Yesterday, on our podcast, Dale, Michael and I talked for quite some time about the significance of Newt Gingrich’s win in South Carolina.
Does it foretell a Gingrich nomination? Probably not … or at least not necessarily. What it may signal, more than anything, is that the GOP voter doesn’t want some timid nominee who is mostly in a prevent defense mode. Or Mitt Romney as he has presently evolved.
I was under the mistaken impression that the interminable debates were really not having much of an effect. The South Carolina debates and results changed that impression for me pretty dramatically.
What Gingrich accomplished, with those two debates, was electorally remarkable. He literally changed the course of a primary that all the polls told us was Romney’s – and pretty comfortably too.
The big question though is what does it all mean? After all there are many ways to interpret this primary result.
Perhaps the biggest take-away may be that voters want a fighter. They’re tired of the apologies for what they believe. They want someone who is, as Michael described Newt, “unapologetic” about their conservatism.
The question that then follows is, does that mean they want Newt?
That’s actually a complicated question. Gingrich certainly was the choice in South Carolina after his “unapologetic” debate performances. But, per the polls, he wasn’t their choice prior to them. So has Newt suddenly become acceptable as a candidate or was it primary voters really expressing their dissatisfaction with the rest of the field and using Newt as their surrogate example of why?
I frankly think it is the latter. Quin Hillyer described Newt as the “Bill Clinton of the right, half the charm and twice the abrasiveness”.
If you’ve at all followed Newt Gingrich’s career you understand the truth of HIllyer’s description. Gingrich is, in political terms, a human hand grenade. In his previous life as a minority member of Congress, he was a designated bomb thrower. He has, many times in his career, managed to insert his foot in his mouth to such a depth that he’s killed the impetus of whatever good thing he had going at the time.
However, in the South Carolina debates, he said what many conservatives have been longing to hear said. And he also did something that conservatives love – he smacked the mainstream media, not once but twice.
But is that enough to carry him through the nomination process to victory? That’s the pregnant question. Will voters tire of him quickly? Will Romney again reinvent himself as a fighter for conservative values?
One of the theories out there is that voters have factored Newt’s baggage into their calculations about the man and have decided, the hell with it. But Conn Carroll reminds us that for the most part, ‘America hates Newt Gingrich’. His negatives far outweigh his positives and he runs poorly against Obama.
Of course, he was running poorly against Romney in South Carolina until a few days ago.
The other question about Gingrich is can he manage to discipline himself enough to somehow avoid doing or saying something which would doom his run for the nomination and/or his candidacy should he win the nomination? My guess is, if there was a betting line established on that question, the odds wouldn’t favor Newt at all.
Finally, there’s the question of how the big middle – the independent voter – will react to Newt. While he may, at least for the moment, satisfy conservative voters, they won’t win the election for the right. The premise of the Romney campaign, at least viewed from here, is that their primary goal must be to woo indies because, in their calculation, conservative voters will eventually come into the fold when it is clear that Romney is the inevitable nominee.
I don’t think that calculation is necessarily wrong, but it is very unattractive to conservative voters. And what the Romney team doesn’t seem to understand is that these primaries, unlike the general election, are where political activists and conservatives are much more likely to show up than independent voters. And, of course, if you can’t get past the primaries, how acceptable you’ve made yourself to indies is really a moot point, isn’t it?
So Florida just became a lot more interesting. As did the debates that are going to happen in the state. We should see at least some of the questions I’ve posed answered there, or at least be given a hint as to their eventual answer.
Is Newt the one or will he eventually bomb. And will we see plastic fantastic Mitt Romney reinvent himself yet again in an attempt to defuse the Newtron bomb?
All this and more, coming to a state near you soon.
As expected, and as polls indicated would happen, Mitt Romney won the New Hampshire primary. And he did more than win, he pretty much cruised to victory. Second place went to Ron Paul, which, actually, shouldn’t be particularly surprising. New Hampshire is a libertarian leaning state. He should have done well there. Jon Huntsman took third, which is mildly surprising, after the showing Rick Santorum made in Iowa.
And yes, the big loser was Santorum who was pretty much rejected as a candidate by New Hampshire primary voters, negating his Iowa showing. Apparently his time as Republican flavor of the week may be passing. As for Newt and Rick Perry … well as Ron Paul said, “drop out.” Gingrich and Santorum polled 9% while Perry got an anemic 1% in the Granite State.
All of the bottom 3 candidates think that the upcoming South Carolina primary will resuscitate their campaigns feeling their messages will get a better reception there than in New Hampshire. Frankly, I think Perry is fooling himself. He hasn’t done well in either Iowa or New Hampshire and he’s not polling well in South Carolina.
PPP has it broken down as Romney 30, Santorum 19, Gingrich 23, Paul 9, Perry 5, Huntsman 4. Rasmussen has it Romney 27, Santorum 24, Gingrich 18, Paul 11, Perry 5, Huntsman 2 .
If those numbers hold, and there’s no reason to think they won’t, it may be Paul who is looking for the exit poll after SC. I doubt he’ll do well in Florida. Huntsman is done and probably the next to leave, and if Perry shows as dismally as the polls show, he’ll be out before Florida’s January 31 primary.
Santorum is looking for a boost for him from what MSNBC calls the “socially conservative and evangelical Christian voters in the Palmetto State”. If he’s able to pull Rasmussen’s numbers then he’ll stay for a while. If he ends up second with a PPP spread, he’s pretty much done whether he’ll admit it or not. He’s not going to pull good numbers in Florida.
So, like it or not, Romney appears headed toward the nomination at this time. Watch for Gingrich to remain to the bitter end and be much more destructive to the GOP’s chances than the Obama campaign ever will be. Obama, after all, has to run on his poor record which means the campaign has to be careful about what issues they raise and what they don’t want raised. Gingrich is the Attila the Hun of politics, with no such limits and no qualms about pulling out all the stops even if his effort is doomed. As I said once before, it was only a matter of time until “bad Newt” showed up, and he’s here.
Meanwhile in New Hampshire, Barack Obama only managed 82% of the total Democratic vote. 10% went to write-ins and 1% of the total vote went to Vermin Supreme, the guy who claims to be a satirist and wears a rubber boot as headgear.
Ask Kendrick Meek, the Democratic Senate candidate in Florida. Even the UK’s Telegraph noticed some interesting things, such as Meek never mentioned Obama once at the rally with Gore.
But, then, neither did Gore.
In Tampa, neither Mr Gore nor Mr Meek made direct reference to Mr Obama’s historic health care legislation, his proudest achievement, or the financial bailout. Both measures are unpopular with all but hardcore Democratic supporters.
Two years ago, every Democrat in the country was invoking Mr Obama’s name as they hoped to ride on his coat-tails to electoral victory. This year, he is a near-pariah, with many of the party’s candidates doing everything they can to distance themselves from him.
Gore also came in for a bit of heckling. When he mentioned “giving in to corporate special interests”, someone in the crowd yelled, “like you!”
But interestingly most of the people there seemed more nostalgic for Clinton/Gore than Obama/Biden. Meek called the Clinton/Gore team, "stellar public elected figures who once served and are still giving". People interviewed while leaving the event seemed resigned to the fact that the Obama administration was probably not long for this world:
"I was thinking that if we could get Clinton back in and Gore back in we might do something in this country," said Robert Henry, 62 a retired soldier. His wife Susan, 59, said that Obama was unlucky because he "got handed an absolute train wreck" while Gore "reminds us of good times, of prosperity and peace".
When the partisans have concluded that the “good times” are no more, support is most likely not going to develop on election day as Obama and the party hope it will.
Meek and Gore were there to rally support for Meek and tell them how well he’s starting to do. Said Gore, "Kendrick’s going up like a skyrocket", while Marco Rubio is just “bumbling along”.
Rubio leads Meek 46 to 18 in the most recent polls. Charlie Crist is at 33.
And a reminder as the media tries to paint all the Tea Party candidates is extremist and out of the main stream – unlikely to win in the general election. Rubio is the Tea Party pick in FL.
Apparently, Charlie Crist has convinced himself that the people of Florida desire his leadership keenly, despite taking a vicious hammering in the polls for the Republican nomination. So, he’ll be announcing an independent run for US Senator.
Stick a fork in him. He’s done. The Republicans will henceforth treat him as if he has a case of virulent Ebola and herpes. I’ve got no clue where he’s going to get financing from.
The best he can do is split the Republican vote, and ensure a Democrat gets elected. If that happens he’ll be like a new Arlen Specter, except for being even more of a loser.
As I mentioned on the podcast last night, I’ve quit looking at how Democrats or Republicans react to a particular poll. Their reactions are all too predictable. If the Dems are for something by 86%, the Reps will be against it by 90%. Nothing to learn there. Nope, I pretty much zero in on how the independents feel about a particular issue to try to figure out who has the most support. And as I’ve mentioned, more and more the independents seem to be siding with the GOP. That’s not good news for the Dems, no matter what Chuck Schumer thinks.
That brings us to another key to electoral success. Key demographics. We heard so much made of the “young vote” in 2008. They were a key because they actually turned out for once and voted mostly Democratic. One of the most coveted demographics, however, is that of the elderly – over 65. That’s because they always vote.
So, with that given, let’s take this poll if FL as an example of what’s happening out there. Yes, it’s a temperature check of the citizens of that state at this time. We all recognize it can change. With that disclaimer out of the way, the usefulness of this poll is found in the information about how independents view recent events. It also contains info on the key elderly demographic. For objective observers there are no real surprises.
Florida voters dislike the new healthcare law so much that President Barack Obama and the state’s top Democrat, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, are paying a hefty political price, according to a new survey and analysis by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research.
Only 34 percent of Florida voters support the new law while 54 percent are against it, according to the poll. Opposition is significantly strong among two crucial blocs: those older than 65 and voters with no party affiliation. Seniors disfavor the bill by a 65-25 percent margin, while independents oppose the law 62-34.
The poll, conducted last week, is the first to be taken in Florida since Obama signed the healthcare reform bill into law.
If you’re wondering why the president continues to try to sell this thing and why Nancy Pelosi has told Democrats headed out on Easter recess to do the same, this Florida poll gives you a nice indicator. Independents as a whole oppose the bill almost 2 to 1 and elderly independents show the same level of opposition. It certainly doesn’t appear that the president’s umpteen speeches or the assurances of Congress that this bill is wonderful have met with much success. Apparently only the Dems bought into the Bill Clinton assurance that everyone would love them once they passed that law.
Why they think that’s going to change if they just push a little harder, especially with the corporate write-downs in the news, is beyond me (and why is Henry Waxman keeping those write-downs in the news with hearings?).
A couple of other results from the poll to mull:
It shows that Floridians have a more negative than positive view of Obama by a margin of 15 percentage points. And they oppose his so-called “cap-and-trade” global warming legislation as well as the new healthcare law.
Why are FL voters opposed to cap-and-trade?
Only 35 percent believe global warming is proved, while 57 percent say it isn’t an established fact. By a 34-50 percent spread, voters oppose the cap-and-trade legislation. And five times as many voters believe it will raise the cost of fuel.
And I have to say I believe the majority to be correct on all counts.
This has had an effect on the numbers for Democratic Senator Bill Nelson as well. His approval rating has dropped a significant 18 points. His only saving grace is he has until 2012 before he must again run. The bad news may be he’ll be on the same ballot as Obama. As for his sudden unpopularity, this was the reaction of his spokesperson:
“If there’s a dip in the polls, it’s due to this inaccurate and unfair bashing for sticking up for these seniors,” McLaughlin said.
Of course it is – and they’re too dumb to know it, aren’t they Mr. McLaughlin? It is that persistent little thread that I see throughout the Democratic reaction (the dumb rubes are being hornswoggled by the slick Republican pitchmen) to bad poll numbers that indicates they’re still deceiving themselves. The old “it’s not the message, it’s the delivery” fantasy that Dems continue to believe.
In the meantime, the polls continue to tell the same tale, over and over and over again.