Is Paul Electable? Only As GOP Nominee

He came in behind Michele Bachmann.  And don’t be fooled, Ron Paul was actually trying in Iowa.  So is Ron Paul really a top tier candidate now?  Jon Stewart seems to think so.

Actually, Ron Paul probably would win in a head to head with Barack Obama.  For a second tier candidate, he polls pretty well in head to head matchups with Obama.  The problem is, in his own party primary he comes in a consistent fourth at best.  Add Perry, minus Pawlenty, no change for Ron Paul.  Real Clear Politics has Ron Paul in sixth place right now behind two candidates who aren’t even running.  And I hate to say it, but Guiliani doesn’t have a shot.  Still, he outpolls Paul in the GOP primaries.

Is the lack of media attention really because we are afraid of Ron Paul winning?

Is Paul electable?  Sure.  As the GOP candidate he would make up for lost Republicans he has alienated with independents he appeals to.  Unlike McCain who went after fiscal liberal independents, Paul would go after social and national security liberal dependents.  He would actually take these away from Obama.

Shoot, I’d vote for Ron Paul over Obama.  But I’d also vote for half the Democrats over Obama at this point.

Www.dailypaul.com has suggested that half the Republicans want a third party.  That’s great, throw in half the Democrats and half the Independents, get them to agree on Paul, and you might have a case for a third party Paul run.  As it is, polls show Paul would only play spoiler as a third party candidate.

So is it a big deal that Ron Paul came in second behind Michele Bachmann in Iowa?  I’m going to say no.  Now, if he wins the Iowa Caucus, that might be something to talk about.

Is Cain Trying in Iowa?

No, if you believe his now former Iowa director Tina Goff and Kevin Hall who was in charge of coordinating for the Iowa straw poll in just over a month.  Jim Zeiler has also left the Iowa staff and Cain lost his New Hampshire director earlier this week.  When it comes to managing a campaign, things are not looking good for Cain.

On the other hand, Cain is looking good in the Iowa polls.  Most recently he came in second only to perpetual front runner Mitt Romney and remade Michelle Bachmann.

Will the Guiliani gamble work for Cain?

The problem is that Cain has not done or said anything to differentiate himself from Michelle Bachmann.  Going into this race he had perhaps set himself apart as a more “serious” candidate, and certainly took on early momentum from the TEA Party.  But Bachmann easily out-shined him in the debate and continues to make the right steps even in the face of extreme character assassination.  Bachmann’s successes have made her detractors appear to be less “serious”.

In the meantime, Cain is reducing himself to soundbite worthy quips and small government platitudes while his substance seems to be a foggy mirror of the clarity Bachmann has produced.  The result is that Cain is quietly slipping into the shadows where other candidate copies, like Gary Johnson (generic brand Ron Paul) and Jon Huntsman (Mitt Romney clone only the media is excited about) reside.  Bachmann is quickly taking the TEA Party energy.

In some ways, Cain brought this on himself.  His radio host style speeches leave little substance to hang one’s hat on and his brief handling of gay marriage in the debate has alienated him from the religious section of the TEA Party.  In addition, at times he has seemed clueless on some of the more detailed issues such as right of return for a Palestinian state.  This still puts him miles ahead in knowledge from someone like Joe Biden who wanted a three state solution for Iraq.

Cain does have one demographic that still turns out strongly in support of him, and that is the African American conservatives, moderates, and independents.  Many of these who helped turn Florida blue for Barack Obama and are now disenchanted with his policies are indicating strong support for Cain.  Whereas Iowa is turning out to be a fiscal versus social conservative battle between Romney and Bachmann, all important Florida may end up being a fiscal versus social conservative battle between Romney and Cain. Real Clear Politics shows Cain in second place to Romney in Florida out of current candidates, but large percentages going to Huckabee and Palin.  It will be interesting to see how those Palin and Huckabee supporters break by the time we reach Florida.  It won’t be for Mitt Romney.

If Cain can survive until Florida and then capitalize on it, losing Iowa might not be that big a deal.  Then again, perhaps he should talk to Rudy Guiliani about that strategy.

Seven Versus One

The debate is over and there is a clear loser.  Whether by pact or we just got candidates this good, Obama was the only one with a target on his back last night.  Even Pawlenty wouldn’t take the obvious bait to attack front runner Mitt Romney.  The result was a debate of seven on one, and the One wasn’t there to defend himself.

The other loser in last night’s debate was CNN’s John King who amidst annoying grunts failed to turn the candidates on one another.  Even when he tossed Palin’s name out as an easy target for Republicans seeking to moderate, the response came from Tim Pawlenty and it was perfect.  Joe Biden has failed in every aspect as a Vice President, his views on Iraq were completely wrong, and Sarah Palin would be a better president than Biden or Obama.

Can Bachmann break through media created stereotypes?

The candidates handled tough hot button issues amazingly well also.  The shining example here was Michelle Bachmann who deflected an easy gotcha by making it clear that the role of the President and the role of the states in determining the fate of gay marriage is not equal.  She provided a balanced states rights view, while promising to protect the states from the courts if it came to that.  The other good answers on gay marriage were Ron Paul, leave it to the church and get government out, and actually Rick Santorum who explained that a constitutional amendment would require the approval of 75% of the states, something opponents rarely mention.  Cain appeared to struggle the most on the muslim staff question.

While there were no clear winners, I believe this debate showed two classes of candidates.  Michelle Bachmann led her class of fired up TEA Party approved candidates fighting for principled social and fiscal conservatism with unmeasured attacks against Obama and willingness to take heat for their views if deemed controversial.  Cain is included with this group, although he appears now more as a TEA Party candidate who jumped in feet first and now is searching for substance beyond catchphrases and buzz words.  He did not find that moment last night.  Ron Paul’s anti-establishment libertarianism may catch up to him this year when all the Revolution liberals realize that he does not support any federal entitlement programs.  Santorum failed to set himself apart as anything but a sacrificial lamb for 1st term George W. Bush style conservatism.  While they all performed well, Bachmann outshined this group.  Given the TEA Party’s success in 2010 and their conservative appeal, I would not write this group off.

The other group becoming apparent are the “intellectual”, restrained conservatives in Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty.  Their answers would not pass a soundbite test, but they were clear, well thought out, and flawless.  At the same time, these three touted socially conservative views and credentials which should make each one palatable for any Republican voter.  Newt was in a tough place and would need to be the only shining candidate last night to pull his campaign out of the rubble.  His performance was near flawless and enough to start the rebuilding process, but not good enough to bring him in from the dog house.  And while he may be right about ensuring that America is on board with the Paul Ryan plan, he is sure to take more heat for some of his comments last night.

Tim Pawlenty was perhaps the closest thing to a winner last night.  He made a great case for his pro-life record, perhaps settled some social conservatives with his call for his stance on homosexuality, connected with union and blue collar America, and magnanimously skipped a golden opportunity to play John King’s game and trash the front runner.  While the left-wing media rakes Pawlenty over the coals for his choice, conservatives should take a much closer look at a candidate who knows the enemy.

Mitt Romney will remain the front runner after last night.  The campaign has been nearly effortless for him sofar, and he made no mistakes that would cause him to lose his front runner status last night.  But he shouldn’t get too comfortable.  With Huntsman entering the race and with Rick Perry and Rudy Guiliani mulling Presidential runs of their own, the space Romney and Pawlenty occupy could get real crowded real quick.

In the end, the field last night did what they had to do.  They stayed focused on the economy and Obama.  They did not bite on questions obviously designed to turn them against each other and other Republicans.  They agreed with one another publicly and showed that any one of them is better than and can beat Barack Obama in 2012.

Rudy: Fresh Candidate or Romney Clone?

Some are convinced that Rudy is ready to step into the 2012 primary.  But is Rudy going to bring something fresh to this race?  Or will he simply join the race as one more fiscal conservative who will turn off social conservatives and join McCain as one more perfect GOP candidate who goes down to the Left?

Rudy is focusing on New Hampshire and recently used an opportunity in that state to rip Romney for Romneycare as the “inspiration” for Obama’s own unconstitutional healthcare mandate.  The idea for the Rudy camp seems to be that he lost last time because he bet the farm on Florida and was crowded out by Romney and McCain.  Will things be different this time around?

This time, Rudy is betting the farm on New Hampshire and perhaps a game changing late entry.  Even if Rudy Guiliani pulls off an upset in New Hampshire, will that mean he represents the GOP?  Hardly. Rudy will need to contend with the Southern/Midwest social branch of conservatism, and if 2010 is any clue, he may very well lose Florida again.  Both Rick Scott and Marco Rubio captured the swing state on a complete social and fiscal conservative platform.

More likely, Rudy will capture the fiscal conservatives who can’t abide Romney’s weak explanation of his healthcare plan, and Romney will capture fiscal conservatives who are not as socially liberal on issues like abortion as Rudy Guiliani.  Could this provide an opening for a strong social conservative even in New Hampshire?

The Ten Point Rule

It’s time to do an experiment. You are a politically savvy person. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be reading a blog about a primary election that is almost a year away. Some might even call you passionate about politics. Chances are, you have friends who ask you for advice on November 1st about who to vote for.

Here is the experiment. Invite your ten closest friends over and engage them in a discussion of current events and their political impact on our lives. If you don’t have ten friends, invite some acquaintances. I am willing to bet that unless you and your ten closest friends all work for the same political thinktank, at least one of them has absolutely no clue about current events or politics, but they will be voting in 2012.

I call this the Ten Point Rule. In any given election, one out of ten voters votes based on the candidate’s looks, age, gender, race, name recognition, name, recommendation from a friend, or the last political sign they saw walking into the polling place.

This is great for the Democrat party. Both parties have grass roots, but the DNC has a bus.

In 2008, as I was filling out my ballot, an elderly black man came to the booth next to me. I could tell it was his first time voting. He called the poll worker over and asked her to help him find “the one with the ‘O’ in his name”. After filling out his vote for Barack Obama, he asked the poll worker what the rest of the ballot was for.

This was a very educational experience for me, and somewhat disheartening. My young civic mind that believed that our democracy was chosen by the informed will of a sovereign people was replaced by an understanding that at a very minimum, one in ten voters couldn’t tell the difference between Sarah Palin and Tina Fey. Actually, in that case it was more than 8 in 10 for Obama voters.

The last President to win an election by more than 10 percentage points was Richard Nixon with 67% compared to George McGovern’s 37%.

The lesson of the Ten Point Rule is that voter turnout really does matter. And voter education is empowerment. Republicans must come face to face with the fact that the most effective strategy for the left in the 2008 primary is now being employed in full force in the 2012 season. In 2008, amidst all the potential in Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson, and Rudy Guiliani, the candidate who was sent to face the embodiment of young hope and change was John McCain. McCain won partially because the one in ten were told that only McCain could win a national election against whoever the Democrat candidate ended up being. I apologize to McCain fans, but an elderly career Senator who supported both wars and was part of the 2006 Republican Senate, who said business was not his strong suit and who alienated his own party through his bi-partisanship and immigration ideas, was not the candidate to defeat the fresh young Barack Obama. Obama was a political outsider who promised no new taxes on the poor and middle class, fiscal responsibility, to bring our troops home, to close Gitmo, to do all the things the left wanted while being all the things the one in ten wanted.

Now we are being told point blank which candidates cannot defeat Barack Obama in 2012 and exactly why. I highlighted an AP piece about a week or two ago that pointed out every flaw in every major Republican contender. Already they have their polls going showing which candidates cannot beat Obama. If we could educate that one in ten on what is going on right now in our country, the shocker would be discovering a candidate who Obama could beat.

When you think about your one friend in the room who is driving our country with his or her uninformed swing vote, think about this: he or she probably agrees with you on most issues already. In 2008, Obama won California (no big surprise) and swing-state Florida. However in both states voters decided to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

The majority of Americans are pro-life. This was not the case 15 years ago. Demographics have shifted, and according to a recent Fox News poll even the majority of independents are pro-life.

These are the divisive issues that the national media and DC GOP instruct Republicans not to run on and not to talk about. This doesn’t even touch deficits, freedom, and shrinking the government; issues that swept the GOP into power in 2010.

If Republicans want to win in 2012, they must put forward the best candidate and must get out the vote. That means you need to identify that friend who knows nothing about politics, and teach them which candidate agrees with them.

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