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I served in the US Navy from 2002-08; four of those years were as a Nuclear Propulsion Operator aboard an aircraft carrier. I engage in political activism in various Democratic circles when I am able to. I have a cat, and I am an uncle.

All opinions that I express are my own and do not reflect the views of any organization that I represent.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

RAZOR THIN DOES NOT DESCRIBE IT





In the early hours on Wednesday morning, Mitt Romney won the Iowa Caucus by a margin of eight.

Not eight percentage points…. Eight votes.

Short lesson: voting matters.

The long lesson…



Looking at the score board…

IOWA GOP CAUCUS
VOTE PCT.
ROMNEY
24.551
SANTORUM
24.545
PAUL
21.446
GINGRICH
13.3
PERRY
10.3
BACHMANN
5.0
HUNTSMAN
0.6
NO PREF
0.1
OTHER
0.1
CAIN
0.05
ROEMER
0.03


Here are five things that I observed from that night:



1. The impact of a pro-Romney Super-PAC airing negative ads on Newt Gingrich.

2. “Perry is not a machine! He’s a man! You see!"

3. The best bang for their buck…

4. “They don’t like him. They really don’t like him.”

5. The Ron Paul Effect

CONCLUSION




1. The impact of a pro-Romney Super-PAC airing negative ads on Newt Gingrich.


Did airing those ads in the closing days make the race closer than it needed to? Gingrich dropped down to fourth place in Iowa, but his popularity is waning and it now is part of the Santorum Surge.

Also, did anyone notice that during Gingrich’s speech, he took it way too personal? He was gracious to Santorum and to a lesser extent Paul until he went after him on his stance on foreign policy.


This is politics.

It is true that the “Personal is political” but Gingrich should know by now that everything he has done from when he was first elected to the House to his tenure as Speaker of the House in the 1990s to currently being in charge of Newt, Inc. will be scrutinized. Apparently he is not handling this well. Instead of making Romney look bad, his attitude of “How dare he do that to me, New Gingrich” is going to go against him.



2. “Perry is not a machine! He’s a man! You see!”

A historic first for Rick Perry happened that night.

Perry has won every single election since 1984 starting out as a Conservative Democrat. In 1989, he switched his party affiliation to the Republicans in order to defeat the incumbent Jim Hightower for Agriculture Commission. He was elected to Lieutenant Governor in 1998 and was elevated to the Governor’s office in 2001 when George W. Bush was elected President. Since then, Perry has been re-elected as governor three times making him the longest serving state executive in Texas history.

His re-election in 2010 promoted him to front-runner status for the Republican Nomination. It appeared that Perry was going to be the nominee…

Then, he got onto the campaign trail and actually had to debate actual candidates.

There was the “Ooops” moment, the most unpopular youtube video ever (“Strong” ad), and a really bizarre speech in New Hampshire… you can look these up.


During his speech on Tuesday Night, Perry said that he was returning to Texas to “reassess” his campaign. He clearly has the money so I am standing by my prediction that he is going to go all in for South Carolina, but I think this poor showing has shocked his ego.



3. The best bang for their buck…

Money talks.

Here is how much each candidate spent on each vote.

FORMULA: (Campaign funds + PAC)/ # votes = Cost per vote

CANDIDATE
PLACE IN CAUCUS
COST PER VOTE
PERRY
5
$468
ROMNEY
1
143
PAUL
3
107
GINGRICH
4
77
SANTORUM
2
19

Santorum was only eight votes away from claiming victory in Iowa. This will probably be the high point of his campaign because the money will run out eventually. Gingrich, Romney, and to a lesser extent Paul have good fundraising mechanisms but Santorum can use that he finished in the top three and had the best cost per vote.

Another thing I would point out in the connection between money and votes is Mitt Romney’s performance. Romney had 30,021 votes in his second place performance in the Iowa 2008 GOP Caucus. Four years later, Romney wins with 30,015 votes and an eight vote margin of victory.

Romney started campaigning for President when he left the governor’s mansion in Massachusetts back in 2007. This is what he has been doing for the last five years. It is true that he wasn’t actively campaigning between ending his first run at the presidency until throwing his hat into the ring in 2011, but what has he been doing in that interim period… hence my statement that he has been at this for five years.

You would figure that someone who has been at this for five years who do better than matching his previous performance. For some reason, this is the best that he can do… which is my next point.



4. “They don’t like him. They really don’t like him.”

Romney cannot get out of the 20s. He has been at this for five years and he cannot rise to the lead. We have seen the rise of Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Donald Trump, Newt Gingrich, and now Rick Santorum.

Yes, Romney was the winner, but how many people voted against him in this contest. 3 out of 4 voters cast their vote for candidates whose name did not include the following: “Willard”, “Mitt”, or “Romney.”


Why do they not like him?

Well, watch these speeches from Wednesday Night, and you can see why Chris Matthews made the observation that Santorum spoke from the heart while Romeny’s speech seemed “manufactured.”



How many times has Romney said one thing about an issue then reversed his position on it? It is to the point where I have lost count and no longer care.

It has to do with Republicans trying to find the perfect candidate, but every time they have tried on a new leader they have had a horrible flaw. Need I go through the list…

Perry: Can’t debate
Cain: He was an “art project.”
Trump: He wasn’t serious about. It’s all about promoting “The Donald.”

And now, we are seeing the fall of Gingrich and the Santorum Surge.

I do not want to be around when that bubble pops…

Okay, if you are unaware of what Santorum means, google it… I’ll wait.

Yeah, Santorum sounds great to Republican voters with his positions on gay rights (equated same-sex marriage to bestiality and incest), abortion, contraception, and his foreign policy on the Middle East, but in a general election he is going to get creamed.

He will benefit from the second place finish, but this surprising finish is due to the large Evangelical Christian population in Iowa. The next contest is in New Hampshire so not so much there until the primary race goes to South Carolina. Something will come up that will cause Republicans to flock somewhere else.

So if it’s not Romney… then who…? That’s going to be the thing that will be discussed when large-money donors to Republican causes meet at a ranch around Brenham, TX in seven days.


5. The Ron Paul Effect


One cannot deny the effect that Paul is having on this nomination process. He definitely has the resources in terms of people and funding. This third place finish makes it look like that Paul could win, but the things that will cost him the nomination are his non-interventionist foreign policy and his stance on drug legalization which are contradictory to the modern Republican Party. In addition, he has been less than honest about his newsletters during the period in the 1990s he was not in Congress that expressed very distasteful opinions such as Martin Luther King Jr. Day should be called “Hate Whitey Day,” the Rodney King Riots ended when it was time to collect welfare, people who get AIDS deserve it, and global one-world government conspiracies.

I see Iowa as his best showing. Third place will be where he ends up when the nomination process is complete.




This was the first election in the nomination process. After six months of polls and some of the most memorable debates in modern American political history, we are finally getting some hard data.

The thing I noticed was the map. Romney won in areas with large population centers and the borders, while Santorum took the rural areas. Could this be a preview of things to come when the nomination process moves to South Carolina where the demographics of religious identification is similar to that of Iowa versus the next state in line of New Hampshire? I am saying yes because Romney’s positions on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage are not as firm as his competition and even though he is towing the line to the Evangelical Christian Republican Base right now, he cannot deny the fact that he stated Pro-Choice views and signed Massachusetts Gay Marriage Law in his time as governor.

As noted above Romney has the advantage of money and he used that against Gingrich. Now it appears to be, as Santorum said, game on as other candidate backed PACs have gone on the offensive against Romney. I doubt it is going to have that much impact in New Hampshire because the latest polls are showing that Romney has a firm lead there. He has pretty much skipped campaigning there. Other candidates such as Paul and Santorum saw a boost to their numbers, but it is not enough to catch Romney.

Santorum noted that Ronald Reagan came in second in Iowa and then won in New Hampshire en route to the Republican nomination in 1980 that led to his election as President. The thing is, back then there was almost a month between the Iowa Caucus and the New Hampshire Primary. Today that time period is now a week. So, you if you stumbled, you would have a month to recover and raise the money needed to win that contest. A week is not enough time to do that. Romney has the money, is well known in New Hampshire having made several stops there, and the numbers to support that he will win this contest easily.

One last point… hey it’s called Michael’s Rant for a reason…

Michele Bachmann announced that she was dropping out of the race on Wednesday. I think her supporters will go to Santorum, but because her numbers were small it won’t have an impact. As this thing progress onward, it will be interesting to see where dropped-out candidates supporters go to. As I pointed out in Iowa, those that participated in the caucus, 3 out of 4 voters DID NOT vote for Romney. 25% does not exactly scream front runner status. Somehow Romney is going to have to address that problem. Will the party embrace Romney as their nominee or seek ANOTHER candidate? As more candidates drop out, where will their support go to: Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, or Paul?

Even though Intrade has Romney winning the nomination at 80% that seems a little high for someone who hasn’t consistently stayed above 25% in Gallup’s daily tracker. For someone who has been at this for five years, he is doing a really poor job at this.

This process is going to be interesting as the race heads to New Hampshire and then down to South Carolina on 21 January.

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