The Rise of Mitt (AKA The Fall of Newt)
First, I am fully aware the postings have been much less frequent lately, despite the action in politics being as active as ever. I’ll tell you what I tell my parents: I’m not dead, I’m just in med school. Sorry about that.
This week’s big news is the inevitable nominee, Mitt Romney, and his sweep of the primaries on Tuesday. Yes, I’m aware I’ve ranted against the use of the word inevitable when describing Mitt Romney in the past. That is back when there were still some scenarios where he wouldn’t be the nominee. Those variables did not play out favorably for anyone else though, so now the show is all Romney. So how exactly did this happen? I really think the whole thing boils down to two things: The Rise of Mitt, and the Fall of Newt.
The Rise of Mitt: Mitt Romney has been proclaimed the inevitable (or by those that don’t jump to conclusions, the probable) nominee since the beginning, largely since he’s been running for the spot since 2008, but that doesn’t mean that his nomination was a sure thing. At any number or times, he was trailing in the polls by double digits behind his challengers. The challenger he was trailing changed somewhat frequently, but the point remains: he was there, but he wasn’t in the lead for quite some time. So how does a “moderate” Republican in a relatively hostile political environment with mediocre polling and a lack of overall enthusiasm end up on top? It’s pretty simple, they power through and wait until the more enthusiastic candidates fade due for a number of issues and eventually they’re the only one left. Name recognition, image, and money were critical to this ability to power through the fog, and it ended up working beautifully. This only worked so well because there were so many challengers. Had it just been one major challenger by the time major primaries were rolling around, Romney may have actually been in danger. Luckily for the Mitt camp, he had at least two real challengers (more early on) that were also competing with each other for votes, and the most pragmatic voters probably ignored them. Others just got tired of the endless noise and debates and started ignoring the flavor of the month. Whatever their reasons, that group of voters likely stayed out of it or aligned with Romney as the “strongest” overall candidate. That left the others with only about half to two thirds of the GOP voter pie to fight over, and no one ever succeeded in solidifying that chunk of the pie and taking down Romney. Romney, ever the adaptive politician, was able to learn from the attacks levied at him and was the most effective at spin. I don’t care for spin, hollow words that redirect conversation to allow you to avoid answering questions or attacks and make you look good is often compensation for a lack of substance, but regardless of that, I had to respect how well things rolled off Romney. He has been the Teflon man of the GOP primary season, and that, plus the previously mentioned factors, allowed him to adapt, survive, and prevail.
The Fall of Newt: Whatever you may say about Gingrich, he’s also a survivor. He had the most political baggage of the group and the most negative initial perceptions. Yet he ended up as the front-runner in the race… more than once. Yes, I am aware that Rick Santorum also ended up as the front-runner towards the “end”. That doesn’t mean that I think Santorum was ever as likely a candidate as Gingrich. The reasons for that are a post unto themselves, but logically speaking, Gingrich was the phoenix of the Republican party and if he could rise from the ashes despite his image and run a socially conservative (without being so extreme as to render him unelectable overall… Santorum) campaign and bring some “big ideas” to the table, he was too strong to be ignored. In fact, after South Carolina and a disappointing run for Romney early on, it looked like Gingrich was the man to beat. So what happened? Also pretty simple: money and strategy were against him. Gingrich, according to the press, polls, and online ramblings from people like me, came across as the most competent, intelligent, and composed candidate during debates. He had some compelling ideas and was managing to turn some perceptions around. However, he didn’t ever have the organization or the money that the Romney campaign machine did, and when that machine set their target on Gingrich, it was only a matter of time before they drug him under the water and held him there until the bubbles stopped unless Gingrich found a way to hit back just as hard. Iowa was the test run for this, and the Romney machine accidentally ended up delivering that contest to Santorum by killing off Newt there. When he came back in South Carolina, they went for a full scorched earth campaign and crushed him in Florida to the point he could never recover. The Southern strategy gamble was one he didn’t have the established support network or funds to pull off, and with Santorum rising (thanks to the fall of Newt, in my opinion) and no more debates to “win”, Newt was in real trouble. As polls later showed, Newt’s supporters were more likely to bail for Romney than Santorum, and when they started bailing they didn’t come back. Without the funds to crush his opponents in negative ads or the organization to build momentum well ahead of primaries, Newt stuck it out hoping for the cracks in Romney’s facade to spread and give him enough staying power to make it to Tampa. When Santorum bailed though, Newt was already too injured to rise again and as Tuesday demonstrated, Romney profited in a big way. Whether it was ego, poor management, or the end of the debate season, Newt declined and the circus of a brokered convention has been avoided… for better or worse.
That’s all for now. Congratulations to the Mitt camp for proving that running a campaign like a business is a winning strategy. I’m still not thrilled by him as a candidate (as my previous posts no doubt illustrate), but I’ll certainly be paying attention to how the Romney/Obama dynamic plays out for the next few months before the heavy hitting of the election season starts.
The GOP Candidates play Monopoly. A friend sent this to me via Facebook, and I hadn’t seen this spoof yet. I’ll admit I got a laugh out of it.
Newt’s Bankrupt and Romney’s Going to Profit
I’ve been quiet lately, and not because there isn’t a lot going on: The Supreme Court is hearing arguments about the healthcare law (“Obamacare” to some), the story of the shooting in Florida continues to evolve and grow as a movement, and the Republican Primary is still grinding on, albeit with a couple new bumps in the road. Since I don’t want to talk about the healthcare law and I can’t do the Martin case justice right now, I’ll stick to my comfort zone and hash out the latest Republican Nomination craziness.
So, what has happened?
Newt’s “Southern Revival” has become a Southern Foreclosure. The Gingrich campaign is underwater on its mortgage. It’s not that it hasn’t had its ups and downs, and it’s not even that it hasn’t been worse off before, but now that it is crunch time they simply didn’t deliver when they needed to in the southern states. With Santorum taking Louisiana and no potentially Gingrich friendly states until May, there’s good reason for even his most ardent supporters to be cynical. I think there is one main reason behind Newt’s decline, and I’d be surprised if his campaign staff didn’t agree: No full debates since February and no new ones on the calendar. Newt’s strength is in his verbal performance, and when he can’t show that off and doesn’t have the money to beat back negative ads or campaign as effectively as the others, his campaign loses steam. Now that they’re laying off a third of their campaign staff and losing his campaign manager to “refocus” the campaign, it is difficult to impossible to see a scenario where Newt will have the funds, let alone the momentum or delegates, to make another splash before Tampa.
Santorum shouldn’t want Gingrich out after all. Santorum has said for weeks that if Newt Gingrich dropped out of the race he could beat Mitt Romney in the primaries. Gingrich said similar things about Santorum back when momentum was on his side. What is proving really interesting is that likely neither are correct, but Santorum is almost certainly wrong. Yes, Santorum has won a fair number of states and he did win Louisiana recently, but he has gone from leading Romney nationally to trailing him by 10 points. I know, these things seem to change every week in this election cycle and this may be a fluke, but I don’t think it is. In addition to slipping poll numbers, recent polls show that more Gingrich supporters back Romney as their second choice than Rick Santorum. If Gingrich was out of the race and the numbers were run again, Romney’s lead over Santorum actually expands to 15 points. Apparently, despite what Rick has been saying lately, he and Gingrich don’t have the same base of support and his numbers against Romney actually look worse in a more head-to-head situation. What does that mean for Santorum? There’s trouble on the horizon, and any Tampa strategy against Romney is looking less and less feasible as time goes on.
Romney, despite his best efforts, is gaining momentum. The man who brought you the trees are the right height, the $10,000 off the cuff bet, and some less than believable southern pandering about grits continues to be the Teflon warrior. I don’t doubt the man’s intelligence, but he has a knack for saying things that the media loves to replay non-stop and would give most campaign managers a heart attack. That said, his numbers are improving nationally, his financial situation is rebounding, and it looks like he can actually wrap up the nomination before Tampa if things go well. So why all the “good” news for Romney? Personally, I think the voters are tired. We all liked the idea of being involved and many of us liked the idea of the 2012 primaries lasting long enough for our states to make a difference, but after three full months of this mess and its unpredictability, people are getting weary of trying to stay informed about each week’s gaffes, polls, and primaries and are looking for something stable. That something is Romney, and the chaos that threatened to take him down may actually propel him to the nomination. And now that polls show that Gingrich supporters are more likely to support Romney than Santorum, bad news for Newt is good news for Mitt, and it looks like there’s going to be quite a bit of bad news for Newt in the next month. Romney may not have it wrapped up yet, but Santorum is slipping (not surprising given his own unpredictable and polarizing nature) and Gingrich never bounced back, so it’s his to lose right now.
Ron Paul… You know what, I just don’t know anymore. I get mail and emails from all the campaigns, and Ron Paul’s comes across as the most angry and self-deluded. Despite the delegate math, the inability to win a single state’s primary or caucus (remember the Paul’s campaign strategy to win the caucus states?), and no momentum of any sort in the polls to indicate things will change, Ron Paul’s campaign continues to proclaim that victory is within their grasp and they’d be doing better if things weren’t stacked against them, and so on. That would be a lot more believable if they hadn’t been saying the same thing in these emails for months and that victory was actually even within their field of vision much less grasp, but it’s a campaign line they haven’t tired of. Apparently his supporters haven’t either, since money bomb after money bomb raises millions to pour back into the campaign. I don’t understand this, to be honest. I like a lot of things about Paul but also have big reservations, which I’ve discussed previously. But at this point in the game, who in their right mind thinks he can somehow pull off a convention strategy and overthrow not just Romney, but the other two as well? It just doesn’t add up. Polls show that Paul’s supporters are very loyal, but he’s barely a blip on the radar as a second choice candidate from the others. If any one of them drops out, it strengthens one of the others, not Paul. It’s not the media, or the establishment, or whoever that is “against” Paul or somehow keeping him down, it’s reality. The reality is that despite all the excitement, the seemingly endless supply of grassroots money and vocal support, and the unique ideas, the overwhelming majority of people are not willing to vote for him in the primaries. Potential national election match up polls are pointless when no one will vote to make you a national candidate. If Paul supporters are still donating millions to make a statement or express dissatisfaction, that I can at least respect. Otherwise, I can dig a pit in my back yard if they’re looking for a place to dump money.
Well, that’s all for now. For things coming up, I think that Romney will sweep the upcoming April 3rd primaries and strengthen his delegate count further, Santorum will continue to fight to get a stronger foothold in the Romney-friendly April contests, Gingrich will likely conserve what resources he has left and stay visible but low-key until May when the calendar looks friendlier, and Ron Paul will continue on.
It’s Not That Simple: MS and AL Don’t Clarify Things.
Well, the results are (mostly) in, and Santorum will win both Mississippi and Alabama. I’m a little surprised he pulled it off since his numbers had been slipping, but there are some important take away points from tonight.
1. Tonight changes nothing from the perspective of the race. Think about it. How are we in a different place than we were last night? Mitt Romney still isn’t pulling the “conservative” crowd over to his side, but still has a substantial delegate lead. Rick Santorum is still riding his momentum with the conservative base and winning states, but he didn’t expand his lead over Gingrich tonight in any significant way due to the narrow margin of his victories. Gingrich is still behind and not catching up any. He is treading water in third place, no better or worse than he was before. Ron Paul still exists. At the end of the day, nothing actually changed.
2. There’s no reason to expect Gingrich to drop out after not winning MS and AL, particularly since he almost pulled it off. He’ll point out that he beat Mitt Romney in both states and came very close to catching Santorum as well. He’ll point to the dissatisfaction of the conservative voter with Romney and the strength of his showing. As mentioned in point 1, since little has changed, there’s no new reason for Gingrich to drop, and arguably less since he will pick up almost as many delegates as Santorum tonight. I know Santorum’s supporters will be ruffled by this, but let’s face it- people wanted Santorum out after he fell flat in South Carolina and not listening to them when his campaign was on life support turned out to be a good decision. Santorum might be able to beat Romney without Gingrich in the race, but the flip side of that applies too. Other than the marginal delegate lead over Gingrich (substantially less than Romney’s lead over him) there’s just no reason for him to say Gingrich should drop. It’s not that Newt is spoiling it for him, it’s that they’re spoiling it for each other. Either of them could feel much more justified in asking Paul to drop and try to support them in taking down Romney, but they know they wouldn’t gain any significant support by doing that so they’re leaving that issue alone since Paul’s supporters are much more candidate-loyal.
3. At the end of the night, no one is happy. Sure, Santorum gets to claim “victory”, but it’s not significant enough to help him chip away at Romney’s lead or expand the lead over Gingrich. He’ll essentially tread water despite the victories. The delegate math is still bad for him and he knows it. Romney gets to claim that he performed better than expected, but his pandering in the South didn’t deliver him any wins and only provided more material for media jokes about the odd things he says in states when he’s working a little too hard to “fit in”. He’s still in the best delegate position, but every big delegate take where he doesn’t expand his lead is one step closer to a brokered convention. Gingrich gets to point out that his campaign came from behind to snag almost as many delegates as the winner, but in reality it is clear his Southern strategy is not working. He needed wins tonight for visual momentum if nothing else and he didn’t get it. The delegate math is also ugly for him and despite picking up the 2nd place in both contests tonight, it’s also not going to change the balance for him significantly.
4. Santorum and Gingrich should be watched. As mentioned above, there’s no more reason for Newt to drop now than before, so Rick isn’t going to get that lucky. What is odd are the comments Newt made at an event about teaming up against Romney in the ad war and the compliments he sent Santorum’s way tonight at his concession speech, all the while blasting Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. Even if it is forged out of desperation, some sort of arrangement between Gingrich and Santorum could be in the works.
That’s all I’ve got for now. Everyone seems a little annoyed (no matter which side you’re on) tonight, and I think that’s the atmosphere we’re going to be running with all the way to Tampa.
The Newt Gingrich/Rick Perry Illusion
Many of you have probably seen the tweets, facebook posts, and blurbs claiming that Gingrich’s campaign has talks in the works about the possibility of a Gingrich-Perry ticket. This has excited some and caused groans from others. My personal opinion? Talks about the “possibility” probably are in the works, and that’s as far as they’ll ever get. Gingrich and his campaign staff are not dumb. Floating speculation that you’re considering a formerly popular Southern Christian conservative as your running mate just before a couple of Southern Christian states go to the polls is a smart political move. Gingrich knows he needs to win those states. He knows that even if he does win those states it is going to be an uphill battle, but he’s taking it one step at a time and the Alabama and Mississippi primaries are the next step. In order to draw voters away from Santorum, who occasionally treats the podium like a pulpit and has attracted the voters that like that, Perry is great ammunition. They both appeal to conservative Christians who apparently aren’t really listening to what the candidates say. Better yet, saying (or even better, having a random source leak) that you’re “considering” someone as a running mate means nothing. I can say I’m considering eating at Chili’s tonight to bring out some of my Chili’s-loving friends and then decide I’d rather eat at Olive Garden. They might be annoyed for a little bit, but they’re already out so they’re probably not going to bother going back home. It wouldn’t surprise me if Gingrich is playing that exact game. I don’t know if Rick Perry would actually consider a VP nod from Gingrich if things played out that way, but I don’t think he’d actually get the nod anyway. Gingrich’s political past shows he does know how the game is played, even if he seems to go off course from time to time, and I think he’ll pick someone more likely to draw in the precious independent and centrist voters needed to win the election if it comes down to that. For now, Perry’s name is probably just part of the political game, nothing more.
Kansas REALLY Likes Rick Santorum
I expected Santorum to win Kansas, and I assumed internal polls must be showing him with an insurmountable advantage for Newt Gingrich to cancel his trip there when he so badly needs a strong showing in conservative states. What I didn’t expect was for him to beat Mitt Romney by 30%. Rick Santorum’s campaign will now have more legitimate ammunition to throw at Mitt Romney that conservatives don’t want him as their candidate, and I think you’re going to see an all out ad war between those two campaigns and their Super PACs when the winner-take-all states become more common. I hope those seatbelts are still fastened, GOP voters.
He’s Right: Husker Red: End the Culture War to Save Conservatism
This is the best written analysis of what is really going on in the contraception/birth control debacle that I’ve read so far. The GOP has allowed themselves to be painted into a very unpopular corner on this, and those of us sitting at home seeing this mess unfold have been asking ourselves “What the hell are they thinking? Why don’t they call this what it is, a further intrusion of government power through mandates, instead of making noise, calling women sluts, and playing it as a purely religious issue?”. The first three months of 2012 should be a cautionary tale to the GOP of what NOT to do in the future if they want to have a real political party, capable of being anything but a source of frustration for its own members and political cartoons for its opponents, but I don’t think they’re getting the hint.
Very few people have taken the time to read the testimony of Ms. Sandra Fluke as delivered before Congress. After Rush Limbaugh made a rather solid fool of himself by calling Ms. Fluke a “slut,” most attention rightfully went his way.
I’d ask, however, that you take the time to read Fluke’s…
Super Tuesday Results: More Craziness Ahead!
Well, most results are in and I’m going to call it: There’s no clean closure to this Republican Race in sight.
At this point, that’s basically bad news for all Republican nominees involved since the results ensured that no candidate will drop out and this carnival will continue. Here are my thoughts on each of the candidates and what tonight meant for them.
Mitt Romney: Mitt Romney will most likely be crowned tonight’s big winner thanks to a win, albeit a close one, in Ohio. No, his campaign isn’t really in better shape than it was before. No, he didn’t win virtually any counties outside the major metro areas in Ohio. But he won, and that’s what matters for delegates and momentum. Romney’s real problem is that stubborn elephant in the room that he still isn’t winning over those that call themselves “very conservative” or people making less than $100,000 a year in these important swing states. Even more concerning, at least in my opinion, is that he was only able to garner 60% of the vote in Virginia against Ron Paul. 40% of voting Virginians, a state supposed to be friendly to Romney (if pundits are to be believed), wouldn’t vote for Romney when the only alternative on the ballot was the “weakest” candidate in the race from a national electability standpoint. Virginia shows that there are still a lot of Not-Romney voters out there, and they’re just not willing to come around to him yet. Personally, I think most of them will come around in November if it comes to that. Still though, at the end of the night he has the most delegates and won the most states, all of which were pretty predictable outside of Ohio, and that is what will matter for momentum. He’s still the “inevitable” nominee to beat and he will still have the most delegates, the most machine-like campaign, and likely the most money. The overall dynamic of the race really hasn’t changed one bit from the Romney perspective, and that’s at least “okay” if you’re a Romney fan. The crater the Romney campaign has been driving themselves into is that independents and conservative Democrats, must-win candidate groups if he wants to beat President Obama in November, like him less and less as the campaign goes on. Whether the ads come from him or his Super PAC, the negative tone and frequent gaffes have really hurt his image and he’s got a lot of work to do if he wants to improve it before November.
Rick Santorum: Rick Santorum did relatively well tonight too, which means he’ll be sticking around a lot longer as well. Tennessee and Oklahoma were significant wins for him, especially since Gingrich was coming from behind and hurting Santorum enough to possibly propel either Romney or Gingrich into the winner’s seat in those races. Unfortunately for both of them, Santorum hung on and won those states. Unfortunately for Paul, Santorum also won North Dakota pretty handily. Winning Ohio would have been huge news for Santorum, but as it is he didn’t come out of the day too badly. Interestingly, if he had been able to win over the voters who cast ballots for Rick Perry or Jon Huntsman (I really, really, really don’t see the point in voting for people not even running anymore, by the way), he could have won Ohio, but those people made their stubborn views known today. His numbers with women are still weak and he still doesn’t have a lot of appeal to the more moderate or independent voters, both of which could be major issues if he ended up with the nomination, but I find it unlikely that he can come from behind in the all-or-nothing states and grab the reins away from Romney, who already has a significant delegate lead.
Newt Gingrich: Tonight was a disappointing night for Newt Gingrich, no matter what his campaign may be saying right now. Yes, he won Georgia, his delegate-rich home state and a state he worked very hard in the past few weeks. Yes, he came from behind in the polls in Tennessee and Oklahoma and did considerably better than most would have predicted, but he really needed a couple wins to get some momentum back on his side. The good news for the Gingrich campaign is there are a couple more contests in the next few days he may fare well in, and with a decisive win in Georgia his campaign can continue fighting on. However, and I really don’t love saying this, I think his campaign is probably done for in the next several weeks. Gingrich isn’t doing that badly in delegates in all honesty, he’s only 40ish behind Santorum, but as long as both of them are in the race it will be almost impossible for either of them to grab enough delegates away from the other to stop Romney. Even combined they would trail Romney, but there are some factors that can’t be predicted that might have allowed either of them to perform better if the other weren’t in the race. At any rate, Santorum’s moment in the spotlight appears it is going to continue, and that’s bad news for Gingrich. Unless Santorum somehow implodes spectacularly and releases his delegates to Gingrich, a highly unlikely event, Gingrich will need an act of God to get enough momentum back on his side to seize the nomination. I don’t necessarily think he should drop out, the voters have delivered enough delegates to both Gingrich and Santorum to let them know that they are liked, but they can’t all be liked at the same time and beat Romney.
Ron Paul: Tonight was a mixed night for Ron Paul too. He performed pretty well against Romney in the two-man Virginia contest, and he came in second in North Dakota and Idaho, all of which will be loudly proclaimed as wins by his exuberant campaign spokesmen who like to keep my inbox flooded with lengthy emails. Despite the fact he didn’t win any of them, he just did better than most people were willing to give him credit for, the Paul campaign will still happily jump up on the soapbox that all but his most ardent supporters are growing weary of and claim the establishment is afraid of him and he’d be winning if it were a fair fight. Considering he has received a good bit of air time and debate time this election cycle and he’s one of the most consistently financed candidates, I have a hard time believing it’s not a fair fight for him, but that’s not the point. The point is Virginia, North Dakota, and Idaho all went pretty well for him. More interesting than those states, or the Paul campaign’s pattern of rhetoric, at least in my opinion, is that Paul came in second in Vermont. I hadn’t heard near as much speculation about his performance in Vermont, so his ability to beat Santorum and Gingrich on the east coast will be a legitimate strength to proclaim for the Paul camp in the weeks to come. Alaska’s results aren’t all in yet, but it appears he will not do nearly as well as many had predicted there. Not only will he not get the win he was needing, it looks like he won’t com in second either, which is disappointing considering he was the only candidate to visit Alaska. This Super Tuesday performance means the point I made last time, and have been making for some time now, still remains: Ron Paul cannot, and will not, win the nomination proceeding like this. Before you send me angry messages or comments about how he’d win in a fair fight (and in the future, please explain to me what a fair fight is, I really don’t know what you’re talking about there), do the math. Paul hasn’t won a single state, despite claiming several times he was about to win one. He just can’t appeal to enough voters overall to deliver a win for his campaign, and without some wins, and some big ones, he can’t rack up enough delegates to get the nomination. Right now he has less than a sixth of the delegates that Romney has. If Gingrich, Santorum, or both, choose to drop out and release their delegates, you know damn well they’re not going to ask them to support Paul. Don’t get me wrong, I like Paul. I like some of his ideas and I respect his consistency and conviction, but if you think he can still win the nomination with a shortage of friendly states ahead for him on the calendar and all-or-nothing state contests nearing, you’re living in a fantasy world.
Anyway, I’ve rambled on long enough for now. The bottom line is that there is still no decisive winner and the Republican voters are still very divided. Super Tuesday took us one big step closer to a brokered convention, and the Obama campaign must be loving the thought of that.
As always, your thoughts, questions, and rants are welcome.
Super Tuesday Will Be Super Frustrating
Tomorrow really is important. Depending on how things turn out, it could essentially finish, or rejuvenate, the Gingrich campaign. A poor showing on Romney’s part could send his campaign into a downward slide since Ohio, Georgia, etc. are states that are probably a better indication of the overall Republican voter “base” than most of those that have voted so far. A strong showing could put Romney in such a strong delegate position that his momentum may be unbeatable. Santorum is a bit less predictable. If he performs strongly it will be a win for him in that it will strongly damage his other “conservative” opponent, Newt Gingrich, as well as show Romney that he’s still in real trouble. If he performs poorly, it could also send his campaign into a downward spiral he may not be able to recover from. Ron Paul’s performance is less important unless he somehow pulls off a full out win and puts the other candidates on notice. In all likelihood though, he’ll place 3rd or 4th in most states and continue to trickle in some delegates here and there. Since there’s almost no chance of him shutting down his campaign, and a comparably small chance of him having a chance at the nomination, his performance won’t really change anything. I know Newt and Santorum have pledged to continue on regardless of Super Tuesday performance (a mistake, in my opinion) but a Ron Paul-esque performance for either of them in the Super Tuesday contests could very well kill off their campaigns even if they make noise about continuing on. With that in mind, Super Tuesday could be super frustrating for GOP voters since even though it will have a large effect on the campaigns and a lot of delegates are up for grabs, no one will likely drop out and they will continue dragging their campaigns out to leech some delegates away from the others and make more attacks and mess for the Democrats to use against them closer to November.
We’ll see how things turn out, but don’t expect Super Tuesday to reduce the field of candidates. They’re going to stick around for quite some time yet.
Michigan and Arizona: Did Anything Really Change?
Well the results are in and Mitt Romney can breathe a momentary sigh of relief. As expected, Romney took Arizona by a wide margin. He also managed to win Michigan with a little more breathing room than many were expecting. So, Romney lives to fight another day. He didn’t suffer the embarrassment of losing his “home” state he spent so dearly to try and win, and he’ll likely get a fundraising and momentum bump from the Michigan win since it wasn’t a given like the Arizona win. But other than Romney being able to fight on with the validity of his campaign relatively unquestioned, did the Michigan and Arizona wins really change anything? Not really.
There’s no question that a Santorum upset in Michigan would have made a mess of things for Romney. With his Super Tuesday prospects looking mixed, funding situation becoming much more like that of his opponents, and the hits he has taken to his image nationally, it’s even possible that Romney would have had some calling for him to step out of the race and allow for a stronger, less damaged candidate to take the lead. Luckily for Romney, and potentially the GOP’s stability for the rest of the primary season, that didn’t happen. One has to wonder if the Arizona debate had some effect in Michigan, particularly since Santorum’s edge started disappearing right after mediocre debate performance on his part. Only 35% of respondents in CNN’s exit polls indicated the debate affected their vote, and that segment saw a higher preference for Romney than Santorum, as well as a slight increase for Gingrich. Regardless of the methods or reasons though, Romney wins. Since the momentum of the race didn’t see a big shift in Michigan after all though, we’re still in the same murky waters we were before.
Romney's still the front runner, his campaign just isn't as well off financially as it used to be and his image issues haven't improved. Santorum is still loud and unpredictable and apparently doing a decent job appealing to the tea party and harder-line religious conservatives. Ron Paul is still trudging on and still has no immediate prospects for winning a state. Gingrich's apparent strategy to pretend February, outside of a debate, doesn't exist still has pundits and his supporters sitting on the sideline wondering if that gamble can possibly pay off.
And that’s pretty much it. No big changes happened or should be expected before Super Tuesday. There’s no reason for anyone to drop out or consider dropping out, and there’s no new momentum to give any particular candidate a big bump going into Super Tuesday. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. It’s far from over.