Romney and the Giuliani-Huckabee axis—how a balance-of-power player is thwarting Romney’s early state strategy
“It’s Mike Huckabee, of course,” writes the estimable Ross Douthat of theatlantic.com in a post titled Rudy’s Secret Weapon
This seems obvious where Mitt Romney is concerned: Huckabee’s been slowly moving into a position to steal at least some of the Mittster’s thunder in Iowa (with the aid of a friendly media, of course), and it’s easy to imagine a strong Huckabee showing being played as the big story coming out of the caucuses, whether he wins outright or not, which in turn weakens Romney fatally in New Hampshire and lets Rudy slip past him …
This is consonant with what we wrote here:
Toomey, Pres. of Club for Growth: Mayor Giuliani has “edge” over Romney on question of who accomplished more to lower taxes, relieve regulatory burden—also: an analysis of the political waters in which Romney and Giuliani swam
… Lacking formal power as a mayor, Giuliani developed as a balance of power player, a political bloc builder and dissolver, i.e. he tends to play existing interests off of one another to pursue his own goals. He is a master of the subtler instruments of social influence. He thrives in a crowded field. He depicts himself as a stern and capable administrator, but his habits of mind are those of an arguer, persuader, compromiser, and coalition builder. He adapts to his terrain—even a hostile terrain—and he tries to use whatever he discovers to his advantage. He is comfortable working quietly behind the scenes …
This is also consonant with what we wrote here:
… 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 …