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Obama to Gingrich: Thanks Buddy!

January 30th, 2012 3 comments

I regret that I haven’t managed to put out a post since my Iowa prediction, during which time a lot of crazy things have happened in the GOP nomination marathon. Perhaps one of the weirdest twists was having my prediction for the Iowa race be off by only 9 votes (in other words, Michele Bachmann having a bad hair day probably could’ve swung the results) and then finding out only a few weeks later that a recount put Santorum in the lead by 34 votes, thus 100% confirming my prediction! Clearly the Republican establishment has been reading my blog and decided to pull a few strings to boost my ego!

Newt Gingrich

South Carolina decided that instead of a Mormon, they would vote for a three-time philandering lobbyist with past ethics violations.

But preening aside, let me sum up what’s happened and how things look going forward. Having gotten rid of the black man and the woman, the race for the GOP nomination began in earnest with the New Hampshire primary. When Mitt Romney solidly dominated there, it looked like this race would finally be over in a quick and painless fashion. Romney had two wins under his belt (an unprecedented feat) and was ready to be crowned victor in South Carolina: the kingmaker state of GOP nominations. But then the rug got pulled out from under Romney and smacked him in the face. The Iowa recount declared Santorum the winner, and South Carolinians decided they were fed up with that smug look Mitt was developing. So they voted for Gingrich.

That’s right, Newt Gingrich. I could list the litany of reasons why Newt Gingrich is an awful person and candidate, but I’m sure you can find it easily enough. Instead, let me explain why Newt managed to somehow resurrect his campaign (again) and get taken seriously (again). He passed the gut check. It’s really that simple in my mind. Romney just does not look comfortable talking on stage. Gingrich does. Romney may be willing to say anything to get elected, but Gingrich is willing to say it and actually believe what he’s saying, or at least sound like it.

So thus it became the Romney-Gingrich face-off. This is really unfair to Rick Santorum who won Iowa, but didn’t get the momentum from it going into New Hampshire because no one knew he actually won. Instead, he was placed neatly into the custom-made narrative the media had ready for him as the religious conservative firebrand that takes Iowa by storm but then flames out. Really, the ways things stood, each of them – Santorum, Romney, and Gingrich – had won one state, so they should have seemed on equal footing, but the difference was that Romney and Gingrich were well-known and the early frontrunners before any debates had occurred, while Santorum was a dark horse polling below 3% at the start of all this. So Santorum had a lot stacked against him from the start.

Never before in the history of the GOP nomination have Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina voted for all different candidates. That proves that no, it’s not just you: this race has been totally nuts. Speaking of nuts, Gingrich has been labeled as the “insurgent” in this whole affair, leading the Tea Party hordes against the doors of the Republican establishment. If that doesn’t make you stop and scratch your head, it should. Gingrich was the Speaker of the House in the mid 90s. He’s been involved in politics for over 20 years. He’s the outsider leading the charge against the establishment?

Newt Gingrich and Dwight Schrute

While Gingrich reminds me of Nixon, astute observers noticed a different similarity...

So congratulations, Republicans, you’ve narrowed it down to two excellent choices: would you like the Washington insider pretending to be an outsider, or the outsider acting like an insider?

Well, it doesn’t matter, as I’ve said for a long time now, you’re getting Romney. Gingrich was beating him in the Florida polls just a week ago, but now that’s all over. Romney has a strong lead again, and he has informed his sweat glands that they can turn off. Not even Gingrich’s plan to build a moon base could rocket him back into the lead (and he criticized Ron Paul’s ideas for being too far out). Maybe if he offered to send all Fox News anchors out there I would consider voting for him.

So here’s how I see it all going down in Florida:

  1. Romney
  2. Gingrich
  3. Santorum
  4. Paul

Romney will secure Florida tomorrow, though maybe not by quite as much as recent polls suggest. He will then go on to win the nomination. Gingrich will declare “Game on!” and continue to fight as long as his ego has some air left in it. Ron Paul will soldier on, hoping to at least lift up his message if not his candidacy, perhaps knowing that the media decided long ago he was too crazy to get covered seriously (which is ridiculous when royal nutjobs like Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, and limelight clowns like Herman Cain merited full coverage). Rick Santorum will vow to continue, but then drop out relatively suddenly sometime in the next couple weeks. His fundraising money has dried up and his daughter has been in and out of the hospital, so I don’t really see him drawing out the inevitable.

Obama Smiling

Obama must be pretty happy to have a buddy like Gingrich to help with his reelection!

In the end, one man will emerge eminently victorious: President Obama. Yup, I think his chances of creaming Romney in November have gotten a lot better, and he has Newt Gingrich to thank. Newt has never been all that likeable, but he’s very good at one thing: tearing people down. And now he has ripped so many chunks out of Mitt Romney’s candidacy that Obama will be able to scale it like a rock wall. Obviously this election won’t be a cakewalk, but a lot of attacks have been tested already by Gingrich and Santorum, and the Obama team will be studying them. Romney’s Republican opponents also brought his income and taxes onto the table as a legitimate issue. Now it’s already on people’s minds, and nobody can accuse Obama of class warfare for bringing it up, since Republicans brought it up first. Gingrich is going to keep clawing at Romney as long as he can generate airtime for his own voice, and I think that must look like an early birthday present as far as Obama is concerned.

And so, gentleman, fight on!

Categories: Elections, Obama, Primaries, Republicans Tags:

Moment of Truth

January 3rd, 2012 3 comments

As I write this, Iowans are gathering to choose the winner of the first contest in the Republican Party’s race to nominate a presidential candidate. The last three polls showed Mitt Romney and Ron Paul in a dead heat for first, with Rick Santorum just a few points behind.

If I can toot my own horn here for a minute, I’d like to point out that just about all of my predictions for this race have so far come true:

  1. Sarah Palin never ran
  2. Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich were the people to watch in Iowa
  3. Newt Gingrich spiked in the polls for about a week before sinking down again
  4. Ron Paul has done much better than people expected

Anyone that’s talked to me about this knows that I’ve had one other major prediction since May 2010, and I’m sticking to it: Mitt Romney is going to get the nomination. I know that’s the boring bet and maybe the safe guess, but that’s because behind all the drama, GOP nominations are really quite boring affairs: the “next in line” candidate has always gotten the nomination (for at least the past 60 years).

A lot of wild things have been going on in Iowa. In the polls, we’ve seen just about every single candidate shoot up in a glorious arc to either 1st place before inevitably falling again. The only exceptions have been Mitt Romney (who has maintained steady support between 18-23%), Jon Huntsman (who has stayed predictably under 5%), and Rick Santorum (who is currently experiencing his perfectly timed “bump,” so it’s hard to gauge his exact support). And things are going to unpredictable right up until the end, since “undecided” is practically more popular than Mitt Romney – and he’s been the front runner.

Regardless of how things turn out tonight, though, Mitt Romney is sitting pretty. If he wins in Iowa, a state that he wasn’t that invested in, then he rolls into New Hampshire (where he is heavily invested) with a virtual lockdown on the nomination. Winning both Iowa and New Hampshire is a one-two punch that pretty much guarantees a candidate’s destiny. If Ron Paul wins in Iowa, then all of the establishment elites in the GOP are going to freak out and throw their weight behind the most viable alternative: Romney. If Rick Santorum continues to ride his (totally not gay) magical Iowa rainbow of spontaneous optimism, and lands in first place, then Mitt Romney simply needs to prove that he has broader appeal than a racist, Bush-era homophobe with a well-known “Google problem.” More importantly, Rick Santorum may have trouble adjusting to the limelight and Mitt Romney will already have a well-established campaign going forward into the other states, while Santorum has so far run a shoe-string operation focusing only on Iowa.

With so many crazy factors, I can’t help it, so I’m going to make a prediction for tonight. I don’t mind that there is a very high chance that this will be my first major wrong prediction of the race. So I’m going to say that the Iowa results break down like this:

  1. Rick Santorum
  2. Mitt Romney
  3. Ron Paul
  4. Newt Gingrich
  5. Rick Perry
  6. Michele Bachmann
  7. Jon Huntsman

I have to say, I really wanted to put Romney at the top. Weather has a noticed effect on elections, and I expected that bad weather would lead to a Ron Paul win, because his rabid devotees would turn out when lukewarm Romney supporters wouldn’t. When I saw that today’s weather was decent in Iowa, things pointed toward Romney. But it just didn’t feel right…

So there’s Rick Santorum atop my prediction. Because one thing you have to understand about the Iowa caucuses is that it’s not about who is the people’s first choice. It’s about who is the people’s second choice. The way the caucuses work is that you gather in your neighborhood’s designated location, hear a closing argument from a representative of each campaign, then discuss and choose candidates. When support is tallied, if your candidate doesn’t reach a certain threshold, you have to choose a second choice candidate to support, and that is where things get interesting. There are likely to be a number of precincts where Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich don’t reach the threshold, and I’m betting a lot of them will choose Rick Santorum as their second choice. He has surged at the perfect time, where he seems like a fresh, conservative alternative to Romney, and hasn’t had time to be vetted or damaged by negative ads like other candidates who surged and withered before him. Because I expect Santorum to sap the most support from fellow super-conservatives, Bachmann and Perry, I see them ultimately collapsing in the polls, while I imagine a goodly number of Romney supporters have Gingrich as a second choice, which will keep him afloat at 4th. On the other hand, I have no freaking clue who Ron Paul supporters would pick for their second choice. Probably nobody.

I’m guessing Iowa will use Rick Santorum to accomplish what it has been trying to do the entire time: offer a more conservative alternative to Romney. I could be wrong, but it’s anyone’s guess at this point, so let’s see!

Categories: Elections, Primaries, Republicans Tags: