Republican Party

Gingrich picks up steam in Florida

Coming off a big victory in South Carolina, Newt Gingrich is riding the momentum into Florida. A week ago, polls out of the Sunshine State indicated that Mitt Romney was the runaway favorite, leading by as much as 26 points in mid-month. That has dramatically changed as the “inevitability” of Romney winning the nomination has come into doubt.

The latest two polls out of Florida show Gingrich up, but to give you an idea of the swings in this race, below are the numbers out of the state from Rasmussen, including the poll released yesterday. See if you can follow along as we view the fickle nature of the conservative movement.

Poll Romney Gingrich Santorum Paul Perry
1/22 32% 41% 11% 8%
1/11 41% 19% 15% 9% 2%
11/8 24% 19% 1% 3% 4%

Rasmussen didn’t poll during the big jump in Gingrich’s number in December, but CNN, SurveyUSA, and NBC News polls all showed him eclipsing 40%. But you can see it in the Rasmussen numbers, Gingrich has seen a 22 point swing in 11 days. And Romney has seen his 22 point advantage turn into a 9 point deficit.

Summing up the GOP race to this point

As we approach the South Carolina Primary, one thing has become painfully clear: Mitt Romney is running away with this nomination. Even if he somehow loses South Carolina, it appears he has Florida in the bag, and his debate answer on Monday about Social Security should have closed that door. With this reality upon us, I feel it appropriate to analyze who and what happened to get to this point.

Michele Bachmann

Quick Take: She changed the way people look at white dresses forever.

Post-Mortem: I’ve stated before that Bachmann held a purpose in Congress, that purpose was to call out big spending. Granted, she has not been known for putting bills through that actually make a difference. More to the point, she was consistently getting airtime pointing out needless spending. Her campaign had this consistent message and was especially focused on Obamacare. It was a series of over dramatized answers and a Gardasil gaffe that ultimately sunk her campaign. The combination simply did not appear presidential.

Gary Johnson

Quick Take: Huh, turns out leading with “legalize pot” in the GOP doesn’t work after all.

Post-Mortem: A candidate that I have felt brought the most common sense approach to the issues facing the nation along with a record as Governor of New Mexico that proves his commitment to his stances. Shortly before the Iowa primary, Johnson went LP, a better fit for him in my opinion.

Ultimately, his delivery was ineffective in convincing the GOP base that his ideas were the direction the GOP needed to go. His ideas are already supported within the Libertarian Party which should allow him to concentrate more on the issues and less with convincing social conservatives that liberty is essential.

GOP Presidential Power Rankings

With Mitt Romney expected to win tomorrow’s primary in New Hampshire, we’re back to taking a look at the race from a national perspective this week. As far as things go, many Republicans are resigning themselves to Romney winning the nomination as Rick Santorum, who finished a very close second in Iowa, doesn’t have the money to build a strong team in upcoming primary states.

What’s more, the latest polling from Rasmussen out of South Carolina shows Romney with a lead over Santorum and Gingrich, the latter dropping to third in that state. Ron Paul is fourth in the poll.

We’ve included the current delegate totals, per CNN’s projections, for each candidate below. We’ll update them next week after the New Hampshire primary. The number of delegates required to win the Republican nomination is 1,144.

Upcoming Primaries

  • 1/10: New Hampshire
  • 1/24: South Carolina
  • 1/31: Florida
  • 2/4: Nevada and Maine (caucus will last 2/4-11)
  • 2/7: Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri
  • 2/28: Arizona and Michigan

The Rankings

Mitt Romney (): As mentioned above, Romney will win New Hampshire tomorrow, very likely by a double-digit margin. A first or strong second place finish in South Carolina are signs of the inevitable; especially since, as Saturday evening showed, none of his opponents seem willing to really go after him. Super Tuesday is still important depending on who sticks around after South Carolina. Delegates Won: 18

The Importance of Being Ronald Ernest Paul

There will be a lot of disappointed Ron Paul supporters  trying to make sense of the the Iowa Caucuses. Rick Santorum, liberal and warmonger (sorry for being redundant), came from nowhere to take second place after entrance polls showed Ron Paul on his way to a landslide victory in Iowa.

The disappointment is to be expected. Ron Paul supporters are emotionally, financially and physically invested in their candidate. Anything other than a decisive win is a disappointment. However, there is no rational reason to be down in the mouth or fatalistic.

The Iowa caucuses have proven that Ron Paul’s candidacy is one to be reckoned with. In every way, the establishment and old media have tried to tear down the man and his ideas only to be repudiated at every turn.

During caucus result coverage, Fox News trotted out every neoconservative hack available. Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer (does anyone notice he seems to have hired Micheal Jackson’s plastic surgeon?) and Karl Rove were put in front of cameras to explain that Ron Paul, whose campaign is fueled entirely by a grass-roots army, was not a serious candidate and “dangerous” to America.

Ironically, they were correct on one count. Ron Paul is dangerous to the Woodrow Wilson/Leon Trotsky communist wing of the Republican and Democrat establishment. Their attempt to cover up abject terror after considering their political and financial futures should a Ron Paul Presidency occur, was completely transparent.

Mitt Romney takes the Iowa caucus

Shortly before 3am, the Iowa Republican Party declared that Mitt Romney had won the Iowa caucus over Rick Santorum, who appeared out of nowhere to be a serious player, by just eight votes (both had 25% of the vote) in what is the closest race ever in the state. Ron Paul, who was among the frontrunners going into Tuesday, finished in 3rd with 21%.

Here are the full results (numbers are rounded up via CNN):

  • Mitt Romney: 25%
  • Rick Santorum: 25%
  • Ron Paul: 21%
  • Newt Gingrich: 13%
  • Rick Perry: 10%
  • Michele Bachmann: 5%
  • Jon Huntsman: 1%

The next week is going to be really interesting. Gingrich seems to be ready to go scorched earth on Romney, which may have long-term implications. Rick Perry stopped short of dropping out last night, but said that he would be heading back to Texas today to determine his next step. Read between the lines here, because Perry is supposed to be in South Carolina today. Surprisingly, Bachmann gave no sign that she is dropping out, but the indication is that she will drop today after cancelling a trip to South Carolina. She’ll hold a press conference in Iowa in about an hour.

We’ll have more on all of this and its implications.

Libertarian Purity and the Presidential Race

In March of last year, I wrote a post on “Libertarian purity”.  It was one of the most read posts of 2011, and probably the most read post I’ve personally ever written.  As we look onto the 2012 primary season and eventual general election, I figured it might be a good time to revisit that post and how it could apply to this election.

First, we have a unique year this year.  An actual libertarian - by most people’s definition anyways - has a legitimate shot and making some headway.  Ron Paul’s slow but steady rise in the polls has been something that fills me with a level of joy that is hard to describe.  “But Tom,” you might say, “didn’t you come out in support of Gary Johnson?”  I would answer yes.  I like Johnson more than Paul, but frankly a President Ron Paul wouldn’t exactly be anything close to bad in my book.

Further, Gary Johnson is challenging for the Libertarian Party nomination, so there’s still a good chance that I’ll get to vote for him in the general election.

It’s entirely possible that we’ll have two libertarians on the ticket, but it’s also possible that we won’t have but one.  So what do we do about that?

In that post from last year, I said that it was vital that we start winning elections, rather than just debating politics from the outside.  So let’s take a look at some of the options and how it relates to that post.

GOP Presidential Power Rankings: Eve of the Iowa Caucus

We’re almost there, folks. Tomorrow, Iowans will head to the various caucus locations to cast there ballots for the Republican nomination for president. Who is the favorite right now? It’s hard to say, because three candidates are in a dogfight for the top.

On New Year’s Eve, the Des Moines Register released their final poll for the caucus showing Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum rounding out the top, in that order:

  • Mitt Romney: 24% (+8)
  • Ron Paul: 22% (+4)
  • Rick Santorum: 15% (+9)
  • Newt Gingrich: 12% (-13)
  • Rick Perry: 11% (+5)
  • Michele Bachmann: 7% (-1)
  • Jon Huntsman: 2% (—)

While the poll shows Romney and Paul in a virtual tie for the top, here is the kicker; Santorum took 21% in that final two days of the poll, which is leading many pundits to say that he is the likely favorite heading into tomorrow.

Public Policy Polling also released their final poll for the caucus. They too show Santorum surging, though still in third. There is bad news, despite leading in the poll, for Paul:

  • Ron Paul: 20% (-4)
  • Mitt Romney: 19% (-1)
  • Rick Santorum: 18% (+8)
  • Newt Gingrich: 14% (+1)
  • Rick Perry: 10% (—)
  • Michele Bachmann: 8% (-3)
  • Jon Huntsman: 4% (—)

We’ll go over more in these polls in our rankings.

The Rankings

GOP Presidential Power Rankings: Iowa Edition

We’re just a week away from the first votes being cast in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Now that Christmas is behind us, look for news out of the Hawkeye State to be non-stop over the next week. We’ll be posting whatever polls come out and we’ll do one final Power Ranking on Monday.

You can see the latest polling out of Iowa here.

Ron Paul: Depending on the polls, Ron Paul is either in first by himself or his is in a statistical tie. His campaign has the best organization, but the recent coverage of the 20 year-old newsletters could threaten his momentum. It’s too early to say he’ll win, but if his campaign can stay on message, Paul could shock the establishment, which will be fun to watch.

Mitt Romney: Recent polls show Romney gaining some ground in Iowa, and he is seeking to capitalize on it by going on a three-day bus tour of the state in advance of the January 3rd caucus. If he wins the caucus and then wins New Hampshire with a decent enough margin, Romney may very well see a boost in other early and put talk of a long, drawn-out primary to bed.

Newt Gingrich: While he managed to benefit in the polls with Herman Cain’s exit from the race, Gingrich hasn’t pieced together a strong team in Iowa. This matter since a well organized ground game is important in getting people to locations to cast their vote. It would be unwise to say Gingrich “won’t win,” but it certainly seems unlikely.

Paul Derangement Syndrome and the Iowa Caucuses

In what is surely a complete coincidence, Ron Paul’s rise in the Iowa caucus polls has been accompanied by an incredible rise in anti-Paul rhetoric on the right.  Now, certainly some of this is valid - I, like many others, am very bothered by Paul’s newsletters and many of his associations.  But the level of hate and anger at Paul exceeds even that directed at Obama.  It’s routine to see Paul referred to as anti-American, a charge heretofore reserved for liberals.  It has even led to many claiming that, despite months of fetishistic obsession with the Iowa caucuses, Paul winning those caucuses would somehow render them meaningless.

Some, like Margaret Carlson, argue that a Paul win in Iowa would reduce the Iowa polls to obsolescence.  She makes a number of other arguments as to why Iowa should be reduced in meaning, but the central tenet is that if Paul wins, they are essentially done.  Now, I’m not going to defend the idea that Iowa’s claim to the first vote in the primary is somehow sacred, because I generally feel it is not.  But if the caucuses were irrelevant, they have been so for a long time.  It is nothing new that Iowa is not representative of the nation as a whole, that it is a poor predictor for eventual winner, or that the style of the caucuses is so unique as to be an entirely different beast from normal primary elections.

Ron Paul has a good shot to win in Iowa

With his poll numbers in rising, some pundits, observers, and veteran Republicans are noting that Ron Paul may have a real shot of winning in Iowa. The National Review’s Robert Costa explains:

Rep. Ron Paul rarely makes news, and his candidacy is frequently ignored by Beltway reporters. But headlines, his aides say, are overrated. In fact, the Texas Republican’s low-key autumn was strategic. As Paul’s competitors stumbled and sparred, he amassed a small fortune for his campaign and built a strong ground operation. And with January fast approaching, his team is ready to surprise the political world and sweep the Iowa caucuses.

“This was a movement when he first started running in 2008,” says Trygve Olson, a senior Paul adviser. “Now it’s turned into a highly professionalized campaign, but the energy from that last run is still there, and at the heart of what’s keeping up his momentum.”

The latest polls back up that confidence. In the influential Des Moines Register poll published over the weekend, Paul placed second. Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, captured 25 percent of likely Iowa GOP voters, but Paul garnered 18 percent, two points ahead of Mitt Romney, who in 2008 placed second in the caucuses.

If Paul wins Iowa, the upset could upend what many politicos say is a two-man race between Gingrich and Romney. According to state GOP insiders, a Paul victory is a real possibility. In background conversations, many say Paul is much stronger than outside observers believe, with deep and wide support among a frustrated electorate. With Herman Cain’s departure from the race, operatives see Paul potentially collecting a quarter of caucus attendees.

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