Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mitt's terrible horrible very bad no good week...

South Carolina Shocker!

Mitt Romney's humiliating 13 point loss to Newt Gingrich last night has zero, count 'em zero silver linings for the former front runner.

Newt on the other hand has now fully emerged at the anti-establishment challenger to the Romney coronation, a coronation gone oh so wrong.  Furthermore, Newt now leads Mitt in the delegate count - 25 to 14 with 1,119 needed to secure the nomination.

Santorum may sink into irreverentcy due to his disappointing finish and his voters could well be up for grabs.  Although he did end up winning Iowa by 34 votes...yet another demerit against Mitt, Sant must be upset over the misreported results as it could have charted a different path for him had he been the winner in Iowa three weeks ago.

So, what happened in the Palmetto State last night??


Romney effectively blew up his campaign in SC with the tax issue (he is getting TERRIBLE advice on this matter) and with sub par debate performances.   He has played perfectly into the stereotype that he is the wealthy robber-baron with offshore money in the Cayman Islands.  All we need is the Snidely Whiplash moustache.

More ominously, a majority of SC voters saw Newt as more electable.  This is an advantage that Mitt has heretofore enjoyed in every survey.

Unfortunately his Mormonism also may have been a factor with some evangelical voters who made up 65% of the GOP primary vote.


He benefited from tremendous debate performances where he put the media on trial - this is red meat for conservative voters.

His feisty style overall resonated with SC voters...and they appear to have forgiven his many er, past moral transgressions.  He is showing heart and passion, something conservatives are longing for in contrast with the buttoned-up Romney.

Newt won just about every GOP subgroup.  If he can continue to do so he is very viable.

On to Florida and beyond...

Gingrich is now the real deal.  Florida is voting in nine days.  Expect Newt to raise a lot of money (he needs to, Mitt is flush with cash).  Newt also has to organize quickly in order to turn the insurgent campaign into a truly national campaign.  He also needs to show discipline and avoid going off track is he often does.

Mitt needs to show some passion and defend himself as a businessman.  Oh yes, he must resolve the tax return issue, otherwise it may continue to hurt him.  Expect him to be much more aggressive. 

Florida is absolutely critical for both these candidates.  If Romney loses here, the national Republican establishment will begin whispers of a new person to save the party (Newt has few fans in the inner circle).  If he wins, he can breathe as the next contests in Nevada, Maine, and Missouri will have friendlier terrain for him - but only if he wins.  Perception is reality.  As I tell my students winning begets winning in politics and right now Newt is winning.

I am quite certain that President Obama and the Democrats are keeping close tabs on this and are enjoying the GOP split...however, the primary fight may make the eventual nominee stronger in the long run.


The Prof

Saturday, January 14, 2012

NH post mortem

I did pretty darn well!!

                       Prediction        Actual

Romney             38%                  39%
Paul                   24%                  23%
Huntsman          17%                  17%
Newt                 10%                    9%
Santorum           10%                    9%
Perry                    1%                   1%

Decent win for Romney, even with his late gaffes and Bain Capital being raised as a campaign issue.  Paul held his own and is looking for influence at the GOP convention.  Newt and Sant are looking for a much-need breakthrough in SC a week from today.  Perry is on life support...

Romney did well among almost all voters except for younger voters who went to Paul.  Ironically conservative and tea party self identifiers still gave more votes to Mitt who continues to benefit from a split field.
More on the impending South Carolina Primary in a few days.  Newt is going nuclear simply because he has to in order to have any viability.  Super-Pacs galore...


The Prof

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

NH 2012 Primary Predictions!

Here Goes!

Romney       38%
Paul             24%
Huntsman    17%
Newt           10%
Santorum     10%
Perry             1%

Expectations are very high for Mitt Romney.  He has made a couple of notable gaffes (open mouth, insert foot, fuel perspectives that you are an out of touch robber-baron CEO...) over the past day and there has been a relentless attack on him from the other candidates.  Mitt would like to win by 20 points, but that will be a challenge as multiple polls are showing him losing some ground this week.

NH's strong libertarian/contrarian  streak will help Ron Paul.  He has a very dedicated core of supporters and crossover Independent votes will give Paul a strong showing.  Paul will do well and I would be very surprised if he is not a strong second.

Huntsman has been practically living in NH over the past year and will come in third, but this is likely his personal Waterloo.  Ironic, as he may be the most electable Republican in terms of appealing to moderates and independents, but the primary system works against him in almost all states.  Most of his voters are interchangeable with Romney ideologically .

Newt and Santorum will be in a fight for fourth place. My guess is that Newt barely pulls it out.  Newt is really looking at SC in several days to reignite his campaign, but placing in the top four is critical for him.

Santorum's numbers did bounce up earlier this week, but have settled back down.  He will have trouble doing well in socially moderate NH and like Newt is focused on SC.  But he may surprise...

The unknown factor of course is how Independent voters go to - especially as there is no competitive Democratic primary to compete. 

Do Romney's late gaffes hurt him badly or are they lost in the plethora of soundbites? 

Will the negative ads on Romney and Bain Capital make his soft support wither?

Does the anti-Mitt vote continue to split four ways or does it start to coalesce?  If the vote ends up being close Romney could well suffer a collapse elsewhere.  Romney's organization is powerful in NH and will win, but the expectations game is what is important going forward.

Stay tuned!  The Prof will be tuned to the results all evening...


The Prof

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Iowa 2012 wrap-up

Lets see how I did...

The Prof's Prediction       Actual 2012 IA Results

Mitt 24%                                  Mitt 24%

Paul 22%                                  Santorum 24%

Santorum 15%                         Paul 22%

Newt 12%                                Newt 13%

Perry 11%                               Perry 10%

Bachman 7%                           Bachman 5%

Not too bad in terms of order, however I greatly underestimated Santorum's surge during the last week of the campaign.  It seems that he may end up as the anti-Mitt simply because there are not any alternatives left.

Bear in mind that the Iowa Caucuses are really a statewide straw poll and that delegates (which really matters) will not be allocated for several weeks.

Romney's landslide 8-vote victory is both an over and under performance depending on your perspective and spin.  He had a ceiling in Iowa and was not able to exceed it.  However a win is a win however narrow and Mitt is glad to have escaped with one.  Much of his win is due to organization, $$, and being perceived as the candidate most able to beat President Obama in November.  Additionally campaigning for the presidency since 2007 didn't hurt...

Rick Santorum was the real story out of Iowa. Evangelical Christians (a powerful block in Iowa) appeared to have rallied around him over the last few days. His strong finish has yielded strong post-Iowa fundraising and has also focused media attention on him.  However, with attention comes increased scrutiny and it is unclear as to how he handles this.

Ron Paul finished strongly, but as stated before may have had his high water mark.  He will not be nominated and was the "protest" candidate, drawing many independents.  However, his supporters will be critical for the eventual nominee.  His candidacy clearly has appeal to libertarian-minded voters - socially liberal, economically conservative and non-interventionist.

Newt had a most disappointing evening and seems to have embarked on a mission to take Mitt down.  There has been some speculation that he may try to reach some sort of alliance with Santorum although I have a hard time seeing how this would work logistically.

Rick Perry underperformed and there is continuing speculation that his candidacy is on life support, but he has the money to continue for some time.

Adios Michelle Bachman...a rapid fall from grace and the Ames straw poll victory a few months ago.

Romney needs lower tier candidates, especially Perry to stay in the race when it moves to SC and FL later this month.  A continued split in the anti-Romney vote is crucial to him wrapping up the nomination by early March.  If Santorum establishes himself as the chief conservative competitor this race may go far deeper into the year.

My money is still on Romney to win this, but he need to do well in SC and win FL for this to wrap up.  Otherwise we may see a repeat of the Obama-Hillary contest which was not truly decided until June of  2008.  A weak Romney performance will funnel money and support to Santorum (who I think will emerge as the chief competitor.)

NH predictions will be posted in the next day.


 The Prof

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Merry New Year - Iowa Eve

Ok, here goes - The final Des Moines Register Poll results are as follows:

Mitt            24%
Paul            22%
Santorum    15%
Newt          12%
Perry          11%
Bachman      7%

Remember, the margin of error is almost 5% so this can mean that Mitt, Paul, and Santorum all have a shot at this.

Key things to watch:
  • Organization: key in Iowa as caucus turnout is relatively low.  This benefits Ron Paul and Mitt Romney.  Even several hundred votes can make a difference.
  • Do social conservatives rally around a "Mitt alternative"?  This explains much of Santorum's rise in the past week.  Mitt's advantage is that conservatives have yet to gravitate to one candidate.  In this scenario, one can win and have media momentum with a quarter of the vote.  Remember, Obama only beat Hillary by a few pints in Iowa in 2008.
  • Is there a barrage of negative advertising, a verbal slip, or other unforeseen event that can change this very fluid race?
  • Weather - the better the weather the higher the turnout.  Could be an opening for candidates with poorer organization.
Iowa provides good press and momentum for the next stop in NH a week hence.  However it has a very conservative electorate which in the past has not been very predictive of producing GOP nominees from its caucus.  Remember Mike Huckabee in 2008...

The Prof's final prediction based on polling, insight and (mostly) gut feel:

Romney    26%
Paul          23%
Santorum  20%
Perry        11%
Newt          9%
Bachman    9%
Huntsman   2% 


The Prof

Merry New Year - Quick Recap

Well, finals are over, grades are in, and holidays are over - so back to some long-overdue writing about my favorite topic...

Lots going on, a quick recap and some lessons:
  • The demise of Cain and 9-9-9.  Personal life "affairs" do matter!
  • The rise and apparent fall of Newt.  Negative attacks coupled with old baggage and likely un-electability will usually sink a campaign.  Newts also made several controversial statements about the Executive and Legislative branches being able to veto Court decisions (contrary to Civics 101) and saying his nomination was inevitable was seen as arrogant by many.  Also, the GOP Establishment worked overtime to deflate him as suburban independent female voters simply will not vote for him in November.
  • Ron Paul - he will never be nominated, but is an effective protest vehicle for many.  Neo-isolationism will not play over the long haul though and the Party will pull strings to stop him if he is seen as upsetting the apple cart.  Worst case scenario for the GOP: Does Paul mount an independent run in November...
  • Rick Perry - looking good on paper does not translate into an effective campaign or a particularly attractive candidate outside of the Texas Republic.
  • Michelle Bachman - just not ready for prime time, core of supporters is too narrow and high profile misstatements have damaged her campaign.  May be really running for Veep at this point.
  • Ric Santorum - may well surprise in Iowa (more on this in the following post) and could emerge as the anti-Mitt flavor of the week.
  • Mitt - slow, steady, controlled, and professional.  Can't get over 25%, but this may be enough for the long haul.  Finacial advantage and organization is huge!
Onwards - all jacked up for 2012!!

The Prof