Yesterday Gov. Mitt Romney, the soon to be presidential nominee for the Republican Party, selected Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his running mate for the 2012 presidential race. In doing so, it probably shifted the debate in the race more to the issues than ever before. This was a critical move for the Romney campaign, because up until this point the majority of the debate in race has been about a lackluster job growth cycle and the past history of Romney at Bain and other places. Through those past few months, Obama has been able to widen his margin in the polls, with a trajectory that would have most likely given him the race and re-election, in a race most had predicted was Romney’s to lose. But why will picking Ryan potentially change the narrative of the race?
As probably many have already seen Gov. Mitt Romney will select Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his nominee for vice president, what many are viewing as a politically risky move for Romney, but not risky in the sense of McCain’s pick of former Gov. Sarah Palin. The pick of Paul Ryan forces the Romney campaign into an area it might not have wanted to go, especially with regards to the Ryan Budget. It will create conflicts with several groups of voters, most specifically senior citizens, who will most likely take issue with Ryan’s proposal to overhaul Medicare and opt for more private insurance options. But it could also help motivate a conservative base who has, at times, questioned whether Romney was for them or against them.
Amazing how in politics some things somewhat unrelated can have an effect on other things. Kind of a “butterfly effect” in a political sort of way. In this case, it appears the tight race to select a Republican presidential nominee may be pushing parties in the Texas redistricting case to come to a swift agreement. According to Michael Li, a Dallas attorney who has been closely following the process, we could see a settlement between both the plaintiffs and the state sometime early this week, ahead of the February 6th deadline ordered by the San Antonio court if an April 3rd primary is to be expected. Considering how strongly a line Attorney General Abbott has been holding up to this point, why does there seem to be such a change of plans?
“Once again, what a difference a week makes” was the way I started a Facebook status after seeing the latest Real Clear Politics summary graph of the Florida polls. That was before the release of the NBC/Marist, PPP, and Rasmussen polls were entered but even after those polls factored into the mix, the result was still the same – Romney leads Gingrich by double digits going into primary week in Florida. What’s more striking is that if you look at the graph you’ll see the South Carolina spike by Gingrich but then comes the plunging poll numbers of the former speaker. So what happened in that week that has flipped the numbers?
Today Newt Gingrich urged the other two conservative candidates, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry, to drop out of the race so conservative voters can rally around a single “anti-Romney” candidate. Of course, you can just imagine how much support he got from the other candidates on that suggestion. “It’s an enormous amount of hubris for someone who lost their first two races, who thinks enough of themselves –- because a couple of polls have him at this moment in time ahead of me –- that everybody should step aside and let him, who hasn’t defeated me in two of the elections so far, to let him have a wide berth,” said Santorum. While there’s a certain amount of arrogance to Gingrich’s suggestion, is there some validity to his claim that he is the only candidate capable of beating Romney?
So it’s looking more and more like Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee for the presidential race. He won, for all intents and purposes, Iowa and handily defeated Ron Paul in New Hampshire. He’s leading the in the polls in South Carolina, although the latest poll shows him only two points ahead of Newt Gingrich. Florida has him with a double digit lead ahead of Gingrich, something that will only increase if he wins South Carolina. But is he really the nominee the Republicans want for 2012? More importantly, if he’s not will they hold their nose and vote for him in the general election in November just to get rid of Obama? Maybe this presidential race is a signal to bigger issues within the Republican Party that they don’t want admit.
Coming off a sprint of debates, one last night hosted by ABC News/Yahoo/WMUR and one this morning hosted by NBC News/Facebook, the Republican candidates had a chance to make their case for the New Hampshire voters before the primary on Tuesday. While the debate might shake up the lower tier of candidates, Mitt Romney will still win the state with a sizable margin and Ron Paul will come in second with his own sizable margin over the rest of the field. While there have been upsets in the past in New Hampshire, this race will moss likely hold true to the polls. In reality, New Hampshire is just a stage for voters in the South Carolina primary, scheduled two weeks later. So what can we expect to see in the Palmetto State and how will it possibly affect the Florida primary.
For all the flack Iowa is taking about not being a representative selection process for a presidential nominee, it created some interesting outcomes that the Republican Party will be dealing with in the weeks or months to come. As I said yesterday, Iowa is not about picking winners. It’s about culling the crop of the bottom tier of candidates. But the dynamics of the Iowa campaign may have created some outcomes the Party wasn’t expecting or planning for. Most likely the folks in Chicago with the Obama campaign were just salivating watching everything play out in Iowa. They may have been handed their ticket to re-election thanks to the Iowa caucuses. So what is the Good, Bad, and Ugly of Iowa?
The Iowa Caucus day is finally here. The big question is who will survive and who will have to ask the hard questions about continuing forward. Current poll averages show Romney a little over a point ahead of Paul. Santorum has been surging lately, rising almost daily so he could be a surprise tonight. Regardless of what the polls say, it all boils down to who shows up at the caucus sites at 7 p.m. Unlike primary elections you can’t just stop in and vote when you want. There’s a real commitment to the vote, including sitting through all the speeches. As I said in a blog entry earlier today, Iowa is more about culling the field than picking a winner. I’ll be live blogging from this point forward as I see key things shaping up in the news feeds and Twitter streams, such as this interesting posting by Rick Santorum’s nephew telling people why not to vote for his uncle and to vote for Ron Paul. It’s going to be an interesting night. Read more…
Today’s the day many of us have been waiting for. Tonight about 100,000 Iowans will head to schools, churches, meeting halls, and living rooms to sit down and cast their choice for the Republican presidential nominee. Iowa is “first in the nation” and received prominent attention during the 70s when an obscure former GA governor and peanut farmer won the contest and went on to become president. Since then the nation focuses on this state’s primary process, mainly because of the attention Iowans give to selecting their candidates. But, with all this attention that Iowa gets during the winter prior to a presidential year, how influential is the state in the selection of a nominee and possible president?
Another poll was released yesterday from Public Policy Polling, a Democratic based polling firm that actually seems to bias towards Republican candidates according to Nate Silver. In the poll, Ron Paul took the lead from Newt Gingrich who actually slid pretty substantially from 27% on Dec. 5th to 14% in this latest poll. The poll was taken just after the last Republican debate in Sioux City and included Sunday after the release of the Des Moines Register endorsement of Mitt Romney. What’s interesting about the PPP poll is that it solidifies the pattern we’ve seen of lead change in the Republican primary in Iowa that has gone from Bachmman to Perry to Cain to Gingrich to possibly Paul, according to the Real Clear Politics tracking page. While Paul has not emerged as the latest leader, he’s only a point under Gingrich and has shown a steady climb to the top spot. So what does this latest poll really indicate going into Christmas week?
Today Victor Landa wrote a good column in the Express-News as a follow-up to last Saturday’s presentation of a Citizen’s Bill of Rights and Responsibilities presented by graduate students at UTSA’s College of Public Policy. He picked up on a suggestion made by Phyllis Ingram, head of San Antonio’s League of Women Voters, that to increase voter turnout we should consolidate the elections to a single day. On the surface, that sounds like a good and rational idea. After all, if you just went in one time to take care of all civic business more people would turn out to vote. Kind of a one-stop shop for civic engagement. Sounds simple but in reality, it’s more complex than it might seem. More importantly, would it really increase civic engagement or just produce better numbers?
Tonight is the final debate between the GOP presidential primary candidates before the Iowa Caucuses on Jan. 3rd. After that, there’s nothing between the candidates and the caucus other than a lot of open roads, corn fields and a bunch of towns full of Iowans. Just check out Gov. Perry’s 44-city, two week bus tour throughout Iowa. At least he’s taking some time off for Christmas. But he’s not alone as every single candidate will be criss-crossing the state, possibly passing each other on the roads or towns. December must be a strange time in Iowa if you’re really not interested in politics. With all the attention focused on the state and with a field of six candidates courting votes, you’re probably ready for caucus day to come and go so you can get back to normal life. So is Iowa really giving us that deeper glimpse into the candidates?
Today Rasmussen released their latest poll showing Gingrich in the lead with 38% trailed by Romney at 17%, Paul and Cain tied at 8%, followed by the pack around the 4% mark. That’s an interesting spread with each segment half the distance of its leader. If we held an election today, Gingrich wins this race outright with no questions. But the first contest is not an election. In fact, it’s probably one of the most bizarre forms of democracy we have in our system – the caucus. So strange is this process that normal campaign tactics can’t be used. In fact, if you go into Iowa, the early state that uses the caucus system, with a normal game plan you’ll probably get your clock cleaned and come out whipped and drained. So, while Gingrich has the lead for now, two campaigns trailing in the back might actually make a good showing in IA.
Yesterday some more polls came out highlighting some of the changes that have happened in the Republican primary field after two weeks of fun. Those two weeks saw two debates, a campaign in denial, and another campaign trying to get some positive air-time. But looking at the polls and the shape of the field it’s becoming apparent Republican voters are falling into two clearly distinctive camps (well, three if you count the faithful) – those who support Romney and those who want anybody but Romney, usually conservative voters. Some have called the second camp the “flavor of the week” group but in reality I’m beginning to see it as a bunch of voters with a set of ideals for the nominee and are trying to fit candidates into that set but having a hard time fitting square pegs into round holes. Candidates look good on the surface but when you start to peel back the layers you start finding all kinds of stuff you weren’t expecting to find. Just like tossing bad fruit out looking for that perfect one, these voters are tossing aside candidates as fast as a bad apple.