Posts Tagged ‘Matthew Continetti’

“… it’s important to remember that the primaries are a dynamic process,” warns Matthew Continetti in a CampaignStandard post titled What’s the Scenario? (Cont.)

A Romney win in Iowa would have a dramatic effect on the public perceptions in other states of the former governor’s chances, and may elevate his chances of winning in southern states … etc.

We call it the trope of the coiled spring, the notion that wins in the early states will so condition perceptions that Romney will be propelled forward to wins in other states. It is the scenario the Romneys are anxious to retail and it is grim testimony to its hold on the improverished imaginations of the chattering classes that it gets repeated so often. Please note, however, that in terms of a process this narrative still function at the level of virtuality—i.e. at the level of a possibility that has yet to even open up. Consider the figure that follows, a standard virtuality-actualiziation-achievement triad that we use to plot the Continetti version of the narrative:

earlystates.jpg

It is also important to remember that the more you squeeze the primary schedule, the more sudden and synchronous it becomes; hence, the less dynamic it becomes—the less it resembles an obstacle course and the more it resembles a snapshot—the more it becomes something like a national primary. Conclusion: the early state strategy is based on a possibility—a strong one, perhaps, but one that has yet to specify itself in actual outcomes. Translation: this is a scary place to be making predictions. Strong predictions generally follow from the actual, not the virtual.

Here is what interests us, however. Whether because of the compressed primary schedule, or because of the other candidates adapting themselves to Romney’s dominance in the early state primaries, the primary contests collectively now resemble the general election. Consider:

1. Typically in a general presidential election the Democrats begin advertising early; they capture media attention and tend to out-poll their rivals.

2. Moving into September-October the Republicans, after months of planning, organizing, fund-raising, but otherwise treading water, suddenly illuminate with massive media buys and coordinated message campaigning.

3. The polls numbers begin to tighten; they begin to trend toward the Republicans. Hence: the Republicans enjoy the perception of momentum etc. even though a lot of that movement may simply be regression toward the mean etc.

But this year the early-lead, come-from-behind scenario is getting played out in the primaries among Republicans, with Romney playing the part of the Democrat early-leader, and his rivals preparing to illuminate at what they believe will be a decisive moment to capture the perception of momentum, and confer upon a hapless Romney the perception of a sudden crash. See also:

Romney’s early state strategy—an addendum

… Giuliani does not need to win Iowa, New Hampshire, or Michigan. Here—we argue—is why:

(a) Romney’s much-publicized massive spending in the early states has set up conditions such that any outcome other than a total blow-out in Romney’s favor will be interpreted as a non-victory or even a defeat.

(b) Team Romney is a famously low-effiency, low-ROI campaign. It is therefore vulnerable to the sudden leaps of under-funded and under-organized but high-efficiency, high-ROI campaigns, e.g. Huckabee’s rise has pushed Romney to fifth place in the national polls.

(c) Because of (a) and (b), and because Team Romney’s numbers have already peaked in the early primary states, even a marginal intervention by any one of the other campaigns—not just Giuliani’s—could offset or even deny Romney a victory in any one, or even all of his early primary states. In other words: for any of the other candidates to come in a close second in any of the early primary states would be interpreted as a disaster for Team Romney.

(3) This is consonant with Giuliani’s high-efficiency, high-ROI campaign; he is effectively using the other campaigns to pin down and exhaust a hapless Romney at no cost to his own operation …

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“Sensing weakness, Sen. John McCain and Rudy Giuliani have formed an unspoken alliance to try to torpedo Mitt Romney just as many voters are tuning in to the Republican presidential race,” writes the estimable if a little too literary Mike Allen in a politico post titled Romney gets joint drubbing; Mitt Romney is fighting off assaults from both Rudy Giuliani and John McCain.

“I’m not going to con you,” McCain said Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America” when asked about Romney. “It’s important to be honest with people.”

The two are teaming up at a time when the heat is escalating in both nominating contests. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) started attacking Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) by name last week after resisting for months in the service of his “new kind of politics.”

On the Republican side, Romney must figure out how to retain his strength in Iowa and New Hampshire now that loyal Republicans are hearing a lot more about him than the soothing messages they were getting from his heavy schedule of television commercials.

McCain has been running a mostly positive race, even refusing at one point to read a text by his aides that included attacks on Clinton. So his joint barrage with Giuliani is enough of a departure that it is even sparking GOP speculation about whether they might form a future ticket.

The two are friends and Giuliani said that if he weren’t running, he’d support the senator from Arizona. If Giuliani were the nominee, though, he’d need someone to help him turn out the Republican base, and McCain wouldn’t be much help there.

Romney aides see they are facing a fight and are pushing back hard. Kevin Madden, Romney’s national press secretary, said: “Other campaigns will flail about and try and attempt to launch angry attacks on us, and we’re prepared for that.”

“Angry” is aimed at one of Giuliani’s big vulnerabilities – his volatile temperament and the mixed view that New Yorkers had of him when he was mayor. The Romney campaign plans to push that idea – at first subtly and perhaps later overtly – in coming daysetc., etc.

Kevin Madden!?—Giuliani can relax—the maddeningly inarticulate Kevin Madden is the singularly least successful “national press secretary” in the history of either secretaries or of a national press. Also: This is not the first time that the Romney people have expropriated Democrat talking points: “As this Peter J. Boyer report from August makes clear, there were a lot of New Yorkers who had problems with Giuliani by the time hizzoner left office,” writes Matthew Continetti in a Campaign Standard post titled Rudy’s Anger.

As the Allen report suggests, the Romney campaign seems to recognize this and is planning an attack on the grounds that Giuliani is “angry.”

Here’s the thing, though: Most of those New Yorkers who didn’t like Giuliani in 2001 were liberals who, once the mayor saved their city from them, were able to focus on those aspects of Rudy’s personality which they did not like. Those aspects of his personality, uncoincidentally, also allow him to achieve his desired results.

In other words: If Romney focuses on Giuliani’s “anger,” he once again will be borrowing rhetoric from the Democrats in order to bash a fellow Republican. It’s an audacious gambit. But is it necessarily the best strategy by which to win a Republican primary?etc., etc.

Does this argument work with Republicans?—do we value cold, bloodless, spineless, mindless drones.? Apparently the Romneys think we do. Hence: Romney.

Back to Allen’s Romney gets joint drubbing:

Giuliani and his campaign moved ruthlessly to capitalize on Romney’s statement in last week’s debate that a president should “sit down with your attorneys” in deciding whether congressional authorization was needed to strike Iran.

In a post-debate interview, Giuliani made sport of Romney. “That’s one of those moments in a debate where you say something and you go like this,” Giuliani told ABC’s Jake Tapper, cupping his hand over his mouth — ” ‘Wish I can get that one back.’ “

The former Massachusetts governor, trying to regain his footing, went on the offensive Friday in Sparks, Nev., saying: “Conservatives that have heard me time and again recognize that I do speak for the Republican wing of the Republican Party,” Romney said. That was an echo of a crowd-pleasing 2004 line by Howard Dean that he represented the “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party”etc., etc.

That line went over brilliantly. See:

Romney gets owned by Ron Paul at Conservative Leadership Conference; defeated decisively in straw poll despite fawning in-person appeal to the crowd—also, Romney riffs on a line by Howard Dean and gets lashed and lampooned by DNC and other GOP candidates

VDS comments on Mike Allen’s reportage in Reply #: 2, Date: Oct. 15, 2007 – 8:39 AM EST:

Aside from the fact that most of what Rudy and McCain are saying about Mitt is true, this is a wise strategy. Romney’s poll numbers are stuck in the tank with no sign of improving, however much of his own money he spends. But he is a major distraction and a potential harm to the eventual nominee. Rudy needs to dispense with him quickly in order to further establish himself as the frontrunner. McCain needs to pick up major support ahead of the Thompson campaign’s pending collapse. (Where is he hiding anyway?) Romney is a mean-spirited fraud without credibility as a Republican. The sooner he is out, the better for everyone.

We concur. Emphasis ours.

yours &c.
dr.g.d.





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