Wednesday, January 04, 2012

And then there were six

Going to try not to use the word "wobbly" this post.

Iowa is over and Michele Bachmann made the courageous, but only realistic decision. She quit. It was a move she should have made months ago, as despite her one time surge, she never had a chance. I've said before I like her personally. I've listened to a half dozen speeches or public interviews with her. At least in public, she comes across sweet, happy and motherly. None of those are qualifications for president. She indicated a number of times that despite a predilection to sprinkle speeches with American history, she doesn't know very much about it. Not a problem, as I rarely ever come across a politician who does. But, most of them try not to be so obvious about it.

Governor Perry has decided to stay in after one day of soul searching. That's a mistake, I think. One thing we learned from his and Bachmann's poor performances is that even in relatively evangelistic states, it doesn't really sell unless you have something else religious voters want. But, religion was, at least hypothetically, a selling point for Perry. He held a public prayer meeting before joining the fray and has run commercials advertising his Christianity and that he intends to bring it into the White House with him. That's enough to scrub him for me, but he's not a bad guy, from what I can tell, at least. But, he peaked early and could not even begin to hold onto it. Could he improve his debating skills? Sure. Spend his money better? Of course. Improve his policy arguments and make people believe he understands it? Maybe next time.  But, you still are who you are. I'm not saying at some point he might not do all of those things. Romney sure did over the course of the last 3 years. But, I don't see Perry doing it this time around, even with his many years in politics.

Gingrich did not disappoint me. He lashed out on the last day at Romney, obviously thrown by the negative attacks on him. Where Romney was cool, said he liked Gingrich and his wife, who he referred to by her first name, Gingrich was not. He called Romney a liar (which, if accurate, come on - how many times has Gingrich lied?)  And then he has called Romney unelectable. In other words, now that he has been crushed, out the window does the whole do no harm to other Republicans. It also, was typical Gingrich stupidity. No one thinks Romney is unelectable; even those who don't like him. But, when did not making sense ever stop Gingrich?

Ron Paul looks like he couldn't be happier after his third place finish. It is hard to tell what he is thinking, but it may very well be that he just keeps telling the truth. It is liberating. Whereas everyone else has to pretend to be someone they may not quite be, he seems to go against the usual rule. Maybe he has other reasons to be happy. Santorum probably does not have legs, though he will do well in the south. Paul might end up being Romney's only real competition and he could take it all the way to the convention if he wants. Most states divvy up the votes according to the votes your received and Paul might be able to pull it off that far. Is there any chance he could be nominated? Well, if Romney pulls a Cain and turns out to have done missionary work in France than we know of, maybe. But, that's too much to hope for by all but the loopiest libertarian. But, look at some of the stats below and they too might indicate a reason he feels happy, and I will return to it when later.

And Romney? I am really impressed. Iowa was by no means a lock for him. He had a very small staff there and only really put an effort into it in the last week. I do not particularly admire him for any quality he possesses other than the remarkable poise he has maintained, even when being pummeled by both Gingrich and the media (who all seem to find him guilty, guilty, guilty when it comes to being involved in targeting Gingrich through a Super-Pac). But, he knows his policy issues; he never stumbled in the debates even when taking heat from almost everyone else, and he does look like a president out of central casting. You can never say anything is inevitable, but I don't think he has far to go. Right now, I'm glad I stuck with him all the while the Queens for the day took their turns.

One last thing. There was a pretty interesting chart on The New York Times website ( detailing the results of a poll of voters entering the caucuses. Here are some of the results:

Ron Paul got more votes from men (marginal) than either Romney or Santorum (24%, 23%, 23%, respectively) but the reason he did worse than them in total was that women did not like him as much, where as the other two slightly improved (19%, 25%, 27%). Being a woman did not help Michele Bachmann at all. She received only 5% of their vote.

Rick Santorum received the lion's share of the evangelical vote, 32%, with Paul the next best at only 19%. Perry and Gingrich, for all their praying, did no better than the Mormon Romney with them - 14% each. Michele Bachmann, poor soul, could only manage 6%. It is interesting though that of non-evangelicals, Romney did better even better than Santorum did with evangelicals - 38%. But Paul again came in second in this category - 26% - far better than anyone else.

Santorum also did the best with tea partiers - 29%, ten percent better than Paul's and Romney, but Romney did substantially better than anyone else with those who said they were opposed to the tea party (43%) and that bodes well for him; the tea party is now, according to at least one poll, the most unpopular political group in the country. His 32% was also by far the tops with neutrals. Paul again was second in both those categories.

Santorum did by far the best with those who considered themselves "very conservative" (35%; Paul next at 15% - ironically, in response to the question of whether the candidate was a "true conservative," Paul beat out Santorum 37% to 36%)). Yet, with those who considered themselves "somewhat conservative," Romney did even better (38%; Paul next at 21%) and with "moderates" (38%; Paul next at 34%). Not surprisingly, Paul did by far the best with independents at 43%. The only one who topped that in any category was whether they thought the candidate could win the general election, in which case, Romney scored 48%.

Which brings me back to Paul. Of course he is happy. If Santorum turns out to be a flash in the pan and Romney has enough momentum in New Hampshire to actually do well in South Carolina (the downfall of many a candidate and the king maker of some), it is not unlikely every one else will drop out after it. Too soon to tell, of course. But, even if Santorum stayed in, it might bode well for Paul, who does well, if not best (except with independents), in almost all categories except, arguably, women. That's not bad. Romney's weaknesses will appear greatest if he is one on one with someone who can focus all the attention on his former liberal views. Of course, Paul would be equally, if not more vulnerable with respect to foreign affairs questions, not to mention those that make people scrunch up their faces when listening to libertarians.

If Santorum wins the nomination - and I just don't see it, then the Republicans will have done what the Democrats did in 2004, nominated someone they wanted for cultural reasons, but who wasn't going to win. If they nominated Paul, also very unlikely, they have done the same.

What if Paul went third party, as he has hinted he might? That's an interesting possibility. I am not a believer that a third party cannot win. I think Ross Perot could have won in the 90s if he hadn't self destructed. And, I think Paul could by pulling all of the independents and some liberals and conservatives. But, it might require another economic disaster to inspire him and voters. There are always intangibles in politics and there is only so much you can speculate on without knowing all the facts (which is pretty much impossible).

For their own sake, they better push the tea partiers to the side and nominate Romney.


  1. Analyzing NY Times exit polls from the Iowa caucuses... R U KIDDING ME???? This stuff doesn't even count until after South Carolina, Frodo. You just got home... go hiking or kayaking or something. Get some fresh air, that fireplace gas is fogging your brain.

  2. You may, in your excitement to read what I wrote, have accidentally skipped the 4th paragraph from the bottom, which states, in part - "If Santorum turns out to be a flash in the pan and Romney has enough momentum in New Hampshire to actually do well in South Carolina (the downfall of many a candidate and the king maker of some), it is not unlikely every one else will drop out after it. Too soon to tell, of course." I also referenced S. Carolina in the last post. Even my ghost knows how important S. Carolina is. But, glad you read the other paragraphs.

    You may be right about the fireplace gas though. Sometimes I do get sleepy.


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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .