Iowa’s Mold Breaker Might Matter

We are discovering the 2012 election cycle dynamic every day.  One thing we have learned already is that things that didn’t matter last week are crucial this week.  The thing we are learning this past week is that money matters, as Mitt Romney surrogates bought waves of negative airtime, Ron Paul bought Michele Bachmann’s Iowa campaign chairman, and Newt suddenly began to realize what a nice thing it would be to have campaign staffs, ground crews, or even counter advertising money.

To Huntsman’s dismay, we may be discovering that Iowa matters.  Let me put it this way.  If Newt Gingrich wins Iowa, it doesn’t really matter.  If Santorum wins Iowa, it will give him some false momentum but Iowa alone won’t matter.  If Bachmann wins Iowa, we will all drop our jaw and then move on with the real race.  If Paul wins Iowa, mainstream Republicans will spend the next few days complaining about how he did his usual ballot stuffing tricks, but then move on.

However, if Mitt Romney wins Iowa, that will be huge.  Iowa has typically stuck to mainstream, evangelical, more conservative than moderate candidates.  Iowa has granted hope to Mike Huckabee in recent years, and Michele Bachmann this year.  Now, with Mitt Romney leading in the polls, it appears that more conservative, evangelical voters are accepting that Romney will win the nomination.  In fact, in this case I wonder what type of dynamic Ron Paul is attributing to Romney’s rise.  Are Iowans viewing Gingrich, Perry and now even Santorum as third party spoilers?

I think with the Iowa dynamic, voters may actually prefer Santorum in the current field.  Instead, it appears that Iowa may end up being about who can beat Barack Obama, or more immediately, who can beat Ron Paul.  At any rate, if Mitt Romney wins, Iowa matters.  As McCain proved in 2008, voting for a candidate primarily because of electability is a tough paradigm to crack once it is set.

One thing is for sure.  If Romney does win in Iowa, Newt is dreaming if he thinks he can turn everything around in New Hampshire.

And the Winner of the Iowa Caucus is……….

Romney and Santorum may surprise all with a first and second place finish, respectively, but South Carolina will be the real winner of the Iowa Caucuses.

Bookmark and Share I am predicting that Mitt Romney will in Iowa and it will go a long way in establishing a sense of inevitability that will help him wrap up the nomination sooner than later.   However; unless Romney racks up a win with 30 or more percent, the results will not matter a great deal and in the end, the real winner will be South Carolina.

Iowa’s caucus history shows that the winners of their nominating contests do not usually go on to become the nominee and President.  More often than not, Iowa caucus voters seem more intent on sending a message to the establishment than sending a nominee to the White House.  This time may be different in the sense that Iowa Republicans may believe that their support for most of the existing candidates will not send any strong message and that Ron Paul, the only candidate for whom a protest vote for would send a clear message, is not in any way a responsible and realistically, viable candidate.   As it is, most Iowa Republicans do not support Ron Paul.  His perceived success in the state so far is due mainly to the Independent and Democrats who are allowed to vote in the caucuses if they change their Party affiliation.

This is something which Paulbots have been planning on taking advantage for a very long time and they are doing a good job at it.

But not good enough.

In the end I believe that between all the back and forth of frontrunner status for one candidate or another, Mitt Romney who has been consistently at the top of the polls in Iowa and who has the strongest organization of all the candidates in the state, will benefit from a social conservative and evangelical vote that is sharply divided between at least four candidates, and from his perceived electability against Barack Obama.  These factors will allow Romney to win the caucus, but unless he wins by an overwhelming amount, it will not do much to help him convince people that he will definitely be the nominee.  That job will be left up to South Carolina, which will actually be the big winner coming out of Iowa.

Everyone knows that Romney will win New Hampshire, so there is little suspense there.  That leaves South Carolina which follows the Live Free or Die State, as the most pivotal of all the early state contests and the greatest beneficiary of the results in Iowa.

It is where Newt Gingrich has been trying to build a firewall and hoping to establish himself as either the frontrunner or the only real viable alternative to Mitt Romney.

South Carolina is also a prelude to the Florida and the momentum provided to the candidate who wins in South Carolina will go a long way in helping that candidate’s chances of winning in the Sunshine State’s primary. 

Even in the unlikely event that Romney blew out all his rivals with a win of  30% or more,  South Carolina will still be an early contest that either solidifies Romney’s lock on the nomination or gives someone else the opportunity to be Romney’s true chief rival as the race moves forward.

These are just simple facts which will not be changed by any result that Iowa produces.  If Senator Rick Santorum happened to pull off a Huckabee-like, 2008, come-from-behind victory, Romney will still dominate in the New Hampshire primary and South Carolina will still host the contest that play a somewhat more decisive role than either New Hampshire or Iowa.

When all is said and done, Iowa will serve one chief purpose.  It will help weed out the field of candidates.  It will help to begin sealing the deal for several of the lower tier candidates, especially Rick Perry.  But even in that capacity, Iowa is not likely to end anyone’s candidacy.  Once again, that mission will be accomplished in South Carolina.

That said, in the tradition of making predictions as one year ends and a new one begins, while I hold true to the belief that Iowa will really only matter if Romney comes in anywhere under third pace, or wins with a large plurality, I also believe that the candidates will finish as follows:

  1. Mitt Romney – 26%
  2. Rick Santorum -21%
  3. Ron Paul – 17%
  4. Newt Gingrich -16%
  5. Rick Perry – 11%
  6. Michele Bachmann – 7%
  7. Jon Huntsman – 2%

I am quite uncertain about those totals, but very confident in the order of each candidate’s placement.

These results will produce several storylines coming out of Iowa.  One will be about whether of not Mitt Romney has a lock on the nomination as he is now on a path to becoming the first non-incumbent Republican presidential candidate to sweep both Iowa and New Hampshire?  The other story will be is Rick Santorum, the new Mike Huckabee and can he translate his strong Iowa showing into a victory elsewhere? 

The other stories that will provide the filler for 24 hour cable news programs, will be can Newt comeback “in South Carolina”? What happened to Ron Paul’s surge? And is this the end for Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann?

The answer to all these questions will be determined by the state which I argue will be the ultimate winner in the Iowa Caucuses…..South Carolina.

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Predicting the Politically Unpredictable in 2012

2012 will see liberal extremism leading the way for wins by Romney and Republicans and  losses for Obama and Democrats, and an  electoral college decision that leaves the left more disgusted than ever.

Bookmark and Share   When it comes to 2012, the only prediction that I am fully confident in is that the unpredictable will continue to dominate and shape politics.  It always has and always will.  Be it unanticipated scandals, of the real or manufactured kind, or be it the unforseen events and circumstances which are thought to be impossible realities on the national and international stage, or random personal events in the lives of  the players on those stages, it is the unexpected which will ultimately create our reality and determine that which in the future, will be history.

However, until those inevitable unknowns reveal themselves, the best each of us can do is project the logical progression of events based upon that which we do already know.  For instance, while I may not know with certainty who will win the Republican presidential nomination, I can confidently predict that if the nominee is Ron Paul, you can rest assured that a Democrat will occupy the White House come 2013.  But one need not be Nostradamus to make that prediction.  So many rational Republicans and conscientious conservatives understand that inevitability, that it makes it impossible for Ron Paul to win the Republican presidential nomination.

A bolder prediction is that come September of 2012, Mitt Romney will be making an acceptance speech at the Republican national convention.  But that too is hardly seer seeing and it should not be hard to understand why he will be the nominee.

Romney is quite a capable conservative and while there are legitimate reasons to question his conservative credentials, the facts are that you can not find anything that is not conservative about his stated vision for America.  The only real reason he has not yet locked up the nomination is not because he is not conservative enough, but because he has not been bold enough.  It it is my hope that this will change once Romney’s lock on the nomination becomes undeniable.  At that point, I believe we might very well see Mitt Romney go from playing it safe with his longstanding Republican frontrunner status and begin taking some risks with semi-bold reform proposals designed towardsd providing  TEA movement types and the significant portion of the electorate that shares anti-establishment sentiments,  a reason to believe that Romney will, at the very least, be better for America than Barack Obama.

That leads me to my second prediction and the one that I most confident of.

Come September of 2012, Republicans and even conservatives will have a hard time remembering exactly why the dislike Romney so much.  Many will still be too stubborn to admit that they like Romney, but by the time the Republican convention is over, they will indeed like him.  People do not realize the magic that is a good, well run campaign, but they soon will.  Therefore I am confident when I state that Romney will be far more liked in the latter part of 2012 than he is in the earlier part.

As the groundwork for such an emergence of a new impression of Romney is laid, speculation about who he will choose as his running mate will take on a life of its own.  The undeniable reality of the value that the obvious choice, freshman Florida Senator Marco Rubio,  will dominate, but the likelihood of his willingness to be a vice presidential candidate will probably deny Romney and the G.O.P. the benefit of his place on the ticket.  This will force Mitt Romney and Republican powerbrokers to look for the next best thing.  That search will force the likes of Virginia’s Bob McDonnell, Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, and New Jersey’s Chris Christie to be given serious consideration and lead to a media firestorm around their possible candidacies.

Other names that will receive vast attention will come from those who were or are still competing against Romney for the top spot on the ticket. Most of that speculation will swirl around such names as Newt Gingrich, former Minnesota Governor and rival Tim Pawlenty, and former Arkansas Governor and 2008 Romney rival Mike Huckabee.

That will be followed by the names of individuals who were onceconsidered potential Romney rivals for the presidential nomination.

That list will include Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, and South Dakota Senator John Thune.

Then there will come the dark horse contenders.

As the process of picking a runnignmate that can help Romney create the type of balanced ticket which can hammer together a winning electoral coalition entertains such factors as sex, ethnicity, and the need to attract votes in regions that Romney will need to shore up, names like Tennessee’s Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, New Mexico’s Governor Susana Martinez, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, and the darkest of all horses, Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuno, will all receive a good degree of attention.

In the end, I believe Rubio and Ryan will not accept the nomination, Gingrich will be passed up because of too much perceived baggage and not enough realized popularity, and the final short list will leave Romney choosing from Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, Bobby Jindal, John  Thune, Susana Martinez, Bob McDonnell, and Chris Christie.  Like Rubio, Jindal will probably reject the offer and  it will most likely come down to Daniels, Thune, Martinez, and Christie.  My instincts suggest that it’s an even chance for either Thune or Martinez to win out over both Christie and Daniels.

Amidst all that drama will come the multiple fights for control, of Congress.

In time, many of the  hard fought individual fights will also take on lives of their own that will grab national headlines and influence national opinions which will ultimately keep Republicans in control of the House.

On the Senate side, I see the G.O.P. taking control by picking off three of the Democrats five most vulnerable incumbents in Michigan, Missouri, and Montana.  They could also possibly take down Bill Nelson of Florida.   Additionally, the G.O.P. will pick up 4 or 5 of the open Democrat seats, winning in Nebraska, North Dakota, Virginia, and Wisconsin.  A big surprise gain could also come from Connecticut where Joe Lieberman is retiring.  This means a net gain of anywhere from 7  to 9 senate seats and a solid majority of anywhere from 54 to 56 senate seats.  But before Republicans realize those gains, they will get some much needed help from the Democrats that they will fight to take that control from.

I expect several liberal candidates for the House and Senate to generate the type of attention and controversy that will energize conservatives and turn many independent and moderate candidates off and prevent them from getting caught up in any wave of enthusiasm for Democrats. The three liberal candidates who will go too far in their rhetoric and create the type of controversies that will produce a backlash against Democrats in general, are Florida’s Allan Grayson, Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin, and Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren.

Grayson,  a Florida liberal, was defeated  in his first attempt at reelection to the House in 2010.  In 2009, his first year in office, Grayson famously took to the floor of the House and claimed that Republicans want senior citizens to to drop dead.  A year later, Floridians told him to drop dead as they gave him the boot and elected conservative Daniel Webster to replace him.

In 2012, Grayson is trying to recapture the seat and while he will fail to do so, he will again go too far and provide fodder for Republicans to use against Democrats.

In Wisconsin openly gay Rep. Tammy Baldwin is running to replace retiring Senator Herb Kohl.  Baldwin’s homosexuality is not necessarily what will make her candidacy so controversial.  However the extremism of the loyal liberal, militant, homosexual lobby that will swoop down upon Wisconsin to influence her election, coupled with Baldwin’s own liberal extremism, will undoubtedly become the epitome of liberal lunacy in the 2012 election cycle.  As such, it will go a long way in providing conservatives with the type of material that can be used nationally as examples of how out of touch President Obama and his Party are with most Americans.

Another campaign that will generate a negative national reaction to the liberalism of today’s mainstream Democrats will be the Senate campaign of Massachusetts liberal Elizabeth Warren.

Warren will be a stereotypical socialist whose extremism will help moderate incumbent Republican Senator Scott Brown stay in office for his first full six year tem in the upper federal legislative chamber.

Brown’s 2009 upset victory in the special election to replace the seat long held by Ted Kennedy and his brother before him, was an early indicator of national sentiments that revealed themselves in the 2010 general election.  However, given the ideological bend of the usually deep blue Bay State, in 2012, with an incumbent Democrat president running at the top of the ticket, Scott Brown, even as a moderate Republican, should not have much of a chance for reelection.  But thanks to two factors, he will be reelected.

One of those factors is the lack of popularity for President Obama, even in Massachusetts, and Mitt Romney’s presence on the top ticket for Republicans.  While Romney will still likely lose Massachusetts to Obama, his presence on the ticket will be enough to have a positive effect further down the Republican line.  The other factor will be Warren herself.

Like Baldwin and Grayson, Warren will go too far and become a national example of the dangers of unrestrained liberalism.  In the end, that will be enough for voters of Massachusetts to want to restrain liberal extremism by reelecting Scott Brown.

Another plus will be that Elizabeth Warren will come off as so extreme and arrogant that conservative Republicans will be willing to go out of their way to support Scott Brown over her.  Even those who believe that Brown is little more than a RINO, will find Warren to be so sickeningly left-wing that even a Republican in Name Only will be prefered to the socialism that Warren represents in every way.

On other fronts, the political atmosphere for the White House will continue to sour as circumstances involving Fast & Furious and Solyndra turn in to scandals that help establish strong evidence of the Administration’s incomptenece and lack of ethics.

The economy will also remain a main issue but it is likely to bottom out during 2012 and after four years, a resilient and innovative American population will have begin to move beyond the dismal economy that has become the economic norm under Barack Obama.  With no thanks to liberal economics and governance, the natural ability for Americans to adapt and to overcome hardship will begin to lead the way for a mild, citizen backed recovery of sorts that is based on American’s inherent ability to deal on their own with economic stagnation, high unemployment, and federal obstacles to growth.  This will not be enough to make most people feel secure enough about the economy, but it will provide enough stabilization for Democrats and President Obama to try to exploit by claiming they have guided us through the worst part of our most difficult economic times since the Great Depression.  The case will not be a strong one, but with a campaign war chest of nearly a billion dollars, it will be one that G.O.P. will have to strongly counter or else they will risk the possibility of having too many voters actually believing the claim.

But Republicans will get some help when the Bush tax cuts that Democrats caved in to extending, but for only a year, come back up for debate.  The timing during the course of the election will give Obama and Democrats the opportunity to again overplay their class warfare arguments and overextend themselves in their committment to being the Party of big government and big spending.

Then there are the supreme court cases that will help polarize the electorate and motivate both sides of the spectrum.

How the Supreme Court will rule in both the case of Arizona’s creation and enforcement of tough new state anti-illegal immigrant laws and on the new national healthcare law, will have at least a minimal effect on the election but even just a minimal effect could be enough to swing the electoral votes of critical swing states.  In the case of the Arizona anti-immigration law, a Supreme Court ruling in favor of Arizona could unleash an unprecedented mobilization  against Republicans by Hispanic voters who happen to heavily populate swing states like Colorado, Nevada, and maybe most pivotal of all, New Mexico.   ‘

In consideration of the Obama national healthcare law, a Supreme Court ruling in favor of the law, would go a long way in producing a strongly motivated anti-Obama vote in the general election and help swing critical states like Ohio and Florida to the Republicans.

The way I see it, the Supreme Court due in large part to Justice Anthony Kennedy’s own swing vote,  will rule against  Arizona’s anti-immigration laws based primarily on the argument that  it is preempted by federal law and foreign policy, and violates the Supremacy and Commerce Clauses of the Constitution.   That ruling will subsequently motivate the anti-Obama vote more than the anti-Republican vote.

On Obamacare, I am totally in the dark.  How that will go is in great doubt given Antonin Scalia’s previous interpretations of the federal commerce clause.  President Obama could actually benefit if he were to lose the case on the grounds that the national healthcare law exceeds the constitutional powers of the federal government and that it can not in fact force Americans to purchase something.   Such a ruling would remove some of the motivational momentum behind President Obama’s limited government enemies and his liberal base may become more fired up to turn out and vote for him.  Winning the case would simply be added stimulation for his opposition.  But which way Scalia and Kennedy go on that one is anyone’s guess.

While I am too unsure to go out a limb on those court cases, I am not too unsure of the outcome of the general election.

By the time the new political year begins to close this November, I do predict that the presidential election will be far closer than some may think, at least as far as the popular vote goes, but it will not necessarily be so close in the electoral college vote.

The way I see it, Republicans will have a lock on 258 electoral votes while President Obama will only have a likely 222 electoral votes readily available for him.  In between the two will be 5 undecided states with a combined total of 58 electoral votes.  Those states will be Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.  The only way for President Obama to win will be by winning a combination of 4 states that inlcludes Ohio and Pennsylvania.  Those two states will be must wins.  That leaves him with three winning combinations.

For Republicans, they will have any one 4 winning combinations available to them. And two of those winning combinations do not require either Pennsylvania or Ohio.  I am  not quite sure what combination they will end up with but I am confident that they will win with at least 272 electoral votes and possibly as many as 316 electoral votes.  However, I think there is a very good possibility for this to be another rare presidential election that sees the candidate who receives the most popular votes, be on the losing end of the electoral college.

Given the existing imbalance in popularity that President Obama experiences in densely populated states like New Jersey, and urban dominated states such as New York, and California, the chances of him receiving more popular votes than a Republican candidate racking up big majorities in many relatively sparsely populated, rural states like Montana, Utah, and Idaho, but losing the electoral college,  is becoming increasingly likely .

Given that possibility, I can only be certain that if my prognostications which are more suspicion than prediction, happen to come to fruition, the only real certainty we can predict is that after the 2012 elections, the American electorate will be either just  as polarized as it is now,  or even more so than it currently is.

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Trunkline 2012: Friday’s Campaign Trail News Wrap-Up from White House 2012 – 12/30/11

Bookmark and Share  The news from the campaign trail todasy is plentiful as Newt weeps, Ron Paul rejects everyone, Perry and Santorum sharpen their aim at one another, Bachmann gets an almost endorsement, Gingrich gets a very important Iowa endorsement, and everyone offers their own views on the Caucus and everyone else.

This is a time for leadership, not warm fuzzies. The future is at stake, and we may never get another environment with the country so prepared to challenge the system as we have right now. – Steve Deace in his endorsement of Newt Gingrich
  • Twitter of the Day:
Greta Christina
GretaChristinaGreta Christina

Not sure which is funnier: headline reading “Santorum Surges From Behind,” or the fact that Rick Santorum retweeted it.
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The Real Race in the Iowa Republican Presidential Caucuses.

    Bookmark and Share   With 47 or so days before Republicans hold their first presidential nominating contest, crunch time is fast approaching and while the Iowa caucuses will not be the definitive contest in determining who the ultimately nominee is, some candidates have more to  to lose in the Hawkeye State than others. 

At the top of that least is Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann.

The stakes are equally high for the two of them and while there may be more pressure on  Bchmann to win the state given that she is a native and won  their preeminent Ames Iowa Straw Poll, Rick Santorum also feels the pressure. But at this point in time, the pressure is not to take first place in the caucus, it is on them to just place somewhere in the top three .  Such placement will keep their campaigns alive at least for the 18 days prior to the South Carolina primary.

The truth is that winning Iowa is not critical to the success of any candidate running for President at the moment and the real race right now is not who can come in first in Iowa, it is to avoid coming in last in Iowa.  A last place finish in Iowa will be a deal breaker for whoever the unfortunate or incompetent candidate that turns out to be.  

This is the case across the board.  Just think what the ramifications of a last place showing for Mitt Romney in Iowa would be?

Despite his lack of focus on the state, a last place showing will send shockwave through the electorate that will be felt in New Hampshire and give some lucky alternative candidate a chance to to turn things around there.

If Rick Perry lead the back of the pack, he will be written off quicker than Osama bin Laden at a Faith and Freedom Coalition rally.  If Newt’s name wound up at the bottom of the list, even the most ardent of his supporters will be too embarrassed to admit their support for him.  You can go down the entire list and you will find that the final four finishers in Iowa will be all down for the count.  Their campaigns may continue, but their candidates will essentially be political zombies.

This makes the next 6 weeks all the more important.  

With a large portion of Republican primary voters and caucus goers undecided and most still not even firmly committed to the candidate they currently prefer, the slightest event, intent, or quality of campaign content can sway enough voters to drastically change popular thinking and expectations.    Which is why the next four presidential debates will carry much more weight than all those which have preceded.

Today we learned the Des Moines Register cancelled a debate they had scheduled for December 19th.  Instead they will co-sponsor a December 10th debate with ABC News and the Iowa State Republican Party. The Register cited what they described as an already crowded debate schedule as the reason for their decision.  And they’re right.  There have been many debates but as we approach voting deadlines, each debate becomes more important and has greater stakes.  So the next four debates will be far more important than any to date in this election cycle. 

 As seen in the schedule shown below, the next one will be held in Washington, DC, this coming Tuesday, November 22nd.

 

November 22, 2011 CNN / Heritage Foundation / AEI Debate Washington, DC
November 30, 2011 CNN / Arizona GOP Debate Mesa, AZ
December 10, 2011 ABC News / Des Moines Register / Iowa GOP Debate Des Moines, IA
December 15, 2011 FOX News / Iowa GOP Debate Sioux City, IA
January 3, 2012 Iowa Caucus

It will be in that debate that we should we begin to see each candidate’s final strategy in Iowa begin to play out.  We should be able to get an idea of whether Mitt Romney will change course and try to wrap up the nomination early with a surprise win in Iowa that stymies the momentum of another candidate becoming the defacto challenger to him  after denying them a first place showing that makes them heir apparent to frontrunner status.

In this next debate we should notice a Iowa-centric focus by those who intend to wage a true fight to stay as far away from last place in the Iowa Caucus as humanly possible.  And that focus will only increase with each successive one until finally Iowa does one of two things ………. insures that Mitt Romney becomes the Republican nominee, or just weids the field down by as many as two or threee candidates.  Something which is by no means insignificant.  Just think how much more time it will give those still running to address the issues in the two debates following Iowa and leading up to the  New Hampshire primary.

The post Iowa debate schedule is as follows:

 

January 7, 2012 ABC News / WMUR-TV Debate
January 8, 2012 NBC News / Facebook Debate
January 10, 2012 New Hampshire Primary
January 16, 2012 FOX News / South Carolina GOP Debate
January 19, 2012 CNN / Southern GOP Leadership Conference Debate
January 21, 2012 South Carolina Primary
January 23, 2012 NBC News / St Petersberg Times / National Journal Debate
January 26, 2012 CNN / Florida GOP Debate
January 31, 2012 Florida Primary
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