Posts Tagged ‘early state strategy’

“MANCHESTER, N.H. — Having barely slept after landing at 3 a.m. on Friday, weary advisers for Mitt Romney gathered a few hours later in a conference room in the Courtyard Marriott in Portsmouth to regroup after the resounding defeat Mike Huckabee handed them in Iowa,” writes the estimable Michael Luo in a NYT article titled Romney Embraces Theme Used to Beat Him

Romney’s model is simple predict-and-control. For example, Romney and his same “advisors” developed Romney’s last plan over a year ago in a posh Boston suburb:

“We were sitting around with a PowerPoint”—said a senior Romney advisor, “We weren’t sitting around with a crystal ball”—how Team Romney lost Iowa over a year ago in a posh Boston suburb

This was Romney’s ill-considered early state von Schlieffen plan. Romney clung to it for months in the very teeth of contrary data. And lots of contrary data developed all around the hapless candidate in Iowa and elsewhere—we harped on it in this blog almost constantly. Romney’s response? To try to control for whatever contrary stimuli developed around him, e.g., Romney’s hyper-massive out-of-control spending as an attempt to control for Gov. Huckabee’ s ascendency.

Only predict-and-control failed for the hapless candidate. Iowa decided against him.

Back to Luo:

Dominating the conversation was the idea that the central lesson from Iowa in both parties was that voters wanted change in Washington and a focus on how Mr. Romney might harness that sentiment to defeat his main rival in New Hampshire, Senator John McCain.

So far Mr. Romney has tried with varying degrees of fervor to portray himself as a change agent for Washington, often playing up his private-sector background and arguing that he has not been in politics long enough to be “infected.” In September, he even rolled out the slogan “change begins with us.”

Often, however, the point has gotten lost in Mr. Romney’s speeches as he has tried to hit a jumble of other notes establishing his conservative credentials. It is also a balancing act for any Republican presidential candidate to try to carry off, given how popular President Bush remains with the Republican base. […]

Yuh-huh. The larger question: Has the noisy and frantic candidate from Bain Capital learned how to stay on message? See:

Luo: “Ever since Mr. Romney began his presidential bid, his campaign has oscillated between two distinct, some would say contradictory, themes—Mr. Romney as a conservative standard-bearer and him as a pragmatic problem-solving businessman”

Also: Romney has been reduced to a regional player after months of ridiculing the other campaigns for their regional stronghold strategies. Romney’s last redoubt (or firewall)? Michigan.

[…] A loss in New Hampshire would be devastating for the Romney campaign, his aides privately conceded, given their stated strategy of winning “early and often.” They argue that they will be able to fight on, with Michigan’s primary on Jan. 15 acting as a fire wall. The campaign has recently stepped up efforts in Michigan, where Mr. Romney has deep roots, releasing an advertisement focused on the economy and starting a direct-mail campaign on economic issues. […]

Yeahright. This is meaningless noise of course. Romney has no base, no region, no natural constituency. He cannot carry his home state. He is running against his own record of governance and policy. He will fight on because he is flush with funds, his own funds in the form of the patrimony of his beloved sons, whether NH or MI decide for him or not.

For months the chattering classes insisted that Romney’s national strategy indicated the candidate’s strength. They claimed Romney was the only GOP candidate in control of his destiny. They also argued that the regional stronghold strategy of the other candidates was an artifact of their various weakness etc. We argued here on this blog that precisely the opposite is the case. It is precisely because Romney has no natural constituency, and no base, that the hapless candidate is constrained to try to “win early and often” to compensate. This is why we refer to Romney’s desperate early state plan as his von Schlieffen plan, another shock-and-awe plan that depended for its success on lightening and nearly simultaneous victories on multiple fronts, and another plan that failed to survive its first encounter with grim reality.

Our surmise: Romney knows by now that he cannot win the GOP nomination through the primary process. His only chance is a brokered convention. And his only chance of prevailing at a brokered convention is to so slime his rivals that none can any longer rise to national standing.

Does this sound preposterous? Of course it does. But the one premise we use to ground all our analyses posted to this blog is that whatever Romney says is the case is either

(a) flat wrong


(b) the precise opposite of what is actually the case

To satisfy yourself that our method returns fairly predictive and explanatory results, peruse our blog going back to last summer.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.


“WASHINGTON – The great burden of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign is that he is the sole Republican competing in all of the key early contests that begin with next Thursday’s Iowa caucus,” writes Ronald Brownstein of the National Journal in an article titled Romney is betting big to win big; Former Mass. governor must divide efforts between Iowa and N.H.

That could also prove Romney’s great opportunity.

One by one, each of Romney’s competitors has retreated to a regional stronghold strategy. Mike Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, is running hard in Iowa and in South Carolina — two states where he benefits from the large presence of evangelical conservatives — but is largely skipping more secular New Hampshire.

Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson is following the same path, though leaving a lighter footprint. Arizona Sen. John McCain, though he incongruously turned up for a rally in Des Moines Thursday morning, has no real organization in Iowa and has invested almost all his time and money in New Hampshire.

Rudy Giuliani hopes to attract some media attention with an Iowa visit this weekend, but he long ago abandoned the state and has now retrenched his television advertising in New Hampshire, too. He’s betting on Florida, which doesn’t vote until Jan. 29 — light years away in campaign time.

Only Romney is competing all-out in Iowa and New Hampshire — as well as in Michigan, South Carolina and Florida, the other major January contests. This pattern presents Romney with an obvious disadvantage. With the Iowa caucus approaching on Jan. 3, and the New Hampshire primary following just five days later, Romney must divide his effort while his opponents concentrate theirs. But his broader reach also presents him a greater opportunity for early breakthroughs — and a greater capacity to survive an early stumble.

For Brownstein, Romney’s broader reach provides him

(a) capacity for early breakthroughs


(b) resilience, i.e. a greater capacity to survive an early stumble

About (a)

Romney’s performance in the early states to date predicts no early breakthroughs apart from those Romney can purchase at great expense.

Regard: When Gov. Huckabee’s numbers in Iowa began to rise, his numbers in e.g. SC, MI, FL, and nationally, began to rise too—despite losing ground in Iowa Gov. Huckabees numbers in other states continues to rise or remain competitive. According to Newport of Gallup these correlations “preview” how Gov. Huckabee’s performance in Iowa would affect later races. When Romney’s numbers sailed in the stratosphere for months and months in Iowa, his poll numbers elsewhere and nationally failed to budge except in media markets where Romney had purchased Gross Ratings Points (GRPs) approaching near saturation. This is the case even now as Romney’s numbers have begun to recover in Iowa—nationally, and in other states, Romney’s numbers are static or falling. 


What the Huckabee “boomlet” reveals about Romney

Conclusion: Breakthroughs? What breakthroughs? What the Romneys hope for is not a breakthrough; rather, they hope to outlast the other candidates, to become the default option for want of any other options. This is why Romney has suddenly turned so perilously negative, spewing slime in all directions: he intends to be the last candidate standing.

About (b)

Brownstein—if we read him correctly—seems to reason that Romney can lose more states—i.e. “stumble” more, especially early on—because Romney intends to contest more states. Yes, but what makes Romney resilient is not his early state von Schleiffen plan in which Romney wagers everything on early wins, but rather Romney’s vast personal wealth.

Back to Brownstein:

The contrast in strategy rests on a disparity in resources. Romney can fight on more fronts because his personal fortune allows him to sign checks for his campaign on the front as well as the back.

Yuh-huh. Exactly as we said.

But the other candidates’ stronghold strategies also reflect the limits of their reach within the party. McCain and Giuliani are hobbled in Iowa and South Carolina by resistance from the evangelical conservatives who dominate both contests. In mirror image, Huckabee and Thompson are burdened in New Hampshire by their lack of connection with socially moderate voters. (Huckabee faces the additional hurdle of suspicion from many leading economic conservatives.) Each has written off some early states because they do not believe they fit with Republican voters there.

“With the exception of Romney, people have put together campaigns that… are designed around their weaknesses,” notes GOP consultant Terry Nelson, the former campaign manager for McCain.

Yuh-huh. Precisely.

“It’s gone,” said Ed Rollins, who once worked as President Reagan’s political director and recently became Mr. Huckabee’s national campaign chairman. “The breakup of what was the Reagan coalition — social conservatives, defense conservatives, antitax conservatives — it doesn’t mean a whole lot to people anymore,” writes David D. Kirkpatrick in a NYT article titled Shake, Rattle and Roil the Grand Ol’ Coalition

“It is a time for a whole new coalition — that is the key,” he said, adding that some part of the original triad might “go by the wayside.”

We explain why we need a new coalition elsewhere:

… It seem odd to us to argue on historical grounds—e.g. “winners of the early states tend to win the nomination”—and yet ignore history. Regard: Friedman’s insights in a X101010011101 post titled Gaming the US Elections

… The first rule [of US presidential politics since 1960] is that no Democrat from outside the old Confederacy has won the White House since John F. Kennedy …

The second rule is that no Republican has won the White House since Eisenhower who wasn’t from one of the two huge Sunbelt states: California or Texas (Eisenhower, though born in Texas, was raised in Kansas) …

The third rule is that no sitting senator has won the presidency since Kennedy …

That being the case, the Democrats appear poised to commit electoral suicide again, with two northern senators (Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama) in the lead, and the one southern contender, John Edwards, well back in the race. The Republicans, however, are not able to play to their strength. There are no potential candidates in Texas or California to draw on. Texas right now just doesn’t have players ready for the national scene. California does, but Arnold Schwarzenegger is constitutionally ineligible by birth. In a normal year, a charismatic Republican governor of California would run against a northern Democratic senator and mop the floor. It’s not going to happen this time.

Instead, the Republicans appear to be choosing between a Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney, and a former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani. Unless Texan Ron Paul can pull off a miracle, the Republicans appear to be going with their suicide hand just like the Democrats. Even if Fred Thompson gets the nomination, he comes from Tennessee, and while he can hold the South, he will have to do some heavy lifting elsewhere … etc., etc.

Therefore: It is not enough to say that the ordinary rules do not hold this election cycle; rather: it is simply and absolutely impossible for the ordinary rules to hold.

HENCE: What Brownstein refers to as the strategy of regional strongholds reflects the activities of campaigns organized on more rational bases than Team Romney, i.e. campaigns more closely coupled to their constituencies and sources of funding and support.

Political life specifies itself in space—geography, demography, and ideology. Further: it is a commonplace of political campaigning that you build a base, a coalition, then you pivot toward the center to capture the middle. This is precisely the goal that you can observe the other campaigns pursuing. If the other campaigns present a more partial, less fully realized character it is because they have yet to have realized a coalition upon which they can begin to develop themes and larger narratives. In simpler terms, the other campaigns are learning.

Back to Brownstein:

More than any of his rivals, Romney is presenting himself as the candidate who can unify fiscal, social and foreign policy conservatives, and also reach out beyond the party base. Yet after amassing a governing record in Massachusetts more moderate than his current campaign tone, he continues to face doubts about his authenticity from many Republicans, especially social conservatives.

Translation: Romney has no base, no constituency. None. Instead: Romney “presents”—portrays, attempts to depict—himself as the candidate “who can unify fiscal, social, and foreign policy conservatives” etc. Lacking the nerve or the imagination necessary to develop a coalition on the ground, the Romneys hope to inherit an existing one on the assumption that it does still exist.

Back to Brownstein:

Concern about his Mormon faith, again especially among social conservatives, has created another hurdle. (In a CBS poll [PDF] earlier this month, fully 51% of South Carolina Republican evangelicals expressed an unfavorable view of Mormonism.) Laboring under both sets of doubts, Romney has fallen behind Huckabee in Iowa and watched McCain dramatically reduce his long-standing advantage in New Hampshire.

Romney has counterattacked, fiercely portraying McCain as too liberal on taxes and immigration in New Hampshire and targeting Huckabee on those two issues in Iowa. Neither state is in Romney’s grasp. But both remain within his reach, something no other Republican can say.

We discuss Romney’s war on two fronts here:

In show of solidarity and support. Gov. Huckabee defends Sen. McCain against Romney’s false, unfair, and highly personal attacks—also: how the concerted efforts of the McCain-Huckabee axis gets more for a more minimal investement

Back to Brownstein:

Romney might recognize, from his business school days, the dynamic that has provided him this opportunity. His competitors are trying to maximize their individual prospects by focusing on the states where they believe their chances are best. But the cumulative effect of those decisions is to threaten all of them by leaving nothing between Romney and potentially decisive victories in the first two contests except two underfunded (if charismatic and often compelling) opponents: McCain in New Hampshire and Huckabee in Iowa. It’s “the prisoner’s dilemma” applied to politics.

The result is that Romney now stands at the fulcrum of the Republican race. If Romney loses Iowa — after massively outspending Huckabee — the negative publicity could depress Romney’s support in New Hampshire enough to allow McCain to pass him there, too. Then Romney would be grievously, probably fatally, wounded, and the Republican race wide open.

But Romney, alone among the contenders, still has a window of opportunity to consolidate a commanding advantage by winning both Iowa and New Hampshire. That would likely deny his rivals the financial infusions all of them will need to fully compete through the remaining January states and the avalanche of contests looming on Feb. 5.

We disagree.

We would argue that Romney has so massively and disproportionately over-spent in Iowa, and has gone so viciously negative in both Iowa and New Hampshire, that Romney has denied himself in advance the perception of an unequivocal victory—i.e. a clean win—whether he wins in one or both states. The other campaigns can—and will, and with perfect justification—argue that a more equal contest would have returned different results, that Romney’s viability is only an artifact of his vast personal fortune, and that on those grounds alone Romney, and what Romney represents, must be stopped etc. We discuss these issues here:

Romney has so botched his operations in Iowa and New Hampshire that observers now predict e.g. either a contested convention or, in one case, that Michigan will decide the nomination.

Back to Brownstein:

To win the nomination, McCain, Thompson, Giuliani and even Huckabee all probably need someone to beat Romney early on. Only Romney holds his fate in his own hands. That’s no guarantee of success, but candidates always prefer to control their own destiny. Romney is the last Republican who can still plausibly say that he does. … etc.

We shall see. We still predict that Romney loses both Iowa and New Hampshire. We also predict that Romney will continue to campaign until the GOP convention.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“[Mayor Giuliani’s slide] would seem great for Mitt Romney, the Rudy Giuliani challenger,” writes the all-seeing eye in an post titled Huck rises, Rudy slides, Romney’s strategy breaks down

But not so much. I think that this dynamic of Rudy falling and Huckabee rising creates a very serious challenge for Romney. You see, his proposition has long been that conservatives should rally around him because he can defeat Rudy. But if Rudy is … falling … then that argument goes out the window …

… Well. It seems like, on the day before the big Mormon speech, the Romney guys might need a new rationale for how they get conservatives.

And the Rudy guys, without being the frontrunner, may have a real problem on their hands.

They may have a problem on their hands, or they may not.

It is possible that losing now sets Mayor Giuliani up for victory later. As we have argued elsewhere, Hizzonor is historically a balance-of-power player, one who thrives in a crowded field, a unique entity in US presidential politics as most presidents tend to rise from the strong executive offices of state governors. Regard:

The question that has dominated the GOP contest is, “Should we nominate someone as liberal as Rudy on social issues?”—writes Dick Morris in a post titled HILLARY, RUDY MAY KNOW LIFE AFTER DEATH

The answer among the stalwarts is obviously no. As long as the social conservatives are divided among four candidates, Rudy has a shot. But when they rally behind one man (probably Huckabee) conservatives outnumber moderates in Republican primaries, particularly if the independents are drawn into the Democratic primary by Hillary’s new vulnerability.

But by losing, Rudy shifts the focus. Republicans will ask, “Is America ready to elect a Mormon?” (unfortunately not) and, “Are we ready to go with Romney or Huckabee who have no experience in foreign or military affairs?” Once again, Rudy will profit from the shift in focus his defeat in the early contests will trigger.

Of course, the real question that will determine Giuliani’s fate is how seriously we take the threat of terrorism. There is no reason to nominate Giuliani except for his demonstrated ability to fight terrorism. This threat is the only way a Republican can win and Rudy has a huge edge in making terrorism his issue. But the subject has been virtually absent from the Republican debates of late and the national discourse. Rudy needs to get that fixed if he is to have a chance to recover from early defeats.

But recover they both likely will. Remember how Gary Hart beat Mondale in New Hampshire in 1984 and Mondale came back to win? And how Paul Tsongas beat Clinton there in 1992 and Clinton eventually won? And how McCain defeated Bush in New Hampshire in 2000 but how Bush came back to win? Different year. New candidates. Same deal.

Others agree:

“There’s a new term this year in the political lexicon: ‘momentum-proof,'” writes Charlie Cook of the in an Off to the Races post titled Hey, Mo! Early State Victories May Not Figure Into Who Wins Nomination Nods

It was coined a few weeks ago by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s top strategists to make the point that their candidate’s support in the states that come after Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan and South Carolina was sufficiently large enough that he could lose in the early states and still hold on to win enough delegates to capture the GOP presidential nomination.

While no candidate has lost the first four contests and come back to win the nomination, Giuliani’s handlers made a case that this was plausible, and it could turn out to be true. Indeed, itmay be even more likely now than it was when Giuliani’s people first articulated it.

If former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney loses the Iowa caucuses to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee or wins unimpressively, and if subsequent victories in his next-door-neighbor state of New Hampshire and his native state of Michigan ring a little hollow because they are viewed as home games for Romney, Giuliani might be able to mount a successful comeback.

While Giuliani has been hit with some tough and potentially damaging stories about his personal life and expenditures during his tenure as mayor in recent days, it hasn’t been a good time for Romney, either.

If Huckabee had resources and a real organization, this would be the perfect scenario. But he doesn’t, and it isn’t clear that he’ll get them in the next month. If Romney has an ace in the hole, it’s that he will be in a position to outspend Huckabee by a 20-to-1 ratio over the next month — more if necessary. Any Romney victory may require him to win ugly.

The sharp delineation between Romney, the front-runner in the first three or four states, and Giuliani, who leads most other places, makes this race so confounding and wonderful. Historical nomination patterns are being challenged …

We drew the same conclusions weeks and weeks ago. Should it please us that others finally—finally!—are beginning to see through the Romney fog? Well, it does. See:

Update, 12.8: Patrick Ruffini also agrees with us. See Mitt/Hick fight helps Rudy.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

The story—a composite of many such stories from Livy’s War with Hannibal—would go like this: The highly-trained and superbly-equipped Romans would invest a hillside or a bridgehead with one of their famous marching camps—ditch, rampart, palisade.

Later, Hannibal would dispatch a few hundred foot and a squadron of horse to march on the Roman camp in no good order.

The Romans would repulse Hannibal’s troops. The Romans would then march out of their camp in force to pursue the routed attackers and, almost invariably, discover themselves caught in a trap as Punic foot and horse would spring from the hollows or defiles in which they hid themselves. The Romans would be weary from marching and fighting on the march; the new Punic forces would be far fewer in number, but they would be fed, rested, and confident in their knowledge of the terrain.

The Romans, fighting to extricate themselves, would then see either (a) smoke rising from their base-camp, or (b) fresh troops suddenly appearing to their rear or on their flanks. The result would be a moral collapse among the Roman forces; they would break ranks, scatter, and the Punic forces would defeat them in detail.

This is the so-called Punic strategy—ruses, feints, traps, followed by moral collapse—this is how Hannibal defeated forces possessed of greater numbers and superior arms with his loosely cohering bands of stragglers and misfits from Spain, Africa, and Gaul.

Turn your attention to Romney. Romney remains pinned down in the early-primary states, hemorrhaging millions in media buys as he spends every waking moment campaigning. Suddenly, to Romney’s rear, in a state that Romney believed bought and paid for, Huckabee appears flush with new cash and, according to rumor an impending endorsement from Dr. James Dobson. See:

Also: McCain is recovering in the polls. A resurgent McCain could cost Romney New Hampshire.

Question: are these developments all just grim coincidence for the hapless candidate from Bain Capital?—well, what is Mayor Giuliani telling the world about his plans?

“Wednesday, after the announcement that Pat Robertson was endorsing his candidacy, Giuliani sat down with me for a talk about strategy,” writes Byron York of the formerly conservative and shamelessly pro-Romney National Review in an article titled, prosaically, The Race Rudy Will Run Giuliani talks state-by-state strateg

The plan he described basically involves counting backward from February 5, that is, first establishing himself in the mega-primary states — with Florida a must-win contest — and then taking up the fight in the smaller early states. It’s a big-risk, big-reward strategy, given the possibility that another candidate might dominate the early primaries, knocking Giuliani out of the running before the big states began to vote.

“Everybody has their own theory,” Giuliani told me. “Our theory was to get the big states organized, try to beat everybody else to getting the big states organized, so you have them as a fallback, and then take your resources and start to expend them in the states that come up first. And now we’re going to do that.”

Translation: I have organized my base and am now prepared to maneuver beyond it—I will take the fight to Romney. What the always-a-little befuddled York seems to miss: a split decision, or a failure to achieve a clear decision, in the early states is a win for Giuliani no matter what other candidate emerges still standing. See:

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

… “just for fun let’s assume that Romney wins in Iowa and New Hampshire, and let’s throw in another early state or two (say, South Carolina and/or Michigan). Would this make Romney unstoppable?”—asks Paul of in a post titled Is Romney’s dream scenario a winning scenario?

Lots of astute folks seem to think so, but I’m not sure. Much would depend, I suspect, on how Romney is faring in the head-to-head match-up with Hillary Clinton at that point. Right now, most polls show Clinton defeating Romney decisively, Giuliani and McCain do better. If that’s still the situation even after Romney wins a few primaries, one can easily imagine a backlash against Romney among Republican voters in other states …

… most Republicans really want to win in 2008, and so it may be quite difficult for Romney to seal the deal with Republicans unless either

[Romney] gets significantly closer to Hillary in the head-to-head


Hillary pulls away from Giuliani and McCain … etc.

The formatting is ours.

Our response to the issue of whether Romney is competitive against Sen. Clinton: Who bloody cares!? Our fear is not that a GOP-nominee Romney would lose to Sen. Clinton in the general election. Our one great fear is that Willard Milton Romney could possibly win in the general election. That would be disastrous. Why? Well, there’s this:

Jackson: “The Boston Globe reports that as governor, Romney ‘passed over GOP lawyers for three quarters of the 36 judicial court vacancies he faced, instead tapping registered Democrats or Independents including two gay lawyers who have supported expanded same-sex rights’” 

And: on a more visceral, emotional level, there’s this:

Regard: “… Marra was still interested in Edwards,” writes JS in a New Hampshire 2007 post titled, strangely, Nothing Could be Finer Than Being in Your Diner

She liked his “No Nukes” pledge. She did not like Romney, although I didn’t know why. We had only seen his local headquarters. She told me, “He’s mean.” She mocked his voice, “When Republicans start acting like Democrats, Republicans lose.” That’s from one of Romney’s NH ads. I guess it ran a few times on TV during the trip, and Marra nailed the text cold. I was finding that whenever any candidate spoke negatively about another candidate, she really picked up on that instinctively, and it turned her off. Pollsters will tell us that negative ads work. They never polled the pre-teen crowd …

The emphasis is ours.

Even children don’t like Romney …

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“… 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:


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.