Skip to comments.Romney’s Coronation: Just Delayed, or Gone Awry?
Posted on 01/22/2012 5:39:10 AM PST by SeekAndFind
This much is obvious: South Carolina has proven to be a disaster for Mitt Romney. The size of his defeat by Newt Gingrich — a 12%+ landslide in a four-way race — is virtually a repudiation of his candidacy in a state that has prided itself on picking the eventual nominee for 32 years. And we suspect Romney will have several more nights of heartburn, much like this one, as the nomination process unfolds.
The surprise for some may be that Mitt Romney remains a strong, though no longer prohibitive, favorite for the Republican presidential nomination. He continues to benefit from an unorganized, inadequately funded, polarizing opposition. The weak Republican field has aided Romney from the start. Still, if there is another South Carolina-style collapse in Florida for Romney, it will have devastating consequences for the frontrunner — and may even bring calls for a new candidate to enter the race. The pressure is on for Romney in the Sunshine State.
Concerning South Carolina, one has to give Gingrich credit for remarkable resiliency. He has risen from the dead not once but twice in this campaign: First, after his campaign imploded in the middle of last year and now, after poor performances in the first two nominating contests. During Gingrichs first shipwreck in May, his then-spokesman put out a statement saying that out of the billowing smoke and dust of tweets and trivia emerged Gingrich, once again ready to lead those who wont be intimated by the political elite and are ready to take on the challenges America faces. It was an over-the-top statement, but now seems strangely appropriate after such a wild week of developments in South Carolina.
Granted, this was favorable territory for Gingrich as a conservative, southern candidate from neighboring Georgia, but Romney, as recently as Wednesday, led by 8% in the polls according to the RealClearPolitics polling average. For Gingrich to snap back in such spectacular fashion is a testament to the way he performed in two crucial debates, and in how he reacted to the controversy over his ex-wifes accusations that he asked her for an open marriage before they got divorced. Gingrich handled the accusations about as well as he could have, turning CNNs John King into a punching bag at the start of Thursday nights debate and, more than likely, turning a negative into a positive with voters. Conservative Republicans detest most of the news media and rally to support any GOP target of press attacks. In South Carolina, Gingrich received a boost from his framing of the scandal coverage not dissimilar from the polling bounce Gingrichs one-time nemesis, Bill Clinton, got during his impeachment battle over his affair with Monica Lewinsky. News media feeding frenzies can have unintended consequences like this.
The South Carolina exit poll shows Gingrich doing surprisingly well everywhere, with every group, including women who didnt appear put off by the adultery and open marriage charges. Romneys team had hoped Newts baggage would weigh him down, and tried to add to it by jumping on Gingrich for his anti-capitalist targeting of Romneys work at Bain Capital. Many conservatives around the nation joined in condemning Gingrichs tactics, and 64% of Palmetto State exit poll respondents said they held a positive view of Romneys background as an investor. Yet Gingrichs attacks did not seem to backfire: 31% said Romney ran the most unfair campaign, compared to 25% for Gingrich.
Gingrichs win brings to a halt any prospect Romney had for ending this contest with a win in Florida on Jan. 31. What Gingrich now needs is for Rick Santorum to drop out of the race so the conservative vote can consolidate. The writing is in capital letters on the wall for the ex-Pennsylvania senator, who has lost out to Gingrich as the leading anti-Romney candidate. Santorum may stay in the race until Florida, but he has no path left to the nomination. Just as Gingrich is eyeing Santorums anti-Romney voters in Florida, Romney hopes Santorum will survive through the voting there — and wont become the next Rick Perry, dropping out before Election Day.
Ron Paul, meanwhile, also has no path to the nomination, and his showing in South Carolina was poor. His views on defense, foreign policy and social issues did not sell in this deeply conservative state. Still, Paul wont drop out soon — or perhaps at all, prior to the convention. As long as he can win delegates — particularly in future caucus states — and be given a national forum for his insurgent campaign through free press and debates, he is likely to continue on. His realistic goals are to influence the GOP platform and secure a primetime speaking slot.
In the first three states we have seen that the proportion of evangelical Christians in the electorate is revealing about, and somewhat predictive of, Romneys performance. In Iowa, nearly three in five caucus goers were evangelical/born-again Christians (57%) according to entrance polls. In South Carolina, that number exceeded Iowa — 65%, according to exit polls. New Hampshire, where Romney romped, has a much more moderate profile — only about one in five voters there were evangelical/born-again. To use sports parlance, Romney has played two of his first three games in hostile environments.
According to exit polls from 2008, Romney is heading to more favorable ground. Chart 1 shows the exit/entrance polling data from the first three GOP contests, plus information from four years ago about some upcoming states. As is clear from the chart, these upcoming contests are less conservative than Iowa and South Carolina, if not New Hampshire.
Notes: *Polls of caucuses are called entrance polls, because they are taken before a caucus participant enters the caucus. Exit polls are taken after a voter votes.
**Other contests from now until the end of February are caucuses in Maine (Feb. 4-11), Colorado (Feb. 7) and Minnesota (Feb. 7). Exit/entrance polling data are not available from these states from 2008; the other contest is the Missouri primary (Feb. 7), but that contest does not award delegates and Newt Gingrich did not qualify for the ballot there.
And, beyond these numbers, Romney has built-in advantages in these upcoming states. He is the only candidate — at the moment — who has the resources to saturate the heavily populated Sunshine State with advertisements. Florida is a much bigger state than the ones that have voted thus far — total turnout in Florida was roughly 2 million in 2008s Republican primary; thats more than double the votes cast in the first three contests combined. Indeed, as of Saturday, many more absentee/early votes have already been submitted in Florida (about 197,000) than votes cast in Iowa (about 121,500). And that number presumably will shortly eclipse New Hampshires total GOP primary vote (about 248,000). Florida is a mega-state battle in a war thus far dominated by small-state skirmishes.
After South Carolina, though, there are no guarantees for Romney anywhere; he will have to work hard to beat Gingrich in the Sunshine State. Romney is leading by nearly 19 percentage points there according to the RealClearPolitics average, but because of Gingrichs Palmetto win that lead will almost certainly be cut dramatically this week. Remember: Gingrich led in that very same poll average in Florida just two weeks ago (see the graph at the link).
Going into February, Romney — on paper — would seem to have many advantages. About a quarter of caucus-goers in Nevada in 2008 were Mormon; Romney should do well there, and the other candidates, save Paul, might not even bother contesting it. The major contests looming at the end of the month are primaries in Arizona and Michigan. Arizona is not as conservative as one might think. As the chart shows, its percentage of evangelical and very conservative voters (according to 2008s exit polls) was almost identical to Floridas — somewhat surprising demographics from Barry Goldwaters home state. Meanwhile, Romney has deep Michigan roots; his father was governor and he grew up there.
At the very least, theres every reason to suspect that this contest will go at least into Marchs Super Tuesday, and perhaps much longer. We also cannot eliminate the possibility, however faint, that this field is not yet complete, especially if Gingrich wins Florida. The Crystal Balls Rhodes Cook laid out the possibilities last month, and his analysis still holds. Establishment Republicans do not want Gingrich as their nominee, period. Privately, some senior GOP members of Congress have predicted that if Newt is the Republican nominee, the House will go Democratic in November.
Nonetheless, Gingrich will fight hard, using elite opposition to him as a battle cry that has resonance with rank-and-file party members still smarting over the establishments imposition of John McCain in 2008. That makes the White House happy, even though it is not obvious that a long campaign is automatically bad for Romney. After Mitts self-inflicted wounds over releasing his tax returns during last weeks debates and stumbling answers on some other topics, its clear that Romney needs plenty of training before any fall showdown with Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton made Obama a better candidate during the 2008 slog; Gingrich might do the same for Romney. Or Romney and Gingrich might destroy each other, with Paul and Santorum, if he remains in the race, inflicting additional wounds on the eventual nominee. Arguably, there are no more presidential tries left for any of the Final Four — its now or never. That means no one will hold back.
Tonights result reminds us that the past does not always predict the future: This is the first time since the South Carolina primarys inception in 1980 that Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina have picked three different Republican winners: Santorum in Iowa, Romney in New Hampshire and now Gingrich in South Carolina. Streaks are meant to be broken, and in all likelihood South Carolinas perfect record in picking Republican presidential nominees will be broken as well.
Moreover, South Carolina has often signaled the beginning of the end of the nominating process. Instead, by its shocker landslide for Newt Gingrich, South Carolina may be just the end of the beginning in a long, winding road to Augusts Tampa convention.
What did we start out with ... 11 or something ?
There were 2 moronic answers about taxes in the last debate- Santorum: “My taxes are at home and on my computer, and nobody is home.” Duh- he sounded like an eight grader.
Romney: “Well, um, uh, well... I have been successful, um, uh, maybe in April, yada yada yada”.. Mitt is done. People want a straightforward answer. Newt said “an hour ago”. Simple.
And if your team is depressed, you are heading into a slump no matter how much money you throw at the problem.
From the article:
“What Gingrich now needs is for Rick Santorum to drop out of the race so the conservative vote can consolidate.”
I’m not sure that is really true. Would Santorum endorse Gingrich and order his supporters to work for Gingrich as Perry did? I doubt that very much. In fact, I think a substantial percentage of Santorum’s voters would switch over to Romney.
Politics IS, after all ... salesmanship
That is a frightening, but I think you're correct .... thought.
I’m starting to wonder if Santorum is on the Romney payroll & that’s why he’s staying in the race. Him being there divides this conservatives & actually helps Romney.
Show your tax returns Mitt or say goodbye.
Show your tax returns Mitt or say goodbye.
I doubt it. Why would the pro lifers in the Santorum camp go over to the abortophilic Romney? There are a lot of santorum supporters here on FR, I doubt ANY of them will go for Romney if Rick drops out.
I can't remember when I have been this excited about a presidential election.
I did not see the debate, but regarding the release of income tax returns issue, someone told me there was a question, something about George Romney (mitt’s Dad) having released, or stating 12 years of income tax returns should be released, because anyone planning to run a couple of years in advance could manipulate a year or two’s returns, release them, and still not give a clear picture of their real business dealings. And the evasive answer Mitt Romney gave was devastating to him. Was that account about correct?
I hope you are correct.
I wasn’t talking about Freepers, nor was the article talking about Freepers. The discussion is about Florida Republican Primary Voters, which are a pretty unique demographic. I think many of this demographic would switch from Santorum over to Romney, especially absent a direct Santorum endorsement of Gingrich.
According to CNN, “Exit polls showed that voters who identified themselves as ‘moderate or liberal’ went for Romney. ‘Conservative’ and ‘very conservative’ Republicans, meanwhile, voted for Gingrich.”
Conclusion, people know who’s who and what’s what here. It is clear to most Americans that Romney is no conservative. The non-conservative Republicans know it, and so do the conservatives.
The media can claim otherwise until they’re blue in the face, which they are, and until the coin of their realm, CREDIBILITY, runs out.
Larry Saboto is a certified Dem party operative and fraud .
I recall back in 2004 , left wing Larry predicted that
It was impossible for Bush to win reelection based on
Larry’s magical poll figures.Odd how old Commie Larry has never
Been called out on that lame lie .
Lefty Larry was caught working for Jim Webb ‘s campaign
In secret while running around smearing Sen Allen and
Pushing his DNC push polls BS .
Why? Romney’s pro abortion and pro homosexuality past are a huge turn off for santorum supporters, and that revulsion will outweigh Newts personal infidelities. The vast majority of santorum fans will go to Newt.
How do you figure that? Santorum campaigns as a social conservative. SoCons are going to switch to a Massachusetts pro-gay, pro-abortion, anti-gun RINO?
That’s a ridiculous comment with zero proof.
Rick has attacked Miitens about Romneycare non stop !
He is sticking around because he is guessing that
Newt could self implode at any moment .
Newt has a lot of baggage and Rick knows it .
That is what is circulating. That money is now being thrown to Santorum right not for the intention of assisting Romney against Newt under the appearance of supporting conservative ideas. I hope Senator Santorum has the dignity to refuse to let himself be used that way by the establishment, but we’ll find out.
“Im not sure that is really true. Would Santorum endorse Gingrich and order his supporters to work for Gingrich as Perry did? I doubt that very much. In fact, I think a substantial percentage of Santorums voters would switch over to Romney.”
No, I suspect the people remaining with Santorum are the hard-core pro-lifers. They’ll be upset with having to choose between Romney and Newt...but they know that Newt is much, much, better for their cause.
You have gotten so pathetic and desperate that
Your attacking a candidate ‘s wife old boyfriend from when
She was young lady ?
Let’s stop the smearing of Rick’s wife and kids here !
Its not the DU or Daily Koz hate filled web site here !
RE: over to a sweater-vest-wearing dweeb that campaigns as a social conservative.
Are you implying that Santorum was never a REAL social conservative? Where’s your evidence of that?
Santorum is sticking around because he wants to be POTUS — but he won’t be. And he hasn’t run clean out of money yet — but he will.
RE: Because the vast majority of Santorum fans in Florida are ladies whose revulsion for Speaker Gingrich outweighs Romneys pro abortion and pro homosexuality past.
Again, EVIDENCE PLEASE. All we here are allegations from you. Where’s the poll? The interviews? Who did the survey? C’mon, give it to us...
LOL, that is not what the sc election results showed, Newt won the ladies hands down over Mitt. Actually, he won all the demographics.
But there is plenty of time .
It’s only the third primary !
What is the rush ?
In the past the primaries were very close and
Went on for months .
Only in recent history have these primaries become dull
And over after a. Few weeks !
“And the evasive answer Mitt Romney gave (on taxes) was devastating to him.”
Yea, I called that one when it happened. Either Romney has to say it’s “none of your damn business” and stick with it, or he has to release them immediately, not after he locks up the nomination (just so Obama can use it against him).
The idea of say “wait until April” was the first major mistake of his campaign and he plummeted almost immediately, and he will have a tough time coming back, particularly if Newt has finally figured out what Rush has been screaming for the past two decades, which is that the worst enemy of conservatives is not Obama, nor Romney, nor Paul, nor Stalin (for that matter), no - it’s the media. And once you make it clear that you are the anti-media candidate (i.e., attacking the media, not just complaining about them, or being disappointed in them [as McCain was in 2008 when they went after his personal life in the general election]), then you win.
“Are you implying that Santorum was never a REAL social conservative? Wheres your evidence of that?”
No, I have no evidence of that, and I think Rick Santorum is probably a real nice guy, but please remember, we are talking CAREER LAWYER POLITICIAN whose education and career mirrors Mitt Romney’s except for the Bain Capital part.
Romney was the frontrunner when?
I thought the frontrunner (in terms of nationwide polls) was Bachman, Perry, Cain, Gingrich, then Romney. Romney would have been the prohibitive favorite if he had won S.C. But, in a dynamic, multi-candidate race, things are fluid.
In S.C., Romney never lead the combined vote for the social conservative candidates and, so, was never securely in the lead. Then, with Gingrich’s brilliant performances in Monday’s and Thursday’s debates combined with Romney’s defensiveness on his tax returns and on his record at Bain Capital, Newt emerged as “the” social conservative candidate and Mitt lost a sizable chunk of his support.
In Florida, prior to last week, Romney was about neck and neck with the combined vote for the social conservative candidates. Therefore, if he gets his head out of his butt and puts this tax thing behind him, he would have a real chance of winning the state irrespective of how well Newt consolidates the social conservative side.
He could have presented his position much better. Our plan is to release my tax returns after I file this year. As to how many years, I’m not saying at this time. We will release them all at once and they will demonstrate how successful I have been in my chosen profession, how I have complied with the law, and how generous I have been in my charitable giving.
In other words, raise the stakes. It’s not just about paying taxes. We know that Obama hadn’t done squat with charitable giving prior to running for president. His church, after all, is the government. Whereas Mormons are tithers.
The Gingrich’s gave $80,000 on $2.5 million. While this is a much greater percent than the Obamas (zero percent); but, it’s a paltry 2 percent. And, this was in the year Newt was a candidate for president and knew he was going to reveal his taxes. I wonder what percent the converted, born again and forgiven Newt gave in his prior years?
Watch the Santorum acknowledgment speech after the primary vote, you might change your mind. Rick was generous with kind words, calling Newt a “good friend.”
Plus, I believe religion will play a role. Rick’s not Mormon and I think it matters to Rick and Newt!
You say “The vast majority of santorum fans will go to Newt.”
I agree completely. If Santorum is still in the race when Maryland votes, I’ll be voting for him because of all the remaining candidates, he’s the one I want to be president. But if he drops out before then, I’ll vote for Gingrich.
Last week I was wavering on my vow NEVER to vote for Romney, even if he gets the nomination. I had been planning to write in Palin. But then I started to fall for the “anybody but Obama” meme. And then in the debate, when they asked Romney if he would have signed the NDAA as is, with the provision for the unlimited detention of suspected terrorists, including American citizens, I realized for certain that if he is willing to trash the constitution to give us a false sense of security, then he’ll trash it whenever he thinks it’s in his political best interest to do so.
An American being an “enemy combatant”, as defined in the NDAA, is treason. And treason is the only crime explicitly defined in the constitution, along with the criteria for proving it. It consists of two witnesses testifying in open court to the same overt act.
Here’s Article 3 Section 3 of the Constitution:
“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.”
Indefinite detention of an American for being a suspected terrorist, without trial, without Habeas Corpus, and without even any evidence, violates the constitution. Period. If you think such detention is a good idea, then work to change the constitution, don’t just ignore it. And I’ll work my ass off to prevent it.
This provision of the NDAA is so blatantly unconstitutional that only an idiot or a liar cannot see it, and I won’t vote for either.
Being “suspected” of being a terrorist is not the same thing as being a terrorist.
Askew? and it will remain so.
I dont believe that. Santorums support is overwhelmingly evangelicals. Yesterday it became obvious that Newt took the evangelical vote over Romney by a large margin. I saw no dynamic that would have indicated that Santorum support would go to Romney. I believe it will go to Gingrich as was evidenced yesterday by the decline of both Romney and Santorum and the increase of support for Gingrich.
How can you say that? Both Santorum and Romney lost support yesterday and Gingrich gained.
Thus the moniker Larry "Sabotage".
When I see and hear Romney, the vision of John Kerry always comes to mind. Elitist loser.
Plan on 40(ish)%. That's if he drops out right after FL. But there are many reports of Mitt contributing to Rick's coffers to keep him in as a spoiler. As long as Rick's polling numbers stay in double digits, Romney will keep the cash flowing.
Almost every GOP candidate who announced has surged against Romney. Why? People don’t trust him. He is rightfully perceived to be the candidate of the “Establishment”, which, for all you old guard John Birchers means the “oligarchy” of bankers, globalists, elitists and invisible hand, back channel manipulators of markets and debt which are an anathema to patriots. These are the peckerwoods who got us into this economic mess and people know it. Romney and his handlers are not trusted for good reason. Anyhow, Newt is smarter.
I don't agree with the piece, however, a victory for Romney in winner-take-all FL will restart the inevitability storyline with many Romney-friendly places like Mormon-heavy Nevada and his birthplace of Michigan voting the next month.