Romney Not Ready to Write Off Iowa

Bookmark and Share Recent word was that Mitt Romney was going to skip the Iowa caucuses, the first presidential nominating contest in the nation, and focus on insuring a win in New Hampshire and then move on to South Carolina and Nevada. Now in an interview with Hugh Hewitt, Romney has made it clear that if is to run, he and his campaign will be in Iowa and every other state. Romney tells Hewitt “I decide to run, I’ll be planning on running nationwide, and certainly the early states will be places where we concentrate most of our attention,”.
As pointed out in detail in a previous WH2012 post, in 2008, Romney exhausted much time and treasure in Iowa. In fact he began devoting his resources into the Iowa caucus in the early part of 2007. When all totaled, he spent $10 million but in the end he came in second to Mike Huckabee.

Romney aides had been indicating that after that experience, they are not sure how much more they could do or spend in Iowa to insure a win 2012. Another factor to consider is the fact that even though Huckabee won in Iowa, John McCain’s showing in the Iowa Caucus, which waswell behindRomney, did not prohibit him from going on to win the Republican presidential nomination.

As I noted in in the same post that I referred to earlier, this surrender strategy may have some mileage but from my perspective, it doesn’t have legs. If Romney can’t win in Iowa, than he has little chance of winning South Carolina. And if Romney can’t win or at least be extremely close to winning in South Carolina, than he is essentially writing off much off the delegate rich South. For his part Mitt told Hewitt “If I get in this, I’m not going to be doing so much of a political calculus as I am a calculus of what message needs to be heard by the American people and how I can deliver it best,”. He added, “And that surely will take me to Iowa as well as the other early states.”

That statement is encouraging. In translation it means that Mitt is confident that his campaign is confident that they have established a strategy that will overcome his perceived weaknesses while also having a superior approach to delivering the right message to the right people. It also means that his campaign is confident in its ability to do a Tanya Harding on his opponents and make them limp behind him in the race.

Romney still left himself some room on just how aggressively he will run in Iowa. While he stated that he will concentrate on the early, he avoided drawing the type of upbeat language you usually hear from politicians. Instead of using the usual lingo which would be, “if I run I intend to run hard and win big in the early states”, he used language a little more ambiguous. This would lead me to believe that a lot of what the Romney camp will do, is based upon whether or not Huckabee and Palin will enter the race. If that happens Romney could still allow himself to have a presence in Iowa, but one small enough to indicate that a poor showing in Iowa was in part due to the fact that he did not campaign hard there.

That strategy would be one that focuses on building on the momentum from a win in New Hampshire as a means to have an upper hand in South Carolina and then Nevada. Of course winning all 4 of the first nomination contests would be the possible result. Which is why Romney carefully parses his words. The real “if” he talks about here is not “if” he runs. He and the rest of us know he is. But what Mitt really means when he says “if” is “”if Huckabee runs. If Huckabee runs, Romney’s campaign strategy switches to one that may go light in Iowa or concentrate” more on the type of opposition research that takes Huckabee down a few pegs with a few body blows on the issue of taxes and a lethal use of the Horton Strategy……..the use of the multiple clemencies that Huckabee issued which resulted in multiple deaths of innocent people, including four police officers.

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New Polls in Iowa and New Hampshire Make Nothing Very Clear

Bookmark and Share Two new Strategic National polls offer results from Iowa and New Hampshire that mirror other similar surveys.

Of 410 Iowans who are described as typical caucus voters, former Governor Mike Huckabee is ahead of his closest possible rival, Mitt Romney, by 9.02%.

Complete poll results were as follows:

  1. Mike Huckabee 27.56%
  2. Mitt Romney 18.54%
  3. Undecided 17.56%
  4. Sarah Palin 12.44%
  5. Newt Gingrich 12.20%
  6. Tim Pawlenty 4.39%
  7. Michele Bachmann 3.66%
  8. John Thune 1.95%
  9. Rick Santorum 0.98%
  10. Other/Undecided 0.49%
  11. Haley Barbour 0.24%

In New Hampshire a random sample of 940 Republican primary voters offered a result that was almost as equally lopsided between the first and second place finishers as Iowa’s results were, but here it is Romney who takes the lead. The New Hampshire poll played out like this:

  1. Mitt Romney 33.51%
  2. Mike Huckabee 13.83%
  3. Sarah Palin 12.77%
  4. Newt Gingrich 8.62%
  5. Tim Pawlenty 5.21%
  6. Mitch Daniels 1.60%
  7. Rick Santorum 1.28%
  8. Haley Barbour 0.96%
  9. John Thune 0.21%
  10. Other/Undecided 22.02%

Both polls do little more than confirm what we already knew. What we don’t know though is who Iowa and New Hampshire voters will actually be splitting their votes between when it is time to vote and caucus. While we are more than certain that Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty will be running, and pretty sure people like Fred Karger and Rick Santorum are running, we do not know with any certainty if Mike Huckabee or any of the other often mentioned names are running. Furthermore, given the countless number of variables, including who will or wont be in the race and the great potential that the campaigns of many potential candidates have, it would be naive to assume that anyone who is a frontrunner at this moment, will be the winner a year from now.

However, when it comes to New Hampshire and Iowa and Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, a combination of name recognition from their 2008 presidential runs and demographics, Romney and Huckabee are where they should be in New Hampshire and Iowa and are naturals to win those state respectively.

If they did win in these tow states, the Republican presidential nomination contest is likely to be wide open well into the primary and caucus season.

Following Iowa and New Hampshire are Nevada and South Carolina. Here too a split decision is as natural as it is in the results of Iowa and New Hampshire. Demographics and established name recognition make Nevada a natural for Romney to win and South Carolina a natural for Huckabee to take. Of course with South Carolina being more of a sign of how the South goes than Nevada is of the way the West goes, Huckabee’s win in South Carolina would put him in a much better position for him than Romney.

South Carolina is where Romney has to draw his wall of fire. It is where he has to establish the “Big Mo” that George H. W. Bush thought he had behind him in the 1980 primaries against Ronald Reagan.

Of course as noted in previous White House 2012 posts, if enough candidates who are attractive to the evangelical vote, jump into the race, Romney could be the beneficiary and have the chance to walk right up the middle.

For now though, it really is too early to base any wagers on any of these polls. None of the potential candidates campaigns can be underestimated and there are so many possible players at the moment that it is too difficult to predict which way any one demographic or state will fall.

If Newt Gingrich were to run, not only will his command of the issues be undeniably impressive, but between the unique and numerous ideas he brings to the table, combined with a personality that will surprise many and the ability to reshape his image, he could quickly become an appealing figure to many, including evangelicals and TEA Party energized people.

If Sarah Palin were to run, her ability to campaign in a way that can broaden her base should not be underestimated and given the enthusiastic support that she already has from a loyal base of voters, such an expansion of her base could effect the primaries and caucuses profoundly.

But many other names also have the potential to establish powerfully effective campaigns that can attract the attention and support of any combination of influential wings of the G.O.P.. Texas Governor Rick Perry is building a solid foundation for a possible campaign that highlights states rights which appeals to TEA Party priorities. He has also built a record around anti-abortion measures and other social issues that are attractive to evangelicals and social conservatives. And on economic issues, his tax cuts, spending cuts and jobs record in the Lone Star State, appeal to all wings of the Republican Party.

Indiana’s Mitch Daniel’s is another figure whom could take the Party by storm. His American Heartland appeal and economic prowess will shine brighter than most. The entry of Mississippi’s Haley Barbour could quickly round up a large portion of the G.O.P. inner circle, raise oodles of money, count on many favors owed to him, significantly coalesce Southern support and dilute Huckabee’s Southern strength, while also surprising people with his own strategic abilities and appeal to conservatives in all four corners of the country.

Senator John Thune of South Dakota will be force to a contend with if he runs. While the addition of his name in to the field may not initially turn the race on its ear, he will quickly gain steam. Then there are other names like Rick Santorum and Mike Pence. All of these names will sharply divide the conservative vote, thereby give people like Tim Pawlenty, as well as Mitt Romney and maybe even Rudy Giuliani a better shot at racking high delegate counts.

And through it all may also be the likes of libertarians Ron Paul and former new Mexico Governor Gary Johnson as well as those dark horse candidates, such as Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, and maybe even Donald Trump.

Right now, all that we can be sure of is that while some names like Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and outsider Fred Karger have all but made their campaigns official, everyone else is watching what each of the other names are doing. And until people like Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, John Thune and Sarah Palin, make up their minds, people like Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani, Jon Huntsman and more, will be waiting to make up their own minds.

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