Swing State Pres

Monday, June 4, 2012

2012 02 21 February Pre AZ Mich

I admit to being amazed.  I would have thought it was all over at Florida, with Romney’s decisive win and six friendly states (five of which he’d won in 2008, when he was never even the front runner) ahead of him leading up to Super Tuesday.  But kudos to Tom Cox, Wick, Charles, Larry and Wendy for predicting the campaign would continue to hold some twists and turns after Florida and there would be no coronation.  Indeed!  (Charles, in particular, deserves a high five for predicting a second Santorum rise.  That was a lonely call after Florida…and a very prescient one.)

Last time we checked in Santorum had just won the Missouri “beauty contest” and non-binding caucuses in Minnesota and Colorado.  Forget the tame descriptions of those contests:  he WON three races in one night, against all odds, and quite abruptly turned this into a two-person race (at least for now).  And reminded us once again that it’s all about WINS, no matter how little is truly at stake, or how narrow the margin.

Since that amazing night of February 7, there have been, in my view, four important events:

         Romney got a WIN himself, in Maine.  This is only big news because he did not lose.  A three-point win in a “neighboring” state that he won by 30 points in 2008 is not great news for Mitt, and it did not receive much coverage.  But if it had been, say, a three-point win by Ron Paul (who finished second) over Romney, it would have been an utter disaster for Mittens.

         Santorum finally translated contest wins into good national polls.  Immediately after his big night, national polling instantly swung his way.  Over these two weeks Santorum has been ahead in the polls anywhere from 1 to 12 points, and averaging a 6-pt lead over Romney at 34% to 28% with Gingrich (15%) and Paul (12%) well behind.

         But Santorum did NOT translate this momentum into a good debate performance last Wednesday.  Going head-to-head with Romney, he finally faced what all long-term-Senators-turned-Presidential-candidates face: an attack on a long voting record, filled with political compromises.  Watching Romney successfully attack Santorum – SANTORUM! – on his conservative chops recalled, for me, Bush’s “Swift Boat” attacks on John Kerry.  How can THAT guy be attacking THAT guy on THAT!!!!!!!

         And on a broader scale, the general conversation of the debate has turned more to social issues over the past two weeks than economic ones.  Odd timing, perhaps, given the economic fortunes in Michigan, but a clear demonstration of how campaigns can be shaped by events in the real world.  Between the Koman/Planned Parenthood fiasco and the Catholic Church/Obama contraceptives slugfest, social issues were pushed front and center, generally a good thing for Santorum and a bad thing for Mitt.

Gingrich has pretty much disappeared, although he had a fine debate.  My high point at the debate was when each candidate was asked for a one-word self-description.  Gingrich replied “Cheerful!” which drew a big laugh.  After Paul (“consistent”), Santorum (“courage”) and Romney (“resolute”) it was a good time for some levity.
Romney continues to stumble on the trail.  My favorite was an event held in Ford Stadium – seating capacity 65,000 – that drew 1,200 people.  That’s not a typo.  And if the empty-stadium visuals on that event were not bad enough, here is how Mitt finished a question from that audience, attempting to connect to the Motor City denizens: ”I actually love this state. It just feels good, being back in Michigan.  I like the fact that most of the cars I see are Detroit-made automobiles. I drive a Mustang and a Chevy pickup truck. Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs actually…"  Yup, throw that inventory of the Romney Expensive Car Collection in with the $10,000 bet, “I’m unemployed too”, “I like to fire people”, $370,000 for making speeches being “not that much money”….when it comes to connecting with the common man on matters economic, Mitt is indeed the gift that keeps on gaffing!
Santorum has had his troubles, too, exacerbating the GOP’s women gap in general (Dems have carried women in the last five Presidential elections) with his own specific one.  Santorum was forced to explain his views on women on the battlefront, women in the workplace, women and contraceptives, pretty much everything related to woman who are not in the home making babies or using the rhythm method.  Santorum is finally receiving the special scrutiny reserved for frontrunners, and Tuesday will be a pretty good test of how he has been bearing up.
 
Michigan and Arizona

So, on to two important states, Michigan and Arizona, which each have primaries tomorrow, February 28th, one week before Super Tuesday.

Michigan is of course Romney’s home state, but it is also the home of the one of the more successful aspects of Obama’s economic record, the “bailout” of the auto industry, which Romney conspicuously denounced in a Wall Street Journal article at that time, favoring a structured bankruptcy instead.  Romney had long held a huge lead here, but after the Santorum Trifecta, Santorum was up anywhere from 3-15 points.  But there have been 12 – count ‘em, 12 – polls in the last week and all but one of them showed a statistical dead heat.  This will be a great one.

Arizona is Romney’s to lose.  Santorum had crept within 3-5 points after his big night, but over the last week Romney’s lead is back up to double digits, and as high as +17.

So, Michigan is very important.  If Romney wins both contests, he will head into Super Tuesday and its 437 delegates with the Big Mo.  In short, he would maintain the ability to win the nomination based on the delegate he could reasonably gain from the primaries.  But if Santorum takes Michigan, setting up an ability to win upcoming crucial Southern and Midwestern states (as of now, he is leading in Ohio), then we are looking more and more at a possible contested convention outcome.

And I wonder where Shelley Adelson, the Super Pacster, will come out.  He supported Newt in South Carolina and just cut him a big new check a few days ago.  He has indicated that he would support Romney if it came to that.  I have not read anything about him switching to Santorum.  But he has indicated a willingness to spend up to $100 million on the election!  This is what politics has come to…certainly making a sham of the $2,500 per person donation limit.

Obama

As for Obama, things are generally looking good, but not without a cloud or two.  The Santorum Surge certainly extends the Republican battle and forces Romney to say things like he is “severely conservative.”  What does that mean, anyway?  Probably nothing your average independent likes.  The economy – especially unemployment figures – continue to improve with increasing consistency.  Obama and the DNC continue to be master fundraisers.

Syria is a nightmare but the crisis does not seem to be working against Obama (yet), nor does increasing evidence of a close-in Iranian nuclear capability (yet).  But the potential for a political nightmare is there in both cases.

The one true piece of bad news for Obama is the spiking price of gas.  Nate Silver has demonstrated a connection between rising gas prices and weakened incumbent Presidential performance, but it is not as strong a connection as the conventional wisdom would have it.  Nevertheless, having that one big juicy number going the wrong way could undermine the general trend of other economic numbers finally moving the right way.

One other item – the One Big Legislative Battle of 2012 was over without a fight.  The Republicans meekly went along with the extension of the payroll tax cut extension and unemployment benefits.  The “overreach” seems to be over, and with no battles in the offing between now and Election Day, both houses will have to run on the record to date.  Wow.

Question

Today’s question comes straight from Schrier-Gardner Mount Kisco Diner Political Breakfast Club.  Eric and I paint the following scenario for you….it is January 20, 2013, over two months since Barack Obama lost his bid for re-election to the Republican candidate.  Chief Justice Roberts has his hand on the Bible, and he is looking into the eyes of the incoming President.

Who do you hope has his or her hand on that Bible with their right arm raised, looking back at Roberts?  That is, if it has to be a Republican, who do you want it to be?  Tell me which one of the following:

Michael Bloomberg
Jeb Bush
Chris Christie
Mitch Daniels
Newt Gingrich
Sarah Palin
Ron Paul
Buddy Roemer
Mitt Romney
Rick Santorum
Or Someone Else (who?)

Contest

 
As always, comments welcome.  And if you want to compete in guessing the primary outcomes, send me your projections for each of the four candidates (and “other”) for both Michigan and Arizona by noon Tuesday!!!

 
Song

Believe it or not, we have not had a Ron Paul song yet!  I thought that “Age of Aquarius” might be a ripe choice for Dr. Paul.

He’s a loon, and he is in the House
His point of view aligns with Mars
He’ll get...a couple hundred delegates

Then return...back to the stars

This is what happens if Ron Paul becomes President!
Ron Paul becomes President!
The President!  The President!

Lots of new misunderstandings

Republicans feeling confounded
Legalizing marijuana
No more Patriot Act nirvana
Our troops home, repatriated
The Constitution liberated!
If Ron Paul’s Prez!  If Ron Paul’s Prez!

If that loon was in the White House

His simple cures would cause great alarm
Good fits...for the 18th century
Hopeless...against modern storms

This is what happens if Ron Paul becomes President!
Ron Paul becomes President!
The President!  The President!


Lots of new misunderstandings

Democrats feeling confounded
Cabinet departments rending
Trillions cut from federal spending
Isolation to the max
No more federal income tax…
If Ron Paul’s Prez!  If Ron Paul’s Prez!

Let the nut rant, let the nut rant on
The nut rant on
Let the nut rant, let the nut rant on

The nut rant on
Let the nut rant, let the nut rant on

The nut rant on
Let the nut rant, let the nut rant on

The nut rant on
Let the nut rant, let the nut rant on

The nut rant on
Let the nut rant, let the nut rant on

The nut rant on
Let the nut rant, let the nut rant on

The nut rant on
Let the nut rant, let the nut rant on

The nut rant on
Let the nut rant, let the nut rant on

The nut rant on
Let the nut rant, let the nut rant on

The nut rant on
Let the nut rant, let the nut rant on

The nut rant on
Let the nut rant, let the nut rant on

The nut rant on















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