Sunday, January 22, 2012

It's SC Stupid

UPDATE XIV: The final tally:

Gingrich 40.4%
Romney 27.8%

From the Washington Post, Five lessons learned from the South Carolina primary:

"1. Debates matter. A lot . . .

2. It’s a marathon, not a sprint . . .

3. Frontrunners falter . . .

4. Mitt Romney has a base problem . . .

5. It’s going to get real nasty, real quick . . ."

And from Politico, South Carolina: 9 takeaways:

"1) Romney may not realize he’s having a near-death experience . . .

2) Newt needs to hold it together . . .

3) Paging Sheldon Adelson . . .

4) Rick Santorum has nothing to lose by going forward . . .

5) Mitch Daniels isn’t doing Romney any favors . . .

6) Nikki Haley suffered a big loss . . .

7) Rick Perry’s backing mattered . . .

8) Gingrich fared surprisingly well with women . . .

9) Romney is about to get all sorts of unsolicited public advice . . ."

UPDATE XIII: And for last projection before the primary, see The New York Times, South Carolina Primary Projections, which continues to momentum for The Great Lecherer:

Gingrich 38.7%
Vote range: 26 - 49

Romney 29.3%
Vote range: 19 - 39

Paul 15.6%
Vote range: 8 - 24

Santorum 13.9%
Vote range: 7 - 22

UPDATE XII: "Up with Newt. Down with dignity. That’s the way it goes.

Newt Gingrich is surging in South Carolina and has a good chance to win that state’s primary on Saturday. But, as he rises, so grows the dark shadow that he casts over his party and the grievous damage he does to its chances of unseating President Obama."

Read The New York Times, Newt’s Southern Strategy.

UPDATE XI: How can The Great Lecherer proclaim "himself the only conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. The reason for his rising popularity is not really because he’s more conservative than Mr. Santorum – he’s not – or because he will bring about more conservative change, as Rick Perry said in endorsing him today before leaving the race.

The reason, colorfully on display this morning in this history-soaked waterfront town, is that no other candidate in the race expresses the kind of visceral, full-bodied disgust with President Obama that Mr. Gingrich does. No one else can even come close to the kind of withering ridicule that Mr. Gingrich employs."

Read The New York Times, Newt Gingrich, Nutty Radio Talk Show Host.

The power of pandering to fear, anger and hatred is on full display this election season.

UPDATE X: "By avoiding direct confrontations with his opponents while giving evasive answers on a range of issues in debates this week, Mitt Romney has allowed Newt Gingrich to become the slight favorite to win in South Carolina." Read The New York Times, Romney’s ‘Prevent Defense’ Yielding Big Gains to Opponents.

And the day before the primary, from The New York Times, South Carolina Primary Projections, here are the forecasts, "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:

Gingrich 35.1%
Vote range: 22 - 46

Romney 32.8%
Vote range: 21 - 43

Paul 15.9%
Vote range: 8 - 25

Santorum 12.9%
Vote range: 5 - 22

UPDATE IX: Taken before the day's upheaval, polls show Obamney and Gingrich in a virtual tie.

UPDATE VIII: 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."

Other news:

Santorum is the nominal conservative Obamney alternative.

But Gingrich had a bellicose debate performance and has a Palin sort-of-endorsement and Perry dropping out endorsement, but has yet to answer renewed questions about his moral character (see this interview with one of Newt Gingrich’s ex-wives about his open-marriage idea).

There is also that other guy still running, and the vote for Cain for Colbert effort.

UPDATE VII: Obamney “rivals enter the final four days of the South Carolina primary in search of something — anything — to significantly alter the basic trajectory of their party’s presidential nominating contest. . .

[H]owever, they are running out of time." Read The New York Times, Time Running Out for Romney’s Rivals, which notes "that political fortunes can change more quickly than anyone expects. That may be even more true in the age of Twitter, when small moments on the campaign trail can quickly become global phenomenon.

So what might yet happen in the next four days? Here are some possibilities":



3. A NEW ATTACK? . .




UPDATE VI: "Another day, another [Republi-con] presidential debate."

For a recap, read the Washington Post, South Carolina Republican debate: Winners and losers and Fact Checking the Fox News-WSJ debate in South Carolina, and CNN, Five things we learned from Monday's debate.

"The debate last night demonstrated the essential problem that the top three not-Romney contenders face in South Carolina and beyond: No one has been strong enough and focused enough to oust Mitt Romney, but none is so weak as to drop out." Read the Washington Post, Romney’s path to the Republican nomination.

UPDATE V: "As Republican leaders watch with horror Newt Gingrich’s one-man campaign to bring down the party’s likely presidential nominee, they should remind themselves of this: Gingrich is a monster of their own making." Read the Washington Post, Kamikaze Gingrich, on the loose in South Carolina, which notes:

Romney, on his way to South Carolina, complained explicitly that Gingrich was against 'free enterprise.'

Romney has it wrong. Gingrich’s attacks on him are the very essence of free enterprise: They’re helped by campaign finance laws that sell elections to the highest bidder. For those Republicans who thought that unlimited political contributions would be a good thing for their party, it’s a delicious irony that a casino billionaire is using his money to underwrite a populist assault on the GOP front-runner.

'Crony capitalism, where people pay each other off at the expense of the people of this country, is not free enterprise, and raising questions about that is not wrong,' Gingrich said in South Carolina. Americans, he said, should know whether businesses are 'fair to the American people, or are the deals being cut on behalf of Wall Street institutions and very rich people.'

If Republican elites don’t like millions of dollars being spent to amplify that anti-Romney message, they have only themselves to blame."

UPDATE IV: "In South Carolina, they know who their enemy is. They’re just too busy attacking one another to fight [Romney]." Read The New York Times, The Tea Party’s Not-So-Civil War.

UPDATE III: "Voters in South Carolina will have plenty of opportunities to meet the Republican presidential candidates at town-hall-style meetings and campaign rallies over the next week and a half. But why even leave the house?

The state will be awash in campaign commercials, direct-mail fliers and automated phone calls in the days leading up to the Jan. 21 primary, all part of a full effort by the campaigns and their 'super PACs' to break through in what could be the kind of climactic contest that the New Hampshire primary was not."

Read The New York Times, Expensive and Bitter Media War Already Ignited.

UPDATE II: From the Washington Post, The five remaining scenarios in the GOP primary, read the article for "what they would mean for the overall GOP primary":

"Romney wins solidly in South Carolina . . .

Romney wins narrowly over Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, or Jon Huntsman . . .

Romney wins narrowly over Rick Santorum or Rick Perry . . .

Romney loses to Santorum or Perry . . .

Romney loses to Paul, Gingrich, or Huntsman . . ."

UPDATE: Which Mitt will show up in SC?

Will it be the "Mitt Romney who campaigned across New Hampshire the past few days entered the workforce 'at the bottom,' feared getting 'a pink slip,' doesn’t own four houses (although he thinks 'that's a good idea') and 'never imagined' he would run for office because, as he put it, 'I was just a high school kid like everybody else with skinny legs'"?

Read the Washington Post, Mitt Romney may face lasting damage from New Hampshire primary.

"The Republican primary race will come to a fork in the road in South Carolina. A win by former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in the Palmetto State effectively ends the GOP nomination fight. A loss by Romney likely means a protracted primary fight that continues through Super Tuesday on March 6. . .

The reality of the South Carolina vote, according to a number of well-informed GOP observers, is that it really amounts to two primaries in one.

In one primary is Romney — and to a MUCH lesser extent former Utah governor Jon Huntsman — who are competing for the establishment wing of the state’s GOP. These are voters who prize electability over all other factors and who gave Arizona Sen. John McCain 33 percent — and a win — in the 2008 South Carolina primary.

Romney is likely to win the lion’s share of those voters whether he spends a dime or $10 million on his South Carolina campaign since, unlike in 2008, he is clearly regarded by the smart set within the GOP as the most electable of the current field. (For why Huntsman isn’t likely to be a major figure in South Carolina, make sure to check out our post from this morning.)

That means Romney probably has a floor of about 30 percent in South Carolina and a ceiling around 35 percent almost no matter what he or his rivals do over the next 11 days.

The second primary is between former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — and, to a lesser extent, Texas Gov. Rick Perry. This primary is a fight for the mantle of consensus conservative candidate, a title that remains very much up for grabs at the moment.

The central dynamic of the race then is not then Romney versus Santorum/Gingrich/Perry but rather a three-way cage match — yes, the Fix was/is a huge pro wrestling fan — between Santorum vs Gingrich vs Perry.

(There is even a third primary within the primary and that one is where Texas Rep. Ron Paul resides. In South Carolina, Paul has a slightly smaller following than he has shown in Iowa and New Hampshire though they are no less dedicated. Polling suggests Paul is in low double digits at the moment in the Palmetto State.)"

Read the Washington Post, Why South Carolina matters more than New Hampshire.