Tuesday, March 6, 2012

2012 Primaries: Momentum and the Future

So I missed the debate on Saturday, but I didn’t really “miss it” if you know what I mean. Still, it’s worth talking about the primaries, seeing as how today is Stupor Tuesday. Let’s talk about candidate momentum.

Upward Momentum: Romney. Romney has won five straight primaries and is set to win the most on Super Tuesday (7 of 10). His momentum now appears unstoppable, though the MSM and the conservative media establishment are trying to make the race sound competitive. Specifically, they are dismissing all the races except those where Santorum has a chance, and they are calling those races “key” races, even though there’s no justification for it. Indeed, Santorum can win all the “key” races and he will still get blown out for the nomination.

I’ll take another crack at the “why you should support Romney argument” in the near future so T-Rav can stop feeling suicidal. In the meantime, it’s worth noting that many solid conservatives are lining up behind Romney. The most recent is Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who just endorsed Romney even though polls show Ricky winning Oklahoma. In addition to Coburn, you have Tea Party favorites like Az. Gov. Jan Brewer, Ted Nugent, Nikki Haley, Mich. Gov. Rick Snyder, Christine O’Donnell, Ambassador John Bolton, John Ashcroft, Ann Coulter, Jason Chaffetz and more, as well as faux conservatives like Eric Cantor, John McCain, Donald Trump, and Chris Christie. I don’t normally care about endorsements, but this has significance: it means Romney is not the RINO talk radio wants you to believe.

Slowmentum: Santorum. Santorum is played out. If there was any state Rick should have won, it was Michigan. The combination of Evangelicals in the countryside along with unionists in the cities (plus a mass of Democrat crossovers) should have pushed Santorum over the top. But it didn’t. Rick lost in every category of voter except (1) Evangelicals, (2) people opposed to the Tea Party, and (3) Democrats voting in the Republican Primary. And, as expected, he got blown out by women (9% gap among conservative women). He even lost to Romney among Tea Party voters. Moreover, only 16% identified abortion and contraception as issues that were important to them in this election. That’s Rick’s base.

Rick knows he’s in trouble too. In his “concession” speech after Michigan, Rick struggled to name “strong” women in his life in an effort to reduce his gender problem. But that’s not going away for a variety of reasons. One reason is the little brouhaha in which Rick tried to distance himself from statements in his book where he suggested the problem in modern America is that women work. Rick tried to deflect blame for this onto his wife by claiming she wrote that section. Yet, as Ann Coulter points out, Rick’s wife is not only not credited as a co-author, she’s not even thanked in the acknowledgements. . . in a book about the importance of families.

Only the MSM “key state” charade has kept Rick even close in this race, but the polls now show him crashing. Rick seems to get this as he’s suddenly trying to explain why he might not win Ohio (the new “key” state) after all. Ohio, like Michigan, should be fertile Santorum country because of the Evangelicals who gave Bush the win in 2000 and 2004 and the union types who dominate the state. But the polling show’s Rick’s 10% lead having vanished and Romney now pulling ahead by 4%. And even if Rick does somehow win in Ohio, he’s not eligible to win 18 of the state’s 63 delegates because he failed to file the proper paperwork -- just like he failed to get on the ballot in Virginia.

As always, Rick is ready with excuses. He’s claiming he won’t win Ohio because he was outspent, he’s attacking Matt Drudge as a Romney cheerleader, and he’s whining that he would win if only Newt would drop out. Rick also spent the week whining that the media was giving a false impression of him focusing on social issues despite the fact Rick was really running on economic issues blah blah. Then he went out and hit the social issues again because he has no economic issues. It’s a good thing Obama has neither money nor media supporters should Rick win the nomination.

Nomentum: Newt. Newt will win Georgia, but he’s hovering around 18% in the polls and can’t get above that. I’m not sure what he’s hoping for?

mutnemoM: The Ron Paul Experience. Paul jumped into this race to get his issues heard. That worked really well until recently, when Santorum distracted everyone by whining about those yucky women. Now that Santorum is flailing, Paul seems to be making a comeback and is moving up in terms of support. He won’t win, he knows that, but his real goal is influence. And in that department, he’s done surprisingly well.

On foreign policy, Paul’s made some progress. At this point, only the neocons and the armchair hawks think we should stay in Afghanistan, the rest of conservatism has decided it’s time to come home. The same is true of Syria, where only the neocons want to get involved. On Iran and isolationism, however, he’s made no progress. His war on the Fed keeps picking up speed, but no one has yet offered a replacement. His attempt to revive the Constitution, sadly, has been ignored except in rhetoric. But the real Paul influence relates to the failure of Santorum and it’s HUGE.

For two years now, the Religious Right has been struggling against the growing influence of the Tea Party. The problem is this: while many Tea Party people share the moral concerns of the Religious Right, they want to see a decrease in the government’s power. This is anathema to the Religious Right which wants both strong government intervention on moral issues and has become hooked on big government spending.

Santorum reflects this. Indeed, Rick himself both defines conservatism in theological terms and favors BIG government, and he has stated repeatedly that he opposes the Tea Party: “I’ve got some real concerns about this movement within the Republican Party and the Tea Party movement to sort of refashion conservatism and I will vocally and publicly oppose it.”

Rick’s candidacy was an attempt by the Religious Right to regain their influence over the party. Moreover, Rick cynically and deceptively wrapped himself in the cloak of the Tea Party so he could co-opt it and redefine it as compassionate conservatism redux. This is often how insurgent movements are destroyed and this would have neutered the Tea Party. Ron Paul torpedoed this in Michigan. He exposed Rick as a big government insider whose views are diametrically opposed to Tea Party principles. That opened eyes and Rick imploded. He’s been steadily bleeding supporters ever since. When we eventually look back on this period in a few years, I think it will be clear that Ron Paul saved the Tea Party in the Michigan primary.

That’s Paul’s influence. Will he get more in this election cycle? I doubt it. But then, we probably would have said that in 2007 as well.


Don't forget, it's Star Trek Tuesday at the film site (LINK)!


Anonymous said...

Well, with Ms. O'Donnell's endorsement, we know Mitt Romney will get the witch vote. :-)

(To be fair, when everyone was making fun of her for "dabbling in witchcraft," I was thinking to myself, "Lay off! It's the only thing I actually like about her!") :-)

I have a feeling this will all get worse before it gets better, and as an Independent, I can't help but feel... disenfranchised.

T-Rav said...

Thanks, Andrew. I appreciate that. :-)

I'll avoid the problem by simply not reading the future "why you should support Romney" piece. Maybe. But, I will say that I think Romney helped himself a great deal in the forum Saturday night. Since Andrew missed it, there was a question from a guy whose son had been seriously debilitated in Iraq or Afghanistan, and now couldn't receive proper medical treatment from the VA due to bureaucratic hair-splitting. As one might imagine, the guy got pretty emotional when he asked Romney what he would do to change this, and while I don't remember what the answer was, Mitt was very emotional himself in his tone--he looked the man in the eye, he didn't give a cut-and-dried answer.

A serious problem Mitt has had all along is his inability to emotionally connect with people. Making that a qualification may be irrational, but so is denying that it matters to people. A presidential candidate has to have that ability, and if Mitt can show more of it, I think he will be able to calm down the opposition.

Joel Farnham said...

The only thing I am worrying about is the people who either don't see the writing on the wall or the ones who hate Romney so much that they are doing their level best to destroy him and in turn allow Obama a free run again.

Stupidity, thy name is Republican.

CrisD said...

Went to the polls this morning and gave Romney a vote. I really liked Newt's recent convo with David Gregory that Fox has been playing. He really knows how to set them all straight but I think the time for fun and games has come to an end. The LSM and Fox will drag this out as long as they can but I think Romney's got the numbers.

tryanmax said...

Good breakdown, Andrew. The anyone-but-Romney crowd seems to be feeling desperate. One talker this morning commented that the smart people--with a derogatory lilt on "smart"--are picking Mitt to win today. The ABRs are literally out to prove every conservative stereotype, right down to being stupid!

I'm very glad that Paul threw the curtain aside and put Santorum in the light. It was getting hard to take all claims about Ricky that are simply contrary to the evidence. Now if Mitt could just get over his trust hurdle. The most common complaint I hear about Romney is people who say, "I don't believe him," but they have scant reasoning when pressed.

The reality is that Romney has a great track record of delivering on his promises. The flip-flopper accusation originates from the left when he refused to expand abortion and stem-cell research legislation while governor. But he campaigned on a platform maintaining the status quo on those issues during his term. Other than that, there seems to be no other ground for the broken-promises accusation.


T-Rav, one thing I've taken issue with for most of this campaign is the meme that Romney is stiff and unemotional. With the possible exception of Ron Paul, he's every bit as animated as all the other candidates. Would folks rather he fidget like Ricky? (Nevermind. I withdraw the question.)

Part of me wonders if this is calculated by his detractors in hopes of getting an Al Gore kiss or a Howard Dean "ye-haw!"

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I have said before (and I maintain) that she's a loon. But the Tea Party people liked her, so I included her.

I think the reason you feel "disenfranchised" is because the primary has gotten so nasty. If they were spending their time offering solutions and proposals and telling you why Obama went wrong rather than trying to tear each other down, you would probably be a lot more enthusiastic.

That's the main reason Obama is going up in the polls, because the alternatives look like a bunch of clowns at the moment.

Unknown said...

Although Romney can't technically sew up the nomination today by any means, this will probably be the round of elections that tell us whether or not he is the candidate-presumptive. As I've mentioned more than once, Romney was not my first choice, or even my second or third. But I will be happy if his momentum continues and the Republican Party starts to look like a unified party which includes differing opinions rather than a bunch of warring tribes determined to wipe each other out. It's time to start thinking about rallying around a single candidate, dumping the personal attacks, and unifying around the most important concept of all--beating Obama.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, No problem, we'll get you off the ledge soon enough! :)

I have heard about that moment, but haven't seen it and a lot of people are reaching the same conclusion you are about it -- that it was a humanizing moment. There is no doubt that's important for candidates.

I do think Romney has gotten better and better throughout the race, by the way. When he started, he was Algore-stiff. But over time, he loosened up. He's become a decent public speaker, he's learned to attack without sounding pissy, and he's shown he's absolutely willing to attack. He's also gotten very good at explaining his positions.

Also, despite the occasional "gaffe" (some real, some made up), he's actually speaking genuine conservatism when he speaks now. I honestly can't say that about the others. Their instincts are still "political." His instincts are conservative. You see this whenever the get a question that's off the beaten path. Romney quickly breaks it down as a question of federal power versus the rights of the states or the people. The other guys either blab about some program, spit out talking points, or try to attack Obama. Paul of course, talks about the Fed.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I believe you are correct. And I think the spoiler is Santorum. In fact, I've seen some articles where people are starting to wonder about this. Specifically, they're saying that he must know he's only a spoiler at this point, that his campaign style is aimed at destroying Romney rather than beating him, and they can't figure out why he would do this.

The answer is he WANTS to destroy Romney (and Paul). Santorum is not interested in the presidency so much as he is in fighting a war for influence within the Republican Party. He wants to stop the Paul/Tea Party influence. That's his primary goal. And I think he wants to stop Romney because he views Romney as a "cultist" and will not accept a cultist as president. I think his goal is to tear down Romney (and Paul) so badly that he can't win, and then he will argue that the only way for Republicans to win is to back hard core religious right ("compassionate conservative candidates") candidates.

I've seen too many statement from him for me not to believe this.

T-Rav said...

Scott, I personally think O'Donnell should have worn a witch's hat when doing her "I'm not a witch" ad. Putting a humorous touch like that on the whole thing would probably have made people laugh it off and think better of it.

AndrewPrice said...

Cris, I'm all but certain the race is already over and the rest is just about how much damage the Republicans do to each other before it ends.

The thing about Newt is that when you get good Newt, he's great. Good Newt could easily be the greatest President America has ever had. But then there's bad Newt, and he scares people because he's erratic.... he's like Nixon.

Newt would not be my first choice, but I could happily support him and then cross my fingers for a couple years.

In the end though, I do think it will be Romney and I honestly get the feeling people will be surprised how good a President he will ultimately make.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, That would have been hilarious! She could have finished with a Monty Python line too: "So in conclusion, I am not a witch... please don't try to build a bridge out of me."

T-Rav said...

tryanmax, Romney's improved somewhat, I'll agree. But for most of the campaign, his attempts to be engaging with the people have come across as very awkward and tone-deaf. This is a problem I noticed even way back in '08, when I was supporting him in the primary (after Thompson dropped out and it was either him or Romney). I know you like him and everything, but the guy has not been great when it comes to just talking with people.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Thanks! Let me do this by numbers.

1. I think what Paul did was essential. He basically knocked over the KoolAid jug. People, including Tea Party people, were falling for Rick's deceptions (and that is an accurate description of them). They were believing that he honestly represented Tea Party values because he claimed he did and he said he opposed TARP (which isn't really true). And then talk radio backed this up by calling him "a solid conservative with strong religious beliefs" over and over and over. This implied that he was a good conservative who just went a bit over the top on social issues. But that's not true, there is nothing conservative about him EXCEPT his social conservative beliefs.

People were drinking that KoolAid because everyone else was telling them to drink it. Ron Paul took Santorum down in that debate and exposed the truth that he's not a conservative. Rick had no response because there was no response. And when he tried to defend himself, he absolutely exposed the real Ricky... a man who is diametrically opposed to the Tea Party in every way.

Only Paul could do this because the KoolAid drinkers had decided to disbelieve everything Romney said and Newt was seen as desperate and unreliable/political. So it took Paul. And when Paul said it, all those people who simply believed Santorum was "conservative" suddenly realized they'd been had. He's lost almost 20% off his national polling since that moment.

2. As I've pointed out before, the anti-Mitt stuff is not based on fact, it's based on something else. That something else is prejudice in the case of Evangelicals (who support Santorum 52%-18% in the last poll) because they hate Mormons. It's based on blind faith in talk radio. And it's based on groupthink premised on an MSM created meme of "he's a flip-flopping rich, effete RINO from a liberal state and the establishment loves him... don't let the establishment pick your candidate." All of that is BS, but if enough people repeat it, then others will accept it and will tune out contrary evidence.

3. Conservatives really are proving all the negative stereotypes right now and it's done a lot of damage to the brand at a time when we should be soaring and gaining supporters everywhere.

4. I do think Mitt was stiff in 2008. He's improved dramatically all across the board this year.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I think Romney has a chance today to basically end the race. He can't sew it up, but he can make it clear the dominoes are falling and that the race is effectively over. In fact, I think Michigan and Washington proved that, and today should confirm it.

As for coming together, I doubt Santorum will drop out no matter what happens. His goal is destructive and I think he will stay in as long as he can get people to listen to him. Then he'll make some perfunctory comment about supporting "the nominee" -- which will probably take shots at Romney, and then will go out and keep criticizing Romney.

That's my guess.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Those are valid concerns, but let me say that the only good public speaker we have is Newt. He's engaging, funny, and can strike the right tones. Santorum is an angry asshole. Paul is the flaky professor. Romney is stiff.

And I can tell you, as a lawyer, people do judge other people based on the emotions they show. It's crappy, but it's true. Juries give money to people who cry, they don't pay for stoic.

All that said, I think Romney has gotten a lot less stiff, and his wife helps him a lot. And compared to Obama who is also stiff, Romney's stiffness doesn't stand out like Algore's did.

StanH said...

I just voted, I would say who, but I know I would draw the ire and consternation of those whose names shall not be mentioned, and it’s not Rick Santorum…ha. As Lawhawk said Romney is not my first second or third choice, but after today my guess he will be the presumptive, and therefore my candidate in the general. There was a brisk flow for a primary which was good to see. If Romney can get some fire in his belly, he will win by a landslide, if he runs as a moderate, I still think he wins, but not by a landslide. Ladies and gents, the game is afoot, it’s getting time to fix the mistake of ’08…ABO!

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, No consternation at all. I'm assuming you voted for the NG guy, and I can respect that. :)

I think you're right that after today (barring some major surprise) the race should begin to shift to Romney v. Obama. I think that will change the dynamic a lot and you'll see Obama's poll numbers reverse themselves again. Obama is the weakest incumbent in my lifetime and should be easily beaten so long as conservatives pound away at his record. They need to stay away from the flaky stuff like the birther stuff and calling him a Muslim, because that turns people off. But if they pound away about his attacks on the very institutions of America and his economic failures, he will go down in flames.

Doc Whoa said...

Excellent breakdown Andrew. I think you're right about Paul. He exposed the Trojan horse basically. Heck, this is like some kind of movie almost where a guy acts like he's working for people but ends up betraying them.

I also don't think Santorum will drop out of the race. As for Newt, I'm not sure what he's thinking except maybe that he will get a cabinet post? It wouldn't surprise me if he quit after today and endorse Romney in exchange for something.

Doc Whoa said...

Also, I love the Ron Paul image! That made me laugh.

Joel Farnham said...

You know what would have made her commercial even better. Along with the witch hat, a wand and wave the wand like in Bewitched and poof! she goes away. The ending, Conjured up by the O'Donnell for Senate. Wiccans United against bad Witches like Pelosi.

tryanmax said...

T-Rav, I haven’t always cared for Romney. In fact, I was squarely in the ABR crowd at the time Cain dropped out. It’s only since then that I’ve come around--largely because I’ve discovered most of the conventional wisdom about him is false.

But I’ve never felt turned off by this "stiffness" everybody is on about. I’m not saying he seems like the life of the party, but every time he comes up in conversation he gets called stiff or tone-deaf or something. You don't mention the color of the sky every time you talk about it, do you?

I just think that part of his reputation has more to do with confirmation bias than with anything actual. Or maybe I just don’t understand what other folks are looking for.

T-Rav said...

FYI, one other race worth keeping in mind tonight is in Ohio, where Dennis Kucinich is in a primary fight with another incumbent Democrat, as their districts were largely merged last year due to redistricting. The little information from there suggests that Kucinich will lose tonight--which is pretty sweet, especially as the other Dem is slightly more conservative than he is.

T-Rav said...

tryanmax, don't get me wrong, it doesn't make any difference to me personally whether Romney is stiff or not. Would that that was the only knock against him.

But he is often perceived as stiff/awkward/tone-deaf/etc., and in elections like ours, that's a problem. It's not a fatal one, but it is something he needs to work on, and I hope exchanges like the one I mentioned earlier are a sign that he's getting better at it.

AndrewPrice said...

Doc, Thanks. It is a bit like a movie, but then politics often is.

You might be right about Newt. My guess right now is that he's still waiting to see if Santorum collapses and then he can become the ABR candidate, but I'm not sure there's much ABR left at this point. He could well be looking for a cabinet post.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, That would have been funny. Humor is a powerful political tool and that ad could have really changed people's minds by showing her as having a good sense of humor. Of course, on the other hand, humor can be very dangerous too and can blow up on you if you aren't careful.

Still, it would have been remembered, that's for sure!

tryanmax said...

Well now we are back to the perception aspect. I totally get that that is how he is perceived. I just think that it is more imposed than actual, so how is he supposed to work on it? Any attempt he makes gets ridiculed as seeming more awkward. He's better to not even try.

Put another way, I agree that Romney is not the most animated candidate, but that does not necessarily equate to him being a robot. Yet that is where the media has taken it and most folks have bought it. That is where I get frustrated.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I agree with you... BUT...

First, I think Romney was very stiff. That's not unusual for public speaking. Some people are naturals, others aren't. And many people will simply never be comfortable.

BUT, Romney has come a long way toward losing the stiffness. Compare him today with 2008 and it's the difference between night and day.

BUT, as you note, this is a meme and it has taken hole and he will never shake in for the rest of his life. People will simply believe it is true, and thus will confirm it to each other over and over as a proxy for whatever other issues they have with him. That's how people work.

AND, whether we like it or not, this is the public perception whether it remains true or not.

AND, I can tell you from decades of experience that perception is what matters, and people don't like stiff/stoic people (outside of a few states settled by Nordics). So it is and always will be a handicap for him.

BUT, on the plus side, it makes it impossible for the left to paint him as an extremist or a nutjob because "nuts aren't dull." So it's also a positive in that sense.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I would have to laugh if Kookcinich lost. Don't get me wrong, I love having guys like him in the House representing the Democrats, but it would be hilarious.

tryanmax said...

This seems to be the corner I always find myself in. I totally grasp the public perception thing. Where I am perplexed, I suppose, is that politics is all about public perception and trying to influence it, so why does this one area get routinely written off?

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, The biggest issue is "tone-deaf." But I am glad that he doesn't apologize for being rich. It's time the Republicans stopped pandering to the class warfare arguments.

I also think the tone-deaf stuff will go away once the Republicans start defending him rather than attacking him over it. It was the same thing with Cain. Republicans struggled for years to kill off the idea that you could be attacked anonymously without any evidence. But when Cain got attacked, they fed right into it for stupid, selfish reasons. I suspect once Romney is the nominee, guys like Rush will be out there defending the "two Cadillacs" comment rather than attacking him for it. And that's when a lot of these "gaffes" won't be considered gaffes anymore.

T-Rav said...

Incidentally, Obama is supposed to be speaking right now, but he's apparently back to being perpetually late. Again.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That is the nature of being a public figure. Most of what we believe about people isn't true, it's manufactured perception because humans are just too complex to be grasped as whole entities. Instead, we reach for stereotypes and turn that into perception and that becomes how we see them because it's easy.

Breaking those stereotypes is one of the hardest things to do, but it can be done. Nixon revived his image before his death. Actors who have been pigeonholed have found ways to break out into other genres. Even criminals have managed to become public figures -- look at Ray Lewis (Baltimore Ravens) who went from murder to highly respected, highly religious "role model" for other athletes.

The best way to break "stiff" is to show you have a sense of humor about it. That means Romney needs to find a clever way to make fun of the stiff stereotype. If he were a liberal, I would recommend going on SNL and doing a skit where he's hopelessly stiff. (He should not try that as a conservative because it will be mean-spirited.)

Alternatively, I would recommend a set up where someone asks, "the perception of you is that you're stiff." Then he quips back, "I am not stiff, I sometimes use two slices of bologna on my white bread." Something like that to put people at ease that he's in on the joke.

The best way to defuse rich, by the way, is to get "caught" (1) working for a charity, (2) eating at McDonalds or shopping at WalMart, and (3) getting employees to come forward with stories about the great personal things you've done for them.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, It gets written off ONLY by Republicans because Republicans are stupid. They don't get it.

I still recall all the scoffing Republicans did at Clinton's team declaring that "everything is political" and then going to Hollywood and sporting events. They thought this was insane because politics to them was the bubble of Washington. It never dawned on them that perception is what matters and politics can be injected into everything. That's why culture is so damn vital.

A few conservatives are starting to get this. That's what Andrew Breitbart understood. But the rest are still playing by 1950s rules... which is why the Democrats keep being successful.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, He's probably waiting for batteries for the TOTUS... BOTUS.

CrispyRice said...

I miss Cain!!!!! :(

That's all.

Yes, I'm still in denial and no I haven't quite resolved myself to the "I'll vote for whoever gets the nomination" bit yet. I'm sure I will, but I'm not there yet, and I don't want any of these guys.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, whatever this story floating around is about him stopping his business operations to help one of his employees look for his missing daughter (or something like that), I think it needs to become more visible. Not so much that it seems opportunistic, of course, but enough to reassure people that he's a real person. Frankly, I don't think most people are bothered by a person being rich or upper-crust, per se; it's the perception that said rich person doesn't care about the little people who work for him which often sticks in their craw. If he can prove that he does help people when they need it, and can get that to come across in his speeches and actions, that would be very helpful.

T-Rav said...

Crispy, I feel your pain. (Not in the way that Bill does, but I do.) I don't want any of them either, but of course I'll vote for anyone who gets to the nomination. Except maybe Paul. I'm not saying I wouldn't, but I would have to have assurances first that he wouldn't screw us all over on foreign policy.

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, I miss Cain as well. But we'll see. I still don't understand why some of our better people didn't run, but that's the breaks. :(

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I think that's entirely correct. People don't hate the rich, they hate the elitists and the out-of-touch. That's why everybody loved Sam Walton because he was ultra rich, but still drove around in an old pickup truck and all of his employees raved about how generous he was.

I actually hadn't heard that about the missing daughter, which goes to show how poorly that's gotten across. But those are precisely the kinds of "humanizing" stories that need to be told to make people comfortable with him.

What he needs if for people like Ann Coulter and others who have a public voice to go find these stories and dig them up. That's what I would recommend if I were his PR people.

DUQ said...

Andrew, Interesting analysis. I thought it was interesting when the Tea Party first appeared that everyone wanted to grab it. Big business tried to co-opt it by setting up fake Tea Party groups and then trying to book their people on Fox. The Religious Right first attacked the Tea Party and then they tried to redefine it about social conservatism. I specifically recall Dobson making the point that the Tea Party's "real" issue was abortion. I thought they had all given up, but you might be right about Santorum.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Not the way Bill does. LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, The war for influence never ends. And co-opting one group or another is a long-standing trick.

In fact, the classic examples all come from communist countries where the communists infiltrated and then took over unions and democratic political parties and pretended to run them. It was only too late that people realized what was going on.

And even in America, you see this. As a group rises with the public, the two parties scramble to absorb their message. The Tea Party is particularly vulnerable to this because it has no leaders. So if Santorum claims to be a Tea Party person and gets elected, there is no one who can stand up and say, "he doesn't represent us." So basically, he could have redefined the party's goals and principles. Bush II did the same thing with conservatism, and we paid a huge price for that because the Republicans in the Congress refused to stand up to him.

CrispyRice said...

Whew, T-Rav - thanks for clarifying that! ;)

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, Don't worry, we don't allow any Bill Clintoning around here! ;)

Bill Clinton said...

Aw come on people, it was just one intern (and a few dozen others). And I said I didn't have sex-sex with that woman.

Whoopi Goldberg said...

And he didn't rape-rape her, either!

AndrewPrice said...

Bill, That begs the question, how do you define "is"?

T-Rav said...

Crispy, I didn't want you to get the wrong idea. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Whoopie, I thought rape-rape was a new drink from Gatorade?

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I've seen the story pop up in a few places. If I find it, I'll put up a link for it.

Incidentally, Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight now puts Romney's chance of winning Ohio at 65%.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Please do.

I read last night that one of the gambling places has the odds of Romney winning Ohio at 85%.

tryanmax said...

I just heard a little bit ago a snippet from an interview with Ann Romney where she was asked about being rich. She responded that she doesn't consider herself that way because it could all be gone tomorrow and that she considers wealth in the friends and family she has. It sounded very genuine and could go a long way toward helping her husband's image.

Ed said...

I also think Santorum is finished. I don't know if he knows it or not, but if he keeps losing races and there are only a couple "key" races, then how could he win? Basically, he'd be waiting for Romney to collapse and Romney's too disciplined for that.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, All I saw was the yahoo headline, which of course implied a smear -- "Ann Romney claims she doesn't feel rich" and before that, "Ann Romney not rich?"

They've really been smearing the heck out of Romney every single day. Interestingly, Santorum on the other hand, has been treated like a hero by them every single day. Gee, I wonder why?

The headline for Santorum whining about "really winning" Michigan was: "Did Santorum really win or is this brilliant strategy?" Unbelievable.

And if you clicked any of their fake-news "news" articles, you will see them mentioning how people shouldn't criticize Santorum for his various gaffes -- "these are not positions with which you should agree, but you should support his right to say them and the Republicans should not be trying to stifle him." Then they slam Romney.

It's despicable.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, That's what's wrong with the "key" race garbage. It would be like picking two good drives out of a football game where the team is losing 48 - 0. Sure, those were good drives, but they don't matter to the game ultimately. It's the same thing here. They are trying to create a horserace by talking only about the races that are competitive. They are hoping this will keep the race alive and wear down the Republicans.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I had to dig a little bit but I found the story. My feelings about Romney as a candidate are unchanged, but it's compelling stuff regardless. LINK

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks T-Rav! That's fair. We'll change your mind once we start the behavioral drugs! ;)

rlaWTX said...

I think that in general T-Rav and I are the most "religious right" around here (at least vocally). And in the past I voted more along those lines. Like I've said before, I was a big proponent of the "compassionate conservatism" concept when it started. But as I saw it play out, I realized the necessary big gov't part of implementing comp-con. I think that most so-con issues need to be played out at the state/local levels (even the Congressional), but not Presidential level.

But today, we have SERIOUS economic & regulatory issues that need to be addressed and solved - and many of them have been exacerbated at the Executive level and will have to be fixed there too. And this move by the Christian Right to belittle the Tea Party movement (esp. since the TP is probably why there is a conservative movement left in the US) is ridiculous! We need to be moving back toward the "Big Tent"!!
(Where's Lee Atwater when we need him - again?!?)

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, I agree with that entirely.

First, I thought the term "compassionate conservatism" was a little asinine because it implied that conservatives are heartless. But I didn't see it as an intentional snub. And what Bush was saying sounded pretty good. It was only after I came to realize this was all about BIG government that it started to bother me. And in fact, Santorum is continuing down that same line by proposing $17 billion in the HHS budget to "promote families." Huh?

I think the social conservative issues are fine, but they need to be addressed at the local/state level and they need to be handled with public support. The idea that they can be imposed from Washington just won't work and it's bad for getting support because it sounds too much like government force.

Moreover, as you note, this election is about economics more than any in my life. Even Reagan's first term was about both economics and military strength. Right now it's ALL about economics -- taxes, regulation, deficit spending, etc. This is absolutely not the time to try to make this campaign about social issues. All that does is scare the people who would otherwise be willing to help because it makes our side seem crazy because it's like complaining about the sleeping arrangements while the ship is sinking.

I also agree that the Religious Right/Christian Right has really misunderstood the Tea Party and doesn't understand how they should be allies. These aren't dope smoking free-loving libertines, these are average Americans who want a return to sanity in our government, who wants smaller government, and who want to be left alone. And they are the people who saved conservatism. Without them, we would be looking at generations of further leftist progress.

I miss Lee Atwater too. I always remember one of his most interesting points. He said he read the National Enquirer every day because they had a finger on the pulse of "what interests Americans." That's genius and the Republican Party is sadly missing thinkers like that.

T-Rav said...

rla, I'd say LawHawk probably ranks up there with us. We're like the trifecta of the so-cons. ;-)

I never really considered myself a compassionate conservative. Because of how I grew up, I kinda absorbed social conservatism first, but then the fiscal and national defense stuff all at once, so I don't think one wing has ever completely dominated in my thinking. I have little patience with the big-government programs that came with "com-con," of course.

Tennessee Jed said...

good post, Andrew. Can't argue with you about any of this. What I would wish is that Romney would take a page from B.O.'s playbook, and never let b.s. go unchallenged. Example, this whole Republicans are against birth contol meme is ridiculous. I think once Romney is "the guy" it will be hard for the lame streams to not cover him. So basically, everytime the Dems do their thing, we respond. This is most critical on the "phony economic recovery" fantasy being played out in the media.

tryanmax said...

Here is something truly despicable: I'm listening to Beck (he's delayed in my market) and he is trashing Romney using the very same talking points that Jonathan Chait used in his NY Magazine article yesterday. It's a very standard distortion they are using. "Let me tell you what so-and-so is saying in this clip/article before I show it to you."

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I think the big government stuff was a step away from what the Religious Right had been in the 1980s. I'm not sure where it came from entirely, but it's bad for conservatism.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, He's apparently done that very effectively with the other candidates, so he does realize there's a need to do this. Let's hope that once he's "the guy" he has more ability to take the lead on these issues.

tryanmax said...

TJ, ...never let b.s. go unchallenged.

That sort of fits into what I was saying earlier about the memes Romney is subject to. I can think of several moments when Romney has done just that, but it just disappears into the media stream. In its place goes the meme that Romney can't confront.

Similarly, I heard audio today of a woman asking Mitt for the umpteenth time to promise he would repeal ObamaCare. Mitt has made that commitment numerous times before, but for whatever reason he keeps having to repeat it.

I never thought I'd become a Romney apologist, but so much of what is demanded of him by the left and right media he has done yet the media refuses to recognize.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I have no respect for Beck at all. I never really have. The guy is a lunatic with very little knowledge of economics, law or the Constitution, and he just spouts off.

It doesn't surprise me that he would adopt leftist tactics or talking point if it suits his goals.

tryanmax said...

I think Beck should stick to the international scene. He seems pretty spot on about that stuff. Okay, I should really put more stuff in boxes. Slap me if I comment again too soon.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I think you're right about Romney. This is the problem with the conservative media. They ask him "do you X." He says yes. Then they ignore him and pretend he never answered the question. A few days later they ask again. He says yes. They again ignore him. Soon you have a narrative going that he won't answer the question even though he's answered it many times. That's what I keep seeing.

And repealing ObamaCare is the perfect example. He's said this repeatedly, he's even got it on his website. Yet, to hear too many talking heads tell it, he's never said it and he "equivocates on the issue." No, he doesn't. He's said it repeatedly, the talking heads just don't want reality getting in the way of their narrative.

Kit said...

Andrew Price,

What do you think of last night's Super Tuesday results?

What do you make of them?

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I'm going to write about them more for tomorrow morning. By my impression is this:

1. The race is over and Romney has won.

2. Both Gingrich and Santorum got enough that they will stay with this for another 2-3 months.

3. Ron Paul is starting to fail, but that's to be expected because the rest of the race remains competitive.

What do you think?

Kit said...

Not sure.

Still thinking on it.

Think Romney will win bt what makes you think it is "over"?

Kit said...

The nature of the race seems to remain the same.

Romney is still on path to win the nom but will still face harsh fights from Santorum and Gingrich. Paul remains Paul.

The big question to me now is "Will Gingrich drop out?"

I doubt Santorum will soon but Gingrich might. He won GA, but that was his home state and was expected.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, There's going to be a huge push by the conservative media establishment who are fueling the Anybody But Romney camp to push Gingrich out of the race. But I think they will be shocked to discover that those people don't go to Santorum.

If they really wanted to go to Santorum, they would have done so in Ohio where Newt had no chance, but they didn't. So when the choice comes down to Santorum v. Romney, I'm not sure which way they will go... but I'm betting it won't be Santorum.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I think it's over because mathematically Romney will win this no matter what. He will win New York and California and the rest of the West and Northeast. That should be enough to push him over, especially as he will continue to pick up delegate in the other states.

Also, the longer this drags on, the more likely it will be that the super delegates will begin declaring for him because they (in my opinion) are only waiting to see if Newt has a chance. Once Newt quits, they will rush to Romney.

Kit said...

How long do you think Gingrich will stay in the race?

Kit said...

What do you think about Romney's trouble with evangelicals?

Do you think it comes from an anti-Mormon bias?

tryanmax said...

Andrew, I think you are absolutely right that Newt and Ricky's people do not cross over, but every talker is claiming otherwise. Pretty much every RWR talker today is saying "Romney won BUT... A guest on one show was emphasizing how totally fair RWR has been to Romeny: read, they've been totally unfair.

The common spin is that Romney had to outspend Santorum many times over to gain a narrow victory, therefore he lost. Nevermind that Romney has virtually no one carrying water for him as opposed to the AWR candidates. To underscore that fact, Bill Bennett strained this morning to say that the MSM was doing Romney favors by covering Fluke. Talk about small favors.

It strikes me as a bit "leftie" to complain that your opponent's victory was "unfair." What happened to the conservative notion that people vote with their wallets as well as their ballots.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, It is impossible to predict how politicians will react, especially someone as mercurial and egotistical as Newt.

But if I had to guess, he will stay in this race until Romney almost clinches things. Newt genuinely believes that Santorum will implode and he thinks he will get the full support of the AnybodyButRomney contingent, which he does. He also thinks that's 60% of the party and is enough for him to still win it. In truth, it's down to about 40% and shrinking every day. Plus, Rick won't leave because he's on a crusade.

On evangelicals, I'm certain it's anti-Mormon bias. You see it in that: (1) They are the only group Santorum wins and he wins overwhelmingly among them -- which shows a prejudice particular to them which isn't true in any other Republican group.

And (2) you hear it their words. For example, they define Santorum as "moral" and Romney by definition as not-moral even though a third party observer would pretty easily pick Romney as the more moral of the two.

You also see it in that Rick is making veiled suggestions that Romney and Obama "aren't Christians" and that plays with them. So I'm 100% certain that Romney's troubles with them is the result of anti-Mormon prejudice.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I expected this spin. I'm going to address it tomorrow, but it's what CNN's lefties started pumping out immediately last night. So it doesn't surprise me that RWR, which has decided to act like lefties, would adopt it.

In the past they would have claimed that their audiences aren't brainwashed zombies... but apparently that's not true so long as Romney pay for ads.

They have also proven they are incredibly willing to lie and spin and play all the MSM games. It's really pretty shameful at the moment.

Kit said...

What do RWR and AWR mean again?

Do you think, that come November, the evangelicals would be willing get past anti-Mormon bias and vote for Romney?

Or would they prefer a socialist over a Mormon?

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, RWR in this case means "right win radio." And AWR should be ABR and means "anybody but Romney".

On November, they will absolutely vote for Romney because they see Obama as a Muslim who is waging a war against Christianity. So they will turn out in droves to defeat him.

But even if they don't, it doesn't matter because they're clustered in the South, where Obama will lose by huge margins.

The guy who will lose people is Santorum. Moderates and many conservatives won't vote for him.

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