Romney Outpacing Obama as Conservatives Relent

With Santorum out of the race and Gingrich out of money, social conservatives are beginning to embrace their fate.  The last man standing between us and four more years of the failed Obama administration is Mitt Romney.  Gallup and Rassmussen are giving Romney a lead over Obama, and the Gallup lead is increasing.  This has been an improvement over recent weeks for Romney.

Part of the shift in the polls can be attributed to an administration in a sort of free-fall as they are racked by scandal, gaffe, and misstep.  In recent weeks, Obama was caught on mic telling the Russians his current policies are a charade, a Democrat adviser declared mothers to be out of touch and unaware of economic issues, one of Obama’s biggest donors backed up the idea declaring that Ann Romney never “got her ass out of the house” and to work, Obama’s secret service is hiring hookers, the GSA is throwing extravagant parties, and Obama is joking about finding new spots for the wealthy first family to vacation.  While Democrats criticize Ann Romney for being too wealthy and out of touch to comment on economic issues that women face, Obama is defending his wife’s extravagant vacation spending by saying it’s not his fault they have to travel with secret service.  In the meantime, Obama is tossing out vague populism and praying that something sticks.

On the other hand, Romney is being helped by social conservatives who are less and less offended when the pollster acts like Romney is the only Republican left in the race.  Santorum supporters are less willing to have their heart broken twice and are accepting that Romney is the man.

Here is where Romney has to be careful.  He is making a good move by focusing wholly on Obama, but his quest to funnel independents into his big tent could result in a simple relocation of his big tent leaving conservatives out in the cold like 2006 and 2008.  Romney has recently said he supports eliminating certain tax breaks for more wealthy filers, which quickly blurs the lines in the sand between him and Obama.

Conservatives are not looking to associate their good name with a better candidate.  They are still looking for the best candidate.  If Romney makes himself unworthy of the title, some conservatives will stay home.  He needs them more than he needs wishy washy independents.

Bad News for Romney?

Romney declared today to be a good day for his campaign.  The media easily agreed, following their template that Romney is already the nominee.  However, the good news may end up being all for Gingrich.  The long dead in the water conservative finally has what he has needed for a second resurgence: no competition for the social conservative vote.

In fact, Newt made the point today that he would love to get Santorum’s delegates.  Newt is right, he is far closer to what Santorum’s delegates want than Romney.  While Romney is far away ahead of both candidates on their own, together their delegates number more than 400.

Gingrich’s next hope for a good day won’t come until May 8th, and Romney is sure to sweep the blue states that vote on April 24th.  In fact, nearly certain victories in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island could seal the deal.

On the other hand, Gingrich could start a come back in Indiana and could win North Carolina and West Virginia with some hard work.  In fact, May should favor the remaining social conservative, culminating with the 155 delegates in Texas.  May could be enough to provide Gingrich with the convention floor battle he’s been hoping for.

On the other hand, without a strong ground game, and with limited funds and no media recognition that he even still exists, Newt may never have a chance at realizing the potential the Santorum exit has given him.

Is Mitt Bouyant? Or Santorum Sinking?

The day before Super Tuesday, Mitt Romney is looking good.  It’s looking like he will take the key state of Ohio and could take Tennessee.  Both of these are very close races.  But Romney’s ascendency back to the top is marked by Santorum’s dive in the polls, and Newt’s resurgence again.  Newt will win Georgia, which has the most delegates of any Super Tuesday state.  Newt is also now tied with Santorum and within one point of Romney in Tennessee according to one poll.  Just last week, Santorum was looking good in both Ohio and Tennessee.

If Santorum is suddenly seen as faltering, we may see the polls seesaw back to Newt on fears of unelectability.  However, at this late stage that may serve to only help Romney, unless Santorum loses big time.  If Santorum comes in third in Tennessee or Ohio and Gingrich easily wins Georgia, the shift back to Newt could be significant.

Consider this, if Santorum was not in the race and his voters went to Newt, Newt would sweep Ohio, Tennessee, and Georgia.  On the other hand, the same could be said for Santorum if Newt dropped out and his votes went to Santorum.  In either case, Romney is the beneficiary of the social conservative split.  Meanwhile, Ron Paul is fleeing from social issues as he descends back into below 10% irrelevancy.

This could be short lived however, as Republicans revisit the myth that social issues are losers in elections.  As I pointed out the other day, a one dimensional economy candidate is going to struggle against Obama.  Republicans are more likely to be inspired to go to the polls for a bold conservative, and Romney is all pastels.  If Santorum falters tomorrow and Newt remains on message, this one could be far from over.

Reality Check

As we head into Michigan and Arizona, the Republican party needs a reality check.  Fortunately, here it is:

Rick Santorum

The media is doing their best to paint Santorum as some sort of radical conservative religious whacko.  Hardly.  Santorum on social issues is saying what most Republicans are thinking.  The thing is, conservatives are scared to death of Obama winning re-election and many will gladly sacrifice what they believe to take the candidate everyone is telling them can win.  But here’s the thing, Obama’s economy has about a 26% approval rating and any Republican looks amazing economically next to Obama.  If Obama wins, it will be because he runs an incredible marketing campaign, race bates, and paints his opponents as somehow more socially radical than he is.  It won’t be because Obama saved the economy, unless moderates and independents are even more gullible and stupid than we thought.

What should keep Republicans up at night about Santorum is his passion on Iran.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want Iran to get a nuclear weapon.  I think they will use it on Israel if they do.  But America is not ready to commit to another war.  I think we would have to see another 3,000 US civilians die on one day before the majority of Americans get the stomach for what Santorum has been talking about.  That includes what he has talked about with central America.

Mitt Romney

Romney is uninspiring by design.  His economic plan is a mixture of timid populism.  In the end, what he is running on is his record of creating a great deal of personal wealth and success, as well as his management skills.  But Warren Buffett, another populist, has also made great personal success through good management, and I think he would be a terrible President.  If this election were solely about the economy,the DNC would be looking for a new candidate and Romney would already be the GOP candidate.  The fact is, as long as Romneyites continue to downplay social issues, they will continue to loose the support of the majority of conservatives who actually care about social issues.  Believe it or not, many Americans on both sides of the aisle hold the value of their social and religious issues higher than the economy.   For example, many pro-lifers would sacrifice a great deal of wealth to stop the murder of the unborn.

What keeps Republicans awake at night about Mitt Romney is the fact that even his economic plan has been as malleable as his social stances.  What was supposed to be Romney’s conservative strength has instead turned into calls to raise the minimum wage and tax the rich to redistribute to the poor.  In each case, this was a reaction from the Romney campaign to criticism from the left.

Newt Gingrich

Newt is the smartest candidate and he has the best ideas.  It is no secret that I believe this.  But Newt is easily destroyed by opponents and the media.  He has tried to run a cheap campaign with little or no ground game, which makes victory as visionary as a base on the moon.  Part of Newt’s problem is that now his electability is questionable instead of Santorum’s.  Newt isn’t going to win anything until he re-establishes himself as the only electable anti-Romney.  Every time Santorum wins another state, Newt’s chances dim even more.  Get ready for things to start looking real bad as Santorum wins Arizona and maybe Michigan.

What keeps Republicans awake at night about Newt Gingrich is how easily he is destroyed by negative campaigning and how weak his campaign structure is.  If Newt can’t beat the unelectable Santorum and uninspiring Romney in every state, how would he propose to beat Obama?

Ron Paul

No one ever thought Ron Paul would win, except maybe his 10% who also think that being obnoxious will win people over.  However, it has been noted that Paul seems to have a cozy relationship with Mitt Romney.  Perhaps Paul also thinks only Romney can beat Obama.  Or, as some have suggested, maybe Paul has a secret deal with Romney to secure a VP slot for him or his son.  Actually, a Romney/Rand Paul ticket would be an incredibly smart idea and might be the only thing that can bring the extremes of the Republican party back together.  The only thing, of course, other than Obama himself.

What keeps Republicans awake at night about Ron Paul is his Iran policy.  Yeah, maybe we aren’t ready to go to war in Iran like we did in Iraq.  But I also don’t think most Americans are ready to stick their heads in the sand and pretend that Iran isn’t a threat.  I think fewer Republicans have an appetite to continue the World America Apology Tour under a different name.

Barack Obama

The real reality check for Republicans should be a refocusing on Barack Obama.  Believe it or not, there are people out there who support him.  After Solyndra, Fast n Furious, reversing Mexico City policy, forcing religious organizations to provide abortion pills, Obamacare, and everything else Obama has done, there are actually cars on the road with Obama 2012 stickers on them.  Somehow, Obama still has a shot in this race.

What should keep Republicans awake at night about Barack Obama is that despite all that he has done to this country and to the rule of law and constitution, there are people who still support him.  The media refuses to vet Obama, even ignoring his radical social positions on abortion.  Meanwhile, in desperation Santorum is releasing economic plans that are going ignored by the party and media.  GOP candidates are doing a great job of getting their message out.  Unfortunately, their message is that each other suck.  Let’s hope that Republicans will find a way to inspire the entire base, and expose Obama on fiscal AND social issues.

From one radical to another?

Just how radical is Rick Santorum?  Yes, it is very frustrating that the media will ask this about Rick when they completely ignored any sign of Obama’s radicalism or the radicalism of many of the Democrats in Congress.  But that is what separates conservatives from liberals.  Conservatives don’t seem to actually want a candidate who appears too radical.  We have this unhealthy fear of independents and moderates.

Not so with Obama.  Obama has no fear of those middle of the road voters as demonstrated by his decision to force religious institutions to to pay for abortions.  In fact, it’s been a long three years so many might not remember that one of the first things Obama did in office was reverse the United States’ Mexico City policy making it so that our tax dollars are going to pay for abortions overseas.  Obama’s latest budget is textbook tax and spend liberalism.  Instead of funding our military, Obama’s budget cuts funding for our troops and adds funding to buy off radical Islamic groups in the middle east.

Is Rick Santorum as radical as advertised in comparison?  There is no question that Santorum is a very conservative Christian.  There is no question about whether he has been paying attention in church for the last 20 years.  Santorum may or may not use contraception, but would he really ban it?  One thing is for sure, he wouldn’t make catholic charities and institutions pay for it.

There is a candid interview circulating liberal circles because of some things Santorum says about his social conservative values.  In the interview he also talks about the limited size of the Federal government, but most liberal bloggers are ignoring that part.  Santorum also talks about moving more funding to the states and decentralizing of the government.

Santorum is not nearly as radical as Obama because Santorum does not believe the government is the answer to everything.  However, Santorum does have an unhealthy view of the government’s role in encouraging the traditional family.  Santorum would do what every politician before him and likely every politician after him would do and would use the tax code to encourage the traditional family and the bully pulpit to keep the national conversation going on the way a family should be.  Basically that puts Santorum in the same class as every politician except Ron Paul and Rand Paul.  But don’t expect a flat tax from Santorum.

Part of Santorum’s problem is that his bully pulpit is easily mistaken for gestapo type policy advocacy where government officials would enter people’s homes and steal their condoms lest they have sex with their spouse for any reason other than procreation.  Let’s get real.  Santorum is not Obama.  I doubt he will have websites where you can report your friends who disagree with him.

Santorum may make it easier for states to ban abortion.  Since when is that not a plus for conservatives?  Oh yeah, since we became scared of the moderates and independents.  Just a refresher for my conservative friends, abortion can be the brutal, torturous death of a human being.  Best case scenario, it is the end of a human life.

I don’t agree with Santorum on some social issues.  The question is, when Santorum talks about what he believes, is he saying what he will do as President or simply what he believes to be true?  Obama doesn’t say what he believes on the campaign trail, then he forces his beliefs on the country.  Santorum needs to be clearer about what he will implement as President.  In this interview he says many things that liberals have jumped on, but at 24:04 Santorum gives a key response to the question of what his ideas about education would look like on the federal level.

“It wouldn’t happen on the federal level.”

He needs to say that more.

 

Conservative Formula Plays Out

Imagine if you single-handedly picked Presidents.  The choice is up to you.  No need to consider electability, lesser of two evils, third parties, spoilers, or anything else.  Your choice is it.  Now, imagine you live in Montana, Minnesota, or Colorado and delegates aren’t rewarded based on your primary vote.  It’s pretty much the same situation.

The result?  Ron Paul got his standard 10-20% of libertarians and conservatives seeking radical constitutionalism, Romney got his standard 30-40% of fiscal conservatives who want a strong businessman, and the social conservatives split the rest.  Except in states where electability, lesser of two evils, third parties, and spoilers don’t matter, Newt Gingrich barely registered.  Instead, Rick Santorum, deemed unelectable from day one, swept bigtime.  It’s like “What’s My Line” where the points don’t matter.

Social Conservatives demonstrated what they really want, and it ain’t Mitt or Newt.  Mitt Romney is striking out with Conservatives, first with support of increasing labor price floors, then with information about his imposing abortion coverage on private companies like Obama is doing now.  Both of these are huge question marks on Romney’s record.

But Newt hasn’t done much better, with most of the country now thinking he was Freddie Mac’s number one lobbyist and had more sex partners than your average Mormon.  Romney has succeeded in dragging Newt down, and Newt hasn’t helped himself.

So does Santorum have a shot?  Probably not, but he does have something Iowa didn’t really give him: momentum.

Now Santorum can face the Romney attack machine for a while.  It started with the Donald saying that since Santorum lost in Pennsylvania he can’t possibly win the Presidency. Of course, that is a pretty funny standard to be judged by when it comes from a multi-billionaire business-owner who has declared bankruptcy four times.  I would think Trump would be able to relate to Santorum’s tenacity.

The problem with Santorum is that he doesn’t have that Presidentiality  that stupid, ignorant, and independent voters look for in a President.  He doesn’t have the hair or the chin.  Oh, and as Scarlett Johannson pointed out, he is unelectable because he wears sweater vests.  What Johannson underestimates is how many people out there who would take a bag of rocks wrapped in a sweater vest over our current President.

I pick on independents, but social conservatives aren’t much better.  When delegates are back on the table, don’t hold your breath for another Santorum sweep.  That would require conservatives looking themselves in the mirror and asking what they actually want in a President, not just who can beat Obama.  Tuesday’s message was loud and clear.

Rasmussen Shows Gingrich Over Obama

In what may be a bad sign ultimately for Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich has overtaken Barack Obama in a hypothetical poll for the 2012 General Election.  Newt 45, Obama 43 is the Rasmussen headline.

Certainly this is bad news for Barack Obama.  Gingrich has a great deal of distance to cover in order to win over moderates and and establishment Republicans without losing the Social Conservative base.  He has already been attacked by watchdog/attack dog Michele Bachmann for not being conservative enough on illegal immigration.  Mitt Romney is trying to portray Newt as a Washington insider, and liberals like Bruce Bartlett and Paul Krugman are trying to feed a new portrayal of Newt as someone who only sounds smarter than them.  Even Mark Steyn got in on the action while filling in for Rush Limbaugh on Tuesday, saying essentially that Newt only sounds smart because he uses big words.  Yet Newt has accomplished something other flavor of the week Social Conservatives haven’t with this poll.  Falling to Newt this early in a national poll is very bad news for Obama.

So why might it be worse news for Romney?  How about some de ja vu.  Click here for a 2008 New Hampshire poll that might remind you of how the 2008 primary went down. Romney had been the clear choice until polls started showing McCain as being the best candidate to beat Hillary Clinton.  Up until now, Romney has consistently been the best candidate to beat Obama in 2012.

Let’s be honest.  The number one concern of most Republicans when determining who to vote for in this primary is who can beat Barack Obama.  Even though any of the candidates running should be able to beat Obama, many Republicans are basing their vote on that one key: electability.  If Newt continues to beat Obama in the polls, Romney could find himself watching the November results from home for the second time in a row.

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