Wednesday, January 4, 2012


"[I]n this Christian-leaning nation, there has to be something more politically powerful than the 'odor of mendacity' that has been emanating so strongly from the Iowa Caucuses? . . .

What I think we need is for 78 percent [of Americans who continue to identify themselves as Christians] to step up and say enough! – enough already of all this nattering about whether or not Jesus controls football results! What we as Christian-leaning Americans demand is that all presidential candidates …

1. Ask themselves this one simple question: If Jesus were running for president of the United States, what kind of campaign would He run?

2. Then, that they run that kind of campaigns."

Read the Washington Post, A truly ‘Christian’ candidate?

Eeny Meeny Miny Moe, Which Republi-CON, In Iowa They Still Don't Know

UPDATE IX: For the record, it now appears that Santorum edged Obamney "in the Iowa caucuses by 34 votes, but can’t be declared the winner because results from eight precincts are missing."

[Note: the post date was not changed for this update.]

UPDATE VIII: An 8-vote victory and from the Washington Post, Eight lessons the Iowa caucuses taught us:

A ties goes to the underdog . . .

Romney is still the favorite . . .

Negative ads work but . . .

Late entrants don’t work . . .

Frontrunners get tested . . .

Ron Paul is like 'Friday Night Lights' . . .

Organization still matters . . .

Republicans are divided . . ."

UPDATE VII: Romney accomplished two most important things in Iowa:

"First, Mr. Romney eliminated Rick Perry from the nomination contest. . .

Mr. Perry was the only candidate other than Mr. Romney to rack up a significant number of endorsements, a key measure of party support. He was the only candidate other than Mr. Romney to raise enough money to run a full 50-state campaign from the start. He had better public-sector credentials than Mr. Romney — the sitting three-term governor of a large state rather than the former one-term governor of a medium-sized state — and his signature accomplishment in office was a strong job-creation record rather than shepherding the passage of a health care bill that is substantively similar to President Obama’s. He had no misgivings about confronting Mr. Romney — something candidates from Tim Pawlenty to Michele Bachmann were strangely reluctant to do. He had a speaking style that seemed to be more in line with the mood of the Republican base. Mr. Perry had a lot going for him, but his campaign appears to be at an end.

Mr. Romney’s second major accomplishment was that he avoided being 'vetoed' by Iowa voters. This is not meant to condemn Mr. Romney with faint praise, although I am sure it will sound like it. Until real votes start rolling in, there is always some chance that a candidate just won’t take well to actual voters, and there were reasons to think that Mr. Romney might have been one of them: he had faded down the stretch in both Iowa and New Hampshire in 2008, and candidates with Mr. Romney’s pedigree have historically underperformed in the Iowa caucuses. When you’re the favorite to become the nominee, eliminating downside scenarios is the name of the game, especially in an unpredictable state like Iowa, and Mr. Romney eliminated some of them on Tuesday night."

Read The New York Times, Winning Ugly, but Winning.

UPDATE VI: Eeny meeny miny moe, it is Obamney by less than a little toe!

"[H]is Iowa showing — finishing just eight votes ahead of former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) — highlighted the big problems that still dog Romney: suspicions about his avowed conservatism, struggles to connect with voters and an inability to rally more Republicans around his candidacy." Read the Washington Post, Romney leaves Iowa with same problems he had in 2008.

UPDATE V: "Predicting the outcome of the Iowa caucuses is challenging enough. Six different Republican candidates — Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney — have led at least one poll of the state at some point in this cycle. A seventh, Rick Santorum, is closing fast in the polls and has a realistic chance to win on Tuesday night.

What may be even more challenging is predicting how the results of the caucuses will reverberate throughout New Hampshire and the other states. As the political scientist Jonathan Bernstein notes, and as my research has found, performance relative to expectations can matter almost as much as the order of finish. The Iowa caucuses are a two-step process: first comes the voting, then comes the spinning."

Read The New York Times, In Iowa, Six Candidates Compete to Beat Expectations, which includes "an attempt to consider how each candidate’s range of possible outcomes might play out in terms of the post-caucus narrative . . . The figures associated with each candidate represent the 90 percent confidence intervals from the FiveThirtyEight forecast model.

Mitt Romney
538 forecast (most likely outcome): 22 percent
High end of forecast range: 32 percent
Low end of forecast range: 12 percent
. . .

Ron Paul
538 forecast (most likely outcome): 21 percent
High end of forecast range: 31 percent
Low end of forecast range: 11 percent
. . .

Rick Santorum
538 forecast (most likely outcome): 19 percent
High end of forecast range: 29 percent
Low end of forecast range: 10 percent
. . .

Newt Gingrich
538 forecast (most likely outcome): 15 percent
High end of forecast range: 24 percent
Low end of forecast range: 7 percent
. . .

Rick Perry
538 forecast (most likely outcome): 10 percent
High end of forecast range: 18 percent
Low end of forecast range: 4 percent
. . .

Michele Bachmann
538 forecast (most likely outcome): 8 percent
High end of forecast range: 15 percent
Low end of forecast range: 2 percent
. . .

Jon M. Huntsman Jr.
538 forecast (most likely outcome): 4 percent
High end of forecast range: 8 percent
Low end of forecast range: 0 percent"

The forecasts "are formulated from an average of recent surveys, with adjustments made to account for a polling firm's accuracy, freshness of a poll and each candidate's momentum. Although this improves accuracy, there is still considerable uncertainty in the forecast as is reflected in the range of possible vote totals for each candidate."

UPDATE IV: As I said in August (gosh I'm good), Republi-cons are searching for the ideal Republican candidate: conservative, interested, and electable. And "[i]n the final days before the Iowa caucuses, many voters who once hoped for [conservative AND electable are] realizing that they may not be able to have it all." Read the Washington Post, Romney and Santorum surge as Iowa caucuses near.

And re-read The New York Times, Pondering Perry’s Electability, which sums it up with a graph that shows Romney just on the outside edge of 'reliably conservative.'

(The graph doesn't show Santorum, who, according to current New York Times' Republican Primary Projections, won't win, place, or show in the early primaries (Iowa, NH, SC, and Florida) except in Iowa.)

UPDATE III: "The first-in-the-nation caucuses are only a few days away! Frankly, people, it will be the first big nonevent of 2012." Read The New York Times, Feel Free to Ignore Iowa.

Except if Ron Paul wins. "A penchant for conspiracy theories has been a constant throughout his political career," and a win would reflect poorly on the party. Read The New Yirk Times, Campaign Stops: Ron Paul’s World.

But "[n]o matter what happens in Iowa, Mitt Romney has a safety net in New Hampshire." Read the Washington Post, New Hampshire looks like Romney’s granite fortress.

As noted two months ago, he's the inevitable nominee.

Then, as also noted two months ago: what goes around comes around.

"[Obama will] have hundreds of millions of dollars, the bully pulpit, Air Force One and high-profile supporters from Warren Buffet to Lady Gaga behind him. But President Obama’s chances of re-election could come down to a single strategic question: To what degree can the history of 2004 be repeated in 2012? . . .

The Obama team, he said, 'wants to make Mitt Romney into the Republican version of John Kerry.'"

UPDATE II: "One more thing to keep in mind with one week to go before Iowa: everyone in the system has strong incentives to exaggerate how volatile the presidential nomination contest is and how uncertain the outcome. Matt Glassman has a timely reminder of that today; he argues that even Mitt Romney may find it in his interest to pretend the race is wide open." Read the Washington Post, Prediction for Iowa: hype.

UPDATE: "Two new surveys show that Republicans are either dissatisfied with the field of candidates or have little commitment toward any one candidate." Read The New York Times, The Caucus: Polls Find G.O.P. Electorate in Flux.

"The contenders for the G.O.P. nomination – seven of them now that Herman Cain self-immolated – have given speeches, schmoozed diners at diners, and run TV ads. They’ve also participated in thousands of debates, which— like last night’s season finale— have amply demonstrated that no one on stage with a remote chance of winning is remotely suited to leading this country. . .

[This article tries is to] sort out the choices based on what Republican caucus goers might be looking for."

Read The New York Times, Beyond Eeny Meeny Miny Moe: Sorting Out the G.O.P. Field.