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What explains the Santorum surge?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 10:59 pm - January 3, 2012.
Filed under: 2012 Presidential Election

As I write this, we not yet know the winner of the Iowa caucuses, but do know that Rick Santorum has done much better than most pundits and bloggers (save perhaps Stacy McCain) predicted.  Right now, Rick Santorum holds a lead of 13 votes over Mitt Romney, with Ron Paul in third.  Santorum is, as Brit Hume just said on FoxNews, “is your story.”

Looks like I was wrong in my prediction that Paul would win this thing.

You gotta give the former Pennsylvania Senator credit for his determination.  He campaigned in all 99 of the Hawkeye State’s 99 counties.  FoxNews reported that he held about 300 campaign events, even making his case to “gatherings” of just one person.  [UPDATE:  Michael Barone reports that Santorum attended “357 public events in all of Iowa’s 99 counties“.]

That kind of retail politics makes a difference.  One reason Joe Biden was able to hold on to the Delaware Senate seat for so long despite his, well, intellectual deficiencies was the time he spent shaking hands and talking to constituents in the First State.  Even a conservative classmate of mine in law school referred to the longtime liberal Senate and “Joe” and described him as a “nice guy.”

I’ve heard the same thing about Santorum, even from gay people who have met the social conservative.

Ira Stoll offers additional reasons for Santorum’s surge:

His surge was late enough that he hasn’t yet been subject to the wave of press scrutiny and attacks from rivals that the other candidates were subjected to when they showed up high in the polls.

But it also means that there is a constituency in the Republican Party who appreciates a candidate who was willing to take on Ron Paul on foreign policy. Senator Santorum was the only one who did that consistently in the debates, taking a hard line against Islamic extremism in Iran and challenging Congressman Paul when Mr. Paul tried to suggest that American pull back from its overseas commitments. (more…)

A historical thought on significance of Iowa caucuses

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 9:50 pm - January 3, 2012.
Filed under: Post 9-11 America

In 1980, George H.W. Bush edged out Ronald Reagan in the Iowa caucuses 32% to 30%.  He lost the nomination to Reagan.

Eight years later, after serving seven years as Reagan’s Vice President, H.W. finished third with 19% of the vote behind Bob Dole who snagged 37% of the vote and Pat Robertson who snagged 26%.  He won the nomination.

In both years (1980 and 1988), the contest for the Republican nomination was decided relatively early.

FoxNews Projects Michele Bachmann to Finish Last

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 8:47 pm - January 3, 2012.
Filed under: 2012 Presidential Election

. . . . of top six candidates in Iowa caucuses.

Bummer.

Was Newt In It to Win It When He Entered Presidential Contest?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 8:00 pm - January 3, 2012.
Filed under: 2012 Presidential Election,Random Thoughts

Every now and again, I wonder if my former boss (I once interned for then-Congressman Newt Gingrich before he became Speaker of the House) entered the 2012 presidential contest not so much because he thought he could win but because he craved the limelight — and saw his candidacy as a chance to get some media attention once again (and maybe sell a few books).

Perhaps that is why he chose to run a no-holds-barred campaign, berating the “moderators” at the debates for their leading and “gotcha” questions.  And perhaps why he initially refrained from attacking his fellow Republicans.  He didn’t want to hurt the man who would eventually face the Democratic incumbent.

When, however, in the wake of the collapse of Herman Cain’s campaign in the closing weeks of 2011, he surged in the polls, the Pennsylvania native thought he could actually win the contest he had previously seen as something akin to a publicity stunt, he changed his goals.  He thought he could win. And once he had that sense, it hasn’t been easy for him to see what briefly appeared as a race tilting his way to one where he increasingly seems to be an also-ran. He found it hard to come down from that high.

No wonder he’s been playing the victim card of late, whining about attacks on him, as if negative campaigning is unfair.  But, there is “nothing wrong or dishonorable negative campaigning“, Ed Morrissey reminds us as long as it “is being done honestly”:

Gingrich chose to eschew that strategy and now wants to claim some kind of victimization because the rest of the field chose not to follow in his footsteps.  (more…)

Entering the homestretch of Obama’s re-election effort

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 6:00 pm - January 3, 2012.
Filed under: 2012 Presidential Election

As Glenn Reynolds, who linked this piece might say, “Heh”:

Now a prestigious address has fallen to harder times. Its once Top 10 schools are now only in the top tier. Perhaps that is as fitting a place as any in the United States for Barack Obama to begin the final year of his 4-year-long re-election effort.

Emphasis added.

Ron Paul win likely today in Iowa
(but late-deciders could confound this calculus)

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 4:34 pm - January 3, 2012.
Filed under: 2012 Presidential Election

As I was preparing a post saying that if I were a betting man, I’d bet on Ron Paul to win the Iowa caucuses today, I received an unusual e-mail, reporting that the “Irish betting company Paddy Power” has determined Mitt Romney to be the favourite for today’s Iowa caucus:  “The former Massachusetts governor is available at Evens with his nearest challengers’ libertarian Texas congressman Ron Paul and surprise package Rick Santorum both available at 2/1.”

Although I expect said Texan to win by a narrow margin, I would hedge my bet a bit.  A lot depends on how the late-deciders break.  Many polls have shown a substantial number of undecideds and have indicated that some voters who have expressed support for one candidate or another are not firm in that support, that is, they could change their mind.

Paul will win, I believe, because he has the most enthusiastic supporters, those who would walk over broken glass to get to their respective caucus sites.  A Paul supporter in this video says he’d vote for Paul even he had two broken legs.  Paul’s also got a good campaign infrastructure in place.

Now, there remains a chance that Rick Santorum could win in Iowa, that is, if the undecideds break his way–and those voters not firm in their support for the other social conservative in the race (Michele Bachmann) fall his way.  Problem is that many (one-time Bachmann supporters) have already done so–and there are fewer and fewer of her supporters for the former Pennsylvania Senator to pick up.

A lot depends on who those late-deciers are.  If they are primarily voters to whom social issues are paramount, Santorum could win.  If they are more mainstream Reagan conservatives, that could benefit Romney significantly.

Now that I’ve offered some predictions, let me offer some hypothetical results and their implications: (more…)

WELCOME TO THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2012

Posted by Bruce Carroll at 10:21 am - January 3, 2012.
Filed under: 2012 Presidential Election

Today it begins.  Tomorrow we dance.  Or something.

I’ll be monitoring the Iowa Cauci tonight on Twitter.  So please follow me there.  All the snarkiness and insults for the price of…well, it’s free!  We will leave this posting up throughout the day for your comments as we get close to vote total time.

I’m sure Dan may add additional posts throughout the day and evening as votes come in.

Good luck, and God Bless.  It’s gonna be a longggg year.

-Bruce (GayPatriot)

Is the 2012 GOP field as weak as it appears?
(History suggests there may be a diamond in the rough)

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 8:19 am - January 3, 2012.
Filed under: 2012 Presidential Election,American History

Back in 1980 as Ronald Reagan began racking up victories in Republican primaries and caucuses, establishment Republicans were in a panic, fearing that by nominating such an extreme conservative, the party faithful were jeopardizing their best chance to unseat a Democratic incumbent since the year before the United States entered the First World War.  Indeed, Jimmy Carter and Democrats delighted as the Gipper easily secured the GOP nomination, believing him to be easier to beat than some of his more moderate Republican rivals.

We hear similar grumbling today about the weakness of the current GOP field, with pundits and bloggers (including yours truly) pining for a promising legislator or accomplished former (or current) governor.

With his encyclopedic knowledge of American history, Michael Barone reminds us that in 1932, the party out of (presidential) power had a weak “field of presidential candidates in a year when its prospects for victory seemed so great“:  Democrats’ “prospects for victory [that year] were excellent by just about any measure.” But, despite this “golden opportunity for the Democratic party . . ., its field of candidates looked weak at the time”. The man who would win the party’s nomination — and the general election was, during the contest that year for the contest for that nomination, considered a

. . . lightweight, profiting on the fact that he was a distant cousin (his wife Eleanor was a closer cousin) of Theodore Roosevelt, a president considered great enough at that time to be worthy of being depicted on Mount Rushmore . . . .

Although underestimated early on in 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt all but defined American politics for the next fifty years — and is still today considered one of the greatest American presidents. (more…)

Seems Obama would rather campaign than govern

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 7:32 am - January 3, 2012.
Filed under: 2012 Presidential Election,Obama Hopenchange

Gotta love this headline on Yahoo!:

As the Democrat returns to Washington from his vacation, he’s not talking about putting forward ideas to address this nation’s problems in the last full year of his first (and hopefully last) term so much as he’s getting ready to amp his campaign for reelection:

With an eye on the 2012 campaign, President Barack Obama is wrapping up a low-key Hawaiian vacation and planning to quickly get back in front of voters as he ratchets up his bid for re-election. . . .

After more than a week out of the spotlight, Obama plans to make his presence in the campaign quickly known.

The president will host a live web chat with supporters in Iowa Tuesday night as the caucuses are unfolding. The following day, Obama will travel to Cleveland for an event focused on the economy.

Obama aides said the president will seek to draw a contrast with his GOP challengers during Wednesday’s trip to Ohio, a state sure to factor prominently in the presidential campaign.

And get this:

Aides say Obama spent a bit of time on vacation brainstorming ideas for his Jan. 24 State of the Union address, where he will lay out an agenda that will also serve as the basis for his campaign message.

Obama is going use a duty sanctioned by the constitution as the basis for his campaign message?!?!  Talk about changing politics as we know it. Seems more like the permanent campaign to me.

Well, campaigning is one arena where the incumbent has been effective — and successful.