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Five Consequences of Gingrich’s South Carolina Win
New York Magazine's Daily Intel ^ | January 23, 2012 | John Heilemann

Posted on 01/23/2012 7:49:20 AM PST by 2ndDivisionVet

By the time the voting started yesterday in the South Carolina Republican primary, the collective judgment of the political class was that Newt Gingrich was all but certain to beat Mitt Romney badly — the only question was how badly. Plenty of prognosticators, including Impolitic, predicted that Gingrich would win by a double-digit margin, as he did (the final spread was 13 points, on a 40 to 27 percent split). But virtually no one would have dared venture a forecast of a blowout as abject and total as the one that indeed took place.

Take a gander at the exit polls if you like — they really are quite something. What they show is that Gingrich beat Romney soundly across the board: 42–26 with men and 38–29 with women; by nine or more points in every age cohort; by double digits in every educational cohort except those voters with postgraduate study (which Romney won by a bare two points); among both married and unmarried voters; among the poor, the middle class, and the rich; among Republicans and independents; among the very conservative and the somewhat conservative, losing only (by just five points) among self-described moderates or liberals; among tea party backers, God-squadders, Protestants, and Catholics; among those most concerned about beating Barack Obama, about being a true conservative, and about having the right experience for the job of president; among late deciders and early deciders; and especially dramatically among those for whom the debates were important.

Back in 2008, after Obama lost the Ohio and Texas primaries and the Reverend Jeremiah Wright controversy erupted, his campaign manager David Plouffe remarked privately that his guy was about to experience his “turn in the barrel.” Well, after a year of being perched in the catbird seat, Romney now faces, over the next nine days in Florida, his first (though maybe not his last) time in the oaken cask. Herewith five realities as we head into what promises to be the most intense and consequential primary thus far:

1. Contrary to the received wisdom up until now, Gingrich is the favorite in the Sunshine State. Yes, Romney has the financial advantage. Yes, he has been on the air with ads for weeks. Yes, there has been early voting in Florida under way for weeks, too, during which time Romney’s air of inevitability will have given him an edge. But Florida is a closed primary, the first contest so far in which only registered Republicans are allowed to cast ballots. And the state’s GOP voters are far more conservative and anti-Establishment than many people understand. This is especially true in the panhandle of northern Florida, where Gingrich is likely to take up residence for much of the time between now and the vote on January 31. But watch for Gingrich to play hard for the state’s Hispanic voters — and not just the Cuban-Americans who are thick on the ground in South Florida but also the polyglot Latino population around Orlando — by emphasizing his stance on immigration, which is notably more moderate than Romney’s. Between all this and the wave of momentum and free media coverage he’ll enjoy coming out of South Carolina, the former speaker, I think, has the upper hand, though not by a lot.

2. To fend off Gingrich and regain his status as the front-runner, Romney needs to “refine his message, not sharpen his knives,” as the influential conservative blogger Erik Erickson puts it. The Romney people, however, are instinctively inclined to do the opposite. Incredulous at the notion that anyone on God’s green earth could ever take Gingrich seriously as the Republican nominee, their plan is to step up their attacks on him, beginning at the debate in Tampa tomorrow night. There are two obvious problems with this strategy, though: (a) When it comes to wallowing around in the mud, Gingrich is King Hog, while Romney isn’t even a pig farmer in waders—he’s the CEO of the agribusiness conglomerate that owns the place, worried about getting any flecks of dirt on his starched white shirt; and (b) Gingrich’s rise represents as much as anything a rejection of Romney, his themeless pudding of a campaign, and the Establishment support of it. At Romney’s final rally in Charleston on Friday, which I wrote about yesterday, he ended his speech by declaiming, “I love this land, I love its Constitution, I revere its founders, I will get America back to work, and I’ll make sure that we remain the shining city on the hill.” It would be hard to conjure a stanza less suited to rousing the hot-eyed Republican base of 2012 than that.

3. Romney needs to get comfortable, and quick, in talking about money — his, that is. In South Carolina, his handling of the calls to release his tax returns was something like a slow-motion train wreck. This morning, Romney quickly moved to defuse the issue by announcing he will release his 2010 returns and estimates for 2011 on Tuesday. This was smart and necessary, but does nothing to address the deeper problem, which is Romney’s obvious awkwardness when questioned about his personal wealth and, to a lesser extent, his background at Bain, and also the unfortunate appearance he gives of being out of touch with the lives of monetary mortals. From “corporations are people” and “I like being able to fire people” to, most recently, his comments that he made “not much” money in speaking fees when they in fact totaled $374,327 last year, Romney has done much to paint an image of himself as a combination of Gordon Gekko and Richie Rich. No doubt this will be a bigger problem in a general election (if he gets there) than in a Republican nomination fight—but heading into Florida and Nevada, where the jobless rates are 10 and 13 percent respectively and the median income is roughly what Romney gets paid for one speech, no one should think it’s not a vulnerability with the increasingly blue-collar GOP electorate.

4. If Gingrich wins Florida, the Republican Establishment is going to have a meltdown that makes Three Mile Island look like a marshmallow roast. Why? Because the Establishment will be staring down the barrel of two utterly unpalatable choices. On the one hand, Gingrich's national favorable-unfavorable ratings of 26.5 and 58.6 percent, respectively make him not just unelectable against Obama but also mean that he would likely be a ten-ton millstone around the necks of down-ballot Republican candidates across the country. And on the other, Romney will have shown in two successive contests—one in a bellwether Republican state, the other in a key swing state—an inability to beat his deeply unpopular rival. If this scenario unfolds, the sound of GOP grandees whispering calls for a white knight, be it Indiana governor Mitch Daniels (who, conveniently, is delivering the Republican response to Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night) or Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan or even Jeb Bush, will be deafening.

5. No matter who wins Florida, the race is now destined to go on a good long time. Again, why? Because Romney has plenty of money (and can always pump in more of his own should the need arise) to go on all the way to June; because this is his last chance to be president, for there will be no third time around for a two-time loser; and because he believes that he alone has the organizational muscle and fortitude to go the distance. As for Gingrich, his near-100 percent national name I.D. and his magnetlike capacity to draw free media coverage will give him the ability to compete around the country even if his financial and organizational deficits remain. Also, his sense of himself as a man of destiny and world-historical significance — who, as the Romney campaign cheekily pointed out, has compared himself to Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Henry Clay, Charles De Gaulle, William Wallace, Pericles, The Duke Of Wellington, Thomas Edison, Vince Lombardi, The Wright Brothers, Moses, and “a viking” — compels it. Oh, and also: the two men, Gingrich and Romney, are quickly coming to hate each other. So buckle up; this should be fun.

TOPICS: Campaign News; Issues; Parties; Polls
KEYWORDS: gingrich; jawjutsu; newt; polls; romney
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To: vicar7
Also, don't forget that a lot of the votes Obama got four years ago were based on novelty and race:

1. There were a lot of young people who thought it would be "cool" to have Obama as president. That novelty is GONE because on the one hand they've already done it and on the other hand they are now out of college and struggling in the Obama economy.

2. Blacks wanted a black president. But he hasn't done anywhere near what they expected. Many of these voters had never voted before and probably never will again.

3. Upper-middle class white voters looking to overcome white guilt viewed voting for a black for president as "something they needed to cross of the list," but now that's over and the reality of their personal financial prospects has kicked in.

21 posted on 01/23/2012 8:41:41 AM PST by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

“...Gingrich’s national favorable-unfavorable ratings of 26.5 and 58.6 percent...”

Same tactic and argument that was used against Reagan, and don’t forget how women voters were scared by Reagan, even when they turned out in large numbers to vote for him.

It’s time to show the RNC that there is a new sheriff in town, and the corrupt thinking that brought us McCain and now Romney isn’t going to win the day.

22 posted on 01/23/2012 8:44:38 AM PST by pallis
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To: ari-freedom

I also was very much against Newt, I lived through the magazine
covers, press sliming him it was just awful!!! Although I personally
Thought at the time Newt was doing a great job the establishment
Managed to take him down. He is hated by alot of people on the hill
and he is in for the fight of his life. I now believe he is up for the job.
He has the fire in the belly and with his past experience with the press
he is pissed and not going to takeit any more!!!! Fortunately WE all feel
the same way, Newt does not have an ounce of fear in his body, if he
by the grace of God wins this he WILL get this country on the right

23 posted on 01/23/2012 8:47:09 AM PST by Kit cat (OBummer must go)
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To: Cboldt

-My point follows the premise that Romney is no Reagan.-

agreed, but the republican party is also not a the low ebb of Watergate aftermath. In fact, just two years ago Obama inspired the American people to turn the house over to Republicans in a historic shellacking. I just wouldn’t share your characterization that the republicans are in deep trouble.

24 posted on 01/23/2012 9:01:31 AM PST by running_dog_lackey
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

6. We don’t end up w Mitt Milquetoast as the nominee and lose to commie Obamie.

25 posted on 01/23/2012 9:06:15 AM PST by G Larry (We need Bare Knuckles Newt to fight this battle.)
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To: veritas2002
Funny, veritas2002, my own support for Gingrich has absolutely nothing to do with either of the points you make, and I suspect that South Carolina voters had other significant reasons as well.

Paul, Santorum, and Gingrich, all, provide an anchor for their responses to issues within their own personal historical understanding of our Constitution. That kind of response informs voters, reminds them that in America there is a firm foundation upon which to stake out one's position on issues.

Romney, on the other hand, rushes to pile up words on top of words, smiling, blinking and stuttering, focusing on his accomplishments, and then throwing in what appear to be carefully memorized familiar phrases from patriotic songs and Reaganesque utterings. That is unsettling to voters who feel their children and grandchildren will not enjoy the "Blessings of Liberty" unless someone who understands the Founders' ideas retakes the Executive Branch of their government.

That person may not be perfect, as King David was not perfect, in his personal life. He may have a whiny voice, as Congressman Paul does. He may, at times, appear apprehensive, as Santorum does.

But, if he appears to understand the fundamental principles of the Declaration of Independence which resulted in a written Constitution to protect the liberty of individuals and "chains" (Jefferson) on the delegated powers of men and women in government, as those three do, then one of them should be the one who should go up against the leader of those who are placing "chains" on individuals and building a slavemaster government which will end freedom as we know it.

In the Fall battle of ideas, a deep and abiding knowledge of constitutional principles must trump the deep commitment and strategies of the current redistributionist and his ideology.

To say that the entire state of South Carolina is so lacking in knowledge and perception that those voters simply had a visceral hatred of Obama and the media which caused them to defeat Romney is no better analysis than Brit Hume's simplistic "analysis" following the vote.

26 posted on 01/23/2012 9:07:21 AM PST by loveliberty2
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To: running_dog_lackey
-- I just wouldn't share your characterization that the republicans are in deep trouble. --

Some of them are, and I'm talking down ballot. If Mitt is the nominee, the liberal republicans (down ballot) are in trouble on account of depressed turnout. if Newt is the nominee, and the authors premise is correct that Newt will depress turnout, then the same; and if Newt energizes turnout, the go-along/get-along GOP members are at risk.

I won't ever vote for Snowe or Collins, just to cite an example. But I always vote.

The GOP has some soul-searching to do, if it is going to survive as a party. Talk is cheap, and talk is all it's delivering - well, talk, plus big government and all that comes with it.

27 posted on 01/23/2012 9:10:46 AM PST by Cboldt
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
Newt's unfavorable ratings are high with the GOP, too, and they voted for him. Against a popular Democrat, he might have problems. Against 0bama? Not so much.

Newt will have to go out and earn those votes, but -- KEY POINT -- he has shown that HE CAN DO THAT. Every debate, he picks up supporters, or at least, assauges some detractors. (He'll create more "he's not my guy, but I'll support him if he wins" voters or even "hold their nose and vote" voters.)

28 posted on 01/23/2012 9:28:22 AM PST by Tanniker Smith (I didn't know she was a liberal when I married her.)
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To: wagglebee

Totally agree!! is an interactive electoral map it is fun to play with. I see the GOP starting off with a 2000 map and building from there. I see Obama just barely breaking 200 EV’s. I know he can forgot about FL my home state.

29 posted on 01/23/2012 9:36:20 AM PST by vicar7 ("Polls are for strippers and cross-country skiers" Sarah Palin)
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To: loveliberty2

Inherent in our hatred of Obama is our understanding of what he is doing to our constitutional freedoms and our love of liberty. No one hates Obama as a person but we do hate what he has done to our liberties and that is what we understand.

30 posted on 01/23/2012 10:06:31 AM PST by veritas2002
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To: veritas2002
Thanks for your response. My point was that the widespread voting in SC for Gingrich was not, as Brit Hume so narrowly summarized it, that he had a zinger or two in debates, or that it was that he kindled anger. It seems to be much more complex than that.

While the so-called "progressives" have censored the ideas of the Founders' from textbooks for several decades, the TEA movement has called attention to those ideas, and there is renewed interest in rediscovering the ideas that allowed America to be the place in the world where people were seeking opportunity and freedom.

Gingrich's intensive study of those ideas allows him to be the one, along with Santorum and Paul, who can respond to a question about a current issue, with a quick overview of how it relates to a larger principle underlying our Constitution.

Perhaps South Carolina voters, as applies to voters throughout America, are looking for someone who understands enough, and is quick and clever enough, to expose the stark difference between the ideas of a welfare, dependency nation, run by political elites who fancy themselves smart enough to make decisions for everyone else, and a free nation of individuals whose written Constitution prohibits elected officials from assuming such coercive power over their fellow citizens.

Clearly, Santorum, Paul, and Gingrich appear, each in his own way, to be viewing our problems through the prism of Constitutional understanding.

Before November, some candidate must emerge who can help enough voters to discover, or, in some cases, rediscover the ideas of liberty which motivated our ancestors of 1776 to declare to the world the reasons why they would resist, reject, and oppose the coercive rule of King George, and claim their Creator-endowed rights to be free individuals under a rule of law and right and wrong.

31 posted on 01/23/2012 10:52:42 AM PST by loveliberty2
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

And on the other, Romney will have shown in two successive contests—one in a bellwether Republican state, the other in a key swing state—an inability to beat his deeply unpopular rival. If this scenario unfolds, the sound of GOP grandees whispering calls for a white knight, be it Indiana governor Mitch Daniels (who, conveniently, is delivering the Republican response to Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night) or Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan or even Jeb Bush, will be deafening.



1) We did the polite and nice McCain who is loved by the media who did not take the Left to task on their treason, and the Conservative base did not come out.

2) The left got their hardest left candidate to run, and they got record turnout. Playing to the middle to win is a myth. It only disgusts your base, and without your base you lose.

3) I wish Sarah or West or someone else articulate and FAR right are down ticket.

4) A Mormon president is a serious issue. It is OFFICIAL NOTICE that the Christianity going on in the USA is worthless to the max, since it is not producing leaders, along with all the sin among Christians. Most Christians are not ready to admit this, so they will pick a “not Romney”.

5) Who is Mitch Daniels? Not another blue-blood Bush!!!

32 posted on 01/23/2012 11:09:23 AM PST by ROTB (Christian sin breeds enemies for the USA. If you're a Christian, stop sinning, and spread the Word..)
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