Trunkline 2012: Monday Mentions from The Republican Presidential Race – 12/12/11

Bookmark and Share  Gingrich and Romney trade barbs, Paul becomes appealing, Santorum raises money with Romney’s bet, and some juice on Marco Rubio and Ben Bernanke.   All of this awaits you in today’s Trunkline 2012.  And don’t forget to take the poll in it.

Between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, which of the two would be a stronger candidate against President Obama?   Vote here, now.

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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.

Gingrich Wins at Cain Event

Slated by organizers as the beginning of the Northeast Florida political campaign season, Stand Up for America was an event in Jacksonville Friday night featuring semi-local radio personality Neil Boortz, Karl Rove, Jacksonville political news blogger and reporter Jaime Dupree, and featured a special guest appearance by Herman Cain.

Cain got the audience going at the well attended event with a 20 minute speech on taxes, spending and foreign policy.  But the big winner of the night was Newt Gingrich who won the straw poll at the beginning of the night.  The day before, Newt gathered a crowd of a couple hundred in downtown Jacksonville for a townhall meeting sponsored by the First Coast Tea Party, one of the largest individual TEA party organizations in the United States.

Social Conservatives Split As Predicted

Months ago, I laid the framework for next year’s primary election with my blog entitled “The Neapolitan Party“.  In it, my theory was that Republican voters would fall on three lines, Social Conservative, Fiscal Conservative, and Libertarian.  Cain’s rise and Perry’s fall is continued proof that this template is accurate.  It also is bad news for Mitt Romney.

An untrained eye might see Perry’s recent fall in the polls and Romney reclaiming front runner status as great news for the Romney campaign.  But the numbers tell a different story.  Romney is not losing or gaining votes from Social Conservatives.  Perry and Cain are moving these votes back and forth.  Eventually the race will come down to Romney and the top Social Conservative.  At this point, that top Social Conservative will likely win.

Can Romney increase his support among Social Conservatives enough to win?

Romney will get Huntsman’s voters when Huntsman drops out of the race.  Paul and Johnson voters  will either go to Romney, stay home, or vote third party.  But the rest of the candidates are passing support back and forth between them based on who has the best chance of beating Obama.  This is why Santorum and Gingrich continue to fail to gain traction.  When they drop out, their votes will go to the top Social Conservative.

Romney’s best hope may be for Perry to regain his momentum.  With the attacks leveled by Bachmann and Santorum against Rick Perry, some of their jaded supporters may gravitate to Romney if and when they fall out of the race.  Others will see Perry’s illegal immigration stances and choose Romney as the lesser of two evils.  However, I believe that Romney may not be able to recoup enough supporters from other Social Conservatives unless he seriously steps up his Social Conservative message.  Romney has done well to endorse TEA party objectives and move more to the right socially, but trust is still an issue.  On the other hand, Cain is a very likeable and trustable candidate.  Libertarians are wary of him because he used to be a board member of a Federal Reserve bank.  But the libertarians who would not vote for Cain because of that have far more reasons to not vote for any other viable candidate.

The other factor that could change this would be last minute polling of who would beat Obama.  If it comes down to Cain and Romney, but polls show that Romney would have a better chance of beating Obama, that could be a game changer.

Gingrich Preparing New Contract With America

Newt Gingrich has promised a new Contract with America to be revealed next week in Iowa.  Newt seeks to turn around his fortunes after stellar debate performances have failed to spark a surge in the polls.  While most will acknowledge that Gingrich is one of the smartest, if not the smartest person in any political room he enters, many are turned off by his low charisma, history with regards to the Clinton impeachment, and perceptions about a floundering 2012 primary campaign.

I wrote last week that there is a disconnect surrounding Newt’s campaign.  So here are my questions for the readers:  Will Newt’s new Contract with America help his campaign?  Do you like Newt?  Why or why not?  And this is an entirely different question: would you vote for Newt?  Consider this post a research project.

Perry Polls Well in Florida

A recent Florida Times Union poll has Rick Perry up by 9 in Florida.  Florida will be a key early state in the primary and of course could be the key to the Presidency in the 2012 general.  How solid is Perry’s lead?  As solid as the opinion of a 20 year old.

Perry took 67% of the young vote, ages 18-29.  The only other candidates to take any of this demographic were Newt Gingrich with 10 points and Ron Paul with 13.  10% of young voters remained undecided.

2010 election map: TEA Party favorite Rick Scott won Florida.

Perry won most demographics except notably seniors and blacks.  Romney carried seniors by a couple points and Perry got 0% of the support from blacks.  Support among blacks was carried by Mitt Romney with 37%, followed by Cain with 31%.  This was a bit of a shock in a state where blacks tend to come out to vote for black candidates regardless of party affiliation.  In fact, many in this demographic have come out saying they voted for Barack Obama and now support Herman Cain.  Romney’s ability to break into this demographic could be very helpful in the general election.  Perry got 0% of the black vote, while Santorum of all people and Huntsman picked up 14 and 18%, respectively.

Ron Paul did not crack the top five in the poll, and Huntsman eeked out a very weak 1.3%.  Surprisingly, even after ending up in the same boat as Perry on illegal immigration in the last debate, Huntsman got 0% of the Hispanic support while Perry ran away with 48%.  Bachmann also did well with the Hispanic vote.

In Florida, it is Perry’s game for now.  But this poll was taken right after the last debate and does not reflect the fallout from Perry’s Merck connection.  Fair or not, that is the same type of loose connection/unfair accusation that sunk Mitt Romney in Florida in 2008.  Just days before the Florida primary, John McCain accused Mitt Romney of supporting a timetable for troop withdrawal from Iraq.  the result was a swing of a couple points that gave McCain the edge in the end.  Perry may not have forced retardation causing vaccinations on 11 year olds just for a $5,000 campaign contribution, but among Florida voters perception is sometimes reality.  This is especially true among young voters.

The minority split between Romney and Perry is not a great sign for Republicans in Florida for the general election.  It is difficult to win Florida without support in the I-4 corridor and the southern part of the state which have large Hispanic constituencies.  At the same time, when a Republican can’t garner support among blacks, but the opposing candidate is black, central-north and north Florida go from solidly Republican to only tenuously Republican.  The fact that Perry scored a 0% with blacks and Romney scored a 0% with Hispanics shows that both front runners need to do some work in Florida to ensure a shot at victory in the general election.

I can think of an easy solution for Romney or any other Republican candidate to nearly guarantee victory in Florida.  Make Marco Rubio your VP pick.

Is Cain Trying in Iowa?

No, if you believe his now former Iowa director Tina Goff and Kevin Hall who was in charge of coordinating for the Iowa straw poll in just over a month.  Jim Zeiler has also left the Iowa staff and Cain lost his New Hampshire director earlier this week.  When it comes to managing a campaign, things are not looking good for Cain.

On the other hand, Cain is looking good in the Iowa polls.  Most recently he came in second only to perpetual front runner Mitt Romney and remade Michelle Bachmann.

Will the Guiliani gamble work for Cain?

The problem is that Cain has not done or said anything to differentiate himself from Michelle Bachmann.  Going into this race he had perhaps set himself apart as a more “serious” candidate, and certainly took on early momentum from the TEA Party.  But Bachmann easily out-shined him in the debate and continues to make the right steps even in the face of extreme character assassination.  Bachmann’s successes have made her detractors appear to be less “serious”.

In the meantime, Cain is reducing himself to soundbite worthy quips and small government platitudes while his substance seems to be a foggy mirror of the clarity Bachmann has produced.  The result is that Cain is quietly slipping into the shadows where other candidate copies, like Gary Johnson (generic brand Ron Paul) and Jon Huntsman (Mitt Romney clone only the media is excited about) reside.  Bachmann is quickly taking the TEA Party energy.

In some ways, Cain brought this on himself.  His radio host style speeches leave little substance to hang one’s hat on and his brief handling of gay marriage in the debate has alienated him from the religious section of the TEA Party.  In addition, at times he has seemed clueless on some of the more detailed issues such as right of return for a Palestinian state.  This still puts him miles ahead in knowledge from someone like Joe Biden who wanted a three state solution for Iraq.

Cain does have one demographic that still turns out strongly in support of him, and that is the African American conservatives, moderates, and independents.  Many of these who helped turn Florida blue for Barack Obama and are now disenchanted with his policies are indicating strong support for Cain.  Whereas Iowa is turning out to be a fiscal versus social conservative battle between Romney and Bachmann, all important Florida may end up being a fiscal versus social conservative battle between Romney and Cain. Real Clear Politics shows Cain in second place to Romney in Florida out of current candidates, but large percentages going to Huckabee and Palin.  It will be interesting to see how those Palin and Huckabee supporters break by the time we reach Florida.  It won’t be for Mitt Romney.

If Cain can survive until Florida and then capitalize on it, losing Iowa might not be that big a deal.  Then again, perhaps he should talk to Rudy Guiliani about that strategy.

Mr. President, Are You A Flake?

As Michelle Bachmann approaches the top of the Republican field, she is facing even more intense scrutiny.  In the same week as Obama’s medal of honor gaffe, an unlikely interviewer has proven among the most unfair to Bachmann.  Chris Wallace of Fox News asked her directly: “Are you a flake?”

Is Bachmann a serious candidate? Iowa seems to think so.

Wallace was giving credibility to those who seem to hold this bias against Bachmann, whether he realizes it or not.  But an even more serious question is if Wallace would ask any other candidate that?

Joe Biden could have been living in a cave for the last two and a half years and no one would have known it.  There is a good reason for that.  Biden had more gaffes per month in his campaign than Bachmann has had in a lifetime.  And Obama, the great orator, is not immune either.  From following his teleprompter off a metaphorical cliff on more than one occasion to making his appearances before the British royalty look like something out of a comedy movie, Obama has embarrassed himself over and over again on both national and international stages.

I don’t recall Bush ever having to sit down to have a beer with a cop because he put his foot in his mouth.

Bachmann’s answer was brilliant, giving Chris Wallace her history as a tax attorney, state senator and House representative, her education history and her family history.  Remember the good old days when we got to compare Bush and Kerry’s college transcripts to see who got more Ds?  And Obama, for being a Harvard constitutional law professor really doesn’t seem to know anything about the constitution.

So what is it about conservative women that seems to earn them “flake” status in the media, even as an acknowledged and valid perception?  Is this sexism pure and simple?  Palin and Bachmann seem to be treated interchangeably in the media, especially on the conservative side.  Remember George Will saying Palin was unpresidential because she watched her daughter in Dancing with the Stars?  Funny how Obama is amazingly Presidential when he not only kisses babies, but rocks them to sleep on the campaign trail.

 

The Ten Point Rule

It’s time to do an experiment. You are a politically savvy person. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be reading a blog about a primary election that is almost a year away. Some might even call you passionate about politics. Chances are, you have friends who ask you for advice on November 1st about who to vote for.

Here is the experiment. Invite your ten closest friends over and engage them in a discussion of current events and their political impact on our lives. If you don’t have ten friends, invite some acquaintances. I am willing to bet that unless you and your ten closest friends all work for the same political thinktank, at least one of them has absolutely no clue about current events or politics, but they will be voting in 2012.

I call this the Ten Point Rule. In any given election, one out of ten voters votes based on the candidate’s looks, age, gender, race, name recognition, name, recommendation from a friend, or the last political sign they saw walking into the polling place.

This is great for the Democrat party. Both parties have grass roots, but the DNC has a bus.

In 2008, as I was filling out my ballot, an elderly black man came to the booth next to me. I could tell it was his first time voting. He called the poll worker over and asked her to help him find “the one with the ‘O’ in his name”. After filling out his vote for Barack Obama, he asked the poll worker what the rest of the ballot was for.

This was a very educational experience for me, and somewhat disheartening. My young civic mind that believed that our democracy was chosen by the informed will of a sovereign people was replaced by an understanding that at a very minimum, one in ten voters couldn’t tell the difference between Sarah Palin and Tina Fey. Actually, in that case it was more than 8 in 10 for Obama voters.

The last President to win an election by more than 10 percentage points was Richard Nixon with 67% compared to George McGovern’s 37%.

The lesson of the Ten Point Rule is that voter turnout really does matter. And voter education is empowerment. Republicans must come face to face with the fact that the most effective strategy for the left in the 2008 primary is now being employed in full force in the 2012 season. In 2008, amidst all the potential in Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson, and Rudy Guiliani, the candidate who was sent to face the embodiment of young hope and change was John McCain. McCain won partially because the one in ten were told that only McCain could win a national election against whoever the Democrat candidate ended up being. I apologize to McCain fans, but an elderly career Senator who supported both wars and was part of the 2006 Republican Senate, who said business was not his strong suit and who alienated his own party through his bi-partisanship and immigration ideas, was not the candidate to defeat the fresh young Barack Obama. Obama was a political outsider who promised no new taxes on the poor and middle class, fiscal responsibility, to bring our troops home, to close Gitmo, to do all the things the left wanted while being all the things the one in ten wanted.

Now we are being told point blank which candidates cannot defeat Barack Obama in 2012 and exactly why. I highlighted an AP piece about a week or two ago that pointed out every flaw in every major Republican contender. Already they have their polls going showing which candidates cannot beat Obama. If we could educate that one in ten on what is going on right now in our country, the shocker would be discovering a candidate who Obama could beat.

When you think about your one friend in the room who is driving our country with his or her uninformed swing vote, think about this: he or she probably agrees with you on most issues already. In 2008, Obama won California (no big surprise) and swing-state Florida. However in both states voters decided to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

The majority of Americans are pro-life. This was not the case 15 years ago. Demographics have shifted, and according to a recent Fox News poll even the majority of independents are pro-life.

These are the divisive issues that the national media and DC GOP instruct Republicans not to run on and not to talk about. This doesn’t even touch deficits, freedom, and shrinking the government; issues that swept the GOP into power in 2010.

If Republicans want to win in 2012, they must put forward the best candidate and must get out the vote. That means you need to identify that friend who knows nothing about politics, and teach them which candidate agrees with them.

Surprising Results in Evangelical Poll

The Barna Group is perhaps the most respected Christian Evangelical research group. That makes their recent poll findings particularly startling when it comes to who Christians might support in 2012.

Perhaps not the results you expected

In a poll of Catholic and Protestant Christians, the candidates with the highest negatives were Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich. This is especially surprising considering the incredible support these two have put behind traditional family values.

Newt’s unfavorable ratings in the mid 40’s very likely relate to his nagging marital infidelity issues from 16 years ago. While most political bases find such things to be easily forgivable, the Christian base is not so forgiving nor will they defend Newt’s actions. This could make a Christian grass roots support base difficult to build.

Palin’s highest negatives are even more surprising. When it comes to Evangelical Christians, most pundits would consider Palin to have that category wrapped up going into this race. However, this poll is reminiscient of the Family Research Counsel’s straw poll that put Palin behind Romney, Huckabee and Newt Gingrich in a straw poll won by non-contender Mike Pence.

This is not a mainstream media poll and it was not reported by mainstream media. Perhaps the message to Sarah Palin coming from Christians is that whether they agree with her or not, they don’t want her to run. At any rate, without the Christian vote, she does not have a prayer.

Perhaps what I found most surprising was the favorable rating for Mitt Romney. I don’t think anyone was shocked to see Huckabee do well in a poll of Christians. Romney on the other hand struggled to get Evangelicals to vote for him in 2008 due to his liberal history and Mormonism.

My suspicion is that many Christians have resigned themselves to the possibility that they will not be voting for their favorite candidate in 2012, but instead will be voting for the best candidate who can defeat Barack Obama. When this poll is viewed in that light, it makes sense that front runner Mitt Romney would get high ratings; as would Huckabee who Christians love but acknowledge will likely not even run.

George Barna suggests that no matter who the Republican candidate in 2012 might be, they will be “bloody and half-poor” coming out of the primary.

 

 

What do you think? Are you a Christian or values voter? Leave a comment and tell us if you are planning on voting for the candidate who most represents your values, or a candidate who is not Barack Obama but can beat him.

Palin polling strong…on issues

Can Palin Make a Comeback?

Sarah Palin has front runner Mitt Romney out polled on social issues and national security. She tops Gingrich on social issues, national security, and the economy. Her biggest weakness according to a recent Gallup poll is on Government spending and power, where she ranks behind Romney, Huckabee and Gingrich. Unfortunately for her, that was also the top issue according to respondents.

Huckabee wins the Government spending and power question with Romney right behind him.

Mitt Romney had a balanced performance in the poll, except when it comes to social issues. Here he only garnered 7%, where he still beat Gingrich by one point.

Gingrich took it on the chin in this poll, falling behind in every category except the Government spending and power category where he barely edged out Palin.

Gingrich Faces Uphill Battle

CPAC demonstrated that the issues that drive Republicans to the polls in 2012 will vary between libertarian, social conservative and fiscal conservative with surprisingly less overlap than the party has seen in the past. Romney will do well with fiscal conservatives, but may struggle to get enough of a majority if he cannot improve his social image among conservatives.

Palin’s low rating for Government spending and power surprised me a little bit. She was hit hard in this area when she ran with McCain and put herself forward as a standard for fiscal conservatism and smaller government. This standard was severely tested in the 2008 election and no stone was left unturned. Even her prominence in the TEA party has not helped her restore her image in this area.

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