Posts Tagged ‘Republicans’

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.

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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.


Read this blog post by James Fallows over at The Atlantic. Fascinating and sobering in terms of what it means for the present state of governance in the country and what it could mean for the future.

Newt Gingrich threw his hat into the 2012 race this afternoon, making the announcement via Twitter and YouTube:

As was the case with Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty, anyone who has been keeping an eye on the former Speaker of the House will not be surprised by this announcement. Fox News, which employed him as a paid commentator, was pressuring him to make up his mind about getting in the race or not. He and fellow 2012er Rick Santorum were initially suspended from their contracts with Fox for 60 days, with a May 1 deadline to make up their mind whether they were running or not.  May 1 came and went, so Fox terminated both their contracts.

Unlike Pawlenty, Gingrich was honest enough to himself and the public to openly admit that he was running for president, rather than hiding behind the semantics of an exploratory committee.

I suppose this is as good an occasion as any to tell my Gingrich story. I randomly ran into him inside St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome two years ago while I was working on a story for another organization. He was traveling with his wife, who at the time was a member of an American church choir (don’t know if she still is) that was performing in the basilica. Small world…

When you’re Tim Pawlenty, apparently… Take a look at this exchange he had with CNN’s Piers Morgan:

Morgan: There was a poll out only today, a CNN poll which probably made quite the disturbing reading for you. Did you ever imagine in your wildest nightmares that you’d see a poll of potential Republican candidates which had you at 2 percent and Donald Trump at 19 percent?

Pawlenty: Well for me, I’m just getting known Piers. So our trajectory is kind of a tortoise and hare strategy and as we get better known particularly in the early states I think you’ll see those numbers change for me. But as to Donald Trump, the Donald I think he’s funny, I think he’s exciting. He’s obviously very successful. I think he brings a lot to the debate so I welcome him to it. If hair is going to be a factor in this race, Piers then I’m going to grow my mullet back out. I had a mullet when I played hockey in high school.

Morgan: In a hypothetical scenario governor, if someone like Donald Trump was to emerge as the Republican nominee and asked you to be vice president, would you accept that honor?

Pawlenty: I’m running for president. I’m not putting my hat in the ring rhetorically or ultimately for vice president so I’m focused on running for president.

(Emphasis in the transcript is mine)

Pawlenty spokesman Alex Conant had to walk back the remarks, telling CNN, “As the governor has said many times, he is not running to be anybody’s vice president. He will have a formal announcement about running for president later this spring.”

Conant has also taken to Twitter to push back against CNN:

@sanuzis have you seen full quote? he didn’t announce anything. @CNN took quote out of context.

As was the case with Mitt Romney’s announcement earlier this week, the fact that Tim Pawlenty is getting ready to run for president is not news to anybody who has been keeping an eye on him since 2008, and more so during the lead up to the 2010 elections as his gubernatorial term was winding down. However, the fact that he actually said the words “I’m running for president,” would automatically trigger alarm bells for any political journalist watching the interview. It may not have been a formal photo op event with a backdrop and a podium, but it is fair for CNN and other news organizations to quote him saying “I’m running for president.” It may not have been the intended message Pawlenty and Conant wanted out there, but it’s impossible to unring that bell, especially when it’s on video.

Regardless of semantics, the fact that Pawlenty was the first Republican candidate to announce the formation of a presidential exploratory committee was a pretty big indicator that he was running for president. All other subsequent announcements, no matter how official they may be declared, are really just formalities.

To the surprise of absolutely no one who has been keeping an eye on him since the 2008 elections. He made the announcement via Twitter:

I am announcing my Exploratory Committee for President of the United States. Join us at http://www.mittromney.com #Mitt2012

He rebooted his website, which contains the following video message:

Conservative blogger Erick Erickson pointed out on Twitter and on CNN’s “John King USA” that the R in the Romney logo looks like it was done with Aquafresh toothpaste. He may have a point. Have a look at this side-by-side comparisons of the logos from the two websites:

Romney is the second Republican to form an exploratory committee. The intent in announcing is the same reason the president announced a week ago: it allows the committee to start raising money for a presidential campaign. According to Roll Call, Romney will criss-cross the country on a fundraising blitz for the next six weeks, beginning with an event at New York’s Harbor Club today.

This Politico article is a good recap summing up Romney’s background and the challenges he will face the second time around. The key dynamic change from four years ago is the passage of Obama’s health care plan, which Obama and many Democrats have repeatedly and gleefully pointed out was based in part on the health care plan Romney signed into law as governor of Massachusetts. Romney is now stuck with the tricky political position of trying to defend his accomplishments as governor while at the same time distancing his health care plan from the Obama health care plan, which is politically radioactive in Republican circles. This could help sink his chances at winning the nomination. Obama and the Democrats know this, and that is why they complement him as much as they can.

Don’t know if Romney’s strategists and branding people did their homework before launching the website, but Ben Smith points out that Romney’s “Believe in America” slogan was previously used by Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry during his unsuccessful presidential run in 2004.

Another Kerry-Romney comparison comes from former DNC staffer Matt Ortega who recently launched the site Multiple Choice Mitt. It is essentially the Democrats using George W. Bush’s highly successful flip-flop attacks on Kerry, this time aimed squarely at Romney.

Somebody’s been doing some oppo research on the Donald

Donald Trump sent Nancy Pelosi warm wishes when she was sworn in as House Speaker in January 2007, praising her as “the best” in a personal note.

Trump, who’s now mulling a Republican run for president, penned the note on a copy of a New York Times article that chronicled Pelosi’s swearing-in, and wrote, “Nancy — you’re the best. Congrats. Donald,” according to sources familiar with the missive.

Trump, now a registered Republican, is a former independent and former registered Democrat. And the Pelosi note is a reminder that he has a past political history of supporting both sides of the aisle.

Trump confirmed to POLITICO he wrote the note, but said it was “because I want her to do great, and I want this country to be great, and I [didn’t] want her to fail as Speaker. And I like her.”

His past campaign contributions run the spectrum of American politics, including prominent Democrats and Republicans. However, two in particular from the recent past jump out at me. First, this $50,000 donation to American Crossroads, the conservative 527 group, made on October 6, 2010 (screengrab from FEC electronic records):

The second is this $50,000 donation to Rahm Emanuel’s mayoral campaign in Chicago, made just before Christmas of last year, but after the big Republican wins in the 2010 midterms (screengrab from Illinois State Board of Elections electronic records):

You’ll recall Emanuel’s previous job was as chief of staff to President Obama – the man Trump would be running against if he commits to the 2012 presidential race. If Trump decides to jump into the 2012 Republican sweepstakes, I assume this is an issue that will come up from other campaigns.