Wednesday, February 1, 2012

FL Here Come the Republi-CONs

UPDATE XI: "With his resounding victory over Newt Gingrich in Florida on Tuesday, Mitt Romney showed a worried Republican base a side of himself that it has both longed for and feared that he lacked: the agile political street fighter, willing to mock, scold and ultimately eviscerate his opponent.

But if he has quelled doubts about his toughness, he also emerges from the Florida free-for-all and the three contests that preceded it carrying heavy new baggage.

Mr. Romney was savaged by Mr. Gingrich over his record at Bain Capital, softening him up for the coming Democratic effort to portray him as a heartless capitalist happy to fire people to enrich himself. His release of his tax returns, complete with details about a Swiss bank account, provided new facts for opponents seeking to cast him as out of touch with ordinary Americans.

And the very trait that propelled him in Florida — a willingness to descend into the muck and run a relentlessly negative campaign — distracted from his economic-themed argument against Mr. Obama while deepening his rift with some populist conservatives. Should Mr. Gingrich remain a viable enough candidate to stay in the race through the summer, as he vowed on Tuesday, Mr. Romney could be forced to maintain an angry edge that could undermine his appeal among moderate and independent voters — groups whose views of him, polls suggest, appear to have been harmed by the Florida melee."

Read The New York Times, The Political Costs of a Nasty Fight.

UPDATE X: "After sorting through the exit polling, listening to the candidates’ speeches and sifting through the county-by-county results, we came up with five major lessons learned":

"1. Negative ads work . . .

2. Romney can win Republicans . . .

3. Newt is unbound (really) . . .

4. Romney pivots to November . . .

5. Electability matters . . ."

Read the Washington Post, 5 lessons the Florida primary taught us.

UPDATE IX: The results of the FL primary:

Romney 46.4%
Gingrich 31.9%
Santorum 13.4%
Paul 7.0%

UPDATE VIII: And for last projection before the primary, see The New York Times, Florida Primary Projections:

Romney 44.0%
Vote range: 33 - 51

Gingrich 29.3%
Vote range: 20 - 38

Santorum 13.9%
Vote range: 8 - 21

Paul 11.2%
Vote range: 5 - 18

UPDATE VII: Obamney "may be winning votes again, but is he winning hearts?" Read The New York Times, Money Can’t Buy Him Love.

UPDATE VI: The day before the primary The New York Times FiveThirtyEight forecast shows "a wide diversity of results, even among polls that were in the field at the exact same time" but nevertheless "projects a 15-point win for" Obamney.

UPDATE V: The Great Lecherer seems to be giving up. Maybe the establishment pressure is getting to him.

At the debate last night, "Gingrich seemed to be playing for a draw. He passed upon several opportunities to push back at Mr. Romney, despite being expressly presented with opportunities to do so — on health care, on Ronald Reagan’s legacy, on immigration, and on Mr. Romney’s personal finances among other issues."

Read The New York Times, In Florida Debate, Gingrich Ignores Lessons of Recent History.

UPDATE IV: "It’s no secret that the Florida primary is a must-win for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. But, it’s also a victory that former House speaker Newt Gingrich needs to have too." Read the Washington Post, Why Newt Gingrich needs to win Florida.

But the Republi-con establish is closing ranks around Obamney.

And "[p]olling released within the past 24 hours suggests that Mitt Romney may have stopped and possibly reversed Newt Gingrich’s momentum before the Florida primary on Tuesday." Read The New York Times, Polls Suggest Gingrich’s Support May Have Peaked.

The latest FL primary projection shows:

Romney 40.0%
Gingrich 36.4%
Santorum 11.4%
Paul 9.6%

UPDATE III: My last predictions didn't go so well, but try, try again. Here is another, as discussed on the show yesterday:

If Obamney loses big in FL, he stays in the race, but only to collect delegates so that he can (after being hounded by party establishment) graciously reconsider at the nominating convention and set aside for a late entry to the presidential race before The Great Lecherer 'cripples the Republican brand.' (See What Happened in SC?)

UPDATE II: "Is Mitt Romney suffering a reversal of fortune in the Florida polls? It sure looks that way at the moment. There’s a passel of new poll info out and most of it doesn’t look good for the former Massachusetts governor." Read the Christian Science Monitor, Is Mitt Romney's Florida support collapsing.

So what if Obamney loses badly in FL? Would he finally understand that the base wants anybody but Mitt? "Polls have told a consistent story: Between 20 percent and 30 percent of Republican voters support Romney, and the rest support somebody else. Actually, not somebody, anybody."

Would he drop out and endorse anybody but Gingrich?

"No serious person thinks Newt Gingrich will or wants Newt Gingrich to be president. I’d bet a significant percentage of the people who vote for him don’t want him to be president. Voting for Newt Gingrich is just an act of pure petulance. . .

The idea, still apparently existent, that what this electorate — having previously paid close attention to statesmen like Donald Trump and Herman Cain before turning to Newt Gingrich — is clamoring for is the respectable conservativism . . .

[Maybe] Haley Barbour(!), Mitch Daniels, Bobby Jindal, Jon Kyl, Marco Rubio, Jim DeMint, Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, and Mike Pence to either run themselves or hurry up and close ranks behind either Santorum or Romney — Jim DeMint’s late entry to the presidential race would be good February entertainment, it’s true — which seems to miss the fact that those people have about as much control over the party electorate now as John Boehner has over the Republican House majority. . .

There is a great deal of point-missing going on. Each of these savior non-Romney Gingrich-killing dream candidates completely lack the quality that led Gingrich to suddenly take the lead: No one likes him and he’s embarrassing. The voters respond to his breezy shamelessness, and Bobby Jindal is not going to fire this crowd up. (Chris Christie, a loud bullying caricature, might do the trick, but he’s too smart to enter now.)

I am also not sure how essentially begging for a brokered convention helps alleviate the 'chaos' everyone is currently worrying over, but, again, I welcome the entertainment.

Sadly, they’re probably still stuck with Mitt."

Read Salon, Conservatives demand new candidate to throw race into further disarray.

UPDATE: "As the Republican presidential nominating contest moves to Florida, it’s important to remember one simple fact: Florida is a very different political animal than the three states that have preceded it. . .

And speaking of political ideology, Florida’s is best understood, according to longtime Sunshine State politicos, through a geographic prism. The state starts off conservative — fiscally and socially — in its northern reaches (think the Panhandle) and moves toward more straight fiscal conservatism through its central region (I-4 corridor) and to something close to centrist moderation in the south (Miami).

Expect Gingrich to clean up in northern Florida, Romney to win the southern part of the state and for the central part to be where the fight is decided. Just like always."

Read the Washington Post, Florida presents a different challenge for GOP presidential candidates.

"For Mitt Romney, the South Carolina primary was not just a defeat, though it was most emphatically that. It was also where his campaign confronted the prospect it had most hoped to avoid: a dominant, surging and energized rival.

The rebirth of Newt Gingrich, a notion that seemed far-fetched only weeks ago, has upended a litany of assumptions about this turbulent race. It wounds Mr. Romney, particularly given his stinging double-digit defeat here on Saturday, and raises the likelihood that the Republican contest could stretch into the springtime.

For now the race goes on, with Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Romney joined by Rick Santorum and Ron Paul. But Mr. Gingrich’s showing here suggests that Mr. Romney may no longer be able to count on his rivals splitting the opposing vote into harmless parcels, or on the support he is getting from the party establishment to carry him past a volatile conservative grass-roots movement.

At a minimum, it is clear that Republican voters, after delivering three different winners in the first three stops in the nominating contest, are in no rush to settle on their nominee."

Read The New York Times, Fresh Doubts About Republican Contest.

BTW, just a week ago, Obamney was leading The Great Lecherer approximately 40-25%. But the first FL primary projection since SC shows:

Gingrich 37.6%
Romney 30.0%

Did Obama Save the Economy?

"Two years ago, the McKinsey Global Institute looked at the recoveries of 32 countries that had undergone a financial crisis. Their analysis was grim. It was also correct. Contrary to the hopes some held for a quick recovery, MGI warned that financial crises tended to lead to long, slow recoveries as households, businesses and governments dug their way out of debt. But in a report released last week, MGI delivered some sunnier news — at least for the United States. If you look at the 10 largest developed economies in the world, the United States is the furthest along the path to recovery.

Looking back to their sample of 32 past instances with post-financial crisis recoveries, MGI zeroed in on Finland and Sweden’s experiences in the 1990s as the most relevant to our current moment. Those examples 'show two distinct phases of deleveraging. In the first, households, corporations, and financial institutions reduce debt significantly over several years, while economic growth is negative or minimal and government debt rises. In the second phase, growth rebounds and government debt is reduced gradually over many years.'

Most economies, the authors say, are barely even in phase one. In the United Kingdom and Spain, for example, total debt is still rising. But not in the United States. Here, 'debt in the financial sector relative to GDP has fallen back to levels last seen in 2000, before the credit bubble. U.S. households have reduced their debt relative to disposable income by 15 percentage points, more than in any other country; at this rate, they could reach sustainable debt levels in two years or so.'"

Read the Washington Post, U.S. recovering faster than its peers.

So much for the myth of expansionary austerity.