November 12, 2014

A Personal Appraisal of the Early Field

Since some of the other posters from R4’12 seem to be returning (great to see you, Matt and Mark), I thought I might do the same. A good place to start might be with a very preliminary assessment of the field that is shaping up. In order to do that fairly, however, I think I need to first position myself, so that you know from what perspective I’m coming (or, if you prefer, what my biases are).

In the run-up to ’12, I was an ardent Mitch Daniels supporter. After Daniels withdrew, I never really settled on another candidate, though I tried to get hyped up about several, most notably Tim Pawlenty; hell, I even gave Jon Huntsman a look (and then quickly backed away). Eventually, of course, it became obvious that Romney would get the nomination, but I couldn’t work up enthusiasm about him, either, since I was fairly certain he’d lose (admission: there was a point in October where I came around to thinking he might pull it out – wrong again!). However, I was out of the country by then and unable to do anything other than go to the nearest consulate and vote for him).

Which brings us to 2016. I would still support Daniels in a heartbeat, but he seems perfectly happy at Purdue, and getting him to change his mind about subjecting his family to the ugliness that American politics has become is about as likely as the Romney and Palin supporters of R4’12 organizing a ‘Draft Bob Hovic’ movement.

So I’ll have to find someone who can fill the same slot – reformist, executive experience, competence, able to relate to ordinary people, fiscally conservative, socially conservative, and defense-minded.

On those last three points let me add this: our party (and any party that is going to be more than a splinter movement – I’m looking at you, Libertarians) is a coalition. Any candidate that is going to unite a coalition must be acceptable to all major factions. Not that s/he is the favorite of all of them (or any of them). But s/he must not be obnoxious to any of them.

Matt Coulter listed a number of subgroups in his recent (excellent) post, but I’ll be old-fashioned and go with the old ficons, socons, and defcons. The Republican nominee need not be a hard-core deficit hawk, but must not go far in the opposite direction; need not be a culture warrior but must not be pro-choice (or even weakly pro-life); need not be an interventionist, but must not be isolationist. Which means the candidate must be able to thread needles quite nicely.

Oh – and one more qualification: I refuse to support anyone who can’t win.

For an early choice I’m leaning toward Scott Walker. Walker is identified primarily with fiscal and reform issues (especially reining in public employee unions), but his social policy credentials are sufficient that I think my most ardently socon friends would find no problem accepting him (part of why I think this is because he is well to my right on social issues). I know nothing about his defense views (having held only local and state offices, he has not had occasion to take positions on defense). I’ll look forward to seeing what he has to say about defense and foreign policy.

He also comes from a solidly middle-class background (mom a bookkeeper, dad a Baptist minister) and can relate to the suburban and blue-collar people Republicans must get in order to win. He has that Midwestern Nice thing going for him (though it did nothing for Tim Pawlenty). Coupled with his inoffensive (some say ‘bland’ and/or ‘boring’) manner, he (like Daniels) seems able to take strong positions without being offensive to middle-of-the-roaders.

My early second choice is Bobby Jindal, who shares many of Walker’s qualities – a proven record of reform at the state level (including a successful school voucher program), plus strong ficon and socon credibility. In addition, his grasp of policy is legendary, and to be blunt, his skin color is a positive. As with Walker, I know nothing of his defense views, and I’ll be waiting to learn more.

On the negative side, I have a perception of Jindal as being very outspoken on social issues – to the point that it might create problems for him with social moderates (whether or not strongly-held socon positions are a big political negative in a national race is, in my opinion, dependent on words and tone more than the positions themselves). This is just a perception, I admit, and only time will tell. I also think a Midwesterner would be a better choice than a Southerner.

It’s no accident that my two main choices are both governors. I strongly prefer governors for two reasons: 1) If Obama has proven anything, it is that executive experience matters greatly; and 2) I think the anti-Washington mood will continue into 2016, and these two will have little difficulty painting Hillary as an ‘insider’ and contrasting her to themselves.

These are the two I’m most interested in at this point. There’s a long way to go, obviously (at this point last time, Mark Sanford headed my list – but I’d rather not discuss that, thank you), so I retain my option to change at any time.

As for the others, just a few words on why I choose not (for now) to back them.

Mitt Romney – Obviously meets my executive experience criterion, in spades. He totally fails on appealing to blue-collar types and is past his sell-by date. In any case, I’m inclined to think, for now, that he isn’t running.

Mike Huckabee – Another governor who can sell socon positions with a smile, though I think he is so closely identified with social issues that he comes across as a one-issue candidate. His Arkansas record makes ficons like me uneasy, to put it mildly. I can’t support him for that reason, and I think he will have problems with a big enough bloc of Republicans that he’ll be stymied.

Rand Paul – Certainly a better salesman for libertarianism than his father, though that isn’t saying much. (As a libertarian myself, I prayed nightly for Ron Paul to just go away). Unless he starts quickly to moderate his foreign policy views, however, I think he has zero chance of getting the nomination. Also – no executive experience.

Jeb Bush – If only he had a different last name. By all accounts an excellent governor, but … well, let’s put it this way: We have an opportunity to run against a hard-core insider and we are contemplating nominating a Bush? Really?

Marco Rubio – No executive experience. Shot himself in the foot on comprehensive immigration reform, but probably backed away sufficiently that it will be forgiven/forgotten. Probably hasn’t been in Washington long enough to be perceived as being one of them. My problem with him is that I see no reason to support him other than his ethnicity. (We do owe him thanks for ridding the party of Charlie Crist).

Ted Cruz – Another short-term Senator. In addition to having no executive background, the guy is a loose cannon. Heaven only knows what he’d spout on the campaign trail.

Rick Perry — We’ll see if he learned anything from 2012. If he did, he might be worth giving attention to (though I think he’s damaged goods). If he didn’t, we won’t have to wait long for him to be gone.

Chris Christie – “Shut up and sit down!” might go over big in NY/NJ, but it will get real old real fast in the rest of the country. The guy just lacks the temperament for a long national campaign. I’ll never forgive him for embracing Obama right before election day – that finished the guy for me.

Paul Ryan – A ficon’s wet dream and one of my ABR options late in the 2012 primary season. On sober reflection, I don’t think a Representative can do it – though he has the advantage of having run a national campaign (losing, but still …). My objection is no executive experience, but I certainly wouldn’t be upset if he were the nominee.

Rick Santorum – He apparently hasn’t figured out that the only reason he did so well in ’12 is that he was the final ABR. If Huckabee gets in, Santorum will be eliminated in Ames, otherwise he might make it to New Hampshire.

Ben Carson – Okay, I’m scraping bottom now. Time to quit.

July 6, 2012

Jon Huntsman Will Not Be Attending GOP Convention ***Corrected

The Salt Lake Tribute reports:

Huntsman scolds GOP, will skip convention

Washington • Still smarting from his unsuccessful presidential campaign, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman says he won’t attend the Republican National Convention or future gatherings until the party starts to tackle the bigger issues.

Huntsman, who says he’s been at every convention since 1984 when he was a delegate for Ronald Reagan, told The Salt Lake Tribune in a statement that he’s been asked repeatedly whether he would attend the August convention in Tampa, Fla., but that he’s skipping it.

“I will not be attending this year’s convention, nor any Republican convention in the future,” Huntsman said, “until the party focuses on a bigger, bolder, more confident future for the United States — a future based on problem solving, inclusiveness, and a willingness to address the trust deficit, which is every bit as corrosive as our fiscal and economic deficits.”

In a statement this week, Huntsman said he wanted his party to return to its moorings that mirrored his last-minute campaign theme of “Country First.”

“I encourage a return to the party we have been in the past,” he said, “from Lincoln right on through to Reagan, that was always willing to put our country before politics.”

Jon Huntsman garnered all of three delegates in his well-funded campaign — a campaign the media flogged from Day #1. The highest support he ever got was 3.4% on the RCP average. He couldn’t even break five percent. He was — as I used to put it — a solution looking for a problem.

The query, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it makes a sound”, comes to mind.

Methinks this guy has a grossly over-inflated image of his own importance.


The original version of this article had “…PPP average”. As Jeff Y pointed out in the comments, it’s really the “…RCP average”. Thanks, Jeff.



by @ 2:54 pm. Filed under Jon Huntsman

April 13, 2012

How Romney Won the GOP Nomination

Memories and Lessons of a Just-Completed Campaign

Now that the primary season has all but officially ended (mercifully and at last), it is time for political analysts to look back at the yearlong trek that got us Nominee Romney and see what conclusions we can draw from this prolonged fight. There are several things that led to Romney’s success this time around:

The Job Interview
At first glance, it may seem the most cogent lesson is the simplest one: the Republicans once again nominated their next-in-line candidate. Just as John McCain, Bob Dole, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Gerald Ford before him, Romney was widely perceived as “earning his turn,” so to speak. But there is something going on at a deeper level here – why (with the notable exception of George W. Bush) does the modern GOP seem to hand their nomination to the next-in-line? After all, this is a truism, a force, strong enough to revive John McCain from political death a thousand times over in 2008. And it was enough to protect Romney from one of the most anti-establishment, angry conservative electorates in recent memory. How?

It has been said that the Republicans treat their primaries much like a job interview, while Democrats treat theirs like a dating game – a comparative analogy that has some heft behind it to be sure. Democrats get excited about insurgent candidates that send thrills up their legs, whereas Republicans like to sit back and determine whether our candidates have the experience necessary for the job. Looking at the 2008 primaries in an parallel universe, then, we wouldn’t have been surprised to see a Mike Huckabee vs. Hillary Clinton general election matchup – where Huckabee had won the Democratic primary and Hillary the Republican one.

Insurgent candidates are just not built to survive modern Republican primaries. And so Romney perhaps had the huge advantage in this way from the outset: with no Huckabee and no Palin in the mix, he was the only “serious” candidate applying for this job. Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum were never going to pass the job interview process. Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry both had a chance based on the resumes they had submitted, but as soon as they were called in for a face to face interview they were both summarily dismissed from contention. And so, after inspecting each of the job applicants in turn, ultimately the Republican Party ended up calling the candidate that looked the most attractive at the beginning of the process and saying, “You’re hired.” It’s a familiar process that makes sense for the “party of business” to follow.

Continue reading for Cycling Seppuku, I Can be Your Friend, Where in the World is Romney Sandiego, and “Establishment” Support…

February 1, 2012

Final Florida Tally

Final vote tally for the Florida Primary with all precincts reporting:

Votes Percentage
Romney 771,842 46.4%
Gingrich 531,294 31.9%
Santorum 222,248 13.4%
Paul 116,776 7.0%
Perry 6,742 0.4%
Huntsman 6,182 0.4%
Bachmann 3,947 0.2%
Cain 3,481 0.2%
Johnson 1,186 0.1%
Total 1,663,698 100.0%

Margin of victory for Romney over his three main rivals:

Votes % Total % of Romney
Gingrich 240,548 14.6% 31.2%
Santorum 549,594 33.5% 71.2%
Paul 655,066 39.9% 84.9%
Gingrich + Santorum 18,300 1.1% 2.4%

So even if every single Santorum voter had voted for Gingrich, Romney would still have won. And we know from both anecdotal evidence as well as several polls that there was a large percentage of Santorum voters who would voted for Romney over Gingrich.

For reference, here are the results from the 2008 Florida Primary:

John McCain 701,761 36.0%
Mitt Romney 604,932 31.0%
Rudolph W. Giuliani 286,089 14.7%
Mike Huckabee 262,681 13.5%
Ron Paul 62,887 3.2%
Fred D. Thompson 22,668 1.2%
Alan Keyes 4,060 0.2%
Duncan Hunter 2,847 0.1%
Tom Tancredo 1,573 0.1%
Total: 1,949,498 100.0%

So Mitt improved upon McCain’s percentage by 10 points and his own by 15.  Mitt has 70,000 more votes than McCain had in 2008 and improved his own total by 166,000 votes.

January 17, 2012

Have the Debates Really Been that Critical?

One of the conventional wisdoms of this election cycle has been that the myriad debates have been a decisive factor in the primary process. In a way, it’s not surprising; Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich have all risen in the polls based on their strong debate performances and Governor Rick Perry’s campaign has collapsed based on his poor to disastrous debate showings. So the debates have been the most critical factor right?

If you were to look at the results from Iowa and New Hampshire, the answer is less clear. In both Iowa and New Hampshire, the top three candidates were not made or destroyed by the debates. Governor Romney, as the frontrunner, has been strong and steady during the debates, but his campaign was never defined by his debate performances. Congressman Paul’s fervent support was never created from a standout debate.

The other two candidates who have finished in the top 3, Senator Santorum and Governor Huntsman, both achieved their showings in Iowa and New Hampshire respectively not through their debate performances, but through retail politics. Senator Santorum spent more time in Iowa than any other candidate, which resulted in his extremely strong 2nd place showing. Yet, the Senator was never considered the winner of any of the debates. He simply worked the ground in Iowa longer and more strenuously than his rivals. The same thing occurred in New Hampshire with Governor Huntsman. It wasn’t his debate performances that gave him the bronze medal; it was those 150 public events that held throughout New Hampshire. Both Senator Santorum and Governor Huntsman finished ahead of Speaker Gingrich, whose debate performances have been a cornerstone of his popularity.

This isn’t to say that the debates haven’t had an impact on the Republican race; they certainly have. Yet, when it came down to actual Iowa and New Hampshire voters making their decision, the debates had less impact than actually being on the ground, meeting voters and making the case in person, face-to-face.

January 16, 2012

Huntsman’s Statement on Suspension of Campaign – Romney Endorsement

From the official release:

Friends –

2012 is the most important election in our lifetime.

After three years of bigger government, higher taxes and more spending, America desperately needs a return to conservative principles: limited government, lower taxes and balanced budgets.

On the campaign trail, I have spoken often about the need to fix not only our nation’s economic deficit, but also our deficit of trust and unity.

America is more divided than ever, and for our nation to move forward together with new leadership and unite, the Republican Party must first unite.

Today I am suspending my campaign and supporting the candidate who is best-equipped to defeat the president and return conservative leadership to the White House: Governor Mitt Romney.

To our many supporters and volunteers, I offer my heartfelt thanks. Mary Kaye and I are equally humbled and amazed at the outpouring of support we’ve received from friends and complete strangers.

Today our campaign for the presidency ends, but our campaign to build a better and brighter America continues.

We will continue to fight for a tax code that unleashes opportunity rather than stifles it; an energy policy that ends our addiction to foreign oil; congressional term limits; education reform that prepares our kids for the 21st Century; and financial reform that protects taxpayers from future bailouts.

Over the last six months, I have seen the best of America. I’ve seen it in the spirit of our entrepreneurs, the courage of our veterans, and the unyielding optimism of our young people. I saw it in China 10,000 miles away, meeting with dissidents who had been tortured and beaten, but who drew strength from our nation’s values — our openness, our freedoms.

Half a world away, they could see America’s light. That is the power our country still represents.

I will never stop fighting for America, and I will continue to put her welfare first, ahead of any partisan or special interest.

I am unshaken in my belief that with the right leadership, we can move forward together, and ensure that America’s light shines bright for generations and generations to come.

God bless you, and God bless America.

Jon Huntsman

[Update] Romney’s response:

Boston, MA – Mitt Romney today made the following statement on Governor Jon Huntsman’s announcement:

“I salute Jon Huntsman and his wife Mary Kaye. Jon ran a spirited campaign based on unity not division, and love of country. I appreciate his friendship and support.”

by @ 11:15 am. Filed under Endorsements, Jon Huntsman, Mitt Romney

January 15, 2012

The Huntsman-Hatch Failure

The news that Governor Jon Huntsman is dropping out of the race has been pre-ordained since his failure to secure a breakthrough in the New Hampshire Primary. The Governor’s campaign as of 11:00 am tomorrow morning will exist only in the history books. Looking back, many people will be confused as to why a candidate with a unique combination of both executive and foreign policy experience failed so badly. But people shouldn’t be surprised, because this is a show we’ve seen before. In fact, it was another campaign, eerily similar to Huntsman’s that showed us what would happen to the Governor. The campaign was that of his fellow Utahan and 2000 presidential candidate Senator Orrin Hatch.

Few nowadays can remember that Senator Hatch actually ran for President, but he did. In every sense of the term it was a disaster. Hatch got in the race late (July of 1999), finished dead last in the Ames Straw Poll, ran at a lackluster, lazy pace, finished last in the Iowa Caucuses (behind John McCain who hadn’t even campaigned in the state) and dropped out the next day.

It didn’t necessarily have to be that way. In many ways, Senator Hatch could’ve been an appealing candidate. Compared to the rest of the field, the Senator had some strong attributes. His voting record was more conservative than John McCain’s. He was far more experienced in national affairs than George W. Bush, and unlike Gary Bauer, Alan Keyes or Steve Forbes he could’ve been a viable nominee.

So why did Senator Hatch fail so abysmally? Maybe it was his relatively boring speaking style. Maybe it was because he got into the race so late. Maybe it was his lack of impression during the Republican debates. Certainly all of those factors were important, but there was one very critical aspect of the Hatch campaign that crippled his campaign from the start; the very reasoning for a Hatch run was pathetically weak. Senator Hatch’s entire campaign was based on the idea that once George W. Bush faltered, Hatch would swoop in and scoop up the pieces. He would be the backup plan if Bush failed. Well, as they say the rest is history. Bush didn’t fail and Hatch got nowhere.

Which brings us back to the Jon Huntsman campaign. The Huntsman strategy was essentially the Hatch strategy reborn. Stay in the race, hope for the frontrunner to fall, and come in to replace them. It’s a strategy that’s now been proven disastrously inept for two Utahans and should serve as a lesson to future presidential candidates; if you want to succeed in the high stakes field of presidential politics, your strategy better be more than “when that guy falls apart, it’s my chance.” If anyone wants proof of that flawed idea, look no further than Orrin Hatch or Jon Huntsman.

by @ 10:32 pm. Filed under Jon Huntsman

He Chose Poorly…The Demise of Huntsman for President


Would you like to support a candidate who led fights for education and tax reform in his home state and who has a committment to the right to life that’s beyond question? That sounds like great qualifications for a Republican Primary candidate.

Jon Huntsman had this and more. I remember being impressed when I first saw him speak at a Values Voter event. Yet, despite the mainstream media pumping his name, as well as some right-leaning voices who praised for being reasonable, Huntsman lost.

Why? He could have run on his points of common ground with conservatives? He could have run on the things he’d do that would further the goals of the people he was asking to support him.

Instead, Huntsman ran a campaign whose sole appeal was to Independents living in the State of New Hampshire, relentlessly criticizing and attacking the people whose support he would need to win the nomination. He told us more about why Mitt Romney shouldn’t be President than why he should be and on the day he leaves the race, he’ll endorse Mitt Romney, which probably tells us more about the sincerity of Jon Huntsman’s campaign than he said while it was going on. The New York Times writes:

But the campaign of “civility, humanity and respect” that Mr. Huntsman promised quickly faded into the background as his Republican rivals seized the attention — and the support — of a party faithful that seemed more interested in red meat politics.

Of course, far from running a campaign of civility and respect, Huntsman ran a swarmy, sarcastic, and condescending campaign that satisfied Democrats who voted in the Republican Primary in New Hampshire, but not conservative voters. Now the media will write its obituary and place Jon Huntsman into a hallowed place in the Media Book of Reasonable Candidate Martyrs, but let us not kid ourselves, Jon Huntsman loss this campaign because he ran as a liberal.

I told friends that Huntsman’s record was far more conservative than he let on, and people brushed off because Huntsman’s record was inaudible over his overwrought attacks on conservatives. In the end, a man with an admirable record and life history made himself noxious to those he wanted to support him. He went out of his way to offend conservatives. And that’s the only thing he succeeded at.

He ran a bad campaign, and there won’t be an encore. The Huntsman won’t be reborn.


by @ 9:02 pm. Filed under Jon Huntsman

The State Newspaper Endorses Huntsman

He may be last in the polls but Governor Jon Huntsman has received the endorsement of South Carolina’s largest newspaper The State:

Mr. Huntsman is a true conservative, with a record and platform of bold economic reform straight out of the free-market bible, but he’s a realist, whose goal is likewise to get things done. Under his leadership, Utah led the nation in job creation, and the Pew Center on the States ranked it the best-managed state in the nation.

The editorial goes further to say:

We need a president who can work within our poisonous political environment to solve our nation’s problems, not simply score partisan points. Someone who understands that negotiation is essential in a representative democracy, and that there are good ideas across the political spectrum. Someone who has a well-defined set of core values but is not so rigid that he ignores new information and new conditions. Someone who has shown himself to be honest and trustworthy. And competent. Someone whose positions are well-reasoned and based on the world as it is rather than as he pretends it to be. Someone with the temperament and judgment and experience to be taken seriously as the commander in chief and leader of the free world.

We think Mr. Romney could demonstrate those characteristics. Mr. Huntsman already does. And we are proud to endorse him for the Republican nomination for president of the United States.

How influential this editorial will be, I’m not sure. But with Huntsman’s campaign in desperate need of some momentum, it certainly can’t hurt.

by @ 8:38 am. Filed under Endorsements, Jon Huntsman

January 14, 2012

Huntsman Campaign Collapsing?

BuzzFeed reports that all is not well in the Huntsman Campaign:

Huntsman Exodus Begins

Days after his third place finish in New Hampshire, some Huntsman for President staffers have already left the campaign, while others tell BuzzFeed they wish the former Utah governor would drop out so they could join Mitt Romney’s team.

One top volunteer told BuzzFeed that he was shocked Huntsman didn’t drop out on Tuesday. “I was hoping he would. I don’t want to be disloyal or anything, but he doesn’t have a chance anymore. Once he quits, then I can go work for a winning campaign.”

A current staffer echoed those sentiments, saying Huntsman should have gotten out after New Hampshire to allow those who’ve worked for him to find another job. “We’re not going to quit, but we don’t really want to keep going either.”

I’m taking this report with a grain of salt. First, there are no names mentioned. They are all anonymous. Second, if they are truly despairing and want to join another campaign, then why don’t they? What would be holding them back? Did they sign contracts for the duration? The staffers maybe, but what about the volunteers? Do volunteers have to sign a contract?

Whatever the truth is, there is little doubt that prospects do not look good for Huntsman. He is at the bottom of the pack nationally. Every poll but one since the race began has placed him below five percent. The one that didn’t pegged him at exactly five.

He placed all his eggs in the New Hampshire Primary where he lost badly. Yes, he did manage to get a third place finish there but (a) Mitt Romney more than doubled Huntsman’s votes, and (b) there are only two tickets out of New Hampshire. A distant third place does not cut it.

Now Jon has moved on to South Carolina where polls show him fighting Rick Perry for last place. Rick’s last ditch effort makes some sense as I argued in my earlier post, but Huntsman continuing on does not. He doesn’t fit South Carolina culturally or ideologically. The best he can realistically expect there is a fifth place finish in single digits. He’s not doing any better in Florida, either.

I have always said that the Huntsman campaign really didn’t make a whole lot of sense. It was a solution looking for a problem. Well, it makes even less sense now.

Yes, he’s got tons of family money to spend, but sooner or later other members of the family are going to object to him throwing all that good money down a rat hole just so that he can chase his pipe dream.
by @ 12:00 am. Filed under Jon Huntsman

January 10, 2012

Huntsman Fails to Qualify for Arizona Ballot

This is getting ridiculously embarrassing:

An underdog presidential contender fails to qualify for the primary ballot in a large, early-voting primary state, prompting questions about the candidate’s organizational prowess and ability to run a competitive campaign past January’s early nominating contests. Sound familiar?

No, it’s not Newt Gingrich in Virginia. It’s Jon Huntsman in Arizona.

Huntsman failed to qualify for Arizona’s February 28 presidential preference election after his filing paperwork — which was turned in only two hours before Monday’s 5 p.m. deadline — was rejected due to a “notary issue,” according to Secretary of State spokesman Matt Roberts. The Arizona Secretary of State’s office sent a letter to Huntsman’s campaign shortly thereafter informing them that they are “unable to certify” Huntsman as a candidate.

Huntsman’s nomination forms were ruled “incomplete” because they were “missing the candidate’s original notarized signature,” Roberts said. “We are unable to certify him because of that.”

The Republican Party is supposed to be the party of competent leadership. How are we supposed to convince the American people of that when our Presidential candidates can’t even bother to be organized or competent enough to even appear on a ballot for the job they’re seeking?

by @ 11:50 am. Filed under Jon Huntsman

First New Hampshire Results: Huntsman 2, Romney 2…

Huntmentum evident in Dixville Notch?

DIXVILLE NOTCH, N.H. – Voters in the tiny New Hampshire village famed for casting the first ballots in the nation’s first presidential primary found themselves in a tie Tuesday between Republicans Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman.

Nine ballots were cast in New Hampshire’s Dixville Notch just after midnight.

Romney and Huntsman received two votes each. Coming in second with one vote apiece were Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.

For the Democrats, President Barack Obama received three votes.

The nine residents who cast their ballots include three registered Republicans and two registered Democrats. Four other voters haven’t declared a party.

Dixville Notch is an unincorporated village in northern New Hampshire just below the Canadian border. The town clerk, Rick Erwin, said the nine registered voters make up the entire Dixville Notch population.

Full story here.

by @ 8:28 am. Filed under Jon Huntsman, Mitt Romney, New Hampshire Primary

January 8, 2012

Poll Analysis: Gallup Tracking Poll

Below you can find an article containing all the raw data from the Gallup daily tracking poll. Here, courtesy of Gallup, is the data in graphical form:

Four things are immediately obvious from the above graph:

  1. Gingich’s slide continues with no sign of bottoming out.
  2. Santorum is surging and has just taken over second place from Gingrich.
  3. Romney is also surging. He’s broken through the 30% level. His infamous 25% “ceiling” is looking more and more like a “floor” instead.
  4. Nobody else is doing much of anything. Paul has been gradually improving his numbers, but it is only a little here, a little there. There is no sign of any big movement in his direction, and he is rapidly running out of time.

If Gallup’s numbers can be trusted, it would appear that this has settled down into a four man race: Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, and Paul. If the trends shown above continue, Gingrich will drop below Paul into fourth place nationally somewhere around Tuesday’s New Hampshire Primary. With his expected poor showing in the Granite State, there is little reason to believe any sudden turnaround in his fortunes is imminent.

Another thing to note about Gingrich is that this is a big slide in his national numbers, not just his Iowan numbers. He cannot blame it on the negative ads ran in Iowa.

Poll Analysis: Suffolk Poll New Hampshire Trends *Updated*

Suffolk University has been conducting a series of daily tracking polls on the New Hampshire Primary since the first of the year. Its makes a good metric to show what has been happening in the Granite State since the voters there have become serious about voting for our nominee this year.

Here are the raw data (minus those who have dropped out):

(1/1) (1/2) (1/3) (1/4) (1/6) (1/7) (1/8)
Gingrich 11 8 9 9 7 10 9
Huntsman 9 9 10 7 7 9 11
Karger 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
Paul 15 17 16 14 18 17 20
Perry 2 2 2 1 0 1 1
Roemer 1 1 0 1 1 0 1
Romney 41 43 43 43 41 39 35
Santorum 3 3 5 6 8 9 8
Undecided 16 15 13 16 17 15 15

Here are the data for the major candidates in graphical form:

As can been seen in the chart above, not much is happening in the State of New Hampshire. Mitt Romney continues to have a commanding lead. Ron Paul continues to be second between 15 and 20 percent. Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman are having a modicum of drama determining who will end up third at just under 10%. And Rick Perry has last place sewn up at around 1%. He is down there with the minor candidates Roemer and Karger.

There is some movement to report. Mitt appears to be coming down to earth. (The result of Gingrich’s kamikaze attack, perhaps?)  Paul is creeping up to 20%, and Rick Santorum has risen from the bottom where he was once contending with Perry for last place. He is now in the next tier up where he is can be seen duking it out with Gingrich and Huntsman in a three way contest for third place.

There are now only two days left before the New Hampshire Primary. Barring any unforeseen meltdown by Mitt Romney, Mitt should still win the state. Three questions remain:

  1. How big is Mitt’s margin of victory going to be?
  2. Will anybody else manage to overtake Paul for second?
  3. What effect will the results from New Hampshire have on South Carolina only 11 days later?

*Update Note:* When I first wrote this article this morning, Suffolk had not yet released their results for today. When they did, it required some serious rewriting of the post. My apologizes to my readers for any inconvenience.

Poll Analysis: PPP Releases Their Latest South Carolina Poll

While everyone was watching the debate, PPP released their first post-Iowa poll of South Carolina. I am not going to do a separate post for that poll. Instead, I am going to combine it with the three South Carolinian polls from yesterday to try to get some picture of what’s happening in the Palmetto State.

Rasmussen ARG CNN/Time PPP Average Distance back
Romney 27 31 37 30 31.3 Leader
Santorum 24 24 19 19 21.5 -10
Gingrich 18 24 18 23 20.8 -11
Paul 11 9 12 9 10.3 -21
Perry 5 2 5 5 4.3 -27
Huntsman 2 2 1 4 2.3 -29

In common with the other polls, PPP shows Romney on top with a comfortable but not overwhelming lead.  It differs from the others, however, in that it shows Gingrich second and Santorum third — a swap from what Rasmussen and CNN/TIME show. ARG had them tied.

The combined average of all four polls shows Romney with a double digit lead with exactly two weeks to go before the primary. Santorum and Gingrich are neck and neck fighting for second place. Paul has fourth place all to himself, and Perry and Huntsman are still competing for dead last.


by @ 12:16 am. Filed under Jon Huntsman, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Poll Watch, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul

January 6, 2012

Poll Analysis:A Busy Day For Polling South Carolina

Three major polling firms released their first polls of South Carolina following the Iowa Caucuses. They were Rasmussen, ARG, and CNN/Time. Here they are side-by-side:

Rasmussen ARG CNN/Time Average Distance back
Romney 27 31 37 31.7 Leader
Santorum 24 24 19 22.3 -9
Gingrich 18 24 18 20.0 -12
Paul 11 9 12 10.7 -21
Perry 5 2 5 4.0 -28
Huntsman 3 2 1 2.0 -30

Romney starts the race for South Carolina with nearly a double digit lead. Santorum and Gingrich are battling for second place with only three points separating these two. Paul is all alone in fourth place more than twenty points behind. And vying for the Red Lantern is Perry and Huntsman — 28 pts and 30 pts respectively behind the leader.


by @ 8:41 pm. Filed under Jon Huntsman, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Poll Watch, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul

The Problem of the True Believer

Daniel Larison criticizes, rightly I think, Jay Cost’s conclusion that conservatives don’t control the Republican Party.  He writes:

It’s true that rank-and-file conservatives in the Republican Party are unrepresented or poorly represented by their national leaders on issues such as trade and immigration, and this is because it’s definitely true that the economic interests of a lot of working- and middle-class conservative Republican voters are neglected by the national party. The electoral record also shows that the relative moderate candidate tends to prevail in the presidential nominating contest, and this is happening again as anyone could have seen that it would. As Cost later acknowledges, the relative moderates eke out nomination victories because there are always so many conservative candidates splitting the much larger conservative vote, which is proof that there are often too many conservative candidates in the mix and not that self-styled conservatives don’t control the party.

There is also always a large number of movement conservative activists and pundits more than willing to embrace the relative moderate as a bold conservative leader on the grounds that he is more electable, which is how George W. Bush and Romney acquired their ill-deserved reputations as conservatives in the first place. When a field has seven reasonably competitive conservative or libertarian candidates and arguably just one moderate (counting Romney as the moderate), it’s no wonder that the one moderate comes out ahead, especially when there are more than a few movement conservatives willing to make the case for him.

But neither Cost, nor Larison, get at one of the fundamental reasons there are frequently several relatively conservative candidates: the inability of conservatives to winnow their field.  Conservatives aren’t actually over-represented in GOP fields.  In this cycle, there were 3 relative moderates (Romney, Pawlenty, and Huntsman), 4 relative conservatives (Perry, Bachmann, Santorum, and Cain) and 2 relative oddballs (Gingrich and Paul).  This is a pretty representative sample.  But the establishment has skillfully winnowed the “moderate” field down to one contestant, sending Pawlenty packing early, and ignoring Huntsman entirely.  Conservatives, however, have jumped for every single conservative and one of the oddballs.  Let me suggest 2 ways to explain this phenomenon.

1.)  The Effect of the Invisible Primary. This is essentially the race for money and endorsements.  Candidates who perform well in the invisble primary tend to have success.  So money and endorsements matter, right?  Well, yeah, but I think something more complex is going on.  Establishment candidates compete in the invisible primary- grassroots candidates don’t.  Candidates who compete in the invisible primary, and later stumble, are more likely to be weeded out.   Why should be it the case that Tim Pawlenty should drop out immediately after Ames, despite running 4 points ahead of Rick Santorum and 5 points ahead of Herman Cain?  Isn’t this a little curious?  A little odd?  Both Santorum and Cain competed at Ames, and Santorum devoted as much to the straw poll, relative to his resources, as Pawlenty did.  Sure, Pawlenty would have had a hard time getting noticed when his money dried up, but Santorum didn’t get noticed until 3 days before the first caucus and had no money at all.  And yet it was obvious to an awful lot of people that Pawlenty needed to drop out.  The invisible primary seems to function as a winnowing process for establishment candidates and the grassroots has no equivalent.

2.)  Viability. Viability does not really matter to  the grassroots.  This is not an exaggeration.  Even now, you can head over to RedState and read a dozen Erick Erickson posts since Christmas which have  A.) Called Rick Santorum a pro-life statist and B.) Admitted that Santorum was preferrable to Romney.  Presumably, though I don’t follow his every post, Erick Erickson- along with many other grassroots conservatives- is inclined to support Texas Governor Rick Perry.  Erick Erickson thinks Perry “can still win” and therefore sees his criticism of Santorum as both a good faith effort to expose someone less than ideal and a way of improving Perry’s odds of winning the nomination.  He is, along with many grassroots conservatives, a true believer.  The True Believer may have many superior qualities, but strategic thinking is not among them.

Rick Perry has now been at 5% in SC for 4 straight polls.  He has not been in double digits in South Carolina in 2 and 1/2 months.  The odds of him coming back in the state are objectively quite low and any improvement he makes is bound to come at the expense of Santorum who, the True Believer admits, is preferrable to Romney.  An establishment oriented voter would, at this juncture, abandon Perry and Gingrich, go all-in with Santorum, and hope for the best.  And indeed, establishment oriented voters have done that all year.  There will be no Huntsman surge in NH to mirror the Santorum surge in Iowa.  Establishment Republicans, concerned about electability, do not see Huntsman as viable.  Therefore Huntsman has been cheerfully ignored.  After NH he will have exited the race, while 3 more grassrootsy alternatives continue on fruitlessly.  In ’08, the establishment Giuliani, despite leading in national polls by a gazillion points for an age, was all but abandoned after December and led in just one Florida poll after NH.  Meanwhile, conservatives seemed entirely unable to choose between Romney, Fred, and Huckabee, even as McCain seemed likely to waltz to the nomination.  Establishment candidates are winnowed by the viability test while grassroots candidates are apparently encouraged to stay in forever.

There is no grand establishment conspiracy to consistently foist relatively moderate nominees on the party.  The establishment simply does a better job of winnowing out unlikely nominees, thereby allowing one establishment choice to have free roam of the field.

January 5, 2012

The Boston Globe Endorses Huntsman

From the Op-Ed:

For vision and national unity, Huntsman for GOP nominee

DISSATISFACTION WITH the economy, expressed in spasms of anger toward Wall Street and Washington; the dashed hopes of many who believed that Barack Obama’s election would create a new spirit of unity; and genuine uncertainty about Democratic health care reform – all of these have created an historic opportunity for the Republican Party. Just three years removed from a Republican administration that was roundly judged a failure, the party has a chance to renew itself – to blaze a path to bipartisan action on the budget, to introduce market-based solutions to health costs, and to construct a post-Iraq War network of alliances to promote global economic strength, knowing that true security comes from both peace and prosperity.

So far, Republican presidential contenders have shown little awareness of this opportunity. Far from promoting bipartisan unity, the GOP candidates have even abandoned Ronald Reagan’s “11th commandment” (“Though shalt not speak ill of another Republican”), shattering the party’s customary internal unity in an electric storm of name-calling and accusations. Rather than compare creative policy solutions, the candidates have vied for meaningless titles like “true conservative.’’ Rather than outline a vision for a safer world, they’ve signaled a return to Bush-era posturing and disdain for allies who don’t blindly serve American interests.


Huntsman governed Utah as a clear conservative who nonetheless put the interests of his state ahead of ideology. He delighted right-wing supporters by replacing a graduated state income tax with a flat tax. Strong economic growth put Utah in the top five in job creation during Huntsman’s tenure, while he gave tax credits to companies developing solar energy. He offered a sweeping school choice plan, and joined the Western Climate Initiative, which set goals for reducing greenhouse gases.


Without personal experience to guide him, Romney is catering to the most vocal constituencies in the national-security wing of the GOP. As in other areas, such as his Robert Bork-led advisory panel on judicial policies, Romney’s ultimate intentions aren’t clear. Is this for real? Both his supporters and detractors suspect that behind the conservative scaffolding is a data-driven moderate who will make practical compromises. But the way Romney has run his campaign, it’s impossible to tell.

Nonetheless, there is a widespread belief that Romney’s campaign, like a well-designed corporate strategy, is bound for success. But even if Romney emerges as the nominee, it matters how he gets there. Already, the religious right, represented by Rick Santorum, and Tea Party activists, represented by Ron Paul, have pushed Romney in unwanted directions. In New Hampshire, Republican and independent voters have a chance, through Huntsman, to show him a sturdier model. Jon Huntsman would be a better president. But if he fails, he could still make Romney a better candidate.

Read the full piece here.

by @ 7:06 pm. Filed under Endorsements, Jon Huntsman

January 4, 2012

Which Pollsters Nailed It? Which Failed?

With poll results all over the place in the days leading up to the Iowa caucuses yesterday, I thought it would be interesting to see how the pollsters fared in predicting the results. To be fair, a lot changed in the last week, so I’m only including pollsters who released a survey December 27th or later. In terms of average deviation from the actual results, the pollsters rank, from best to worst:


1. Insider Advantage (1/1 – 1/1) – an average deviation of 2.014 points from each candidate’s total
2. CNN/Time (12/21 – 12/27) – 2.186
3 (tie). Rasmussen (12/28 – 12/28) – 2.300
3 (tie). Des Moines Register (12/27 – 12/30) – 2.300
5. NBC/Marist (12/27 – 12/28) – 2.557
6. Public Policy Polling (12/31 – 1/1) – 2.986
7. American Research Group (12/29 – 1/1) – 3.557


What’s interesting about these results is that some of the polls that had the benefit of being taken as close to the caucus day as possible still managed to have the worst predictions (PPP and ARG). Yet, Insider Advantage made use of its last-minute advantage to provide the most accurate pre-caucus snap shot of any pollster. The much vaunted Des Moines Register poll ends up in the middle of the pack, making one wonder why it is worshiped so fervently. CNN seems to have redeemed itself this year, after its embarrassing mistake of predicting a decisive Romney win over Huckabee in 2008.

What’s also interesting is which candidates pollsters had the most trouble predicting. Here’s the list of each candidate, next to the average deviation of the seven above pollsters’s results from the final results:

Most Differed from Polling Expectations

1. Rick Santorum – final vote count had an average deviation of 8.214 points from the pollsters’ predictions
2. Mitt Romney – 2.000
3. Michele Bachmann – 2.000
4. Jon Huntsman – 1.971
5. Rick Perry – 1.386
6. Ron Paul – 1.229
7. Newt Gingrich – 1.1

Least Differed from Polling Expectations

Santorum and Romney (particularly the former) significantly outperformed expectations, while Bachmann and Huntsman underperformed, and Paul, Gingrich, and Perry came in pretty much where pollsters predicted they would. This is undoubtedly due to Bachmann and Huntsman supporters knowing that their candidates didn’t stand a chance and deciding to shift their support to Santorum and Romney (probably mostly from Huntsman to Romney, and from Bachmann to Santorum), combined with a lot of undecideds breaking for a surging Santorum at the last moment. Santorum isn’t going to play nearly as well in New Hampshire as he did in Iowa however, opening up the door for a potential Santorum-like surge from Ron Paul or Jon Huntsman at the last minute in the Granite State. Romney’s final vote tally in New Hampshire will probably be a little more cozy with the polling predictions as well. He is unlikely to get a late break of a lot of undecideds, since he is such a well known quantity in New Hampshire and most people there have made up their minds on him one way or another. Can such a thing happen? Apparently, we ought to keep our eye particularly on Insider Advantage, CNN, and Rasmussen polls in the coming days for the answer.

December 30, 2011

Iowa May Decide Very Little

One of our regular commenters, Matt “MWS” wrote on another thread (emphasis added):

… There are three brackets in this tourney. The Not Mitt bracket is Santorum, Perry, Bachmann, and Newt. The Not Not Mitt bracket is Mitt and J-Hunt. Paul is his own bracket, and not really in the Tourney.

So naturally, all the Not Mitt candidates have to eliminate each other to advance to the finals. J-Hunt, however, is the only one who has to eliminate Mitt to advance to the finals. But nobody’s really paying attention to him.

I suspect Iowa will pretty well settle the Not Mitt bracket. Then you will see more direct attacks on Mitt. If the Not Mitt bracket is still muddled after Iowa, that’s definitely good for Romney. In that case, South Carolina will settle the Not Mitt bracket.

The Not Not Mitt bracket will be settled in New Hampshire. Jon is almost out of time. He pretty well needs a hail mary, a two point conversion, an on-side kick, and a field goal to win that- all in the last two minutes.

Barring a last second Mitt Meltdown, Romney appears to have New Hampshire well and comfortably in the bag thus eliminating Huntsman. However, looking at the last minute Iowa polls we’ve been seeing, it is possible that Santorum, Perry, and Newt could end up being in a virtual three-way tie next Tuesday. Michele Bachmann would be out, but what then?

Santorum is handicapped by having little money and even less organization outside of Iowa. If he wants to continue past Iowa, nothing short of a first place finish in the Not Mitt race there will do. His latest surge suggests he might just do it. Unfortunately, he is going to have to do far better than just finishing ahead of Perry and Gingrich if he wants the Not Mitt bracket all to himself. He is going to have to crush the other two. Perry has money and organization with which to continue. Newt might not have large amounts of money and much of an organization, but he currently has a nice double digit lead in South Carolina. He’s not going to give that up without a fight. Nothing short of a solid repudiation by the Iowan voters would induce Perry and Newt to concede the field to Santorum after Iowa, and the latest polling doesn’t support that scenario at all.

So expect at least two, probably even three Not Mitts to continue on to South Carolina. The state should then determine the final outcome of the Not Mitt bracket, but by then it might be too late. With the split in the Not Mitt vote, it’s very possible that Romney might sweep the first three contests entirely. If he manages to do that, trying to deny him the nomination would become a near Herculean task.

December 29, 2011

Why Is No One Attacking Mitt?

Alex Roarty asks an interesting question over on the National Journal site:

Why Is No One Attacking Romney?

Mitt Romney’s confidence is brimming. The former governor, now widely seen as the favorite to win Iowa, announced Wednesday he’ll stay in the Hawkeye State the night of the caucus, a clear indication he anticipates a good result. If he does capture Iowa, he’ll head into New Hampshire, long his political stronghold, with a chance to become the first non-incumbent GOP presidential candidate ever to win the first two primary contests – a back-to-back triumph that would all but secure the nomination.

So, naturally, his Republican rivals have spent the last week castigating him on the trail and eviscerating him on TV, all in a desperate attempt to slow down his momentum and keep their own campaigns viable. Right? No – they’ve nearly done the opposite.

As they [the others] form a circular firing squad, Romney stepped back. Rather than engage his GOP opponents, as he’s done most of his campaign, he’s focused almost entirely on his No. 1 target, President Obama.

It’s really not that hard to understand what is happening. Mitt Romney primarily occupies the “Competent Executive” niche. His supporters have been loyal to him for years. Unless another candidate can convince Mitt’s supporters that he is the more competent executive, they are not going to defect easily.

One that could conceivably compete with Mitt in that niche is Rick Perry. Or maybe I should have said was Rick Perry. While it is true that he’s had a fairly successful run of 12 years as Texas Governor, the history so far of this campaign hasn’t exactly shown off his superior executive skills. Quite the opposite, in fact. First he leaped into this campaign with much fanfare, but it quickly became obvious that he has done little to no preparation. Competent executives do not initiate major undertakings without first thoroughly preparing for it. Rick seemed genuinely surprised when he discovered the party wasn’t going to just hand the nomination to him because he asked for it. He was going to have to earn it.

And then there was that Virginia ballot fiasco… .

Is there any wonder why Perry seems to be de-emphasizing the “Competent Executive” angle as of late and instead has been shooting for the “God’s Candidate” crowd?

And if not Perry, who? Newt Gingrich perhaps? Newt’s last real executive job as Speaker of the House saw him getting kicked out on his ear. He has done little since then to prove that his executive skills have improved much.  It’s been quite the opposite, actually. He took that Greek vacation right in the middle of last summer’s fundraising and organizing season. His whole campaign staff then quit in disgust.

And then there was that Virginia ballot fiasco… .

Huntsman, maybe? Perhaps, but as I’ve stated many times before, Jon is a solution looking for a problem. He has yet to articulate any real compelling reason to vote for him other than the fact that he’s not Romney.

And he didn’t even try to get on that Virginia ballot… .

No, Mitt’s core niche is quite safe from poachers. This forces the other candidates to look elsewhere for supporters to win over.They must attack each other and pretty much leave Mitt out of it. Unfortunately for them, squabbling amongst themselves and calling each other names allows Mitt to rise above it all and act Presidential. It makes him appear as the only adult in the room. Concerned voters wanting to defeat Obama next fall see this and then gravitate towards Mitt’s banner.

So Mr. Roarty, THAT is why no one is attacking Romney. There are no other “Competent Executive” types to compete with him. Pawlenty dropped out, and Huckabee, Daniels, Christie, Jindal and Barbour declined to run. That leaves just Mitt Romney to claim that niche.

by @ 9:21 pm. Filed under Barack Obama, Iowa Caucuses, Jon Huntsman, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry

December 28, 2011


It has been quite a race since Inauguration Day 2009, the day of the first monthly power rankings that have chronicled the 2012 race for the Republican nomination. The field has changed pretty dramatically since then, with a few names still in the fight and a few unexpected twists and turns along the way. So with less than a week to go before the first votes are cast, I give you the final pre-vote power rankings of the 2012 race.

Gov. Mitt Romney began this race several years ago as the frontrunner by default, and as candidates have come and gone, the former Massachusetts governor has been the one steadfast, consistent contender in the field. That steadiness has Mr. Romney poised to win the Republican nomination, even securing an early knockout, which seemed unlikely just a few weeks ago. Gov. Romney continues to be the best organized, best funded, and most disciplined candidate, and those attributes are paying dividends as the voting nears. Romney has pushed back successfully against the surge of former Speaker Newt Gingrich, deflating the Gingrich bubble and positioning himself for a stunning Iowa victory. Gov. Romney also continues to lead by a wide margin in New Hampshire, with no signs of stumbling or weakening. And as he has throughout the campaign, Gov. Romney continues to rack up major endorsements, the latest being the that of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. If current trends hold up, then Gov. Mitt Romney could be well on his way to the nomination in just a matter of days.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul has defied expectations since he first reentered presidential politics in 2008. The libertarian stalwart has seen a steady rise in support throughout the campaign despite being ignored by both the national press and the political establishment. But whatever they may think in Washington and New York, around the country Paul’s movement is real and passionate. The long time congressman seems well positioned for a victory in the Iowa Caucuses, something his detractors has said will hurt Iowa more than help Paul. But that arrogance only fuels the Paul supporters to work that much harder, and it is easy to see Paul finishing a respectable second place in this race when all is said and done. Considering what people thought of Ron Paul just four years ago, when a desperate Rudy Giuliani was aiming to score cheap points at the congressman’s expense, it is a remarkable achievement.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is on the verge of duplicating a pattern he has mastered throughout his political career; amazing rise followed by spectacular crash. The Speaker’s campaign took off like a rocket several weeks ago, and the Georgia congressman seemed poised to unite the anti-Romney factions in the conservative base. But the Speaker’s infamous lack of discipline, which has lead not only to verbal gaffes but organizational blunders, has left his numbers spiraling downwards. Without the money to conduct an air campaign, and without the boots on the ground to complete simple tasks like qualifying for ballot access, Newt Gingrich seems ready to end his political career with one final fall.

Gov. Rick Perry has dominated the airwaves in Iowa for the past several weeks, working extremely hard to stitch together the Huckabee coaltion on 2008. Perry has made right wing social issues the crux of his Iowa push, centering his appeal to voters on a reinstatement of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and changing his position on rape/incest exceptions for abortion. So far, the air campaign seems to have gained little traction, as the governor’s early blunders has proven too severe for his ad campaign to repair. Still, the Texan has resources he can rely on to get past Iowa, and if the trio of Gingrich/Santorum/Bachmann doesn’t make the cut, he could aim for one final push in South Carolina.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has been racking up some impressive Iowa endorsements, and his old school work ethic in the state has positioned the former senator for an expectations-busting finish in the caucuses. Still, Santorum’s campaign lacks the resources to go much further, especially if his Iowa hard work doesn’t pay off.

Rep. Michele Bachmann finds herself in the same position as Sen. Santorum, needing shock and awe in Iowa to propel her campaign back to relevancy. Despite her struggles with personnel and resources, the congresswoman has excelled in her most recent debates and has come out strong in her confrontations with other candidates. She will need those performances to pay dividends on caucus night if she wants to survive past next Tuesday.

Gov. Jon Huntsman has made New Hampshire the begin all, end all of his campaign. At the moment, it seems that this strategy has failed, with Gov. Romney holding a commanding lead in the state. However, should Gov. Romney win in Iowa, Gov. Hunstman could play on New Hampshire’s prideful desire not to rubber stamp Iowa’s decision and make one last push for a McCain-style mutiny.

On to the rankings:

1. Mitt Romney
2. Ron Paul
3. Newt Gingrich
4. Rick Santorum
5. Rick Perry
6. Jon Huntsman
7. Michele Bachmann

VP Watch: 1. Marco Rubio 2. Chris Christie 3. Bob McDonnell 4. John Thune 5. Bobby Jindal

December 26, 2011

Poll Watch: Gallup “Intensity” Poll

Gallup recently completed a poll where they measured the “positive intensity” of the various candidates. The details can be found here. How this differs from the usual “favorables”, I’m not sure, but here are the results:

First, Positive Intensity Ratings among Republican and Democrats:

Rep Dem
Gingrich 14 -37
Romney 12 -12
Santorum 11 -24
Paul 6 -8
Bachmann 2 -34
Perry 1 -32
Huntsman 0 -4
Obama -50 27

Gingrich, Romney, and Santorum all three elicit very close to the same level of positive intensity among Republicans. Bachmann, Perry and Huntsman elicit very little. Paul is right in the middle. The big number is Obama’s. The President has a negative intensity rating of -50. That is more than all the Republican candidates’ positive ratings combined!


The Executive Power of the United States

The President of the United States wears many hats, holds many titles, and assumes many roles. Among others, he is:

  • Head of State
  • Commander in Chief
  • Chief Diplomat
  • Chief Legislator
  • etc. …

But the very first role mentioned in the Constitution is Chief Executive, sometimes referred to as Head of Government. Article 2, section 1 (the section that deals with the Presidency) begins:

The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.

It is the most fundamental job of the President, seeing that things get done. It is his chief responsibility.

There is a tendency sometimes for voters to romanticize the office. They see the glamour, the speeches, the rides in Air Force One, the presidential motorcades, the pomp and flourishes of presidential visits, the 21-gun salutes, the bands, the streamers, etc. They seldom envision the grinding day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month work that goes along with the job. All the problems and issues dealing with the Government and the country end up on his desk. He is the person ultimately responsible to answer them. Harry Truman famously said, “The buck stops here”.

That is one of the primary reasons Mitt Romney supporters are so enamored with the man. It is obvious to even the most casual observer that he is the candidate in 2012 election on both sides of the aisle with the best qualities, skills, talents, experience, and temperament to be a truly effective Chief Executive Officer of the United States. As if to drive home the point, we have the recent fiasco in Virginia to consider.

Virginia has some of the toughest laws in the country dealing with primary ballot registration. To get on the ballot, a candidate must gather a minimum of 10,000 valid signatures state-wide. These signatures may not be purely collected at random, either. There must be at least 400 valid signatures collected from each Congressional district. One nice thing is if a candidate gathers at least 15,000 signatures, he is assumed to be qualified.

How difficult is it to qualify for the ballot? Well, let’s put it this way. In 2008, the Democrats had six people who qualified for the primary ballot. So did the Republicans. The Republican ballot included Mike Huckabee, who at the time had little money and even less organization. It included Fred Thomson, who got in late, and who seemed to have a real distaste for anything dealing with actual campaigning. Those guys made it onto the ballot in Virginia. So if they could do it, the bar can’t be all that high. One would expect any reasonably competent campaign to be up to the task.

This year, only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul made it. Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Santorum only put in token efforts if that. Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich procrastinated to the last moment, and then made a mad scramble to collect the required signatures.

How badly did Perry and Gingrich do? The following was taken from the Right Speak comment section (emphasis added):

My youngest daughter is the political director for VA Lt Gov Bill Bolling, who is Romney’s campaign chairman for VA, as he was in 2008. As such, we were receiving a constant twitter stream of yesterday’s events. And it was a story of complete incompetence. The Perry and Gingrich campaigns submitted between 40 and 50% of their collected signatures in an invalid format. (invalid forms, no addresses, no notary, wrong counties, not registered voters, non-qualified solicitors, etc.) No wonder Newt thinks he can now mount a vigorous write-in campaign, which is prohibited in a primary.


December 23, 2011

Perry Did Not Qualify in Virginia

From the Washington Examiner:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry failed to get on Virginia’s presidential primary ballot after the state Republican Party determined Friday that he didn’t submit at least 10,000 valid signatures. The GOP earlier announced former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul will be on the ballot.

An announcement from the party on former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s petitions is expected Friday evening.

The state GOP verified Friday that Romney and Paul turned in petitions with enough valid signatures, including 400 from each of Virginia’s 11 congressional districts, to get their names on the March 6 primary ballot.

Perry submitted 11,911 signatures to Virginia election officials Thursday, which means 2,000 or more signatures were deemed invalid. Gingrich had about 800 fewer signatures than Perry so there’s no guarantee he would meet the 10,000-name threshold.

The rest of the field — former Sen. Rick Santorum, Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman — failed to file petitions by Thursday’s deadline and won’t be on the ballot. The Democratic Party of Virginia certified President Obama’s petitions, which included more than 15,000 signatures, Friday.

So far the only sure names are Ron Paul and Mitt Romney. Gingrich submitted 800 fewer signatures than Perry, so he is definitely shaky.

One ironic note of interest: I am informed that Mark Levin is a resident of Virginia. If Gingrich doesn’t make it on the ballot, that means Mr. Levin  has to vote for either Paul or Romney in his primary.

by @ 7:27 pm. Filed under Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Ron Paul

December 22, 2011

Bachmann, Huntsman, Santorum Will Not Be on Virginia Ballot

The esteemed Larry Sabato brings the official word via Twitter:


Bachmann, Huntsman, Santorum fail to make Virginia GOP ballot (March 6).

2 minutes ago via web

Feel free to mock and disregard these candidates from here on out.

UPDATE: Sabato follows up with this tweet: “As difficult as VA qualifying is, I can’t take seriously any POTUS campaign failing to get on 12th largest state ballot.” I agree.

by @ 4:19 pm. Filed under Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, Primary & Caucus Dates, Rick Santorum

All Eyes on Virginia (Gingrich May Make It, Three Others May Not)

Because they have arguably the most difficult ballot access laws in the country, all eyes are on the state of Virginia today. The filing deadline for the March 6 primary is the end of business today, and to get on the ballot candidates must have secured over 10,000 voter signatures (including at least 400 from each of the 11 congressional districts across the state).

Yesterday, Gingrich abruptly left Iowa to travel to Virginia in order to launch a massive signature collection effort. Derided for his lack of organization, his campaign scrambled at the last minute — offering staffers $1 for every signature they collected and doing huge numbers of robocalls across the state (many for events that were already in progress or already over). In the end, however, the efforts worked and Gingrich turned in petitions with 12,000 signatures today. (For comparison sake, Romney turned in petitions with over 16,000 signatures earlier in the week.)

Gingrich still may or may not make it on the ballot — at least 10,000 of those signatures have to be proven valid, and there has to be at least 400 from each district — but he appears safe for the moment.

Other candidates may not be as lucky, though… rumors are swirling that at least three other candidates are not going to get the 10,000 signatures by the end of the day: Huntsman, Bachmann, and Santorum.

Of course, the effect this has on the race is debatable — it would be surprising if any of those three candidates are still in the race come March 6. What it does show, however, is the importance of campaign organization. Mistakes such as this led to more negative press for Gingrich at a time he could hardly afford it, and now today the negative stories about Huntsman, Bachmann, and Santorum will stunt any momentum they may have had heading into the Christmas season as well (not to mention the cost to the campaigns of ignoring Iowa while they focus on Virginia this late in the game).

by @ 10:52 am. Filed under Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Rumor Mill

December 19, 2011

PPP Poll Analysis. The Anatomy of a Collapse

PPP came out today with their latest Iowa Caucus poll. It shows a major collapse in Newt Gingrich’s poll numbers.

The full results were previously reported here on Race4. This article will only deal with the top-line numbers for the last two weeks.

First, here is the tabulated data for the past two weeks:

(PPP Iowa) (12/5) (12/13) (12/18)
Paul 18 21 23
Romney 16 16 20
Gingrich 27 22 14
Bachmann 13 11 10
Perry 9 9 10
Santorum 6 8 10
Other/Undec 7 7 7
Huntsman 4 5 4
Johnson 1 1 2

Here is the same data in graphical form:

Several things are obvious:

  1. Newt Gingrich’s lead has utterly collapsed. He has gone from a +9 lead over Ron Paul to being -9 in back of him — a minus 18 point swing in less than two weeks. Ouch!
  2. Ron Paul and Mitt Romney are moving up together with Paul currently in the lead.
  3. Rick Santorum is the only other candidate with any significant movement, going from six points to ten points in a two week span.

With only two weeks to go to the caucus and with Paul and Romney moving up in the polls, it will most likely be Paul and Romney on top. They are in the lead, and they have the most loyal supporters of any candidate. It’s a pretty safe bet that one or the other will take first, the other second. So the question becomes, who will take third place?

There is an old adage in national presidential politics. Three tickets out of Iowa. Two tickets out of New Hampshire. If Gingrich has another week or two like these past two, he will be very lucky to hang on to that third Iowan ticket. Santorum is having a strong rise and is within easy striking distance of our former Speaker of the House. More importantly, Rick’s momentum is positive. Newt’s is all negative. In fact, there are three candidates — Bachmann, Perry, AND Santorum — that are within an easy four points of Gingrich. And they are all actively campaigning in Iowa while Newt catches some R&R in the next week.

Newt is in serious danger of becoming just a footnote in Iowa. He could easily finish fifth, even sixth. If that happens, he will have a bear of a time trying to turn his campaign around.

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