? We should WELCOME people not formerly registered Republican into the tent. How else can we expect to grow the party ranks? We should view Paul’s crossover appeal as a colossal strength.

Last but not least, from a broader perspective, Ron Paul would re-orient the Republican Party to focus more on a philosophy of liberty, rather than an ideology that appears contradictory and incoherent to the average non-partisan voter. Paul’s inclusive message and approach could sound like music to the ears of the aforementioned creative class, the growing numbers of suburbanites, and even some urbanites.

Sure, some electability questions surround Paul. However, with his uniqueness and the unpredictable dynamics of this race, we shouldn’t place too much stock in the conventional political wisdom should he nab the nomination. In fact, a Paul-Obama match-up could fundamentally reshape the American political landscape, tossing much of what we think we know out the window, shattering assumptions, and forging new coalitions of support we never foresaw.

In the end, even if it resulted in him losing, a Paul nomination would afford him the chance to educate millions about the cause of liberty, shatter the pro-government Keynesian myths and theories propagated by Democrats and their allies in the media, and win untold numbers of converts to a philosophy of freedom, self-determination, and self-governance.

December 19, 2011

Poll Watch: InsiderAdvantage/Majority Opinion Research (R) Iowa 2012 Republican Caucus Survey

InsiderAdvantage/Majority Opinion Research (R) Iowa 2012 GOP Caucus Poll

  • Ron Paul 23.9% [16.5%] (13.3%) {11.4%} [8.7%] (9.6%)
  • Mitt Romney 18.2% [11.9%] (11.5%) {18.7%} [14.9%] (18.1%)
  • Rick Perry 15.5% [13.2%] (6.6%) {8.8%} [5.6%] (5.8%)
  • Newt Gingrich 12.9% [27.1%] (28.1%) {14.5%} [11.7%] (12.1%)
  • Michele Bachmann 10.1% [10.3%] (10.1%) {5.4%} [7.8%] (11.0%)
  • Jon Huntsman 3.8% [3.6%] [1.9%] (0.9%)
  • Rick Santorum 2.9% [6.8%] (3.3%) {3.4%}
  • Someone else 0.8% [1.4%] (3.2%) {1.7%} [5.5%] (3.0%)
  • No opinion 11.9% [9.2%] (14.1%) {12.8%} [14.2%] (13.1%)

Survey of 391 likely Iowa GOP caucus-goers was conducted December 18, 2011.  Results from the poll conducted December 12, 2011 are in square brackets.  Results from the poll conducted November 28, 2011are in parentheses.  Results from the poll conducted November 8, 2011 are in curly brackets.  Results from the poll conducted November 3, 2011 are in square brackets.  Results from the poll conducted October 16, 2011 are in parentheses.

Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal

  11:25 am Iowa Watch, Poll Watch  

December 17, 2011

Des Moines Register Endorses Romney

Today, the Des Moines Register has endorsed Mitt Romney. In 2008, they endorsed eventual nominee John McCain. Here’s an excerpt:

Sobriety, wisdom and judgment.

Those are qualities Mitt Romney said he looks for in a leader. Those are qualities Romney himself has demonstrated in his career in business, public service and government. Those qualities help the former Massachusetts governor stand out as the most qualified Republican candidate competing in the Iowa caucuses.

Sobriety: While other candidates have pandered to extremes with attacks on the courts and sermons on Christian values, Romney has pointedly refrained from reckless rhetoric and moralizing. He may be accused of being too cautious, but choosing words carefully is a skill essential for anyone who could be sitting in the White House and reacting to world events.

Wisdom: Romney obviously is very smart. He graduated as valedictorian at Brigham Young University and finished in the top 5 percent in his MBA class at Harvard, where he also earned a law degree. Romney also exhibits the wisdom of a man who listened and learned from his father and his mother, from his church and from his own trials and errors in life. He does not lack self confidence, but he is not afraid to admit when he has been wrong.

Judgment: Romney disagrees with Democrats on most issues, but he offers smart and well-reasoned alternatives rather than simply proposing to swing a wrecking ball in Washington. He is a serious student of public policy who examines the data before making a decision. His detailed policy paper on the economy contains 87 pages of carefully crafted positions on taxes, energy, trade and regulatory policy, complete with 127 footnotes.

HT to commenters Matthew Kilburn / teledude

  8:09 pm Endorsements, Iowa Caucuses, Iowa Watch, Mitt Romney  

December 16, 2011

Post Debate Thoughts

Like most everyone on this site, I spent last night watching the GOP’s final debate before the Iowa Caucus.  Here are some of my own quick observations:

1: For the most part, the  frontrunners were all impressive.

Romney was exceptionally strong the entire evening.  Gingrich was fine when not under attack, but struggled at times in response to Freddie Mac.  Ron Paul had a good debate (though not all would agree with what he said at times).

2. Rick Santorum did well.

I learned not to put too much faith in Frank Luntz’ observations during the 2007-08 election, and last night was no different.  I found Rick Santorum to be very impressive last night, which is personally somewhat surprising  because I have never exactly been a member of his fan club.  When Santorum decided to run this election cycle, I rolled my eyes and figured that he’d be nothing more than your token pro-lifer who talks about nothing other than abortion.  I was wrong.  He’s been a pretty good candidate in these debates, and I have grown to like him.

3. Michele Bachmann did not.

One candidate who I have just about had enough of is Bachmann. She’s turned into nothing more than a grenade launcher.  I haven’t learned a thing about her because all she has done is talk about other candidates.  Everyone’s record deserves to be examined, but going by her last debates, I wouldn’t even know if she had been in office because she never talks about herself or her own accomplishments, just what’s wrong with Perry, Newt, Paul, etc…

4. I’m also sick of Hannity.

Sean Hannity sucks up to every candidate except Paul, who he asks redundant questions that have been asked every day for months.  I may not agree with Paul on a number of issues, but last night’s post debate interview was cringe-worthy because of Hannity’s arrogance.

December 13, 2011

Rick Perry in Ames

This Sunday, I attended a Rick Perry event at a coffee shop in Ames, IA. His campaign billed it as a meet-and-greet, but it ended shortly after the Governor’s speech, as Occupy protestors began heckling him. This prompted his campaign workers to usher him out of the room and the building, as supporters and other attendees began arguing with the Occupiers, which made for a generally unpleasant scene.

Still, I figured I would pass along the contents of the talk Perry gave, as it provides a glimpse into the messaging he has adopted on the campaign trail – which he has hit hard, complete with a 44-town bus tour he kicked off this week.

After taking the stage and offering the general pleasantries you’d expect, Perry delved deeply into the topic of federalism. In fact, he spent more time on this issue than any other, connecting it to health care and education. His campaign feels strongly about his record and level of comfort with federalism, so it should come as no surprise that he focused intently on it at this event and the recent Huckabee forum.

He then moved on to energy subsidies, arguing in no uncertain terms that the government should not “pick winners and losers” and should instead allow the market to select the most cost-effective and efficient form of energy. Contrary to what many would expect from a candidate basing his entire campaign on Iowa, he did not shelter ethanol from these statements, making it clear that he would opt to eliminate all energy subsidies.

He next discussed regulation. Like the other Republican candidates, he asserted that the federal government’s red tape has hindered job creation and overall economic output. He also brought the issue down to a personal level, explaining how regulation has increased the average price of a John Deere tractor – a nice little twist for a candidate in the Hawkeye State.

For the remainder of his address, he assumed a distinctly conservative populist posture, assailing the ties between Wall St. and Washington (and repeating his debate line that you can trace America’s problems on a map, from Wall St. to D.C.) and the recent revelations of insider trading by members of Congress. He then touted his outsider status, affirming that he would wield the veto pen on a regular basis – another familiar talking point of his campaign.

All in all, Perry performed much better in this setting than in the debates, which, obviously, doesn’t exactly say a whole lot (although, I might add that I considered Saturday night his best debate to date). It seems that he and his team believe he has found his voice on the trail, with his ads and overall messaging assuming the aforementioned conservative populist positioning. I happen to have a contact who works for the campaign, and they consider the race wide open, with the Governor still having a very real chance to pull out a victory. We’ll continue to see a lot of Perry as long as his campaign coffers will allow.

  9:11 pm 2012 Misc., Iowa Caucuses, Iowa Watch, Rick Perry  

December 6, 2011

Poll Watch: Washington Post-ABC News Iowa 2012 Republican Caucus Survey

Washington Post-ABC News Iowa 2012 GOP Caucus Poll

  • Newt Gingrich 33%
  • Mitt Romney 18%
  • Ron Paul 18%
  • Rick Perry 11%
  • Michele Bachmann 8%
  • Rick Santorum 7%
  • Jon Huntsman 2%

Will you definitely support __________________ as your first choice, or is there a chance you could change your mind and support someone else as your first choice? (If Chance Change Mind): Would you say there’s a good chance you’ll change your mind, or is it pretty unlikely?

  • Definitely support 45%
  • Chance could change mind, but pretty unlikely 26%
  • Good chance will change mind 27%


  9:14 am Iowa Watch, Poll Watch  

December 3, 2011

Notes From Iowa

Just 30 days to go…

In addition to the latest Des Moines Register poll being released tonight at 7:00 central time (which will already be at least somewhat out of date, unfortunately, with Cain’s exit this afternoon), there are some other happenings in the Hawkeye State to keep an eye on as well.

The Sioux City Journal will announce online which Republican candidate they are endorsing at 6:00 pm tonight. This is one of the major endorsements the candidates seek in Iowa, perhaps behind only the Des Moines Register as far as newspaper endorsements in the state. In 2008, they endorsed Romney; however, back then Romney was the frontrunner in the state and had lavished a lot of time and money on Iowa. This time around, they’ll probably go with someone who has spent more time in Iowa – or at least a candidate who acts like winning Iowa is important to them.

Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich is playing the expectations game in the Hawkeye State, telling a group of folks there that he’ll probably finish “in the top two or three” in the first-in-the-nation caucuses. At this point, that’s reminiscent of Tim Pawlenty saying he needed to finish in the top six at Ames to continue his campaign.

We’ve talked before here at Race about how the Iowa caucuses take place all the way down on the precinct level, and how there are more than 1,700 precincts across the state. In addition to having as many precinct captains as humanly possible, well organized campaigns will also have county chairmen in each of the 99 Iowa counties. The Gingrich campaign admitted yesterday that since they’re getting such a late start in the state, they won’t even have all their county chairmen in place by the caucuses, let alone enough precinct captains.

Two pro-gun rights groups have also begun running robocalls against Newt Gingrich in Iowa, blasting him for supporting the Brady Bill and the Lautenberg Law, as well as for calling for a mandated thumb print scan for all gun owners. The robocalls are being paid for by the groups Iowa Gun Owners and the National Association for Gun Rights.

And finally, there are only three debates remaining before the Iowa caucuses and they are all taking place in Iowa. Next up on the calendar is an ABC News / Des Moines Register debate one week from today — and the stage will be pretty empty compared to what we’re used to. Obviously, Herman Cain won’t be there, but Jon Huntsman will most likely not be either, barring some stroke of miraculous luck in the next two days. The requirement for being invited to this debate is that a candidate be polling at 5% in either a Des Moines Register poll or a recognized national poll before December 5th. Huntsman has achieved neither milestone, and so has just two days to pray that a national poll comes out showing him at that 5% mark or he will be excluded.

Since Huntsman has also declined to take part in the Trump-moderated Iowa debate, the next time we see him on a debate stage will probably be January 7, 2012 in New Hampshire.

November 30, 2011

Sensing Opportunity, Bachmann Goes on the Attack

Something that got lost in the shuffle of the Gingrich surge and Romney slide over the past couple of days is a smaller, but still remarkable story: the Bachmann resurgence.

In one Iowa poll released yesterday, Bachmann doubled her support from 5% back up to 10%. In another, she increased her support to 13% — good enough for second place in the Hawkeye State. Who is she trailing now in Iowa? Newt Gingrich in both polls and Mitt Romney in one.

And so, sensing her opportunity to build on these new, remarkably strong numbers in Iowa, Bachmann is going on the attack. She began by attacking Newt over his position on illegal immigration – a position which Bachmann characterizes as amounting to amnesty – by doing press releases about it and bringing it up in interviews. Then yesterday on CNN, she really unloaded on the former Speaker in an interview with Wolf Blitzer:

[Gingrich’s] position would be inconsistent because he signed a letter which was published in the Wall Street Journal in 2004 saying that he did in fact support President Bush’s comprehensive immigration reform – which was commonly known as amnesty, because what it would do was make legal 11 million illegal workers in the United States. He was also in support of the federal DREAM Act, which would provide taxpayer subsidies for college tuition for the children of illegal aliens. That’s just a fact; it’s just on record. He may have a different position today, but even as recently as the last debate he said he in fact favored making legal, illegal workers. Those are two different positions, and he’ll have to reconcile those.

But again, those aren’t the only times he’s had inconsistent positions. He came out in favor of entering into Libya and the no-fly zone, and he also came out later saying he was not in favor of Libya. He said he was not in favor of TARP and then he was in favor of TARP. He was sitting on the couch with Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying we needed to do something about global warming, now he’s not so sure. He was also the father of the individual health care mandate – and admitted as much on stage when he was questioned by [Mitt Romney] – and it’s highly doubtful to think that our Republican nominee could have championed the individual healthcare mandate, could have taken millions of dollars to advance that mandate, and then think that they were going to actively work to repeal Obamacare.

And he also took $1.8 million to offer influence in Washington, DC on behalf of Freddie Mac — all while I was fighting Freddie Mac and trying to put them into receivership, which is bankruptcy. So there’s been a lot of inconsistencies.

Boom goes the dynamite. That would be about the “everything and the kitchen sink argument” against Gingrich at this point [without mentioning the Speaker’s messy personal life or 84 ethics violations brought against him]. It’s a line of attack that Bachmann had clearly rehearsed, and one she will be eager repeat over and over again as she travels across Iowa.

She has an advantage that the other candidates don’t, as well – she is focused solely on Iowa while Romney, Gingrich, Perry, and others are campaigning in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida. Because of that, and perhaps because of the collapse of Perry and Cain, she is enjoying those higher poll numbers in the state and for the first time in months sees a potential path to victory. Gingrich is the clear frontrunner right now, so her cross hairs are focused squarely on his back.

All of this would be great news for Mitt Romney as well, who Bachmann has been very friendly with on the campaign trail thus far. Romney clearly needs Gingrich to be knocked down a few rungs on the ladder, but can’t afford to get his hands too dirty in the process. Having Bachmann with a vested interest in seeing the Speaker collapse as well is a boon for the Romney campaign.

Except that Bachmann isn’t shying away from attacking Romney now, either. Now that a path to victory in Iowa has presented itself, Bachmann appears to be in it to win it for real — and when Wolf asked her, “Who is the bigger flip-flopper, Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich?” she followed up that blistering critique of Gingrich with this one of Romney:

I think both of them have a lot to answer for to the voters for being on both sides of the issues. Governor Romney has also advocated for mandating that every citizen in the state of Massachusetts also purchase health insurance, which is exactly the same as Obamacare and was a pattern for Obamacare. He’s been on both sides of the abortion issue; he was for abortion, he was against abortion. He was for same-sex marriage, and in fact I believe he signed 189 marriage licenses for same-sex couples and then came out against it. And so on issue after issue after issue, Governor Romney has been on both sides – and Speaker Gingrich has to answer for that as well.

With just 33 days remaining before the Iowa caucuses, the gloves are coming off. While the spotlight is on Gingrich and Romney, Bachmann is flying under the radar in Iowa. Her poll numbers are rising, and she is making a push for a surprisingly strong finish in the state.

  10:12 am Iowa Watch, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich  

November 28, 2011

New Romney Strategy: Win Iowa?

A fumbling of the expectations question, or a legitimate change in strategy? Mark Halperin reports:

Romney spox tells media conference call ex-MA Guv’s strategy is to win the Iowa caucuses.

Gitcho: “We want to win wherever our name is on the ballot and we’re going to be in Iowa enough to show that Mitt Romney is going to be the best candidate to take on President Obama… As for a strategy, our strategy is to win there.”

Halperin’s Take
Romney can survive a loss in Iowa at this point. But the campaign’s very skillful managing of expectations there can come undone in a hurry. His Hawkeye State ceiling is probably no higher than 35% — and it might be significantly lower. If Romney is seen as playing in Iowa and loses, his path becomes much harder.

The Romney campaign shot a commercial in Dubuque, IA a couple weeks ago which they could ostensibly air whenever they were ready to do so. And they sent out two direct mail pieces in Iowa over the Thanksgiving holiday break. Is this a signal that the Romney campaign really does plan to play to win Iowa? If so, this may represent the biggest gamble any campaign has taken thus far in the primary.

It’s clear that the calculus has changed. Early on, Romney figured he could take a second or third place in Iowa, win NH and NV, and take a second place in SC into Florida and win the nomination. Now that Nevada has moved back to February, the Romney campaign appears to be adjusting the strategy somewhat. They made several more trips to Iowa since Nevada moved back, including sending Mitt’s wife and one of his sons to several stops as well. And after this media conference call this morning, the expectations for Team Mitt are going to be raised. A third or fourth place in Iowa is no longer good enough. A second place in Iowa may not be now, either.

Romney’s campaign strategy in Iowa has remained one of the biggest question marks in this campaign. Romney is sending out mixed signals about the Hawkeye State – in Florida, remember, he reportedly told fundraisers he wasn’t planning on winning the caucuses at all. Perhaps the necessity of the calendar is forcing him to reconsider. Or perhaps Gail Gitcho is going to have a talking to this afternoon back at Romney HQ for misspeaking to the media. Or, perhaps both.

  3:04 pm Iowa Watch, Mitt Romney  

November 23, 2011

Poll Watch: TeleResearch Iowa 2012 Republican Caucus Survey

TeleResearch Iowa 2012 GOP Caucus Poll

  • Ron Paul 25%
  • Newt Gingrich 21%
  • Herman Cain 20%
  • Mitt Romney 15%
  • Rick Perry 7%
  • Michele Bachmann 7%
  • Rick Santorum 3%
  • Jon Huntsman 1%
  • Undecided 1%


  11:07 am Iowa Caucuses, Iowa Watch, Poll Watch  

Poll Watch: American Research Group Iowa 2012 Republican Caucus Survey

American Research Group Iowa 2012 GOP Caucus Poll

  • Newt Gingrich 27%
  • Mitt Romney 20%
  • Ron Paul 16%
  • Herman Cain 6%
  • Michele Bachmann 6%
  • Rick Santorum 6%
  • Rick Perry 5%
  • Jon Huntsman 3%
  • Gary Johnson *%
  • Buddy Roemer *%
  • Undecided 11%
  • Other *%


  11:03 am Iowa Caucuses, Iowa Watch, Poll Watch  

November 22, 2011

Rumor: Ron Paul Leading Iowa in Poll Tomorrow

The whispers are that Ron Paul will be shown tied with Newt Gingrich for first place in Iowa in a poll (with a very large sample size) to be released tomorrow by veteran 18-year pollster TeleResearch.  The whispers are also that the survey was commissioned by a PAC friendly to Dr. Paul.  Still, a scientific poll is a scientific poll, and Paul’s surge in Iowa as of late is by no means imaginary.  How far will Paul go in Iowa, and will a lot of average voters quickly warm up to him if a splintered evangelical vote allows him to snag first place in the first caucus state?

November 20, 2011

Santorum Pushes New Economic Plan

Perhaps seeking to capture attention and enthusiasm similar to what Herman Cain received when he released his 9-9-9 Plan, Rick Santorum has produced a more comprehensive version of his economic proposals:

As some of his GOP rivals sell their plans with catchy names – such as Herman Cain’s “9-9-9″ plan or Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s “Cut, Balance and Grow” – Santorum has simply titled his, “Made in America.”

…”This is the kind of plan that works. This is the kind of plan that makes sense,” Santorum added. “This is the kind of plan that will be able to transform America economically, will be able to revitalize our manufacturing sector and stop all the jobs going overseas and bring a lot of those jobs back and have ‘Made in America’ stamped on things again.”

Among the plan’s proposals: reducing the nation’s personal income tax rates to just two: 10% and 28%; eliminating both the Alternative Minimum Tax and the estate tax that conservatives deride as the “death tax;” dropping capital gains and dividend tax rates down to 12%; cutting corporate taxes from 35% to 17.5%; and eliminating corporate taxes for manufacturers.

Santorum also proposes a measure that many conservatives favor: passing a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

…The candidate – who bests his GOP rivals by having visited all of the Hawkeye State’s 99 counties – told the crowd his plan “focused on some of the things that I’ve learned as I’ve traveled around Iowa.”

“One of the things I’ve learned is that most of the small towns in Iowa … there was some sort of manufacturing or processing facility that was the reason for the town to exist in the first place, or it was a railroad hub or some sort of center of commerce.”

…Any economic proposal, Santorum said, should not “focus all of our growth and energy on the big cities and service industries and financial services.”

As the article notes, Santorum has made an extremely hard push in Iowa, visiting all 99 counties and unabashedly touting his social conservative credentials in an effort to seize the as-yet-unclaimed evangelical vote. He has firmly staked his hopes on becoming the conservative alternative to Romney just in time for the Caucuses.

Now, Santorum’s brashness and strident crusader-like rhetoric provide legitimate cause for concern with respect to electability, but he deserves credit for becoming the only Republican candidate to regularly discuss income mobility and poverty from a conservative perspective. Furthermore, his laser-like focus on manufacturing strikes both political and economic gold, as America desperately needs to move away from a debt-financed, consumer- and financial services-driven economy and toward one centered more on wealth-creating sectors like manufacturing and energy.

November 19, 2011

Ron Paul’s Opportunity

A confluence of events has the potential to deliver Ron Paul a surprise victory in the upcoming Iowa Caucuses:

Evangelical powerbrokers hosted a secret meeting in Iowa for conservative religious leaders last week to take a second look at some of the candidates who might be a viable alternative to Mitt Romney, Business Insider has learned from sources with knowledge of the event.

According to a source, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and Ron Paul all spoke at the event, which brought together some of Iowa’s most influential evangelical pastors. Organized by the powerful Christian activist David Lane, the two-day conference was a feeble attempt to recapture some of the evangelical energy behind Mike Huckabee’s Iowa caucus win in 2008.

…But a source at the conference told Business Insider that the meetings only confirmed that “evangelicals have lost their cohesion — they don’t trust their leaders.”

With evangelical support split between his lower-tier rivals, however, just a small portion of the Christian vote could be all Paul needs to break his ceiling and become a real contender in the 2012 race.

As an Iowa resident, I can attest to how hard Paul has played in the state, with radio ads blanketing the airwaves and rather large-scale TV ad buys. He has also made active attempts to attract 2008 Mike Huckabee supporters by emphasizing his pro-life and other culturally conservative positions.

When you couple this with the fluid and fractured state of the race, it becomes entirely conceivable that Paul’s well-developed campaign organization and ardent supporters (the latter unmatched by any other candidate) could propel him to a narrow victory in Iowa. That would make things even MORE interesting in this nominating process, which has already confounded a great deal of conventional political wisdom.

November 13, 2011

Race42012 National/IA/NH Polling Averages – November 13, 2011

2012 Republican Presidential Nomination

Poll Average CBS News McClatchy / Marist NBC / WSJ USA Today / Gallup
Date 11/2 – 11/10 11/6 – 11/10 11/8 – 11/10 11/2 – 11/5 11/2 – 11/6
Romney 21.75 15 23 28 21
Cain 20.75 18 17 27 21
Gingrich 14.75 15 19 13 12
Perry 9.25 8 8 10 11
Paul 8.25 5 10 10 8
Bachmann 4.00 4 5 4 3
Santorum 1.75 2 1 2 2
Huntsman 0.88 1 1 0.5 1


2012 Iowa Republican Caucus

Poll Average Insider Advantage We Ask America 2012 Newsmax / Insider Advantage
Date 11/3 – 11/8 11/8 – 11/8 11/6 – 11/6 11/3 – 11/3
Cain 25.10 23.3 22 30
Romney 16.23 18.7 15 15
Gingrich 14.83 14.5 18 12
Paul 10.47 11.4 11 9
Bachmann 8.13 5.4 11 8
Perry 6.27 8.8 4 6
Santorum 3.20 3.4 3
Huntsman 2.00 2 2


2012 New Hampshire Republican Primary

Poll Average Rasmussen CNN / ORC Newsmax / Insider Advantage
Date 10/16 – 10/26 10/26 – 10/26 10/20 – 10/25 10/16 – 10/16
Romney 39.93 41 40 38.8
Cain 18.07 17 13 24.2
Paul 11.37 11 12 11.1
Gingrich 6.07 8 5 5.2
Huntsman 5.83 7 6 4.5
Bachmann 3.47 3 2 5.4
Perry 3.27 4 4 1.8
Santorum 1.00 1 1


New Hampshire – Not Displaying Romney

November 11, 2011

As Cain and Perry Falter, Romney Cuts TV Ad for Iowa

The AP reveals today that Mitt Romney has filmed a television campaign ad at a sheet-metal plant in Dubuque, Iowa. The news is interesting, because one of the remaining unknowns about this primary is how hard Romney will choose to play in the Hawkeye State. Now, a bit of strategy for you aspiring campaign managers out there: any good campaign will have an ad or two “in the can” — that is, an ad that has been shot, edited, finalized and ready to go up on the air at a moment’s notice if need be. So this news does not necessarily mean that Romney will be airing TV ads in Iowa anytime soon. What it does mean is that he could if he wanted to.

And it’s easy to see why the temptation may be growing in the Romney campaign to land a knockout punch in Iowa. Cain is finally falling apart under the weight of his gaffes and the harassment scandal. Consider: Cain used to poll in the mid-to high-20s in national polls, even hitting 30% in a couple of them. This morning’s two polls showed two markedly different horse races, but they were consistent in showing Cain falling to just 17-18% of the vote. That’s a hard fall. Cain’s numbers in Iowa don’t look any better, either. Cain was over 30% in the RCP average for Iowa once upon a time. Since then, he’s slid down to 23% — and the most recent poll this morning had him at 19%.

As Cain bleeds support, Romney’s other main rival, Rick Perry, just suffered on of the top 5 most embarrassing debate moments in modern political history and more or less ensured his comeback campaign was doomed. It was clear that Romney had always viewed Perry as his strongest (or only?) competition in the race; with Perry’s self-imposed death by a thousand shotgun blasts Romney must view an ever-widening lane for him to travel down to secure the GOP nomination.

Huntsman isn’t catching on in New Hampshire (at least not yet, if he ever does). Bachmann, Santorum, and Paul will never win, and everybody knows that. That leaves just one man in between Mitt Romney and the nomination: Newt Gingrich. And if it really does come down to Romney vs. Gingrich in Iowa, Mitt has to be feeling pretty good about his chances for one reason: organization.

The bottom line of caucuses is organization, and that is clearly Romney’s strong suit. In 2008, Romney built his campaign on organizing for caucuses, and despite losing all the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida, Romney still blew his competitors out of the water in caucus states like Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Colorado, North Dakota, and Alaska. In fact, other than Iowa, there was not a single caucus state Romney lost in 2008 before he dropped out of the race.

So what happened in Iowa in 2008? The evangelical community banded together behind one of their own and organized for Mike Huckabee. The FairTax folks also came in and did some organizing as well. And Huckabee, with little official organization of his own, pulled off a 9 point upset.

This time around, it’s pretty tough to see evangelicals coalescing in the same way and lining up behind Newt Gingrich, the twice divorced Catholic whose cultural cues are far removed from that community. And as the AP notes, “[Gingrich] has little structure in place for the organizationally intensive caucuses, which require people to show up for gatherings on a midwinter night.” There are 1,784 precincts in Iowa, and a perfectly organized campaign will have precinct captains in each one helping to get out the vote. Gingrich has just 52 days, including the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years holidays, to get some sort of ground organization together. Instead, he appears to be taking a page out of the Herman Cain playbook and will return to Iowa next week to – get this – do a screening of his documentary and a book signing.

Cain is slipping. Perry is down and out. Gingrich is rising as his new main rival. And so in comes Romney surveying the landscape – and he cuts a campaign ad to air in Iowa.

Just in case.

October 17, 2011

The Shaky Foundation of Herman Cain

Herman Cain was in second place in this Presidential contest once before, during the early summer. The first Cain bubble didn’t last long, however, largely because Cain’s inexperience shone through in several interviews.

Back then, Cain famously made headlines by declaring he would not allow Muslims to serve in his government because of fears of Sharia law. He admitted multiple times that not only did he not have a plan for Afghanistan, he said he would and could not make one until he was elected President. And he admitted he didn’t know what “right of return” meant in reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Herman Cain sunk back into the muddled lower tiers of candidates. But now that he is enjoying a resurgence and is back in second (or first) place, some of his controversial statements are back in the spotlight as well.

The first one this time around was Cain’s headline-producing pronouncement that “If you don’t have a job, if you’re not rich, blame yourself!” Then on Saturday, Cain proposed an interesting solution to the illegal immigration problem the U.S. faces: don’t just build a fence, but build a 20-foot high fence with barbed wire on top — and make it an electric fence. One so powerful it could kill anyone who touched it.

Cain seemed to sense that this comment may have been slightly over the line, so he explained further for those who thought this plan might be insensitive: “It’s insensitive for them to be killing our citizens, killing our border agents,” he said. “That’s what’s insensitive.”

Of course, the topic came up on the Sunday morning interviews Cain was doing the next day, and he walked back his comments by claiming the whole thing was just a joke.

Later on in the interview, Cain was asked if Iran’s attempt to assassinate one of our ambassadors was an act of war. His response was eerily similar to his position on the war in Afghanistan: he said he didn’t know, but would be able to decide whether or not it was after he was President.

Wrapping up a hat trick of gaffes over the weekend was Cain’s admittance that he was “not familiar with the neoconservative movement.”

It is abundantly clear that Cain is not ready for primetime politics in a national campaign like this. Rhetoric such as his comments on the border fence may play well to a WorldNetDaily or talk radio audience, but they aren’t the words of a serious Presidential candidate. Folks, there’s a reason Cain can’t break into double digits on the Intrade boards, despite leading or being tied with Romney in all the polls. Investors see moments like these and take the position that Cain will deflate once again under the weight of his own inexperience.

That inexperience might cost him not only because of verbal gaffes but also because of scheduling mistakes as well. Questions of how committed he is to actually campaigning in the early states still dog the campaign. After it was noted that he hadn’t been to Iowa since the Ames Straw Poll — and wasn’t planning on returning until mid-November — his campaign made a schedule update that sent Cain to Iowa this Saturday for a Faith and Freedom forum (which is being attended by other candidates as well). He still has no individual events planned in the state, however, and the rest of his schedule still baffles the pundits as well.

For instance, eyebrows were raised when Cain’s campaign announced today that he would be traveling to Arkansas next week. Adding to that in the next couple weeks are events in Indiana, Illinois, Texas, and Alabama. There are zero events scheduled for New Hamsphire, Nevada, South Carolina, or Florida on Cain’s calendar during that time (and nothing for Iowa outside that forum appearance).

Of course, not showing up in the early states seems to be working for Cain so far: he’s ahead in Iowa and has a comfortably large lead in South Carolina. Maybe running this “nontraditional campaign” of his will end up working, because he and his story connect so powerfully with the voters who will be driving this primary election. But I have a feeling that if Cain continues making unforced verbal errors and continues ignoring the early states, he may witness those leads dissipate.

  10:03 pm Herman Cain, Iowa Watch  

October 16, 2011

Race42012 National/IA/NH Polling Averages – October 16, 2011

2012 Republican Presidential Nomination

Poll Average Rasmussen PPP NBC / WSJ Reuters / Ipsos WaPo / Bloomberg Gallup Newsmax / Insider Advantage
Date 9/22 – 10/10 10/12 – 10/12 10/7 – 10/10 10/6 – 10/10 10/6 – 10/10 10/6 – 10/9 10/3 – 10/7 10/4 – 10/5
Romney 23.57 29 22 23 23 24 20 24
Cain 23.57 29 30 27 19 16 18 26
Perry 13.00 9 14 16 10 13 15 14
Gingrich 8.36 10 15 8 7 3 7 8.5
Paul 7.87 5 5 11 13 6 8 7.1
Bachmann 4.53 4 5 5 5 4 5 3.7
Huntsman 1.83 2 2 3 2 0 2
Santorum 1.60 2 1 1 1 3



2012 Iowa Republican Caucus

Poll Average PPP NBC / Marist American Research Group
Date 9/22 – 10/10 10/7 – 10/10 10/3 – 10/5 9/22 – 9/27
Romney 22.00 22 23 21
Cain 17.33 30 16 6
Paul 11.33 10 12 12
Bachmann 11.00 8 10 15
Perry 11.00 9 10 14
Gingrich 6.67 8 4 8
Santorum 3.00 5 2 2
Huntsman 1.00 1 1 1
Johnson 0.83 1 1 0.5



2012 New Hampshire Republican Primary

Poll Average Magellan Strategies NBC / Marist Harvard / St. Anselm
Date 9/22 – 10/10 10/12 – 10/13 10/3 – 10/5 10/2 – 10/6
Romney 40.67 41 43 38
Cain 17.33 20 12 20
Paul 12.33 10 14 13
Huntsman 5.00 6 5 4
Gingrich 4.67 6 3 5
Perry 4.33 2 7 4
Bachmann 3.00 4 2 3
Santorum 1.33 2 1 1
Johnson 1.00 1 1 1

New Hampshire – Not Displaying Romney

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