Posts Tagged ‘patrick ruffini’

“In fairness to Team Romney, they did more right than not,” writes Patrick Ruffini in a patrickruffini.com blog burst titled The Fall of Romney, Inc.

They rose from single digits in the national polls to receiving 32% of the primary votes cast to date. They became the conservative establishment’s choice.

They leveraged mechanical and resource superiority into solid leads in Iowa and New Hampshire, giving Rudy Giuliani pause about competing in the early states and chasing John McCain from Iowa. They leveraged their candidate’s mastery of pat, 60-second answers into dominance (and rising poll numbers) out of the first debates. They met their goal of winning Ames, and got a bump. They met their goal of 30,000 votes in the Iowa Caucus.

Comment: What is “mechanical superiority?”

Also, “leverage” implies that you get more back in return for what you invested, that you managed to get a lot for a little. But for Tribe Romney the opposite was always the case. Romney’s principle was always to invest superabundantly beyond what the moment demanded for the most meager ROI. But Romney’s consistent willingness to sacrifice all for almost nothing did “giv[e] Rudy Giuliani pause about competing in the early states and chas[ed] John McCain from Iowa.”

Back to Ruffini:

Nearly all of the benchmarks set by Romney, Inc. were met — and often with flying colors. They checked every box they needed to become the nominee. Practically everything the Romney campaign could keep under control, they did. But for a few thousand votes in New Hampshire, the conversation today would be dramatically different.

Unfortunately for Mitt Romney, goals and benchmarks are not the same as real-world outcomes. John McCain missed nearly all of his campaign’s benchmarks and yet will become the nominee.

The X-factor in translating a campaign’s technical mastery into victory is the candidate himself. And here, there was something missing.

Comment: yuh-huh. Here be the primary fixed point of the Romney post-mortems. The man as inauthentic.

I am attending CPAC this week. This is the same CPAC Mitt Romney put a huge effort into last year, paying some 200 students to come vote for him and likely providing his margin of victory over Rudy Giuliani (I know! Rudy once finished second at CPAC. Wild…). His speech last year was packed with every conservative insider’s code word imaginable. McCain-Feingold, McCain-Kennedy — you name it [...]

Comment: Another code word from Romney’s ungracious CPAC tirade, or code date, was 1976, a suggestion that Romney believes that Sen. McCain will lose in the general in vindication of the assumptions of the Romney campaign, and that Romney plans to return in triumph in 2012.

[...] What Romney didn’t account for is that it would take more than being a CPAC, or Agenda Conservative to win the nomination. Country Music Conservatives — and frankly, most voters outside the Beltway swamp — don’t listen to your words; they listen to your tone of voice as you’re delivering those words. Do you get angry when you should? What’s your sense of humor like? For social conservatives, are you grounded in faith? And ultimately, are you the real deal?

This has nothing to do with being right on issues. It has everything to do with being authentic [...]

The problem for Romney: You cannot separate the issue from the issuer, the message from the messenger. We would argue that an apter term than authenticity would be ethos, i.e. Romney’s problem was not that he was inauthentic; Romney’s problem was that his life and character were inconsistent with the issues he alleged that he wanted to advance. This in itself became an issue, and a decisive one.

[...] Even those of us who are social conservatives rarely live in the rural South. And because of this cocooning, the conservative elite failed to understand how those voters could possibly have more in common with a Baptist minister with a Massachusetts millionaire. We can debate the LDS effect all we want, but even without it, Romney already had two strikes against him: that he was from the land of Kennedy and Kerry and acted like it, and that he was too white collar for a party that most of the bluebloods have left.

The idea that talk radio could paper over this basic demographic divide is almost comical. The leader/follower model of conservative support (get Rush, the talkers, the CPAC people, all the groups on your side, and in so doing win the hearts and minds of a decisive majority of conservatives) has been proven starkly and decisively wrong.

Despite these challenges, it was still a close call. As I said: a few thousand votes the other way in New Hampshire… But still: the ease with which John McCain won states like South Carolina and Florida has taken us all aback. It all boils down to Agenda Conservatives being nowhere near a majority of the party. Yes, John McCain was a weak frontrunner, but Mitt Romney was a weak challenger, and enough conservatives chose character and authenticity over issues to make the difference [...]

[...] At a minimum, [the Romney debacle] challenges us to think differently about the movement, to junk the leader/follower model for a networked model that elevates real grassroots outside the Beltway over “grasstops” and to find new ways of bringing low-information conservative voters into the fold [...]

Low information conservatives?

Note the disconnect Ruffini describes between doctrinaire conservatives—or “agenda” conservatives, as Ruffini puts it—and those who tend to vote conservative but live more rounded lives. It is this, and not authenticity, that predicts the failures of the Romney campaign. We will return to this theme later.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“With a commanding lead in most super Tuesday states GOP frontrunner John MCCain is looking for a put away punch in Mitt Romney’s homestate of Massachusetts,” writes Carl Cameron in a FoxNews.com Cameron’s Corner blog burst titled McCain tries to put Mitt away in Massachusetts; McCAIN PLAYS TO DEFEAT MITT ONCE AND FOR ALL IN MASSACHUSETTS

McCain hopes to win a big majority of the 1,023 nomination delegates that are up for grabs in the 21 states that have contests 2/5 (there are 15 primaries, 5 caucuses and 1 state convention, Ten of the races are winner take all) But Romney has signaled that may not push him out of the race.The McCain campaign believes beating Romney “in the state where people know him best” would be a decisive blow that would force Romney to reconsider and ultimately withdraw.

As FOX was first to report Wednesday, McCain plans to watch the Super Bowl and campaign in Boston!! Sunday night and Monday morning [...]

On the other hand, the MA GOP are “rallying for Romney!”

“BOSTON—Former Gov. Weld and former Lieutenant Gov. Kerry Healey are among the prominent Massachusetts Republicans supporting Mitt Romney’s presidential bid,” writes some anonymous somebody in a boston.com release titled Massachusetts Republican leaders stick by Romney

The former governor also has the support of two state senators and 18 of the state’s 19 GOP representatives.

Other notables supporting Romney include district attorneys Tim Cruz, Michael O’Keefe and Elizabeth Scheibel [...]

Romney for his part has vowed to fight on past super-duper apocalypse Tuesday:

“MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. — Though he once expected to have the Republican nomination nearly locked up by now, Mitt Romney said that he’s now ready to hunker down for the long haul,” writes Scott Conroy for cbsnews.com in a From the Road blog burst titled Romney: GOP Race Won’t Be Decided On Tuesday

“Looking at the numbers of delegates and the numbers of states, I don’t think somebody’s going to walk away with the needed numbers, so I think this thing goes on well beyond Tuesday,” Romney said at an impromptu press conference aboard his campaign plane. “I don’t look early at the calendar beyond Tuesday, but I know there is one, and I intend to keep on battling.”

Although he lags behind John McCain in many of the delegate-rich states that vote on Tuesday, Romney said he was heartened by the recent coalescing of support he’s received from influential conservative talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham [...]

Yes, well, about Limbaugh, Coulter, and Ingraham, Ruffini writes:

[...] There is a message in these returns to conservatives busy soldering together the coalition below decks: do not assume that just because they’re all pro-life, that Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham speak for the social conservatives Romney needs next Tuesday. They don’t. Being pro-life and pro-marriage is not enough [...]

[...] It’s instructive to study how George W. Bush united the conservative coalition eight years ago. He did so not as a Mitt Romney Republican but as a Mike Huckabee Republican. The only thing Bush offered fiscal conservatives was tax cuts. The rest was Catholic social thought. Say what you will about him, but Bush has never gone squishy on a single social issue in eight years. But has gone wobbly on fiscal issues, leading to a revolt in the conservative establishment. As Bush knew, and as we are re-learning with the rise of John McCain and the intransigence of Mike Huckabee’s base, fiscal conservatism is where the opinion leaders are, and social conservatism is where the votes are [...]

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“The Romney campaign’s February 5th math is simple: move all the voters from the Huckabee pile onto theirs and claim a majority of conservatives,” writes the estimable Patrick Ruffini, an “Ex-Bush aide/Giuliani aide/current Romney endorser,” as described by Marc Ambinder, in a blog burst titled Intransigent Huck Voters

Unfortunately, continues Ruffini, it’s just not that simple.

In the South — still more delegate-rich per capita than NY, CA, NJ, IL, etc. — the “conservative” vote, defined as Romney + Huckabee, is splitting down the middle. Most polls down South look like McCain 30, Huckabee 25, Romney 25. We’ve seen how this played out in South Carolina, except there it was establishment conservatives refusing to take the advice that they play ball with Huckabee to strengthen their hand in Florida. We also saw it in rural northern Florida, where in many cases it was a three man race (and often a two man race between McCain and Huck).

The problem with this analysis is that I’ve seen no evidence that Huckabee voters would go to Romney. On a county level, the Romney and Huckabee votes are negatively correlated, with Romney representing the conservative side of the Chamber of Commerce/Rotary Club vote and not really showing outsized strength with Evangelicals [...]

[...] There is a message in these returns to conservatives busy soldering together the coalition below decks: do not assume that just because they’re all pro-life, that Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham speak for the social conservatives Romney needs next Tuesday. They don’t. Being pro-life and pro-marriage is not enough. To understand what Huckabee voters want, you need to actually appreciate what Mike Huckabee brings to the table, which is an emphasis on faith, undiluted. Many conservatives, particularly those around here, do not. While many of us agree on the social issues, the conservative establishment resented how he injected his religion into the campaign. Never have I seen conservatives so readily repeat the Barry Lynn/ACLU line on the “wall” between church and state.

It’s instructive to study how George W. Bush united the conservative coalition eight years ago. He did so not as a Mitt Romney Republican but as a Mike Huckabee Republican. The only thing Bush offered fiscal conservatives was tax cuts. The rest was Catholic social thought. Say what you will about him, but Bush has never gone squishy on a single social issue in eight years. But has gone wobbly on fiscal issues, leading to a revolt in the conservative establishment. As Bush knew, and as we are re-learning with the rise of John McCain and the intransigence of Mike Huckabee’s base, fiscal conservatism is where the opinion leaders are, and social conservatism is where the votes are.

Mitt Romney is trying to unify the party as a business guy from Belmont who is culturally as far removed from Suwannee County, Florida as you can get. He’s going about it very clinically: vote for me because I’m not McCain. But I’m not sure that message holds much sway with an audience that takes its cues from Christian radio not News/Talk and certainly not National Review. And notice his message: it’s all about the economy, and nothing about Life and only a little bit about marriage. Christian voters have noticed.

Romney is pinning his hopes on brining in the social “leg of the stool.” But though they’re not wild about McCain, I’d venture that a plurality of these voters would rank Romney third [...]

[...] Specifically, it seems to me that the conservative establishment’s decision to go nuclear first on Huckabee (who never had a shot but speaks for voters we need in November) before McCain (who always had a shot but speaks mostly for himself) will rank as a pretty serious strategic blunder [...]

We concur. Only it was Romney went nuclear on Gov. Huckabee, and at great cost. See:

Marc Ambinder comments on Ruffini’s analysis in a blog burst titled Republican Coalition Politics

[...] Left unasked is precisely why the establishment felt more threatened by Mike Huckabee that it did by even John McCain. And not just the pro-business, anti-tax wing of the professional conservative establishment: the faith wing, too, from the Family Research Council to various members of the Arlington Group who cast their lot with Fred Thompson, a conservative, to be sure, but someone of an undefined protestant faith who didn’t seem to go to church much.

My theory — and it remains a theory — is that Huckabee threatened these interests so much because he never depended on them in the past and would never depend on them in the future. In the sense that these interests mediated between leaders and rank-and-file conservatives, Huckabee was able to bypass the mediators and speak directly to faith voters — the hard core corps of moral conservatives who tend to compromise about 20 to 35% of any given electorate, more so in the South and Midwest [...]

Only now it begins to dawn on Republicans just how much damage Tribe Romney has done to the base.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – Presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Friday attributed a big part of his Iowa loss to the fact his main competitor had an established base of evangelical support, which turned out in force,” writes Thomas Burr of the Salt Lake Tribune in an article titled Romney attributes Iowa loss to faith

Romney, who has worked to overcome fears about voters backing him as a Mormon, took only a fifth of evangelical voters who turned out to caucus in the first test of the presidential race. Republican rival Mike Huckabee, a Baptist-preacher-turned-politician, took nearly half of that category of voters, according to entrance polls.

The Romney campaign credited a large turnout by evangelical voters – many of whom see Mormons as heretical – for Huckabee’s victory.

“Mike had a terrific base as a minister – drew on that base, got a great deal of support, it was a wonderful strategy that he pursued effectively,” Romney told reporters Friday in New Hampshire where he was fighting for a victory in that state’s first-in-the-nation primary on Tuesday.

Romney said he came into Iowa an unknown governor of Massachusetts, the “bluest of the blue states,” and campaigned hard to educate voters about what he stands for. But that, apparently, wasn’t enough as Huckabee trounced Romney 34 percent to 25 percent.

“Had I been a Baptist minister, I perhaps could have chosen a different path, but that wasn’t the path that’s available to me,” Romney said. “He took one that was available to him, worked it extremely well, turned out people extremely well and I congratulate him on a well-run campaign.” [...]

This self-pitying, I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam Romney-rant is beneath comment. Well, almost. In another post we wrote

An emerging “fixed point” now conditioning and organizing the discussion is the notion that voters want “change.” (By “fixed point” we mean a point of convergence or common assumption emerging in the popular account.)

Another emerging fixed point is that Iowa decided for Gov. Huckabee because of anti-Mormon bias etc. This is as wrongheaded as it is condescending. Here would be the counterpoint:

Medved: “[Gov. Huckabee’s] powerful appeal to females, the young and the poor make him a different kind of Republican—[one] who connects with voting blocs the GOP needs to win back—[Gov Huckabee is] hardly the one-dimensional religious candidate of media caricature”

More counterpoint from Patrick Ruffini in a Townhall.com blog burst titled Iowa Shows Passion & Energy Matter:

[...] As I wrote on December 11:

[Huckabee’s] success is not about ideology, but identity. For his voters, he’s a Christian first, and a conservative second. Attacking him on conventional conservative issues won’t undermine his core support because it has nothing to do with being a conservative.

Ruffini’s point on its face supports Romney’s bitter complaint. But Ruffini continues:

Huckabee won women 40-26% (and men just 29-26%). He won voters under $30,000 by about 2 to 1. Cross those two, take away the Republican filter, and you’re talking about a general election constituency that is at least 2-to-1 Democratic. These are not people that conventional primary campaigns are designed to reach. These are the Republican voters the furthest away from National Review, other elite conservative media, and websites like this one. It’s easy to see just how the analysts missed the boat on this one [...]

[...] Conventional organization may matter less in an era of high-stakes, high-turnout elections. Romney’s Iowa chair Doug Gross was quoted as saying that 80,000 was their “magic number” for overall turnout. It’s easy to see why. With 26,000 Romney votes, that would have been good for 32.5% and a win — about the same percentage they got at Ames (where turnout was historically low).

The Romney campaign was an efficient machine that knew who its voters were and turned them out. The problem is that Mike Huckabee’s momentum brought in new voters off the beaten path — more Evangelicals, more women, people lower on the income ladder. Think about this: In the 2000 Caucuses, only 37% described themselves as “religious right.” This year, 60% described themselves as “Evangelical Christians.” That’s an imperfect comparison, but the universe of Evangelical voters almost certainly expanded this year [...]

Conclusion: the fixed point emerging in support of Iowa is the new GOP coalition, a coalition based on a renewed conservative movement that the elite conservative media failed to even register in their opinions and analyses.

Or where they did register it, they either dismissed it or ridiculed it.

Sadly, the new elite liberal media is the old elite conservative media.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

P.S. Always remember: effective politicians NEVER, EVER BLAME THE VOTERS.

“PHOENIX — When Mitt Romney swooped into the heart of John McCain country this week, he brought a pointed message on illegal immigration: McCain’s approach is the wrong one,” writes an uncritical Scott Helman in a Boston Globe article titled, strangely, Romney’s words grow hard on immigration

Romney’s words are growing hard? Nothing about Romney is growing hard.

Proudly touting the endorsement of Joe Arpaio, a sheriff in the state who is known nationally for rounding up immigrants in desert tents, Romney boasted of cracking down on illegal immigrants as governor and denounced an immigration bill that the Arizona senator introduced with Senator Edward M. Kennedy in 2005.

It is a theme Romney has hit hard in recent weeks in his appeals to conservatives, many of whom attack McCain’s immigration bill for proposing an eventual path to citizenship for immigrants living illegally in the United States and a guest-worker program to help fill American jobs.

“McCain-Kennedy isn’t the answer,” Romney said in a well-received speech to conservatives in Washington this month, describing it as an amnesty plan that would reward people for breaking the law and cost taxpayers millions to provide them benefits …

“McCain-Kennedy?” Please note how Romney, without benefit of style or subtlety, clumsily-naively attempts to associate Sen. McCain’s name with Sen. Kennedy’s by means of simple combination. Other Romney drive-by conflations: Giuliani-Clinton, Osama-Obama, and even NYC-San Francisco in a DrudgeReport Romney anti-immigrant advertisement.

Is Romney a master propagandist? Well, ahem, no. Here is why. What Team Romney has yet to figure out about civic discourse is that a claim about the world is like a check. You need to have (a) funds in the bank in order to cash it, and (b) the bank itself needs to be solvent. Romney has neither (a) nor (b). In fact, despite Romney’s great wealth, Romney remains desperately poor in the credibility that derives from authority. See:

Romney has the most negative image at this point of any of the major candidates for president, claims Newport of USA Today’s GallupGuru; the Romney campaign’s death-by-internal-memo part (ii)

As Ruffini argues, Romney has done to himself what Bush did to Kerry. See:

Ruffini: “Romney has done to himself what the Bush campaign did to John Kerry”

Hence: the more Romney pulls to the right—e.g. on the immigration issue—the more Romney reinforces the impression that he is valueless and unprincipled, that he will do or say anything to win. And herein lies the irony: Romney has vacillated wildly and unpredictably on the issue of immigration. See:

Romney backs off immigration by fine parsing

yours &c.
dr. g.d

P.S. Counter argument: In 1996 the Clintons were able to link then Sen. Dole to then Speaker Gingrich through just such a juxtaposition. Yes, but (a) President Clinton was, you know, the president, and he out-polled Sen. Dole at often more than 10 points, and (b) Pres. Clinton enjoyed the advantage of months of early advertising, media attention etc. Romney, on the other hand, has nothing.

Note to the Romneys: you can’t just say whatever you want and expect people to believe you. It’s called ethos, and, yes, it’s even quantifiable. Go look it up. And, yes: propaganda techniques can be effective, but you sort of need to know how, and when, to use them, and especially when you can use them, you super-geniuses. Otherwise you will look, and sound, like a total Romney.

“Despite spending gobs of money, despite eclipsing Fred Thompson in the invisible primary, [Romney] still can’t quite connect with conservatives,” writes Patrick Ruffini in a post titled Where’s Romney’s Bio.

Contra Ruffini, in a Romney-in-2008 post titled Rebutting Ruffini’s “Where’s the Bio,” the estimable Ann Marie Curling argues point-for-point:

  1. “I disagree with [claim that Romney emphasizes issues over Romney's biography]. Romney’s campaign from the very beginning has promoted his experience as a businessman, at the Olympics, and as Governor while also putting forth great ideas of ways to manage our country better. First, lets go to the bio question” … Curling provides a number of Romney bio-vids of variable quality and substance to shore up her claim
  2. “What a mischaracterization [Ruffini] has going on here [about e.g. the value voters summit] … If you’ll read this post from Evangelicals for Mitt it explains how the poll turned out and why. I don’t know why Patrick has decided to keep this mischaracterization going even after this was already explained now at least two or three days ago” … and yet the perception remains!—why is that?
  3. “This [Ruffini's] claim that Romney cannot out-conservative other candidates] makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, lets take some of the conservative issues. If you go to this link, it spells out in depth Governor Romney’s agenda. Lets list them (be patient these are PDF documents)”—here Curling laughably, and without a trace of irony, demonstrates precisely the behavior that Ruffini claims is so problematic, i.e. enumerating policy positions like you’re reading bullet points.
  4. Curling concludes with examples of Romney’s bio-vids “high-lighting” Romney’s “accomplishments.

Curling completely misses the point of Ruffini’s analysis. Please understand: it no longer matters how many policy initiatives that Romney can rattle off—no one believes him!—in fact, the gesture itself only further undermines Romney’s credibility as it underscores the perception that Romney will say anything to get elected—that’s the point!—that’s the whole issue! Back to Ruffini:

Romney’s speeches are built on the assumption that he can out-conservative Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee by out-talking them. His words are a litany of conservative talking points.

Earlier this year, when his conservative credentials were genuinely in question, the issues-talk might have helped. But now his problem has morphed into something far worse: an authenticity problem centered around flip-flopping. And arguably, each time he opens his mouth and spouts platitudes, he only makes it worse.

Romney has done to himself what the Bush campaign did to John Kerry. The Bush team made it so that every time Kerry opened his mouth, he hurt himself, thanks to the perception that he was talking out of both sides of his mouth. Kerry couldn’t help himself by saying the right things because nobody believed what he was saying.

Romney’s situation is further complicated by the fact that issues are actually friendly terrain for Rudy Giuliani. Huh? That’s right — because people assume Rudy’s positions are liberal, when he talks conservative, that’s reassuring. When Romney talks issues, people assume he’s pandering … etc., etc.

But here is where Curling is right and Ruffini may be wrong: yes, granted, contra Ruffini, the Romneys have done their level best to promote Romney’s bio. The problem: no one cares. Further problem: those few who do care—e.g. us—discover lots of evidence to never vote for Romney in his bio.

Your resume can prevent you from getting elected. But no one ever got elected because of their resume.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“Despite spending gobs of money, despite eclipsing Fred Thompson in the invisible primary, [Romney] still can’t quite connect with conservatives,” writes Patrick Ruffini in a post titled Where’s Romney’s Bio.

Yes, he barely won the FRC straw poll, but only after he and the other ballot stuffing strawpoll-centric campaigns figured out they could phone it in for the in-person contest and focus exclusively on running up the score in the online vote. Filter out the online votes, and you have a pretty organic (and one sided) protest vote for Mike Huckabee.

Romney’s speeches are built on the assumption that he can out-conservative Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee by out-talking them. His words are a litany of conservative talking points.

Earlier this year, when his conservative credentials were genuinely in question, the issues-talk might have helped. But now his problem has morphed into something far worse: an authenticity problem centered around flip-flopping. And arguably, each time he opens his mouth and spouts platitudes, he only makes it worse.

Romney has done to himself what the Bush campaign did to John Kerry. The Bush team made it so that every time Kerry opened his mouth, he hurt himself, thanks to the perception that he was talking out of both sides of his mouth. Kerry couldn’t help himself by saying the right things because nobody believed what he was saying.

Romney’s situation is further complicated by the fact that issues are actually friendly terrain for Rudy Giuliani. Huh? That’s right — because people assume Rudy’s positions are liberal, when he talks conservative, that’s reassuring. When Romney talks issues, people assume he’s pandering.

Rudy has an issues problem, one that he’s trying to make go away by talking issues. Romney’s problem is not an issues problem. The flip-flopping charge is a character problem, not an issues problem. So what Romney really must do is shore up perceptions of his character.

Romney should resign himself to the fact that he won’t be able to out-conservative Thompson or Huckabee on issues … etc., etc.

The emphases are ours.

Sage advice based on sound analysis. Will Romney take it? Or is he, as Geraghty puts it, “hell-bent on proving he’s a social conservative despite a less-than-ideal record.”

Hey, Romney. Here’s thought. Fire your entire communications staff and all your consultants—immediately. Then start all over again. Only this time try to organize a campaign based on themes you actually believe in. What a concept!

yours &c.
dr. g.d.





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