Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Quick Romney Thoughts

It’s an impressive victory, and a landslide among Republicans. Romney swept the conservatives and those who support President Bush. McCain did particularly well among those angry with the president. Romney’s perceived competence when it comes to economic matters helped him a lot. But he also did very well among socially conservative voters--including evangelicals and observant Catholics. Huck only prevailed among the very socially conservative, the very religious observant, and younger evangelicals. Huck’s showing was unimpressive but not devastating. Most troubling for his future was his poor showing among Catholics. Most troubling for McCain’s might be his poor showing among believers of any sort. Both Huck and McCain now have to win in SC. The "no-mo" scenario is becoming more credible. If Fred really were to win in SC, it’s barely but really possible that would allow Giuliani to sneak ahead once agin in FL. But if I could get the right odds, I’d put some money on Romney in SC. That’s not to say I have any real idea who’s going to win there, and I respect those who say it’s still going to be Huck. I just think Mitt has a chance now.

Huck probably won’t succeed in pushing the point that he was the first with the economic message that’s suddenly become fashionable; he certainly didn’t get the message out in Michigan. McCain can’t get away with just campaigning on patriotism and the surge, and he has to be credible on some domestic policy besides cutting spending. Romney was strengthened by his persistence and ingenuity in the face of adversity. The screen test for each candidates rightly continues, because none of them has really earned the part yet.

Discussions - 12 Comments

This victory is a HUGE setback for the McCain campaign.

I've said for the last week that talk radio was going to turn on McCain with a vengeance and a will, and they have, and McCain's momentum hasn't just been stopped, I think that we may have already seen the high-water moment for the McCain campaign.

He was climbing up in other states, but his loss tonight will stop that climb, and see his numbers began to fall a bit. Which will bring Rudy back into the race.

This Romney victory is a healthy development, for it prevents idiosyncratics from Iowa and New Hampshire deciding the GOP primary battle.

Let's see if Huck can win South Carolina before pronouncing on the future prospects of his campaign. If the first Southern state rejects Huckabee, then it's not likely "a solid South" will line up behind him.

And Peter, a fractured field helps the Giuliani campaign. It's playing out almost exactly as the Rudy campaign hoped. And if he takes Florida, which looks increasingly possible now, Rudy is going to be BACK in a big way in this race. For he'll follow up his Florida victory with victories in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York on Super Tuesday. And if he wins Florida, he'll have the last bounce before Super Tuesday, so he should be able to take Delaware and California too.

If Rudy wins Florida, Iowa and New Hampshire will appear so yesteryear. BUT he has to win Florida first.

Dan, good analysis. One thing I didn't see in your scenario is a Romney win in SC. Where, in your opinion, would that put Guiliani?

I can't put my finger on it, but I sense that, for the moment anyway, the Mormon issue is off the table for Romney. By comparison to Huckabee's overt religiosity, Romney's Mormonism pales as a dividing issue. Again, for the moment. It'll come back if he looks to take the nomination.

Well I didn't think Romney would go to South Carolina. It looks like Romney is trying to follow up a Michigan victory with a Nevada victory, foregoing competing in SC.

The Mormon issue has dropped off the table because of the panic stirred up by the prospect of John McCain closing in on the nomination. He had to be stopped, and Romney was the guy to do it.

I don't think Huckabee is deliberately trying to divide anybody. I think he's simply playing to his base, somewhat hoping that the rest of the party fractures between Romney, Thompson, Giuliani and McCain. It's not so much an attempt at dividing per se, as it is taking what the political situation presents. The field is fracturing. Huckabee would have liked to take Michigan, but without the money, it would have been difficult. He's still there; he'll get to participate in the debates, and he has a chance to show what he has to offer.

The major candidates have all won a race, EXCEPT Thompson and Giuliani. So they had better win before Super Tuesday, or Super Tuesday won't be "super" for them.

IF Romney were to take SC and Nevada, then I think that would boot Thompson from the race, and leave McCain in a very difficult position. That assumes of course that Giuliani still takes Florida.

The results of SC and Nevada will make McCain's "comeback" in NH seem decades ago. Especially if Rudy wins Florida.

The other thing is money, who has it, who can get it, and how quick. Iowa, NH and Michigan devoured a good chunk of the money the candidates have raised. I wouldn't want to go into Super Tuesday with my last win being Iowa or New Hampshire. If Huckabee and McCain don't win something between now and Super Tuesday, they'll appear stumbling into Super Tuesday, while Romney and Giuliani appear gathering steam and force. But that again assumes Giuliani wins Florida. McCain has a difficult decision to make, does he throw resources into SC or Florida. Take on Huckabee, or take on Giuliani. I don't think he has the money to do both. But supposedly his wife is rich too. So maybe she'll arrange a loan or something. BUT money is VERY important right now.

McCain did particularly well among those angry with the president.

Yes. What's with that? McCain seems to be an odd person to lead the anti-establishment charge. He and Bush are the two most in sync out of all the candidates.

Since Dan is still selling Giuliani, a few observations and questions.

So far Giulinai has managed a 3% finish in Iowa, followed by a 9% in New Hampshire, and another 3% in Michigan. He has received fewer votes than Ron Paul overall, even though two of these states had open primaries which allowed independents and Democrats to vote.

He is currently polling at about 4% in South Carolina.

It seems pretty clear that outside a few very blue states, Rudy has no hold whatsoever on Republican voters, or voters of any sort.

That brings me to the questions. Given his obvious lack of appeal to voters around the country, why should the GOP even consider nominating him?

That lack of appeal is based on some troubling things in his record, both personal and political. Even assuming a large block of voters were inclined to nominate him, why would it be anything other than imprudent for the GOP to do so?

John, gotta agree completely with your last post.

Wait till Florida. Why the rush to pronounce final sentence on Rudy Giuliani. It wasn't a good idea to pronounce final sentence on Romney after New Hampshire, and it makes less sense to pronounce final sense on Giuliani before Florida.

If the poll numbers aforementioned hold up in Florida, then Giuliani is truly done.

As for Giuliani's "lack of appeal outside of [the] Blue states," it shouldn't be forgot that up till November and early December, Giuliani LEAD in South Carolina and also LEAD in Michigan. Furthermore, who was the nationwide leader in the polling throughout most of last year, .............. that was Giuliani. So the suggestion that Giuliani doesn't travel well outside of the Northeast doesn't square with the polling results from much of last year. Moreover, it's not just nationwide polling results that belie the suggestion that Giuliani doesn't travel well, but state polling results, and states SOUTH of the Mason Dixon and states WEST of the Mississippi.

IF, this is a big "if," but if Florida goes for Giuliani, and Florida is a winner take all state, Giuliani will have the last big bounce right before Super Tuesday. Which means the Giuliani story line will dominate media coverage just before Super Tuesday. The story line will be Giuliani survives near death experience, weathers a political storm, stands up under the best blow of his opponents, and is now positioned to land his own blows on Super Tuesday. So far, so far mind you, IT'S GIULIANI who has withstood the best shot of his political opponents, {it should be noted that right now the same can be said for Romney, for it was Romney who went all out for Iowa and New Hampshire, lost both states, but still went on to win Michigan and thwart a surge of momentum for McCain}. So if Giuliani wins Florida, let's see who can stand the pounding that the Giuliani campaign might deliver after such a win on Super Tuesday. That will prove interesting indeed.

I've made this point before to Peter, but it bears repeating, the fact that Iowa went for the quasi-identity politician Huckabee, VALIDATES Giuliani's decision not to blow millions for a state that he could never win. And the fact that New Hampshire was a battle between McCain, {who won by 20 points 8 years ago} and a Governor that dominated New Hampshire's air waves, {Romney} tells us almost NOTHING about Giuliani's appeal. New Hampshire was UNIQUELY suited for and responsive to both the McCain and Romney campaigns. What chance did Giuliani have there? And how many millions would it have cost Giuliani to have competed there?

This is a question I asked myself last night. And JOHN referenced it. Why were Giuliani's numbers so low in Iowa, New Hampshire and Michigan. I've been puzzled about that too, and last night it occurred to me that voters might want a voice in who actually wins the thing. So if a Thompson or a Giuliani aren't really in play, voters aren't going to register a meaningless vote. They'll decide between the frontrunners, and register a vote between them. We'll see come Florida.

Florida is January 29th, and Giuliani has been battling hard to take that state. His numbers have held firm, at least so far, DESPITE his losses elsewhere and despite him not being part of the Iowa and New Hampshire narrative.

It doesn't make sense to suggest that Giuliani can't take states that he's held leads in throughout most of last year. It doesn't make sense to suggest that Giuliani will blow apart the GOP coalition, when Giuliani has been the national leader in the polls for most of last year. And we're not talking 4 or 5 months here, but we're talking holding commanding leads up till late November.

If Giuliani goes into Super Tuesday with some wind at his back, such as a Florida win would provide, he'll take those states I listed earlier, and he'll probably take California. Which will place him in a very strong position for the nomination.

I for one am not unduly worried about the Huckabee candidacy, I think it's a healthy development. The Huckabee candidacy gives a certain social wing in our party a chance to speak to the rest of the party, it also provides a shot across the bow to the establishment of the party. The Bush wing has played the base, mocked the base, ridiculed the base, all the while relying upon the votes of that base to earn high office and gain power. THAT'S UNHEALTHY. THAT'S A RECIPE FOR LONG TERM DECLINE.

We need a party where each wing RESPECTS the other wings of the party. The Bush years have witnessed first a diminishment in that respect, then out and out collapse. AND it's all one way. The establishment mocking and ridiculing the base of the party. Huckabee is the response. Now Huckabee can't win, and won't win. BUT Huckabee can introduce a salutary fear in the establishment, and they'll not be so eager to demonstrate a lack of respect for the base as we've seen of late. And that's a good thing, a very good thing.

Thank you, Dan, for that very thoughtful and moderate and considered analysis. I think there is much to it. For what it's worth, my sister who lives in South Carolina and is a Giuliani supporter, is planning to cast her vote for Thompson on Saturday. She doesn't want to throw away her vote with a meaningless protest for Giuliani when he can't win. So she's looked at the field and tried to discover what would be the best possible outcome for her preferred candidate. I know pollsters will tell you that most people don't vote like political scientists and that they're more inclined to go with their gut than think things through in this way . . . but that may be selling the people short. People today are far more sophisticated about (and interested in!) politics than many are inclined to give them credit for being. It may actually be true that Giuliani did poorly in these initial primaries because his supporters were making exactly the kind of calculation Dan suggests and that my sister, in fact, is making. For my part, I think anything that prolongs the nomination process on the Republican side is a boon to our party and its chances in November. The longer that remains the narrative and the focal point of political excitement in the press (beyond the coronation of a Democratic contender) the better for our side.

As for Giuliani's "lack of appeal outside of [the] Blue states," it shouldn't be forgot that up till November and early December, Giuliani LEAD in South Carolina and also LEAD in Michigan. Furthermore, who was the nationwide leader in the polling throughout most of last year, .............. that was Giuliani. So the suggestion that Giuliani doesn't travel well outside of the Northeast doesn't square with the polling results from much of last year.

Dan, if you really don't see the problem with that, I can't help you. Last year he was living on his name recognition and the afterglow of 911. As the voters start to look closely at him his support falls apart.

He is a very regional candate, a blue state candidate. But assuming for the moment that the blue states can nominate him, who will elect him in the general? NY? CA? NJ?

It is a very bad idea for blue state Republicans to try to push a candidate that the red state Republicans cannot support. It opens the door to a blowout defeat.

It doesn't make sense to suggest that Giuliani can't take states that he's held leads in throughout most of last year. It doesn't make sense to suggest that Giuliani will blow apart the GOP coalition, when Giuliani has been the national leader in the polls for most of last year.

Giuliani only held leads in all these states because the voters were not paying attention. When they do pay attention, close to voting time, they desert him in droves.

Of course Giuliani will blow apart the coalition. He has already done so. The rise of Huckabee is a regrettable but understandable reaction to Giuliani's seeming sweep to victory last year. The right-to-life people were never going to and will never put up with that. The gun rights people will also not support him. Nor the immigration hawks. And possibly not the judical conservatives. Even his appeal to fiscal cons is suspect.

John, I'm quite well aware of the current poll numbers, as well as the actual results of Iowa, New Hampshire and Michigan.

Additionally, I'm aware of the threats of men like James Dobson concerning Giuliani, and I'd call their bluff in a heartbeat. First off it's unwise to allow such men to ever have the idea that they have veto power over the GOP nominee, but beyond that, men like Dobson have a SERIOUS image issue. To let spread the notion that guys like him have veto power is to destroy whatever credibility the GOP has with the wider electorate.

America does not want men like Franklin Graham, John Hagee, Jerry Falwell and Dobson picking the GOP nominee. Their views should inform the selection of the nominee, BUT not dictate it. And Dobson is effectively trying to dictate the choice of the party, and for that reason alone he ought to be rebuked out of hand.

It is not for him, nor men like him, to declare Rudy Giuliani beyond the Pale of Settlement. The idea is outrageous, insulting and manifestly offensive. It is the prerogative of the party, and the party members to select their nominee, and if that man is Rudy Giuliani, so be it!

But much of this is unnecessary right now. Florida will decide on January 29th. And then we'll know.

How Can any conservative vote for Romney?

He was listed as one of the top ten Republicans in Name Only by Human Events Magazine.

What will he be after the primary?

And would he be another George Bush if he gets elected?

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