Posts Tagged ‘primaries’

“Romney leads in the delegate count, but I think this weekend’s results show astounding weakness in the candidate who was supposed to be the most electable conservative in the race,” writes Jonahtan Andler in an NRO The Corner blog burst titled Is Romney Viable?

Consider two things: 1) Romney spent $4 million and 22 days in South Carolina, and still finished behind Fred. 2) Romney has not one any seriously contested constest. Nevada? Wyoming? Please. Where Romney has made a major investment (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina) he has failed. Michigan? No other candidate made a comparable investment or effort to winning the state, so I’m not sure that helps the case.What’s Romney’s problem? For many folks (my self included), it is a perceived insincerity. I too often get the sense that Romney is saying what he thinks folks want to hear instead of what he believes. It isn’t just the “evolution” of his views, it is also the small things: The small, subtle exaggerations that arise when Romney is trying to ingratiate himself with various groups. (Remember Romney the life-long hunter?) The blatant pandering to the auto industry in Michigan in a way that suggests some very unconservative views. Romney’s MBA style does not help much here, as it reinforces the perception of Romney as someone who solves problems without much regard to underlying ideological principle [...]

Yuh-huh. We concur. However: what impresses us are the numbers: US$4 million and 22 days, numbers consistent with every other contest that Romney has participated in, win or lose. Romney always-always draws the most pitiable ROI for his massive expenditures.

When Adler generalizes from his own perceptions we are sympathetic but less impressed. Yes, Romney excites our gag reflex too. But so did Pres. Clinton and he served two full terms. Our gag reflex is an unrealiable predictor. And so, we assume, is Adler’s.

The non-Evangelicals at the astroturfing flak-claque fraud-blog preposterously titled Evangelicals for Mitt issue this painfully honest rejoinder:

“Governor Romney did best in Michigan, the biggest and most urbanized of the major early states,” writes Charles Mitchell in a blog burst titled THE GOOD PROFESSOR MISFIRES

Now, ask yourself this question: Which of those states most closely resembles the battles to come? Unquestionably it’s Michigan. If you compare the size (big) and demographics (diverse) of Florida to any of these other places, Michigan’s the only reasonable answer. And then after Florida we have February 5th — where there are numerous contests across the country.

Florida, California, New York etc., resemble Michigan to the degree that they are big and urban? This is the point?

In both cases — Florida and February 5th — the candidates simply are not going to be able to reach most voters one-on-one (Senator McCain’s specialty) or prevail by appealing to a select set of religious believers (Governor Huckabee’s only recourse). They are going to have to do a lot of TV and use messages that resonate with a lot of people. That’s Governor Romney’s strength, and Michigan is the proof. He didn’t win there on account of his dad — if you look at the exit polls, he actually lost among the older voters who’d actually remember George Romney’s 1960s governorship. He won because he reached a huge number of voters on a topic they care about (the economy) with a message that was both conservative and forward looking (a.k.a. non-Huckabeean).

Retail (F2F) politics—as in the early primaries—is no longer possible let alone practicable, argues Mitchell. Targeting select demographics or communities of interest—Evangelicals, home-schoolers—is no longer as feasible, nor will it be as effective, he continues. In other words, expect less dialog (with voters and voter groups in shared spaces or various fora), and more dissemination (to the masses through media channels).

So: broadcast media become dominant in these later primaries, e.g. television.

This line is reasonable on its face.

This is the argument that interests us, yet another variation on the dejected, and despairing theme of “the voters will default to Romney!”

Those who — like Professor Adler — don’t think Governor Romney can connect with primary voters are misjudging this race. This isn’t 2000, 1996, 1992, or any of the other recent campaigns — where you won by doing well in a large number of diners early on. That happened, but it didn’t prove decisive. Given that, we’re now in a different type of campaign — one where the primary weapons are broad-based, public appeals. And we’re also now at the stage of the campaign where the options available to conservatives who don’t want to find themselves making a choice in November between two people who might have been on the Democratic ticket in 2004 — Senators Clinton and McCain — are narrowing. As things start to settle, I think they’ll like what they see — mainly on TV, and addressing the range of issues we care about — from Governor Romney [...]

Follow the argument—we have paraphrased it, and enumerated the points, for clarity:

(1) Those who think Romney cannot connect with primary voters have misjudged this race.

(2) This is not like earlier races where you win by visiting lots of diners—Romney did this, but it did not prove decisive

(3) Given that we’re not in one of these earlier races, we’re now in a different kind of campaign (?)

(4) In this new kind of campaign the weapons are broad-based, public appeals

(5) And we’re at a stage in this new kind of campaign where the options for conservatives are growing fewer.

(6) As things start to settle [become more coherent? intelligible?] people will like what they see on television, and what they will see on television is Romney addressing the issues that they care about.

Mitchell’s conclusion as we understand it: Whether Romney can connect with voters or not will not decide the primaries. (Mitchell clearly assumes that Romney cannot connect with voters, otherwise we presume he would argue the point and provide evidence, but he doesn’t.) Other factors obtain: the size of the states, the sprawling urban battlegrounds, the nationally dispersed scope of the contests. So Romney need not connect with anyone in the concrete; he need only do so in the abstract. He need only connect with a television camera and say what people want to hear, as in Michigan.

Romney will prevail as he passes into the distributed and abstracted form of a talking-head, available only behind the prophylactic of a glowing screen.

Is the converse also true?—i.e. As a flesh-and-blood creature Romney loses. We would answer yes, and here is where we agree most heartily with Mitchell’s grim and despairing reasoning.

Problems with Mitchell’s line of argument:

(a) Romney’s use of television has delivered a wildly low ROI even where Romney has won. And Romney’s saturation tactics have more often than not backfired on the candidate. Question: Has Romney learned how to use the medium effectively in so short a time? Was Michigan a special case? Perhaps, perhaps not. See:

Zogby: “Iowan Republicans may have long ago grown tired of Mr. Romney’s ubiquitous presence. ‘You can advertise too much,’ he said. ‘People get tired of seeing the same old face, and he went negative. Iowans didn’t like it’”

(b) Romney’s message to Michigan was clearly and distinctly not just non-conservative, but counter-conservative. See:

Will Romney follow or develop this model? And: how much will it cost the US treasury if he does?

(c) And isn’t it odd that the chief argument emitted by Romney supporters is always “When Republicans have no choices, Republicans will choose Romney!” Here would be our favorite example:

Bopp’s argument according to Cillizza: “You might like Huckabee best but he can’t win. So, vote for the guy—Romney—you like second best”

(d) What about the South? What does SC predict for Romney in the South?

What Mitchell leaves unsaid is that Romney is a fabulously wealthy self-funder who has already squandered upwards of US$20 million on his own campaign: he is on the only candidate disposed to take full advantage of the new terrain as Mitchell describes it, as he is the only candidate with the money—his own—to pay for the expensive television ad buys. This is yet another aspect of Romneyism.

For the record: We predict that Romney wins the GOP nomination, but at tremendous cost to himself and, especially, the GOP. Our conclusion: Romney is viable only because the GOP is not. Think of Romney like a carrion beetle. A healthy organism only need crush it like a bug. A sick organism, on the other hand …

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

[...] “The Republican Party is simply not used to selecting a nominee without having it imposed from above,” writes Dick Morris in a vote.com blog burst titled Michigan’s Meaning: GOP Chaos

In near-monarchic fashion, the party has always had an anointed front-runner in every election since 1944 – Tom Dewey begat Ike who begat Dick Nixon who begat Gerald Ford; Ronald Reagan challenged Ford, and then it was his turn. He begat the first George Bush – who literally begat the current president.

The designated candidate won the nomination in each one of those years but 1964 – and that year, the party met disaster.

But President Bush has been unique in refusing to help his party choose a successor. The result is the fissure now is tearing the party apart.

Comment: The historical task of the current Bush presidency appears to be to (a) discredit the conservative movement, and (b) liquidate the GOP as the political basis of its many constituencies.

Why did we—we meaning me, Gilad D.—ever support this troubled man?

Back to Morris:

The winnowing-down process that’s worked so well in the Democratic Party has failed totally in the GOP contest. With each candidate finding adequate momentum in the results so far, the party faces the prospect of a deadlock with each of the four main candidates (McCain, Romney, Huckabee and Giuliani) winning a share of the vote but nobody winning a majority on Super Tuesday.

Can South Carolina or Nevada winnow down the field? Unlikely. Neither is significant enough, and each is so totally atypical of the rest of the nation that its results won’t have great national credibility.

Florida is probably the last time that the GOP can avoid a destructive fracturing. Its pivotal vote, the week before Super Tuesday, may offer the best chance to focus the field and allow somebody to win a majority. But the state is now a four-way tie, with vote shares ranging from 17 percent to 21 percent [...]

The struggle for Michigan has entered its archival phase. As we wrote for Iowa and New Hampshire, this is when the political community and various media dispute, interpret, or redact the outcomes of the contest.

We would dispute Morris’ overwrought conclusion of chaos.

Our own conclusion: Michigan decided the GOP nomination.

It will be Romney. The only chance the other campaigns ever had was to take Romney out early. They failed to do that.

As for Romney himself, he will pay no price for his sudden transformations or the catastrophes he wrought for himself in Iowa or New Hampshire—these will be quickly forgotten as the focus shifts to upcoming contests. The media will receive Romney’s latest incarnation as populist champion of working families—as a moderate pragmatist—quickly, uncritically, and with a straight face. If any decide to comment at all it will be to argue about how the candidate has grown as a person or discovered a compassion within himself. Or, worse, journalists and editorialists will identify with Romney’s duplicity and celebrate how Romney cynically played the rubes and knuckle-draggers of the GOP base so that he could pursue progressive policy goals as he had always intended. And did we ever get played!

Whatever is the case it will be the conservative movement, and not Romney, that gets discredited.

Also: after a lot of painful trial and error Romney has finally field-tested a successful message—a relevant message, and a message consonant with his biography—and it is the economy. Economic insecurity is breaking out everywhere. Markets are crashing. Banks are failing—etc., etc. Against this insecurity Romney offers the palliative care of massive bail outs, other subsidies, and supervision from Washington combined with his own native genius and ferocious appetite for hard work. To fight for every job, Romney promises. See:

The game now becomes a difficult scramble for every last delegate.

Only Romney has the cash—his own, of course—necessary to endure a contest of grim attrition like this one.

The game is effectively over, friends and well-wishers. The details will get worked out along the way. We intend to enjoy the ride.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

According to the non-partisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network, Romney spent $2 million in an ad campaign lasting for about the past month, compared to McCain’s $744,000 over the last ten days, and Huckabee’s $484,000 in the past week,” writes Eric Kleefield in a TPM ElectionCentral.com post titled Analysis: Romney Outspent Michigan Competitors In A Big Way

Romney spends more on paid media in MI than either of his principal rivals combined. Yet Romney ekes out a narrow victory in a state that he calls his own. Yet more evidence of Romney’s risibly low ROI for his every campaign dollar.

But the real cost of Romney’s MI campaign is the check that he issued that can never be cashed. That check is Romney’s super-preposterous, atavistic promise to nationalize the US automobile industry. And it is a cost that Romney will never have to pay. That bill goes to the US taxpayer.

candidate endorsed by the National Review, Romney, suddenly veers hard left, argues that Washington must subsidize, become “partner” with, US automobile industry

After humiliating defeats in Iowa and New Hampshire, Romney in Michigan finally develops a winning formula. It is a formula consistent with Romney’s risibly low ROI as it allows the hapless candidate to offload his astronomical costs on others. It is simply this: political spoil in its most primitive form. It takes this shape: Promise key sectors of the economy unlimited subsidies from the public treasury.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“If Mitt Romney is rising in the polls in New Hampshire, this might explain why: He appears to be spending huge sums on TV in the state, and has been doing so for some time,” writes Greg Sargent for Election Central | Talking Points Memo in a post titled Romney Spending Huge Sums On TV Ads In New Hampshire

Mitt was spending $100,000 a week through October, and he’s now upped the ante to $200,000 a week, according to a report from GraniteProf that the Romney camp has not disputed. He notes that this level of spending translates into some 200 ads per week.

It’s yet more confirmation of the extent to which the Romney camp is putting all its chips on big wins in New Hampshire (where he’s widening his lead) and in Iowa (where the race is rapidly tightening) in advance of Rudy’s predicted success on super-primary day, Feb. 5. (Via Jonathan Martin.) … etc.

Just so. Let us ponder the depth and scope of Romney’s error for a moment. From Von Clausewitz’ On War:

… It is even possible that the attacker, reinforced by the psychological forces peculiar to attack, will in spite of his exhaustion find it less difficult to go on than to stop—like a horse pulling a load uphill. We believe that this demonstrates without inconsistency how an attacker can overshoot the point at which, if he stopped and assumed the defensive, there would still be a chance of success—that is, of equilibrium. An attacker may otherwise take on more than he can manage and, as it were, get into debt …

… this is why the great majority of generals will prefer to stop well short of their objective rather than risk approaching it too closely, and why those with high courage and an enterprising spirit will often overshoot it and so fail to attain their purpose. Only the man who can achieve great results with limited means has really hit the mark … etc., etc.

Romney has vastly overshot the mark in both Iowa and New Hampshire. So much so that he has prejudiced in advance the conclusions that will be drawn from his victories, and doomed himself completely should he fall short of overwhelming victory. Hence: Boy Romney is pinned. Against Gov. Huckabee, against Mayor Giuliani, against Sen. McCain, all of whom have suddenly begun advertising whether in New Hampshire or in Iowa or both, Romney must hemorrhage disproportionately more money, more credibility, and more of his dignity, because he himself has created conditions such that a loss in either state may be fatal to his campaign. We predicted this—we predicted precisely this:

how hizzoner brings the fight to Romney—Romney caught in a punic pincer

Question: has there ever been a dumber candidate? Has any candidate in the history of US political campaigns ever botched a race so badly—in advance?

yours &c.
dr. g.d.





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