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.

Bookmark and Share

Romney’s Iowa Strategy; Surrender or Fight?

Bookmark and Share Reports have it that Mitt Romney is mulling over the possibility of skipping the Iowa Caucuses in 2012 and having his campaign launch in New Hampshire, the state with the second nominating contest in the nation.
In 2008, Romney ran an aggressive and expensive campaign in Iowa. In fact, Romneys Iowa journey began in 2007 when he was the first to start airing campaign ads. Just in preparation for the Ames. straw poll, an important summertime precursor to the Winter caucus Mitt Romney had hired a legion of 60 statewide, so-called super-volunteers, that were paid between $500 and $1,000 per month to campaign for him; over $2.4 million in television ads, a top notch direct-mailing campaign that along with other non-TV campaign materials cost another $2.5 million in , and a consultant who managed Mitts straw poll campaign for $200,000. None of the other Republican contenders came close to either Romneys organization skills or size, or the financial investment he dumped into the state. And that was just up until the time of the straw poll which was held in August of 2007. When the straw poll results were in , Romney won with 32%, which consisted of 4,516 votes. Translating in to financial costs, that meant Romney spent approximately $1,107 per vote for a total of about $5 million.

By the time the actual Iowa Caucus rolled around , five months later in 2008, Romney more than doubled the $5 million he had spent up till the straw poll. But in the end, he lost the Iowa Caucus to Mike Huckabee by 9.18%. Huckabee spent a fraction of what Romney spent and he received 40,841 votes or 34.41% and Romney garnered 29,949 with 25.23%. Interestingly, John McCain, the man who ultimately went on to win the Republican nomination, he came in fourth place with 15,559, 13.11% of the vote. So was Romneys investment in Iowa worth the bang for his buck? In retrospect, it sure wasnt. Having saved his money in Iowa didnt hurt John McCain. But McCain went on to win in New Hampshire, a state that by nature of demographics, Romney should have won. This time, it looks like Romney is realizing that.

Despite the rash of recent reports about Romney skipping Iowa are not new. The thought of bypassing Iowa in 2012 has been in play by the Romney camp for quite a while now. In an October 20, 2009 article for the Iowa Republican by Craig Robinson, Robinson pointed out that Mitt had over $400,000 in his Iowa state PAC, when his presidential campaign ended in early February of 2008 and since the fall of 2008, he had been draining the funds from that PAC.

Robinson also pointed that in June of 2009, Romneys Iowa PAC was down to $203,380.91 and instead of making contributions to county party organizations and legislative candidates, Robinson writes he was using the state PAC to subsidize the salaries of aides, like his former campaign manager, Beth Myers, and Eric Fehrnstrom, his former communications director. They were expenditures that had nothing to do with supporting Iowa candidates or building an organization for his leadership PAC.

All things considered it is easy to see that that the notion of ignoring Iowa has been in the back of Romneys mind for a while and it is also easy to understand why.

After the all out effort that Romney put into Iowa in 2008 and recent polls which show Iowa Caucus voters preferring Mike Huckabee to him, Mitt has to consider the possibilities of not only Huckabee running again, but of the possible candidacies of people like Sarah Palin, Mike Pence, John Thune and possibly even Rick Santorum. If all of these candidates were to run in Iowa, they could sharply divide the large evangelical vote that Romney is not fairing well with, thereby giving him the chance of consolidating the rest of the vote into a win. But if from that group, only one or two of them run, such as Huckabee or Palin, than Romney risks coming in second or even worse. That result would probably grab the headlines more than the winner would. This would make Romney vulnerable, not so much in New Hampshire but especially in South Carolina, an increasingly important lead in state to the delegate rich Southern contests.

The question becomes this. If Romney cant win in Iowa, can he win in South Carolina, a state that has an evangelical vote of similar influence to that of Iowas? And if Mitt cant win South Carolina, can he seriously compete in the significant string of Southern states that follow?

Mitts thinking could easily be to focus on insuring that he wins the New Hampshire primary that should be in his pocket but lost to McCain last time, and then build up at least the impression of momentum with a win in Nevada followed by even the smallest of wins in South Carolina. Perhaps by taking the money and time that he would have placed into Iowa, and invest it in South Carolina instead, will help provide his campaign with the type of long term strategy that he needs to keep him alive in places like Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and other high delegate count states.

As for Iowa, Mitts strengths exist in the Northeastern and Western border counties of the state. These are some ofIowas most highly populated counties. If Mitt was able to target these approximately 18 counties and increase his pluralities in them, he could have a shot at reversing the results of 2008. And if Huckabee is his major opponent in Iowa, it is worth noting that Huckabee has a rather large Achilles heal that all his rivals could easily exploit. The issue of the multiple clemencies that Huckabee gave as Governor of Arkansas, and subsequently resulted in additional crimes, including the death of 4 police officers in Washington state, will take some of the shine off Huckabee. It is also an issue which could be a decisive factor in Huckabees decision to run or not to run.

But Mitt has to make a decision regarding Iowa soon. If he does plan on competing in Iowa, he cant wait too long to snap his organization back together. But Romney has made sure that a final decision has not yet been made on Iowa. Since Craig Robinson’s, 2009 piece in the Iowa Republican, reported more than $100,000 in expenditures from his Iowa political action committees in the final fundraising report of 2010. His Iowa PAC also contributed $10,000 to the gubernatorial campaign of Terry Branstad, $1,000 to Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey and State Auditor David Vaudt, as well as a $2,500 contribution to Senate candidate Joni Ernst and $1,500 to Iowa Senate candidate Andrew Naeve All totaled, Romneys Free and Strong – Iowa PAC ended the year with more than $108,000 in cash on hand.

So Romney has not closed the door on Iowa just yet. That decision will likely come when he knows who he will be running against.
Bookmark and Share

2012 Presidential Polling: Romney and Huckabee Tied in New Jersey

Bookmark and Share Public Policy Polling, a largely Democrat operation, has released New Jersey poll numbers for the evolving field of Republican presidential candidates. The survey of 400 usual Republican primary voters unites the results of several previous independent polls of Iowa and New Hampshire Republican voters which give Huckabee the lead in Iowa and Romney the lead in the Granite State. PPPs New Jersey survey has Huckabee and Romney tied at 18% each. Not too far behind them are Newt Gingrich with 15% and Sarah Palin with 14%.

The poll proves that the early energy and buzz is behind the former Massachusetts governor and former Arkansas governor but it also demonstrates that neither have a firm hold on that energy as many voters are still interested in other prospects.

A further breakdown of the poll provides Mitt Romney with additional evidence of his biggest reason for not being the clear frontrunner for the 2012 Republican nomination is his inability to consolidate the trust and support of conservatives, the G.O.P.s base. Among those New Jersey Republicans polled who consider themselves conservative, Romney finds himself with a 64% favorable to 19% unfavorable rating, a net positive of 45%. But Mike Huckabee has a net positive favorable of 58 with 70% having a favorable opinion of him and only 12% having an unfavorable opinion. Adding to the bad news for Romney among the base of the Party is the fact that both former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former Republican Vice Presidential nominee and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin also have better favorable ratings among conservatives than Romney.

Romneys favorable ratings as they relate to Huckabee, Gingrich and Palin, come from New Jersey Republicans who describe themselves as moderates.

These results come on the heels of a dinner meeting that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had with Mitt Romney on Monday evening at Drumthwacket, the New Jersey Governors Mansion which Chris Chritie has chosen not to live in, but is used by the Governor for offical events.

New Jerseys Republican presidential primary will take place in March and it is a winner-take-all contest that sends 50 delegates to the Republican National Convention.

See the complete results and breakdown below:

  1. Mike Huckabee / Mitt Romney 18%
  2. Newt Gingrich 15%
  3. Sarah Palin 14%
  4. Ron Paul 8%
  5. Tim Pawlenty 4%
  6. Mitch Daniels 3%
  7. John Thune 2%
  8. Someone else/Undecided 19%

Among Conservatives

  • Mike Huckabee 21%
  • Newt Gingrich 17%
  • Sarah Palin 16%
  • Mitt Romney 14%
  • Ron Paul 5%
  • Tim Pawlenty 5%
  • Mitch Daniels 4%
  • John Thune 2%
  • Someone else/Undecided 16%

Among Moderates

  • Mitt Romney 24%
  • Mike Huckabee 13%
  • Ron Paul 12%
  • Sarah Palin 11%
  • Newt Gingrich 10%
  • Mitch Daniels 2%
  • John Thune 2%
  • Tim Pawlenty 2%
  • Someone else/Undecided 24%

Among Men

  • Mike Huckabee 20%
  • Sarah Palin 18%
  • Mitt Romney 15%
  • Newt Gingrich 14%
  • Ron Paul 9%
  • Tim Pawlenty 4%
  • Mitch Daniels 3%
  • John Thune 2%
  • Someone else/Undecided 16%

Among Women

  • Mitt Romney 23%
  • Newt Gingrich 16%
  • Mike Huckabee 16%
  • Sarah Palin 9%
  • Ron Paul 6%
  • Mitch Daniels 3%
  • Tim Pawlenty 3%
  • John Thune 2%
  • Someone else/Undecided 22%

Favorable / Unfavorable {Net}

  • Mike Huckabee 61% / 17% {+44%}
  • Mitt Romney 60% / 20% {+40%}
  • Newt Gingrich 54% / 25% {+29%}
  • Sarah Palin 58% / 33% {+25%}

Among Conservatives

  • Mike Huckabee 70% / 12% {+58%}
  • Newt Gingrich 68% / 15% {+53%}
  • Sarah Palin 72% / 21% {+51%}
  • Mitt Romney 64% / 19% {+45%}
Among Moderates
  • Mitt Romney 53% / 21% {+32%}
  • Mike Huckabee 47% / 24% {+23%}
  • Newt Gingrich 34% / 37% {-3%}
  • Sarah Palin 38% / 48% {-10%}
Among Men
  • Mike Huckabee 61% / 22% {+39%}
  • Mitt Romney 60% / 25% {+35%}
  • Sarah Palin 62% / 29% {+33%}
  • Newt Gingrich 58% / 25% {+33%}
Among Women
  • Mike Huckabee 61% / 12% {+49%}
  • Mitt Romney 61% / 14% {+47%}
  • Newt Gingrich 49% / 24% {+25%}
  • Sarah Palin 53% / 37% {+16%}

Survey of 400 usual Republican primary voters was conducted January 6-9, 2011. The margin of error is +/- 4.9 percentage points. Political ideology: 60% Conservative; 38% Moderate; 2% Liberal.

Bookmark and Share

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.

Bookmark and Share

Huckabee Responds to His Lead in New Polls of GOP Presidential Candidates

Bookmark and Share After the results of an ABC News poll puts Mike Huckabee at the head of the evolving Republican presidential field, the Former Arkansas Governor tells Fox News Megyn Kelly that it is flattering to be in that position but makes it clear that he is not giving up his day jobs because of it anytime soon.

Huckabee reminds people that around this time in the last presidential election cycle, Hillary Clinton and Rudy Clinton were out in front and on track to win their Parties nominations.

He also pointed out that President Obama will be a lot harder to beat this time around because he will have a billion dollars and all the powers of incumbency. Another reason Huckabee gives for not putting much weight behind these poll numbers is what he describes the road to the Republican nomination as one that will be a demolition derby that will have the nominee coming out bruised, beaten and bleeding, and then have 4 months to restore their image.

Aside from stating that the poll demonstrates that the American people are intelligent, the former winner of Iowas 2008 Republican presidential caucus gave no indication of giving another go at it in 2012 as he made clear he is comfortable with the money he is making in his current endeavors.

The ABC News/Washington Posthas Mike Huckabee with19 percentfollowed by Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney with 17 percent.The more accurate which is derived at by the polling of only registered voters puts Huckabee at 20 percent, Romney at 18, and Palin at 16.

Click here for the question and full results.

Bookmark and Share

Presidential Politics: Platitudes, Pleasantries, and Positioning

Bookmark and ShareRonald Reagan once uttered what has become known as the eleventh commandment in Republican politics ….. “Thou shall not speak ill of any fellow Republican.” The concept is one that Republicans love to adhere to during general elections but not so much during primaries. But if the things continue going the way they have been going lately, a definite trend of pleasantries will dominate the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

Or will it?

Like sharks smelling blood in the water, Republicans are circling in on approval wounded President Obama. His current weaknesses have emboldened many who might not have had the willingness to jump into the presidential waters yet, to now take the leap, or at least consider it. That situation has helped fuel a growing list of people considering a run. From incumbent Governors like Barbour and Daniels to former Governors like Palin and Pataki and a cross section of well known names ranging from Newt Gingrich to Donald Trump. All have refused to deny the possibility of their candidacy and in many cases, declared that they are actively preparing for it.

So far, none of the aspirants have spoken ill of any potential rivals. In fact, lately it has been just the opposite. Especially when it comes to a particular candidate . Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, himself an admitted possible candidate, publicly urged Mitch Daniels to run for the job of President based upon what he perceives as Daniels’ possession of qualities lacking in Washington, specifically as it pertains to the handling of Indiana’s budget and economy are.

Pence and Daniels

Now another possible candidate, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has come out to give his approval of Daniels’ presidency.

While in Fort Wayne, Indiana where he delivered the keynote speech to the Allen County Republican Party Bean Dinner fundraiser, in a pre-speech interview, Huck stated;

“Mitch Daniels has done, I think an exemplary job as a leader, manager and governor of the state,”.

He added “I tend to think governors make good presidents because they’ve actually managed a microcosm of the federal government.”

But the former Governor turned Fox News host, made it clear that Daniels was not the only man in Indiana doing a great job. After commending Daniels, he said;

On the other hand, Mike Pence is one of my favorite members of Congress, one of my heroes, and I love the guy. I think he is the most articulate, conviction-based and principled member of Congress. If we had 434 like him in the House, there wouldn’t be an uprising among the voters right now.”

Of the two he added;

“I would be delighted if either or both of them get in it because I think it just raises the level of the debate to solid conservative, responsible fiscal management,”.

That’s mighty high praise, especially coming from people who might be running against you in a campaign. Of course it could be that both Huckabee and Gingrich have come to know that they will not run and so they are just trying to get in on the good side of a hot commodity. Other schools of thought are that the two of them are trying to do all they can to chip away at the frontrunner status of Mitt Romney and Sarah Palinby boosting the image of another.

Either way, for Daniels, the groundwork for a definite theme is being made for any campaign he may be thinking of waging. Almost everyone agrees that Mitch Daniels is ahead of the pack when it comes to leadership on budgetary matters and all the issues connected to it, the issues of most importance these days.

Which could account for another reason for the glowing endorsements of Daniels and even Rep. Mike Pence. Gingrich and Huckabee, both good ol’ Southern boys, might be thinking that if they head the G.O.P. ticket, with Mitch Daniels as their running mate, they could go for an electoral strategy that locks up the South and the Midwest while leaving the typically blue coasts of the country to the Democrats.

Whatever the reasoning for the praise of Daniels and Pence, one thing is for sure. The Republican field for the presidential nomination will be a crowded one. Huckabee believes it will start out with 20 candidates and dwindle down to a truly completive field of 8 by January of 2012.

Bookmark and Share
%d bloggers like this: