Posts Tagged ‘patrickruffini.com’
Ruffini: the failure of the Romney campign “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”
“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.
“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 [...]
“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:
- Cost: Romney’s furiously negative campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire may have already cost Romney the nomination by alienating Gov. Huckabee and Sen. McCain voters
- Luntz: “Romney made a ‘big mistake’ by going negative against Huckabee”—how a Faustian Romney rages against the laws of physics
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.