Posts Tagged ‘negative’

“The conservative Wonkosphere continued to focus most of its attention on Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, the two front-runners in the upcoming Iowa caucus. Both are kind of hobbling into the finish line though–most of the attention to both of them is strongly negative, and this negativity has gone on for the last 3 weeks,” writes WonkoKevin for the WonkoBlog in a post titled Ennui: Conservative bloggers increase their negative focus on Huckabee and Romney

… IF we assume that conservative bloggers yesterday are of similar sentiment to conservative voters in Iowa, then we might predict low turnout, which helps Huckabee, probably helps Paul challenge for third place … etc.

Pass in review. What happens when your own negatives are high and you go negative? You implode.

Rasmussen Reports: Romney has the least core support, and the most core opposition of all the leading candidates, Republican or Democrat—these findings predict the sudden and fierce backlash against Romney’s negative attacks on other candidates

This explains Romney’s sudden and wild over-spending—on top of his earlier over-spending—in Iowa. He needs to compensate for the collapse of his own support. Evidence: Romney’s ROI for his every campaign dollar continues to plummet; he spends wildly, he spends more and more, yet his numbers are static.

Romney’s Kevin Madden “flabbergasted” at Team Romney’s helplessness against under-funded and un-organized Gov. Huckabee—Romney loses control of his spending says Carr—more on Romney’s fantastically low ROI for his every campaign dollar

yours &c.
dr. g.d.


You can track these trends here.

“What’s going on?” asks WonkoKevin in a wonkoblog post titled Clinton and Paul’s waning dominance in political blogosphere suggests shifting attentions [The emphases are ours, as are changes in formatting to foreground points]

These data suggest that, as one might expect, the Wonkosphere is transitioning from a pre-primary to primary phase, and that means all of the old “attentional structure” that has existed is going to become much less significant in light of upcoming voting results.

What do we mean by “attentional structure”, and why is it important?

It comes from two sources.

First, the Wonkosphere directory is made up of the 1200 plus most prominent political blogs in the country. In the directory there are a significant number of “candidate-only” blogs–blogs that are unabashedly for a single candidate, and may even only talk about that candidate. This is why Ron Paul has had relatively more buzz share than other Republicans, and why Bill Richardson has had relatively less buzz share compared to other Democrats. It’s also why the predictive ability of Wonkosphere buzz share is based on changes in buzz share, not absolute buzz share.

The second source of “bias” in buzz share is the bias that bloggers have towards particular candidates, for any number of reasons. For example, the liberal blogosphere settled on Joe Biden months ago as the 4th candidate, and it’s been that way ever since.

The deterioration of Clinton and Paul’s dominance indicates that the Wonkosphere has shifted into a different phase where those old historical tendencies won’t matter as much, a kind of a change point. We would expect as much with Iowa at our doorstep, and the data is proving it out. A huge increase in the number of blog posts that is occurring now is overwhelming the candidate-only blogs (hence Ron Paul’s decline in buzz share, even though his total buzz amount is about the same). Previous attentional biases are being wiped clean as every new poll comes out and every news item butterfly flaps its wings.

So Clinton and Paul are down, but who else is hot and who’s not according to Wonkosphere data? …

… Barack Obama has moved up from 25% to 32% liberal buzz share in the last 2 weeks.

Ditto Mitt Romney, who has moved from 16% to 23% … etc.

Yet precisely at the moment that buzzshare decouples from the candidate-only blogs, and but hours away from a decision in Iowa, the tone of Romney’s buzzshare trends decidedly negative, especially among conservatives where it has dropped beneath the critical 0.1 level.

Gov. Huckabee’s buzzshare tone trends negative too, way negative, yet his poll numbers are holding.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“Just in time for Christmas, Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has begun mailing out one of the more overtly negative attacks in New Hampshire, attacking rivals on immigration and looking to give them a black eye — literally,” writes Marc Santora in a NYT The Caucus blog entry titled Romney Goes Negative

… On the same day voters were receiving the pamphlet, the New Hampshire Union Leader was criticizing Mr. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, in a front-page editorial for employing illegal immigrants to care for his yard. The newspaper, which has endorsed Mr. McCain, asked how Mr. Romney could manage the country if he could not manage his own backyard … etc.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

… “A muddle in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Michigan is the ideal scenario for Giuliani. His campaign has acknowledged as much privately for months and did so publicly earlier this week in a conference call with reporters. ‘Regardless of how [the] early states line up, there are 1,038 delegates [to be had] on February 5th,’ said campaign manager Mike Duhaime, as reported by Politico’s Jonathan Martin,” writes the apt and precise Chris Cillizza in a post titled 50 Days Out: GOP Race Continues to Confound for WaPo’s THE FIX, as in, THE FIX is IN, only it isn’t, because as Cillizza reports, the fix is anything but in.

What interests us, however, is that Cillizza’s analysis maps on to ours almost point for point. See:

Our point: Mayor Giuliani does not need wins in the early states; characteristic of a strategy based on a complete economy of effort and conservation of means, all Mayor Giuliani needs are muddles going into super-duper Apocalypse-Tuesday. Why is this the case?—because Mayor Giuliani and the other candidates are tacitly concerting their separate operations contra Romney, whether by choice or by design, as Cillizza himself observes when he writes:

… The other major factor that helps explain the lack of a clear leader for Republicans is that several of the top-tier candidates are picking and choosing where to campaign when it comes to the early states — a strategic decision that has the potential to diffuse the momentum typically gained by winning early …

Just so. Translation: Like a fortified garrison attempting to fend off an insurgency, Romney is getting swarmed by under-funded but high-ROI operations that are distracting his attention, dissipating his strengths, dispersing his energies, and provoking him into operationally costly pursuits. Further: Since Romney is perceived as the local front-runner—and since his opponents are famously under-funded and un- or under-organized—Romney constantly gets cast as the clumsy and halting Goliath pitted against courageous and agile Davids. If Romney fails to fend off a threat, he looks weak, ineffectual; if he does fend off a threat, he looks small and petty for having paid any attention to it at all. We predicted this outcome too:

Romney bravely—or unwittingly—faces the gathering storm, er, we mean swarm

Other point: his imperious majesty, the lord-high Romney, is following the “historical” or “traditional” path to the nomination as he repeats to us in every interview. … I am following the traditional path to the nomination … I am following the traditional path to the nomination … The so-called traditional path, which has become the Romney von Schlieffen plan (a lightening strike on 2 fronts to secure the center) consists of

(a) consolidating the conservative base


(b) securing insurmountable leads in the early state primaries

Question: Why is the traditional path—the Romney von Schlieffen plan—not working? Because Romney is deeply confused—no, he is not following the traditional path to the nomination—read carefully: there is no traditional path to the nomination in this election cycle. (For example, were Romney following the traditional path he would be from Texas or California, which he is not.) As we wrote elsewhere:

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.

Conclusion: 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.

Here is where we depart from Cillizza:

… The other way that Romney will drive that message home is through an increased level of personal spending. As of Sept. 30, Romney had contributed $17 million of his own money to the campaign and estimates of his eventual giving range from $40 million to $80 million. Romney’s personal wealth has both obvious and not-so-obvious benefits. The obvious? He can fully fund television and ground operations in every early state. The not-so-obvious? No matter how much Romney’s opponents raise and put on television, he can always one-up them. Run two negative ads against him? Romney can respond with two negative ads against an opponent and a positive ad of his own. It’s a daunting challenge that came up regularly in conversations with strategists for other campaigns …

This is true on its face. But it fails to account for Romney’s own high—historically high, unprecedentedly high—negatives.

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)

Common wisdom: you cannot go negative when your own negatives are high. This is why the Romney camp even now skulks about in their posh water-front headquarters trying to decide whether to pull the trigger on national hero, Mayor Giuliani. Romney goes negative only at his own peril. Hence:

Giuliani illuminates in NH—first commercial released—desperate, disorganized, and divided Romney camp wracked by indecision about how to respond

Our surmise—which follows only from our training in rhetoric:

The campaign that can provoke Team Romney into a “contrastive” ad strategy will be the campaign that defeats Romney. Romney’s remote personality and high negatives will simply not support a negative message


The campaign that can attack Romney’s positions and policy reversals and laugh wholesomely while it does so—i.e. use effectively the instruments of ridicule, satire, and joking mockery—will be the campaign that defeats Romney decisively. Romney simply has no sense of humor

(By defeat we mean render un-viable. Romney’s titanic ego will require him to campaign up to the convention no matter what the outcome.)

Moral: No campaign needs to fear Romney. He can puff up like a blow-fish or change colors like a chameleon, but he cannot attack you without dire consequence to himself.

Recall: President Clinton could go viciously negative in 1996 because he was perceived as a likable goof-ball. Sen. Dole, however … Further example: then Gov. Bush went famously negative against Sen. McCain in 2000, but, again, Bush also had that likable goof-ball thing going for him. Contrast that with Romney’s carefully studied pose of serene competence. Hence: When Romney emits negative noise he appears cruel, calculating, imperious and aloof—the man scares people, and people do not elect scary presidents. Their sense of fair play will not allow it.

And: contrary to the conventional wisdom, to take out Romney will not be a suicide mission. Gov. Bush survived to become president. By way of contrast, Gov. Dean and Rep. Gephardt went super-nova because both were drastic men in desperate positions.

Anyway, whatever. We’re getting tired of being right all the time. The way you grow, the way you learn, is to make mistakes, review them, and attempt to correct against them.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“ROMNEY FACES ANOTHER PROBLEM,” writes the remarkably candid Dean Barnett in an exquisitely reasoned and well argued essay titled Romney and the New Paradigm.

… All the Republican candidates substantively stand for pretty much the same things. The key question for the Republican electorate on most every issue will be, “Who do you trust?” For instance, Rudy Giuliani says he’ll appoint judges cut from the same cloth as Roberts and Alito. The Mayor will insist Republican voters can trust him to keep his word on that matter if elected. His opponents will say otherwise.

After 10 months, the race has boiled down to its essence. Each candidate will be left to say that he’s the trustworthy one, and that his opponents are dishonest politicians saying anything to gain office. In other words, the last four months of the nomination process promise to be relentlessly ugly.

This isn’t Romney’s home turf, and not because he’s too gentle a soul to get down in the mud. Anyone who knows anything about the companies Romney ran (Bain & Company and Bain Capital) knows that the kind of guy who excelled in those arenas can sling political mud if he’s of a mind to do so.

The problem for Romney with the 2008 election’s emerging paradigm is that he’s most impressive when displaying his command of the issues. If Romney’s going to spend most of his time insulting the other guys and saying they can’t be trusted, then his campaign won’t capitalize on his greatest strengths–his affability and his intelligence. His campaign will neutralize its candidate’s greatest strengths.

I’ve known Mitt Romney for almost 14 years. I’ve always thought he would make a great president. Romney’s intellect and genuine decency are truly impressive. Yesterday, his campaign unveiled yet another new theme: “Change begins with us.” While this nugget probably knocked some focus group in Sheboygan on its collective ear, its sheer vapidity is almost painful. Right now, Romney is running a campaign of empty platitudes and constant attacks.

If the Romney campaign allows the country to know the man that I’ve gotten to know, Romney has an excellent shot at being the next president. If Romney’s campaign continues on its current path, he’ll likely be folding up his tent shortly after Iowaetc., etc.

The emphases are ours, all ours.

This essay is so impressive. Finally, a friend of Romney who is not a fawning sycophant.

We would argue that Romney cannot go negative because Romney’s own negatives are historically, unprecedentedly high, higher than any other candidate whether Republican or Democrat. Barnett, OTOH, argues that Romney should not go negative as this detaches Romney from relying on his command of the issues to build his case for a Romney presidency. Romney loses when the discussion turns to trust, character, and who will most reliably represent Republican principles, whatever those happen to be anymore.

Here is our problem with Barnett’s reasoning: “[Romney’s] brain,” Barnette claims, “truly doesn’t have an off switch. He is always thinking, always calculating. He has a restless mind that surrounds and smothers every issue and every problem. In truth, his combination of electric intelligence and relentless intellectual curiosity is his greatest strength.” Greatest strength?—hardly. Not when what is required—or what is hoped for—from a candidate is both clarity and, especially, gravity—gravitas—a sense of weight or weightedness, a sense of not getting blown about by gust of new or contrary data. Constancy, consistency—this is what inspires trust. This is what Romney simply cannot deliver. See:

Rubin: Romney “doesn’t seem to like his audience much, and they don’t like him,” in which Jennifer Rubin argues with respect to Romney’s allegedly “restless brain”: “Mr. Romney has also made a fetish of checking the policy boxes for social conservatives and rolling out a slew of policy papers with accompanying PowerPoint presentations. Voters soon sense that he has many ideas but little gravitas. He has lots of pitches—the “three-legged stool” of conservative values, “change” and “private sector experience”—but no overarching theme or core. If Mr. Giuliani is tough and Mr. Thompson is soothing, what is he?”

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“‘Going to war is the most serious decision a president can make,’ said Adm. Robert J. Natter, former commander in chief of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet and an adviser to Giuliani. ‘Lawyers should not debate while our national security is on the line. In these momentous decisions, we need leadership, not litigation,'” as quoted by the estimable Jake Tapper in an transmission titled
Giuliani Camp Slams Romney Over ‘Lawyers Test’; New York Mayor Takes Aim at Iowa, New Hampshire Front-Runner

Thompson, Paul Get In on the Act

Aides to former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson also challenged the Romney response, telling the National Review’s Byron York after the debate, “When it comes to our nation’s security, it will be our generals that Fred Thompson sits down with first, not our attorneys” more

Geraghty of NRO—probably still smarting over the hilariously mis-executed pasting he took from an angry and inarticulate “friend of Mitt”—reproduces the entire Giuliani press release in a Campaign Spot post titled Giuliani Sees an Echo of Kerry in Romney’s Lawyer Answer

It’s a Republican pile-on, with Romney at the bottom. Or is it?—well, it could be. Question: Will the Romneys take the bait and respond in kind? We predict they will. And if they do, they will pay for their mistake most dearly. For Romney to be seen attacking—yes, attacking—e.g. America’s mayor or 9.11 fame would be damaging in itself. But here is the real problem for the Romneys: Romney’s negatives are too high to go negative without self-destructing.

We explore the issue of Romney’s negatives elsewhere:

Here is what we concluded then, and what we still hold to now:

Again, see:

Rasmussen poll: Romney unelectable in general election; polarizing figure; 25% of republicans say they would definately vote against Romney

Allow us to articulate our argument in more familiar terms. It is common wisdom that a candidate whose negatives are high should not go negative. The negative campaigner may bring down her rival or rivals, but not without bringing herself down as well. Does any remember Dick Gephardt’s bitter attacks on Howard Dean and how they backfired on him? Neither do we. But the same was once said about Gephardt as is now said about Romney by Geraghty and others. Gephardt, however, was at least limited by the poverty of his campaign and Gephardt’s own loyalty to the interests of his party.

Romney has high negatives and has clearly gone negative. He has a far smaller-narrower base of support but far, far more resources than Gephardt ever had. And: Romney has far less of a commitment to the success of the GOP than Gephardt, a loyal soldier to the end, had to the DNC.

So: Imagine a Republican Dick Gephardt, on steroids, angry, alienated, estranged, adrift, and with no larger sense of party loyalty to restrain him, a man surrounded by hirelings, contractors, and highly-paid specialists, as opposed to the usual politicos, interest group players, and party insiders that surround other candidates, i.e. people with larger and longer term interests at stake. Now imagine that this hypothetical Republican Gephardt with nothing to lose but everything to gain has both the will and the resources necessary to slime and vilify whatever candidate or candidates he chooses.

This is Willard Milton Romney.

And this is where we are at this historical moment.

These are interesting times for the GOP … more

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

Context: A “friend of Mitt” suffers the online version of a brain aneurysm that causes him to behave in a manner he affects to condenm in a cry-for-help of a post titled Hey, Jim Geraghty, how about some context?

… I’m sick and tiredcomplains the exasperated “friend of Mitt”of people who make charges and don’t give any details. Jim says “Neither man has a perfect record” but he gives no examples of why they weren’t perfect. I understand that no one is perfect, but Jim makes it sound like he has a specific complaint, but he keeps that to his smug self, and lets us guess, or just assume that he has actual examples of their shortcomings. So, according to Jim, who has a perfect record? Romney balanced a 3 billion dollar deficit without raising taxes. What more does Jim want? … more

The dialog develops along these lines:

Geraghty responds: “I’m going to ignore the typically charming comments about my disappointing intellectual rigor, the suggestion that candidates declare Reagan was perfect, my smugness, etc. I’ll just note that with persuasive friends like this, Mitt Romney could use a few more enemies,” responds the flustered and flummoxed Geraghty, who then issues a point-for-point rejoinder in the form of a clarification and statement of facts titled So What Did Romney Mean When He Said, “I Was an Independent During Reagan-Bush”?

(Question: why do so many questions about Romney and his campaign reduce to “So what did Romney really mean … ?—conclusion: Romney has a serious communication problem among his other image issues.)

In response to Geraghty’s response, the so-called “Friend of Mitt” gibbers, pants, barks, and spits: “Jim is not engaging in a debate of ideas. He is trying to avoid the issues by talking about us vs. them. I stick by the logical soundness of everything I said in my post. Jim did not respond to a single point I made. Fine. Points don’t matter if you don’t have your facts right. But I have all my facts correct now, and I re-assert every single one of my arguments,” writes the Friend-of-Mitt in a horrendously tedious, digressive, whining, defensive, often fallacious, nit-picking, and convoluted rejoinder titled According to Jim Geraghty … and redolent of a USENET flame riposte or instance of Fisking.

What was it that Henry Kissinger once said of the Iran-Iraq war?—It’s a shame they can’t both lose, in this case Geraghty and the “Friend of Mitt.” But this much we appreciate: Geraghty did not roll over this time. This gave the Romney flak the opportunity to demonstrate in prose the campaign’s true character and intentions. Consider: “Jim is not engaging in a debate of ideas. He is trying to avoid the issues by talking about us vs them”—huh!?—this attempt to reframe the question of the propositional content of Romeny’s own claim into a “debate of ideas” is as sad as it is transparent. But what really provokes laughter is how this “friend of Mitt” draws his gassy screed to a close:

  1. I stick by the LOGICAL SOUNDNESS of everything I said in my post
  2. Jim did not respond to a single POINT I made
  3. Fine. POINTS don’t matter if you don’t have your FACTS right (Comment: say what?)
  4. But I have all my FACTS correct now, and I re-assert every single one of my ARGUMENTS”

<translation> What I wrote is logically sound. Jim did not respond to any of my points. Fine, because points don’t matter if you have your facts right. Only the my facts weren’t right, as I admit when I concede that Kennedy was talking about policy, not deficits, so by my own admission

  • my points mattered


  • they were logically unsound

But I have all my facts correct now—well, yes, um, thanks to Geraghty, who apparently was able to correct my point without responding to a single one of my, um, points. Anyway, I am now in a position to reassert every one of my arguments, which does not follow from the conclusions that I wish to draw from the relations that obtain between facts and points because as far as I am concerned this is a “debate” and my goal, apparently, is to score points. Got it? </translation>

Does this sound incoherent to you? It sure does to us.

Also: who does the the Romney flak think is his audience? Does he or she really believe that it is wise to so bitterly and resolutely attack someone whose very profession—whose job, whose task, whose purpose in life—it is to write about politics, particularly center-right politics, when it is a primary goal of your ill-fated candidate to affect the pose of a center-right candidate after many years of describing himself as a social progressive?

What a moron!

Dear Romney people: You can whine about the “press” or the “bias” of the “media” in exceedingly general terms even as you maintain good relations with media elites etc. Republicans do this all the time, especially the weaker candidates. This will make you appear a little like a loser, and criticizing the media is a fairly reliable index of the ill-health of a campaign, but it is generally not fatal in itself.

But you never want to attack anyone in the media by name or institution. Never. Never. Never We repeat: You never attack anyone in the media. You may offer to help them get their facts straight even as you praise them for their meticulous attention to detail, or ask them to help you correct a oversight even as you acknowledge their tireless devotion to the development of an informed electorate, but you never, ever, attack them. Does anyone remember when President Clinton attacked radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh? Or Vice President Quayle criticized a television character named Murphy Brown? Only at least President Clinton and Vice President Quayle had the good sense to attack political-ideological opponents. This so-called “friend of Mitt” has turned about to charge his own flank, his own right flank, a flank the Romneys have left perilously exposed despite all their great noise about how suddenly “conservative” they are.

Who in the Romney campaign approved this so-called “friend of Mitt’s” cry-for-help getting posted on an official campaign website?—it hardly matters. The problem reaches beyond any one particular non-professional. So: Please, Romney people, consider firing your entire communications staff—right down to the last unpaid interns or fetchers-of-warm-coffee-beverages—and hiring all new ones, immediately.

Conclusion: The Romneys are not nice people. Their lack-wit supporters are not nice people. And: They do not tolerate dissent. And as Geraghty has learned, no amount of sucking-up can insulate you from their rage.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“One of the most regular and predictable behaviors on the part of political candidates and their handlers is the ritual of denying the importance of polls,” writes the estimable Frank Newport for USA Today’s GallupGuru in a post titled Romney and Obama campaign handlers: Ignore the polls!

That’s particularly true, of course, when the candidate is down in the polls.  I wait each year for candidates to cry out on the stump:  “The only poll that matters is on Election Day!”, as they warn supporters not to believe or not to pay attention to what the pollsters find.

We have a couple of these predictable examples in the last several days.

A strategy memorandum from Alex Gage of the Romney for President campaign found its way onto the Internet.  The purpose of the memorandum appears to be an attempt to keep supporters’ spirits up in the face of pretty sour national poll numbers.  (As Gallup Guru loyalists will know, Romney is lagging now in 4th place among Republican candidates, behind Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson and John McCain, and just a few points ahead of Mike Huckabee).

Gage says:  “We also know there will be an endless stream of state and national polling and many in the media will also obsess over Gov. Romney’s standing in them.”  And “…we will not be measuring ourselves through the lens of national polls and we do not expect to be competitive in them”.  And “We should not expect him (Romney) to be competitive in national polls with better-known celebrity candidates like Giuliani, Thompson, or McCain until after Iowa and New Hampshire”more

We commented on Gage’s desperate attempts to keep the few Romney supporters there are from breaking ranks and fleeing into the warm embrace of more viable, and less ethically questionable, candidates:

death by internal memo: how the Romneys assuage themselves for their massive and accumulating losses

Back to Newport:

… It is of course true that the candidates’ standings in the polls can (and most probably will) change as the campaign progresses.  Changing voters’ minds is the whole purpose of presidential campaigns, and the reason why candidates raise and spend millions of dollars on advertising and are now spending most of their waking lives making speeches in front of small crowds in rural towns in Iowa and New Hampshire.

So we have to grant Romney and Obama’s campaign strategists the point that their candidates’ relatively poor showing in the current national polling is not necessarily permanent.  It can change.  These two candidates can charge from behind to win.

But the national polls raise important questions for the Romney and Obama campaigns.  It’s not as if these two have not been campaigning already.  They are both in essentially full time campaign mode.  And while most of their efforts have been spent in the early primary states, there has been intense and continuing national media news coverage of their efforts.  Both have been all over national television, in newspaper coverage, and both have appeared on the cover of national news magazines.

Yet through all of this, they have barely moved the numbers among members of their party.

The national numbers must be particularly disappointing to the Romney campaign team.  While Romney strategist Gage dismisses Giuliani, McCain and Thompson as “celebrity candidates”, it’s important to note that in fact Romney is at this point still better known that is Thompson nationwide, and Thompson’s name ID among Republicans is just 4 points higher than Romney.  Yet Thompson gets 22% of the Republican vote in our latest survey compared to 7% for Romney.

A second disappointment for the Romney campaign that is difficult to dismiss is the fact that Romney has the most negative image at this point of any of the major candidates for president.  Our mid-September poll shows him with a 27% favorable and 35% unfavorable rating.  That makes Romney the only candidate we tested (including Hillary Clinton) who has a higher unfavorable than favorable rating. Among Republicans, while Giuliani’s favorable to unfavorable net difference is +54, and McCain’s is +47 and Thompson’s is +45, Romney’s is +19.  In other words, Romney is much less well liked among Republicans nationally than any of his three chief competitors.

Plus, as my colleague Jeff Jones has pointed out, Romney has a significant problem among highly religious Protestant Republicans – who will form a not insignificant block of voters in some early primary states.

So while the national polls may change, particularly if – as Romney strategists hope – he does well in Iowa and New Hampshire, there are substantial enough problems now with his standing nationally to cause significant concern more [Emphases ours]

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“Mitt Romney becomes the second GOP Presidential candidate to denounce Rush Limbaugh with this statement sent to the Huffington Post by Romney spokesman Kevin Madden,” writes Greg Sargent in a TPM ElectionCentral post titled Romney Becomes Second GOP Prez Candidate To Blast Rush

Romney?—is this is the same misguided candidate who compared the comfortable lives of his privileged sons to soldiers on the field of battle? See:

About the effectiveness of Romney’s frequent bursts of void-of-moral-courage rage, please see:

Also please reflect upon what Romney’s judgments and opinions—frequently offered—say about Romney:

Romney’s language of blame indicates a personality that believes itself powerless and uncared for

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“Romney strategist Alex Gage wrote in a Thursday memo that it is likely Romney will hover around 10 percent in national polls and gradually gain ground toward the end of the year,” reports the estimable Steve Holland in a Reuters release titled Romney seeks to assure supporters over campaign

“But we should not expect him to be competitive in national polls with better-known candidates like Giuliani, Thompson or McCain until after Iowa and New Hampshire,” he wrote.

Romney has pursued an “early state strategy,” focusing on Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina and hoping to do well in those states to build momentum for February 5, when some 20 states are to hold their primaries, including California and New York.

But Gage cautioned: “By no means do we expect to win both Iowa and New Hampshire — no Republican in the modern era ever has.”

Here is a further problem for the Romneys. Iowa may be irrelevant what with the compressed primary schedule—2008 is not 2004, or so suggests the all-seeing eye in an post titled Calendar implications; Iowa less important?—now, back to Steve Holland and his Reuters release titled Romney seeks to assure supporters over campaign

A Republican strategist not attached to a presidential campaign said the Romney campaign was trying to lower expectations about Iowa and New Hampshire.

“Politics is about setting expectations, and this is Romney’s attempt to lower the bar in these two states where he’s done exceptionally well since the spring,” the strategist said.

Gage used as an example the case of Sen. John Kerry, the Democrat who was at about 9 percent in the polls at this point ahead of the 2004 campaign leapt to 49 percent in the weeks after winning the Iowa caucuses. He won the Democratic nomination but lost to President George W. Bush.

Romney has been running as a Washington outsider, criticizing his own Republicans for failing to stop government spending and providing better security for U.S. borders from illegal immigration … more

This is what passes for wailing and the gnashing of teeth at Team Romney’s posh waterfront Pavilion of Dejection and Despair. See:

yours &c.
dr. g.d.