Archive for February, 2012

Mitt Romney stops the bleeding. The AP and NBC News call Michigan for him at 10:17 pm. With 76 percent of the votes counted during Santorum’s concession speech, Romney leads Santorum 41-37 by about 31,000 votes. On to Super Tuesday next week.


As expected… CNN projects Mitt Romney wins Arizona at 9 pm as soon as the polls close. He will get all of Arizona’s 29 delegates.

Live from Carrolton, Georgia tonight… Georgia is a key state for Gingrich on Super Tuesday next week.

8:09 Joking about his age, Gingrich points out that he’s met people who tell him their dad was their former student when he was a college professor, introduce him to their son.
8:14 Possible swipe at Santorum: “Now, this is an example of why sometimes it’s useful to have people who may or may not have an advanced degree but have some common sense.”
8:17 CNN breaks away from live feed of Gingrich speech.
8:18 Tweet from National Review’s Jim Geraghty: “Newt’s giving his Arbor Day speech early, huh?”
Tweet from CNN’s Dana Bash: “Is this newt’s attempt to overcome the “angry” candidate rep? Where are we going w/ this? #cnnelections”

Newt Gingrich was definitely listening to his Led Zeppelin tonight… Specifically, “Ramble On.”

8:28 Tweet from CNN’s Jim Spellman: “Back at the Gingrich speech he’s now talking about how they used to call turkeys walking bird #CNNelections #grandpasimpson”

Completely unexpected news from Capitol Hill:

The species known as the moderate Republican seemed to move one step closer to extinction on Tuesday when Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, announced that she will not run for reelection this year.

“After an extraordinary amount of reflection and consideration, I am announcing today that I will not be a candidate for reelection to the United States Senate,” Snowe said in a statement on the Maine Republican Party’s Facebook page.

Snowe’s surprise announcement that she will not seek a fourth term has dramatic resonance. As one of the last of the truly moderate Republicans, Snowe is part of a breed that’s disappearing from Congress. Her vacating a seat in a state that has voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1992 greatly strengthens the Democrats’ chances of holding on to the Senate, and it gives strategists at the National Republican Senatorial Committee reason to cry in their beers.

GOP officials in Washington were given little notice by Snowe of her decision. One senior GOP source said Snowe only informed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, the NRSC chair, of her decision this afternoon. She had more than $3 million in the bank and was on cruise control in her reelection bid, giving Republicans no reason to believe that she was heading toward a retirement.

This is bad news for Republican hopes in winning back the Senate this fall. A race that was a sure thing for them has now turned into a competitive race which they will have to spend time and money defending. This is a very real chance for the Democrats to pick up a Senate seat in New England. President Obama will win the state in the fall, but the fact it’s a presidential year means that more of the die hard voters and activists will turn out. By riding Obama’s coattails, the Democratic nominee could go over the top and win the Senate race. It’s not a sure thing though – keep in mind Maine currently has a Republican governor.

Two states are up for grabs tonight…

Arizona
Delegates at Stake: 29
Allocation: Winner takes all

Multiple polls show Romney leading by double digits. He has the support of two of the state’s key lawmakers, Governor Jan Brewer and his 2008 nemesis Senator John McCain. The state’s significant Mormon demographic is expected to vote heavily for Romney. The race is pretty much a foregone conclusion. One key element in Romney’s favor here: despite the Republican National Committee’s call for states voting before April to allocate their delegates proportionately, all of the Arizona Republican Party’s delegates will go to the winner. This will allow Romney to continue building on his delegate lead and be a much-needed shot in the arm, especially if he loses Michigan.

Prediction: Romney by 15-20.

Michigan
Delegates at Stake: 30
Allocation: Proportional by congressional district

Polls in Michigan show the race a statistical dead heat, with the spread between Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney within the margin of error. About a week ago, Santorum had momentum, but stumbled after his performance in the CNN Arizona debate. However, unforced errors by Romney (Ann Romney’s cadillacs, his NASCAR team owner friends) also threaten to undermine any gains he may have made with his debate performance and his attacks against Santorum. Romney’s biggest political liability in the state may be his constantly shifting positions and explanations about the federal government’s bailout of the big auto companies. This race should have been a slam dunk for Romney, given his Michigan roots and the fact his father was a three-term governor of the state and president and chairman of American Motors Corporation. In 2008, Romney won the Michigan primary by 9 points, a clear and decisive victory over John McCain, who won the state in 2000.

Also worth considering is Michigan’s system of allocating delegates. 28 out of 30 delegates are allocated on the basis of who wins each of the state’s 14 congressional districts. The remaining two are divided by the proportion of the statewide popular vote. It is conceivable that one candidate could win the popular vote but lose the delegate count – the Bush v. Gore scenario. The Daily Beast points out one demographic strong and unique to Michigan: Muslim Americans in the Dearborn area. Will be interesting to see what – if any – impact they have in the Republican primary or if they are surveyed in exit polls.

There is one wildcard which could decide the outcome of the primary: Democrats. Michigan has an open primary, and a long history of crossover voting. Democratic operatives and activists are encouraging Michigan Democrats to vote for Santorum in the Republican primary to embarrass Romney and prolong the race for the Republican nomination. One Democratic operative who paid for a robocall and sent out emails on his own account claims he has 14,000 commitments from state Democrats to vote for Santorum. Even the Santorum campaign is getting in on the act, a move Mitt Romney has called “dirty tricks” despite his own history of crossover voting and his backers in the state calling for the Michigan primary to remain open. Given the razor-thin margins in Iowa and Maine, it is possible that some Democrats out to wreak havoc against Romney in the primary could tip the state in Santorum’s favor.

Prediction: Santorum by 1-5 points.


Two must-read articles that ran in New York Magazine recently. First, this story about the divisions within the Republican Party as the race boils down to Romney v. Santorum by “Game Change” co-author John Helleman. Notice this:

The transfiguration of the GOP isn’t only about ideology, however. It is also about demography and temperament, as the party has grown whiter, less well schooled, more blue-collar, and more hair-curlingly populist. The result has been a party divided along the lines of culture and class: Establishment versus grassroots, secular versus religious, upscale versus downscale, highfalutin versus hoi polloi. And with those divisions have arisen the competing electoral coalitions—shirts versus skins, regulars versus red-hots—represented by Romney and Santorum, which are now increasingly likely to duke it out all spring.

Few Republicans greet that prospect sanguinely, though some argue that it will do little to hamper the party’s capacity to defeat Obama in the fall. “It’s reminiscent of the contest between Obama and Clinton,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell recently opined. “[That] didn’t seem to have done [Democrats] any harm in the general election, and I don’t think this contest is going to do us any harm, either.”

Yet the Democratic tussle in 2008, which featured two undisputed heavyweights with few ideological discrepancies between them, may be an exception that proves the rule. Certainly Republican history suggests as much: Think of 1964 and the scrap between the forces aligned with Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller, or 1976, between backers of Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. On both occasions, the result was identical: a party disunited, a nominee debilitated, a general election down the crapper.

With such precedents in mind, many Republicans are already looking past 2012. If either Romney or Santorum gains the nomination and then falls before Obama, flubbing an election that just months ago seemed eminently winnable, it will unleash a GOP apocalypse on November 7—followed by an epic struggle between the regulars and red-hots to refashion the party. And make no mistake: A loss is what the GOP’s political class now expects. “Six months before this thing got going, every Republican I know was saying, ‘We’re gonna win, we’re gonna beat Obama,’ ” says former Reagan strategist Ed Rollins. “Now even those who’ve endorsed Romney say, ‘My God, what a fucking mess.’ ”

One thing McConnell doesn’t mention in his quote that differentiates the 2008 Democratic Primaries from the 2012 Republican Primaries: the Democrats liked and were enthusiastic about both their candidates.

The second article, by Jonathan Chait, notes the demographic dilemma the Republican Party faces:

The modern GOP—the party of Nixon, Reagan, and both Bushes—is staring down its own demographic extinction. Right-wing warnings of impending tyranny express, in hyperbolic form, well-grounded dread: that conservative America will soon come to be dominated, in a semi-permanent fashion, by an ascendant Democratic coalition hostile to its outlook and interests. And this impending doom has colored the party’s frantic, fearful response to the Obama presidency.

The GOP has reason to be scared. Obama’s election was the vindication of a prediction made several years before by journalist John Judis and political scientist Ruy Teixeira in their 2002 book, The Emerging Democratic Majority. Despite the fact that George W. Bush then occupied the White House, Judis and Teixeira argued that demographic and political trends were converging in such a way as to form a ­natural-majority coalition for Democrats.

The Republican Party had increasingly found itself confined to white voters, especially those lacking a college degree and rural whites who, as Obama awkwardly put it in 2008, tend to “cling to guns or religion.” Meanwhile, the Democrats had ­increased their standing among whites with graduate degrees, particularly the growing share of secular whites, and remained dominant among racial minorities. As a whole, Judis and Teixeira noted, the electorate was growing both somewhat better educated and dramatically less white, making every successive election less favorable for the GOP. And the trends were even more striking in some key swing states. Judis and Teixeira highlighted Colorado, Nevada, and Arizona, with skyrocketing Latino populations, and Virginia and North Carolina, with their influx of college-educated whites, as the most fertile grounds for the expanding Democratic base.

Both are well worth reading and keeping in mind as the Republican primary process plays itself out in the months ahead.


Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Joe Walsh, and Dave Grohl – “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End”