Posts Tagged ‘race42008.com’

[...] “Let me be the bearer of good news: no, Mitt Romney is still not acceptable,” writes Alex Knepper in a race42008.com blog burst titled The Case Against a Romney Vice-Presidency

Allow me to deconstruct the ridiculous fallacies that would lead one to support a Romney vice-presidential nomination [...]

Please read and enjoy Knepper’s arguments, one by one.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“Bottom line: the Romney campaign made their bed with the early state primary strategy and got short-sheeted,” writes Justin Hart in a race42008.com blog burst titled, strangely, Autopsy of a Great GREAT Campaign

The momentum that Huckabee gained through his stunning Iowa win together with the victory that McCain edged out in New Hampshire seriously maimed the Romney narrative [...]

Hart refers to Romney’s ill-starred von Schlieffen plan, a plan that we criticized early and often. Romney’s von Schleiffen plan was an electoral-map fantasia so over-the-top preposterous that we always assumed that it was a cover for a more rational undertaking, an undertaking that required secrecy to pursue. We were wrong about that, and about a lot else besides.

John Ellis has a different take on the “Team Romney mounted a GREAT campaign” theme, one more consonant with our experience:

[...] The sad thing about the Romney campaign’s demise is that Mitt Romney is an exceptional person; highly intelligent, enormously hard-working, a man of great integrity and grit and executive ability. Given the dearth of talent in both parties — the seemingly endless parade of mediocrity and venality — we’re lucky to have people like Mitt Romney who are willing to get in the game. But he was terribly served by his campaign staff and advisors. I would argue that they win the worst campaign team of 2008. Good riddance to them. They had everything they needed to make a good run and they made a complete hash of it [...]

The problem: to explain just went wrong is surpassingly difficult as it requires the observer to interpret the data of the world differently than is otherwise the case. Byron York attempts such an explanation on personal and narrative grounds in an NRO article titled Why Romney Failed

[...] Romney made a lot of mistakes that didn’t seem like mistakes at the time. Drawing on his enormous success as a business consultant, he put together an impressively well-organized and professional campaign. That was good. But he never fully understood that the voters were looking for some spark in a candidate that connects him to them. Instead, Romney placed his faith in his magnificent organization and his PowerPoint analyses.

He hired a lot of people, spent millions to build organizations in key states, and then spent millions more for television and radio advertisements. The day after the Iowa caucuses, I dropped by WHO radio in Des Moines, and a top station official told me that Romney had been WHO’s second-biggest advertiser in 2007. (First was Monsanto farm chemicals.) In all, Romney pumped $1 million into WHO’s bank account. In South Carolina recently, a local politico marveled at how much money Romney’s in-state consultants made from the campaign. “Those guys made a mint out of him,” the politico told me. “It’s sinful how much they made.”

Yuh-huh. How much of the Romney phenomenon is the story of a super-rich ingenue getting bilked—just mercilessly fleeced—by a corrupt and cash-starved GOP party establishment?

Back to York:

As a result of all that spending, Romney ran a campaign on a deficit, deeply in debt. Of course, it was in debt to Romney himself, who put $35 million of his own money into the campaign as of December 31, and likely a lot more since. All that money freed Romney and his team from making some of the tough decisions that other campaigns had to make every day. You could argue either way whether that was good or bad.

Just before the Iowa caucuses, I was at a corporate headquarters outside Des Moines, asking a few questions of Eric Fehrnstrom, the press secretary who usually traveled with Romney. Fehrnstrom looked at Mike Huckabee’s campaign and saw a ragtag lot. “We’re going up against a loose confederation of fair taxers, and home schoolers, and Bible study members, and so this will be a test to see who can generate the most bodies on caucus day,” Fehrnstrom said.

I interrupted for a moment. “Not that there’s anything wrong with any of those groups?” I asked.

“Not that there’s anything wrong, but that’s just a fact,” Fehrnstrom continued. “That’s just where he has found his support. I have a theory about why Mike Huckabee holds public events in Iowa like getting a haircut or going jogging, or actually leaving Iowa and going to California to appear on the Jay Leno show. It’s because he doesn’t have the infrastructure to plan events for him. And when he does do events in Iowa, he goes to the Pizza Ranch, where you have a built-in crowd, so you don’t have to make calls to turn people out. We’re very proud of the organization we have built in Iowa.”

They had reason to be proud; it was a good organization. But in a bigger sense, they just didn’t understand what was going on. Fehrnstrom, like his boss, placed a lot of faith in Romney, Inc. How could a bunch of seat-of-the-pantsers like the Huckabee campaign possibly beat the Romney machine? Well, they could, in Iowa, and McCain could in New Hampshire and South Carolina, and then in Florida and on Super Tuesday. The race was never about the imposing infrastructure Romney had built. It was about that ineffable something that voters look for in candidates. With Huckabee, some of those voters saw an intriguing and refreshing figure. With McCain, a larger number saw someone who wanted, above all, to defend the United States. And with Romney — well, they didn’t quite know what to think [...]

This is the problem with positive feedback, say, success. Success often passes into a crisis of perception as people and organizations optimize for successful activities at the expense of a more thorough review of changing conditions etc. It is the very definition of the learning or the experience curve. Failure and tragedy are excellent teachers; but what works for us—our triumphs, our successes—affirms us in what we are already doing, and recedes into the half-consciousness of habit and routine.

But here the problem for the Romney campaign was always this: their success itself was never real. For example: Their highly professional organization was the best that money could buy, but that money was not a reliable indicator of the candidate’s success as a fund-raiser or fitness as a candidate. It was only ever an indicator of the candidate’s personal worth.

ROI, people. ROI. There is no more effective metric for the success of a message or a message campaign than the your Return on Investment, and Romney’s was always preposterously low.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“LONG BEACH, Calif. — Mitt Romney hopes to revive his Republican campaign by championing himself as the last true conservative contender,” writes Elizabeth Holmes in a online.wsj.com article titled Romney’s Comeback Plan Trumpets His Conservatism

“We’re quite far apart,” Mr. Romney said of John McCain yesterday at a news conference here. “That distinction is what will, in the final analysis, be my best weapon in a battle to the finish.”

To survive in the race, Mr. Romney must stop Arizona Sen. McCain’s momentum on Tuesday, when 21 states select among Republican candidates. So far, Sen. McCain has won in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida, while Mr. Romney has taken Michigan and Nevada [...]

We discuss and criticize Romney’s latest incarnation here.

Here we want to develop the race to the base theme.

In an earlier transmission, we developed and describe this particular stage of the primaries contest as the race to the base. Here be our account with updates and annotations provided largely by the crack bloggers of race42008.com.

Our analysis: Here begins the race to the base, friends and well wishers. Sen. McCain will, we predict, begin to reach out to conservative personalities (right wing shock jocks, talking heads, celebrities, talking heads), professional conservatives (writers, analysts, columnists, editors, think tank researchers), conservative activists, issues coalitions, pressure groups etc. But now he can reach out to them from a position of power, having developed reliable evidence of

(a) his fitness as a candidate,
(b) his fitness as a developer of issues and a builder of coalitions.

Now Sen. McCain has something to offer the base: the influence that flows freely from proximity to power. This is how the primary process as political ritual is supposed to work. It reduces to a barter economy, a patron-client system of tribute where the coin is power and the exchange rate can be murderous.

This is largely coming to pass as we predicted—e.g. LJ provides pro-Sen. McCain quotes from conservative luminaries Grover Norquist, Romney shill Tony Perkins, and Richard Land.

Back to our earlier analysis:

Romney for his part will reach out to the base too, frantically, desperately, if only to counter Sen. John McCain. But Romney’s position is more tenuous, more perilous. Romney can only issue threats and dire assessments of a Sen. McCain presidency—in simpler terms, Romney’s task, as Romney himself describes it, is “to drum up old conservative distrust of McCain”—i.e. Romney’s task is to slime Sen. McCain so badly that he cannot win.

This is also developing as we had predicted. Romney surrogates and shills are frantically retailing the following themes

(a) “If Sen. McCain wins, I will vote for Hillary,” e.g. Romney shill Ann Coulter

–and–

(b) “Sen. McCain once considered running as a Democrat,” as debunked and criticized by Kavon Nikrad of race42008.com.

Will Tribe Romney win the day? Is Tribe Romney willing to destroy the GOP to put Romney in the White House? History will answer these question for us.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“Mitt Romney poured twice as much of his own money into his campaign than he received from all outside donors combined in the final months of last year, according to new campaign finance reports,” reports Elana Schor in a http://www.guardian.co.uk release titled New finance reports show Romney’s fundraising fell short

Romney, scrambling to knock John McCain from the frontrunner’s pedestal in the Republican presidential race, spent $18m from his personal fortune during the fourth quarter of 2007.His contributions from other sources during that period totaled $9.1m, as listed in financial records that all campaigns were required to release by today [...]

Team Romney itself attempts to mitigate by attenuation their crashing contributions, and increasing use of Romney’s vast personal fortune, by framing their ongoing financial disaster, and fantastically low ROI for their every campaign dollar, in a larger context:

BOSTON, Jan 31, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ — Today, Romney for President announced it reported over $27 million in total receipts for the Fourth Quarter, ending December 31, 2007. The Campaign again opted to raise no general election funds and reported $9 million in primary contributions. The total receipts include Governor Romney’s loan of $18 million.

For the entire year, Romney for President had total receipts of $90 million. In the past month, Governor Romney’s message of conservative change in Washington has resonated with people across this country. Governor Romney has won three states, placed a strong second in another three and had a strong showing in South Carolina [...]

Here is the problem for Team Romney: the larger context that Team Romney wants you to consider only casts in sharper relief

(a) just how much the Romneys have spent for so little, and how little Romney’s competitors have spent for so much

-and-

(b) just how drastically Romney’s receipts have declined relative to his spending—hence, Romney’s self-financing.

Tommy Oliver of race42008.com, however, points out that Romney has “tie[d] Fred Thompson for 3rd place this quarter in contributions.”

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

Jason Bonham quotes Romney in a race42008.com blog burst titled Romney on Good Morning America

[Romney] “I think there will be a movement within the Republican party to coalesce around a conservative candidate. Mike Huckabee, of course, might stay in, and that might be one of the reasons he does so – is to try and split that conservative vote.”

Is this a wish? Is this a prayer? Media pressure will soon begin to mount against the hapless candidate, so is this the rationale—the reasoning, the alibi—for sticking it out after Florida decided for the now “presumptive GOP nominee, the honorable Sen. John McCain?

Note that this new talking point represents no fresh thinking, no new analysis, no current assessment of the situation or its many factors. Precisely the opposite is the case: this is the same argument for Romney’s fitness as a candidate that Romney has retailed for months and months, the so-called two-man-race theme that dates back at least to Iowa. See:

Romney’s 2-man race theme; an alibi for collapsing poll numbers?—this is from way back in October

Michael Scherer elaborates on the 2-man-race theme from Petersburg FL in a http://www.time.com article titled Is Romney Fighting the Last War?

[...] The Romney campaign, humbled by recent defeats, now hopes to rebrand his insider strategy as an outsider one. As the candidate soldiers on to the 21 states that will vote on February 5, the campaign holds out hope that the old coalition can be reborn anew. “We feel as though the conservatives are beginning to rally around Mitt,” said Ann Romney, after her husband delivered an upbeat concession speech Tuesday night, in a downtown St. Petersburg theater.

A few minutes earlier, and a couple dozen feet away, Jay Sekulow, a senior advisor to the campaign, put it this way. “Conservatives have a choice now, and it’s a clear choice,” he said. “You have got a conservative and you have got John McCain, who does not take conservative positions on a lot of issues.”

Downstairs, in the theater’s press filing room, Al Cardenas, a Washington lobbyist who chaired Romney’s Florida campaign, continued in the same frame of reference. “We think that the conservative movement activists are now beginning to panic about losing their grip on the Republican Party,” Cardenas said. “They better start working hard, and they have told us they are going to have to start working hard.”

The new Romney strategy has two clear components.

  1. First, the campaign is determined to marginalize Huckabee, who continues to poll well in many southern states, bleeding off votes from the vital socially conservative leg of the Romney’s stool. “Huckabee has proven he can’t win in the south,” said Eric Fehrnstrom, Romney’s spokesman. “People are going to realize that this is a two person race right now,” said Sekulow.
  2. Second, Romney will spend much of the next week trying to drum up old conservative distrust of McCain, who leaves Florida with considerable momentum and already-high poll numbers in many of the states that vote on February 5. Though McCain has been hammered by some conservative voices, such as the radio host Rush Limbaugh, he has so far escaped the full ideological revolt that greeted him in 2000, when he lost the nomination to George W. Bush.

[Emphases and formatting are ours]

This final Romney gambit is likely to determine more than just the fate of one, well-heeled candidate. It could set the course for the Republican Party. In the old days, those who supported tax cuts for the wealthy worked closely with those who wanted to amend the constitution to ban gay marriage. Those who wanted to grow the size of the military made common cause with those who saw global warming as an environmentalist scare-tactic meant to interfere with free markets. Those who wanted to overturn Roe v. Wade also wanted to overturn campaign finance reform [...]

On its face the claim that conservatives will suddenly awaken to the grim reality of a Sen. McCain candidacy and turn to Romney is plausible but requires argument. The most urgent question this suggests is simply why haven’t conservatives turned to Romney before now? Is it not also plausible—in fact, demonstrable—in fact, part of Romney’s own argument—that the so-called Reagan coalition is dead? And if Romney were the one who could truly pull the sword from the stone, or breathe life into the dead coalition, why hasn’t he done it yet?—we’re all waiting, Romney; don’t tell us what conservatives should do or shouldn’t do, instead: show us what you can do.

Our analysis: Here begins the race to the base, friends and well wishers. Sen. McCain will, we predict, begin to reach out to conservative personalities (right wing shock jocks, talking heads, celebrities, talking heads), professional conservatives (writers, analysts, columnists, editors, think tank researchers), conservative activists, issues coalitions, pressure groups etc. But now he can reach out to them from a position of power, having developed reliable evidence of

(a) his fitness as a candidate,
(b) his fitness as a developer of issues and a builder of coalitions.

Now Sen. McCain has something to offer the base: the influence that flows freely from proximity to power. This is how the primary process as political ritual is supposed to work. It reduces to a barter economy, a patron-client system of tribute where the coin is power and the exchange rate can be murderous.

Romney for his part will reach out to the base too, frantically, desperately, if only to counter Sen. John McCain. But Romney’s position is more tenuous, more perilous. Romney can only issue threats and dire assessments of a Sen. McCain presidency—in simpler terms, Romney’s task, as Romney himself describes it, is “to drum up old conservative distrust of McCain”—i.e. Romney’s task is to slime Sen. McCain so badly that he cannot win.

In other words, Romney is perfectly willing to take the party down with him. So, let Romney unleash if he can the “full ideological revolt that greeted [Sen. McCain] in 2000.” Recent history—Iowa, New Hampshire—would predict that the gotterdammerung that Romney plans for Gov. Huckabee and Sen. McCain will rebound upon himself. See:

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

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

[...] “That’s why the GOP’s other post-Florida choice, Mitt Romney, troubles me so,” opines race42008‘s DaveG in an editorial discursis titled Uniters and Dividers

Ultimately a sane, empirical, good government Northeastern Republican, Romney has spent the past few years letting the GOP Pharisees know that they can push him around. He’ll change his views on anything and everything in order to please the Pharisees. Instead of running to lead the GOP, he’s running to be the proxy candidate of the dividers. And the sad part is, that sort of strategy might actually work due to the cocoon mentality of today’s Republican base. Conservatives who react with dismay at the Independents that cross the aisle to vote for McCain in GOP primaries need to step back and think about what they’re saying — that no new voters are welcome in today’s Republican Party. We’ve seen this attitude before in places like California and New Jersey, where similarly terrified conservatives destroyed their respective state parties rather than allow them to be modernized. Sadly, the GOP may have to lose a couple of more elections before the base finally learns that fifty-one percent, and not moral certitude or a sense of entitlement, is what makes a majority [...]

We heartily concur.

Regard: Political power requires developing the issues—living issues, felt issues, current issues—that can form the basis of a coalition. After you have developed your issues coalition, or at least its basis, and after you have tested its themes at the ballot box or other performance indicators (e.g. fund raising, attendance at rallies, play in the media), then and only then you can begin the slow, patient, and often painful process of popular education through political action and calls to action or calls for support, through policy proposals, and through the pursuit of a positive program to consolidate and continually renew your coalition. You will suffer reverses, setbacks, take a lot of beatings, and you will be forced to compromise at every turn, but this is the way the game is played.

In other words, you begin from the experience of the people, especially the people who vote, by acting on their self-interest, which you identify with the national interest because, after all, they are the nation or at least an important part of it. Then you begin the slow, painful process of drawing them closer to your point of view—this is when ideologies form—after, and not before, political labor, action, and thorough self-criticism and review.

This is where the center-right and the conservative movement have failed most critically, and probably fatally at least in the short term.

In the person of Willard Milton Romney, however, the GOP establishment and its institutions propose another path to power, only it isn’t popular power but their own power, a path predicted by the iron law of institutions.

We call it Romneyism.

Here is our question. Is the Romney candidacy

(a) the case of a corrupt party establishment bilking a super-rich ingenue of his many millions?

—or—

(b) the case of a super-rich Richard III purchasing a morally, deologically, as well as financially bankrupt GOP establishment to pursue his own advantage?

Or could both (a) and (b) be true? To be honest, we don’t yet know.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

[...] “The fact of the matter is that Massachusetts officials win in New Hampshire,” writes Holly Robichaud in a Herald.com blog burst titled Time for a graceful Romney exit

Nota: Robichaud identifies herself as [...] The Lone Republican in the Herald’s Monday Morning Briefing, is a successful GOP political strategist who is known for speaking her mind [...]

Robichaud continues:

[MA officials, like the former Gov. of MA, Romney] don’t lose [in NH].

When Clinton first ran for President, he was the comeback kid for placing second to Tsongas. It would have been a significant victory if McCain had placed second, but he placed first. For McCain this is a mega victory and a mega loss for Romney.

There was no reason for Romney to lose in New Hampshire. He had the Massachusetts advantage. He owns a second home in the granite state. And he significantly out spent all of his opponents. Therefore, you must conclude that not only did Iowa voters completely reject Romney, but so did New Hampshire voters. There is no excuse for this loss. There is no credible spin for this spanking.

This loss also has ramifications for the General Election in November. If somehow Romney was to be the nominee, Republicans will most likely not be able to hold on to the White House [...]

Gary Matthew Miller of Truth vs. the Machine blog makes the same case on narrative grounds in a race42008 post titled It’s the Narrative, Stupid!

[...] Presidential campaigns also have a narrative. While I appreciate the Romney supporters attempt to change that narrative, here is the reality: Romney’s candidacy was predicated on 2 wins in Iowa and New Hampshire to slingshot him to the nomination.

Governor Romney may have a narrow lead in delegates. He may have more total cumulative votes than Senator McCain. But his narrative is broken. Badly.

Now we are told that Romney will prevail in Michigan because his father was governor there 40 years ago. I remember in 1988 the Kemp campaign was using a similar mantra to salvage a highly-touted candidacy that also had a broken narrative. Jack Kemp could stay in the race until California because a quarter-century prior he had quarterbacked the San Diego Chargers. Kemp’s narrative of how the campaign would play out had as much plausibility as Romney’s does in Michigan. Much like Romney is doing today, those of us involved with the Kemp campaign were touting delegate counts that had Jack essentially tied with Bush and Dole. But the narrative was broken with Bush’s triumph over Dole in New Hampshire where Kemp’s pristine anti-tax credentials were supposed to help him win the Granite State’s “Live Free Or Die!” crowd. It didn’t and the narrative passed Kemp by.

Some have valiently tried to draw parallels between 2008 and 1976. The problem is that Reagan, after losing New Hampshire by the narrowest of margins, still had his best states in front of him. Governor Romney has his best states in the rear view mirror [...]

Justin Hart issues this rejoinder to G.M. Miller:

[...] Gary – I agree with your sentiment but I disagree with your semantics. The early state approach is a strategy not a narrative. The narrative is “outsider with business prowess and experience on fixing things comes to Washington”.

I have to admit that the Romney camp did wed themselves very close to the early state strategy which makes the 2nd place finishes that much more painful. But I don’t think the narrative is broken [...]

We concur with Mr. Hart on this one. Mr. Miller seems to conflate the notion of a campaign narrative with the notion of an electoral scenario.

Here would the sad and despairing counterpoint to the emerging “Romney failed his won test and therefore should withdraw” fixed point, provided by Romney-sycophant and tireless Blogger-for-Mitt, Stanley Kurtz, in an NRO blog burst titled No Mentum

[...] This will probably not be a momentum-based campaign. If all the Republican candidates held roughly similar views (as with this year’s Dems), then a Romney loss in Michigan might be decisive. But in the Republican race, Romney holds a place (fairly mainstream conservative across the board) matched by no other candidate. Given the resistance of some portion of the conservative base to every other candidate, Romney would be foolish to drop out, even after a loss in Michigan. In fact, Romney stands to capitalize on what may well be the next big development in the race, the (relative) rise of Giuliani, at McCain’s expense [...]

[...] At that point, if he’s been smart enough to stay in the race, Romney will be in a position to benefit from the raging battle between McCain and Giuliani. That will allow all three candidates to make it to the convention. Huckabee is a bit of a wild card here. He may turn out to be a one hit wonder. But even if Huckabee soldiers on, it won’t change the basic picture. Huckabee’s evangelical support may be enough to keep him alive, but Huck’s unconventional views won’t allow him to gain clear front-runner status.

With so many Republican candidates distancing themselves from some key part of the base, no candidate will find it easy to consolidate the support of seemingly defeated rivals. With a field holding so many candidates who speak for competing wings of the party, and excluding others, the logic is for candidates to stay in the race as the last best hope of their base, and to prevent the “horror scenarios” represented by the alternatives.

Momentum is out and substance is in [...]

Momentum is out and substance is in. You don’t say. We have argued the same point—harped on that same string, as we like to say—since July of last year. On the 2nd of November we argued that the primary map was a “low mobility environment,” and that Romney had optimized himself for movement and momentum that simply wasn’t possible for him to ever achieve (see the “early state strategy” links below). We have argued these points ad nauseum:

Question: What do Romney’s frantic and out-of-control efforts to implement his von Schlieffen fantasy reveal about Romney, Romney the man, Romney the leader? Note how the troubled candidate could not let go of Iowa when a better, abler, or wiser man would have walked away. Note the bewilderment of his own top staff.

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

Romney lesson #1: You do not spend credibility that you do not have on a game that you cannot win, especially when you know that you cannot win it. Or: Pursue that which buys you the most gain for the lowest cost, not the other way around. And if something costs you wildly more than it costs anyone else in the game, STOP and investigate, because something is wrong.

Our own assessment: Romney’s von Schlieffen plan was a ruse. Grim and slogging attrition leading up to a brokered convention was always Romney’s plan, and always his only hope. Expect the bitterest and most negative campaigning ever to begin about … now.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist minister riding a wave of support from fundamentalist Christians, tops Mitt Romney for first place in a new Des Moines Register poll of Iowans planning to attend Thursday’s Republican caucuses,” writes Jonathan Roos in a DeMoines Register article titled GOP poll: Huckabee maintains lead over Romney

In a battle of former governors from Arkansas and Massachusetts, Huckabee leads Romney, 32 percent to 26 percent.

This despite months of massive spending, organizing, and near media saturation by Romney:

This despite Romney’s relentless attacks on the person and character of Gov. Huckabee for weeks now, combined with the GOP establishment’s infantile freakout over Gov. Huckabee’s rise:

Back to Roos:

“I really like it that he is a religious man and social conservative. That is pretty important to me, especially the right to life,” said Huckabee supporter Alyssa Stealey, 20, of Charter Oak, who is also drawn to his call for tax reform.

Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist minister riding a wave of support from fundamentalist Christians, tops Mitt Romney for first place in a new Des Moines Register poll of Iowans planning to attend Thursday’s Republican caucuses.

In a battle of former governors from Arkansas and Massachusetts, Huckabee leads Romney, 32 percent to 26 percent.

“I really like it that he is a religious man and social conservative. That is pretty important to me, especially the right to life,” said Huckabee supporter Alyssa Stealey, 20, of Charter Oak, who is also drawn to his call for tax reform … etc.

The DeMoines Register poll is consistent with other polling:

“Well, there’s a new Iowa poll out: the Reuters-Zogby, which shows Mike Huckabee with a two point lead over Mitt Romney,” writes the writer of the watersblogged blog in a post titled Romneybust!

Since the most recent poll has Huckabee leading- and since Romney’s newly-minted RCP average lead (owing to at a poll with yet another pro-Romney result so out of step with the others to be suspect) has shrunken overnight to .04%- I guess we must be witnessing a Romney implosion.

Or at least that’s the conclusion one reaches if one uses the the logic pro-Romney folks have been using over and over and over during the past two weeks to demonstrate that a “Huckabust” was underway (“Yes! Huckabee is imploding!…uh, ok, NOW. Now Huckabee is imploding… well, OK. Now. Now for sure….”)

Have to congratulate them on one thing, though. Just before this most recent poll- the one that shows Huckabee in the lead- the Romney folks finally managed, after two weeks of proclaiming that their candidate had recovered and that Mike Huckabee was history- for the first time since early December have actually been able to cite two consecutive Iowa polls showing Romney in the lead!

With tne latest poll, of course, the streak is over. Worse, the Huckabee lead is one point bigger than that shown by the Reuters-Zogby poll of the day before.

That poll was, for some reason, not included in the RCP average- and seems, however tentatively, to suggest a trend toward Huck … etc.

Conclusion: Even if Romney ekes out a victory—or: even if Romney scores a double-digit blow-out—Romney’s fantastically low ROI, i.e. how much he has expended for how little he got in return and against under-funded and un-organized rivals, will be the real story coming out of the Iowa. MarkG of race42008.com makes the case tongue-in-cheek:

My gut feeling tells me Mitt will now swap places with Huck for the actual caucus figure. The headlines will say Mitt spent his estimated 9 million bucks wisely to get circa 30,000 votes. The press will speak long and verbosely about how wise Mitt was to finance his campaign by as much as a third, and speculation will run wild for days about how much of Mitt’s finances were from his own pockets … etc.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“In many places around the country, Mitt Romney is facing a challenge from Mike Huckabee,” write the nice people at Rasmussen Reports in a story titled Election 2008: New Hampshire Republican Primary

However, in New Hampshire, Huck-a-mania never took hold. But, following endorsements from the Manchester Union Leader, the Boston Globe, and Senator Joe Lieberman, John McCain is now challenging Romney in the state he won eight years ago.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of the state shows Romney with 31% support, McCain at 27% and no one else close. Rudy Giuliani attracts 13% and Huckabee barely reaches double digits at 11%. This is the first time any candidate has been within single digits of Romney in several months. It remains to be seen whether this is a temporary bounce or a lasting change.

Romney now fights for his candidacy on two fronts, against two different rivals? Well, duh. We predicted this outcome weeks and weeks ago.

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

Whether McCain’s rise is a temporary bounce matters not in the least to the Romney tribe. Recent history predicts that Romney and his surrgoates will not simply react without judgment, but overreact, and in overreacting overreach, and in overreaching call forth a fierce and determined backlash. (To discern, to discriminate, or to reason on practical grounds—these are not behaviors in Team Romney’s limited repertoire.)

The question is not whether Romney will react, but how.

Unabashed and consistent Romney-shill Matt Drudge provides us a clue. We just wonder when the super-geniuses at National Review Online—a subsidiary of Bain Capital and fiercely partisan Blog for Mitt—will begin to insinuate that to nominate Sen. McCain would be to destroy the GOP.

And what about Clear Channel, recently acquired by Romney’s own Bain Capital?—how soon before Rush Limbaugh et al begin to savage war hero Sen. McCain with the same ferocity they applied to person and character of Gov. Huckabee?

yours &c.
dr.. g.d.

“Romney is up with a negative attack ad– taking on Huckabee’s crime record. What this tells me is he is down, and down so big it’s worthwhile to run a no holds barred spot like this, at Christmas no less,” writes Jennifer Rubin in an AmSpec blog post titled What’ s the Non-Christmas Version

The contrast with the Huckabee ad Phil posted on could not be greater. Steffen Schmidt, political guru at Iowa State University, who I asked about the ad says simply that Romney is in “disarray” in Iowa. The danger is that this type of ad, and image of a flailing candidate, affects his chances elsewhere … etc.

You can find the advertisement here.

Note the opening, “two governors, both pro-life, both pro-family”—this must be the most naive, unsophisticated, and transparent instance of what used to be called triangulation—where a campaign draws close to its opponent where he or she is strong, and tries to draw contrasts only where the opponent is vulnerable—in the entire corpus of contemporary campaign advertising. It is as if an undergraduate communications major read about triangulation in a textbook and tried to write a script.

Ben delivers an apt response here.

We concur with Rubin about Romney’s disarray and desperation. Romney’s operatives have squandered US$7 million dollars on the ground in Iowa—have saturated the airwaves with Romney’s voice and image, have organized even down to the county level—yet they cannot guarantee the hapless candidate even a third place finish against rivals with neither money nor organization.

Here is the problem for Romney: Romney’s own ultra-high negatives—far, far higher than Gov. Huckabee’s—and cold, remote personality will not support a negative message without Romney’s own numbers tanking. See:

yours &c.
dr. g.d.





Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.