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Obama wins GOP Primaries (to date)

by Frank Schnittger Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 07:10:51 PM EST

In The Political Paradox of US conservatism I argued that whenever Romney looked like tying up the Republican nomination, some other more conservative candidate popped up to steal the lead. First it was Sarah Palin, then Michelle Bachmann, then Rick Perry, then Herman Cain and then Newt Gingrich who led the polls. And then Rick Santorum appeared from almost nowhere to win the first caucus in Iowa.  Romney recovered to win New Hampshire but was then trounced by Newt Gingrich in South Carolina. Romney then won Florida and Nevada only to be trounced by Santorum in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado.

For all his money, organisation, endorsements and establishment support, the Republican base just can't get to like Romney. Next up is Michigan, which is unlikely to vote Romney (even though his father was a popular Governor there).  The reason? Romney's New Yourk Times' Op ed piece "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" is unlikely to play well there even amongst conservative GOP voters. Clint Eastwood's "Half time in America " ad during the Superbowl final couldn't have come at a worse time for Romney. Eastwood, a lifetime Republican voter, didn't explicitly endorse Obama.  But he sure endorsed Obama's message that the Auto bail-out worked.

So as Romney, Gingrich and Santorum continue to savage one other with attack ads containing accusations so negative that even Democrats haven't dared to throw at their Republican opponents there has been one clear winner to date: Barack Obama.


Ever since the GOP primaries got going in earnest, Obama's rating has been moving upwards from a near 50:50 favourable/unfavourable rating last Autumn/Fall:

Even his job approval numbers are nearly back to 50:50

Even on the economy, Obama's Achilles heel to date, Obama's numbers are improving as good employment numbers over the past few months are finally putting a dent in the unemployment rate:

Obama has always out-polled Gingrich by a steady 10%, but now his generally slender lead over Romney has widened to over 5%. There's a long way to go until November, but to date Obama has been the resounding winner of the GOP primary process. It would have been difficult for Democrats to have dreamed up a more enticing scenario than having almost equally strong/weak Republican contenders tear strips off one another (and spending huge amounts of cash) all the way to the Republican convention in August. Indeed, if the economy continues to improve, Obama could soon become unbeatable and the prospect of a Democratic victory in the Congressional elections also becomes a distinct possibility.

P.S. the charts above are dynamic and are being updated every time you load this page. Consequently the (static) narrative text may not always be an accurate commentary on the charts. Even in the short time since I published this diary, Obama's relative position has improved further.

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For all his money, organisation, endorsements and establishment support, the Republican base just can't get to like Romney. Next up is Michigan, which is unlikely to vote Romney (even though his father was a popular Governor there).  The reason? Romney's New Yourk Times' Op ed piece "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" is unlikely to play well there even amongst conservative GOP voters. Clint Eastwood's "Half time in America " ad during the Superbowl final couldn't have come at a worse time for Romney. Eastwood, a lifetime Republican voter, didn't explicitly endorse Obama.  But he sure endorsed Obama's message that the Auto bail-out worked.
Your analysis is very close to booman's
Romney is supposed to be the nominee because he has the money, organization, endorsements, and temperament that his opponents lack. But it turns out that people don't like his face, he can't organize worth a damn, no one cares about endorsements, and his temperament is off-putting. Meanwhile, his money advantage is blunted by the Citizens United ruling that allows Super PACs to keep his opponents going on a shoestring budget. Romney's advantages have so far turned out to not be advantages after all. Even the conservative media has failed to unite behind him.


tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 04:03:46 AM EST
I have been reading Booman, and taking part in discussions there, so my piece is merely synopsising a number of stories and discussions there and adding a bit of data from Pollster to evidence some assertions. My point is that the main winner so far has been Obama, although the slightly improving economy has also helped.  

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 07:07:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The question is whether asdf is right that
The only reason the Democrats aren't having this same sort of problem is that they aren't running primaries this year.
I don't remember the 2008 Democratic primary to be as much of a clown parade as the Republican one was already then, even though it did degenerate with unseemly attack ads when only two contenders were left standing. Would a Democratic primary this year or will the one in 2016 be as much of an affront to reason?

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 07:10:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It all depends on whether Super PACS remain legal or whether citizen's united is overturned by a revamped Supreme Court. At the moment all the attack ads are funded by Super Pacs which don't have to disclose their donors or even their affiliation and thus they can go negative and anti-factual with impunity.

I have argued that Obama may even be disadvantaged by not being primaried from the left this year because Romney is being defined as a moderate centrist by the attacks coming from his right. Without an effective attack from his left, Obama remains defined as the leftward edge of the known political universe by the MSM, and not as the pragmatic moderate centrist he actually is.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 08:03:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Next up is Michigan, which is unlikely to vote Romney (even though his father was a popular Governor there).  The reason? Romney's New Yourk Times' Op ed piece "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" is unlikely to play well there even amongst conservative GOP voters. Clint Eastwood's "Half time in America " ad during the Superbowl final couldn't have come at a worse time for Romney. Eastwood, a lifetime Republican voter, didn't explicitly endorse Obama.  But he sure endorsed Obama's message that the Auto bail-out worked.
You know what's funny?

It wasn't a bailout: Obama did walk GM through bankruptcy.

And you know what else is funny? Romney's Op-ed is not all that bad either.

IF General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won't go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.

...

You don't have to look far for industries with unions that went down that road. Companies in the 21st century cannot perpetuate the destructive labor relations of the 20th. This will mean a new direction for the U.A.W., profit sharing or stock grants to all employees and a change in Big Three management culture.

...

In a managed bankruptcy, the federal government would propel newly competitive and viable automakers, rather than seal their fate with a bailout check.

So I really don't understand what the brouhaha is about. It's definitely not about the facts of the GM restructuring, or the actual text of the Romney Op-ed (which, of course, may have nothing to do with what Romney actually believes now or believed then). So it must be about the usual tribal politics, us vs. them, and using whatever rhetorica trick works, whether the facts actually bear it out. All that matters is that the rhetoric strikes a chord with "the voter" (or maybe just with "the pundit" - the voter doesn't matter here).

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 04:22:11 AM EST
How many people have actually read the editorial? Most have just seen the title and reacted accordingly (even though Romney might not even written the title....).
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 04:26:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know what's funny?

It wasn't a bailout: Obama did walk GM through bankruptcy.

Because bankruptcy doesn't need to mean liquidation.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 04:34:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Even further, a newspaper op-ed is not the message: its part of the backing for the message. You can be as reasonable as you like in the op-ed ~ and indeed it makes sense, since the less there is to attack in the text of the op-ed, the less attacks on the op-ad can be used to distract from you messaging ~ but if your message in made-for-TV sound bites is that its a mistake for the government to intervene, then your actual message is that the government intervention that did take place should not have taken place.

And that was Romney's actual messaging: that the government intervention should not have taken place.

The reason that the "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" headline resonates is that Romney made quite clear that he was joining the chorus of voices opposing the government intervention.

After all, effectively supporting Obama's action would have been political suicide: he's running in a Republican Primary, for pete's sake.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Feb 10th, 2012 at 11:53:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The point is that since Reagan, Republicans cannot concede ideologically that the state can be a beneficial actor in economic/industrial/health policy whereas Obama/Democrats have been arguing (ineffectively against a hostile congress to date) that increased regulation/intervention is required for the economy to perform better. In practice, Romney's "solution" might not have been all that different, but just like with Romneycare, he has to emphasize the difference with Obama to appease the Republican base. At the moment he is failing to convince the wingnuts and losing ground with independents all at the same time. Practicality be damned, its all about perceptions and appearing to be on the right side of wedge issues - "freedom" vs. state intervention, regulation, state funded abortion, contraception, and state approved gay marriage etc.

It is conveniently forgotten (by both sides) that Bush approved the first bail-out and that it was Cheny who said "deficits don't matter". Its all about purity on increasingly ridiculous wedge issues that defines candidates, as the rise of Santorum makes clear.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 9th, 2012 at 07:18:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Almost makes us nostalgic for the policies, at least, of this guy. That just shows how effectively the backers of libertarian messaging have been in selling their ideological agenda over the last forty years. Imagine trying to get the Republican nomination with that sort of baggage.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 11th, 2012 at 10:27:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nixon was a conservative when Liberalism was the dominant narrative. Conservatism/libertarianism has been dominant since Reagan. To be a conservative now (relative to the current conservative dominant narrative) you have to be a serious whack job. In the case of Santorum you have top go back to prior to some time before the New Deal.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Feb 11th, 2012 at 01:22:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd really like to see Romney lose the primary, showing that not even conservatives like 1-percenters. IMHO the only candidate able to defeat Obama is Ron Paul, so the election for the White House will end as soon as the GOP primary is decided.

You might find me At The Edge Of Time.
by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]a[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]gmail[dot]com) on Fri Feb 10th, 2012 at 04:14:58 PM EST
I don't believe that Paul has a chance against Obama. But I'd love to see the debates, with Obama having to defend his foreign policy against Paul.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Fri Feb 10th, 2012 at 05:14:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A lot depends on how the economy performs between this and November - a double dip, and Obama could be toast but that seems increasingly unlikely to happen. Romney is really the only candidate who can target Obama's weakness - the performance of the economy to date.

Paul has not been able to break out of the 10-15% range in polls of Republican voters, although he could do well in the Maine Caucus.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Feb 10th, 2012 at 05:42:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IMHO the only candidate able to defeat Obama is Ron Paul

Why? I wouldn't give much significance to polls at this stage: once a candidate is chosen, all the Republican media war machine will start to drum up support for that one candidate, and especially if it is a Tea party candidate, they can start a truly vicious negative campaign.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Feb 11th, 2012 at 05:31:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the point Luis is making is that Paul could attract very considerable independent and even some Dem support and thus represent the biggest threat to Obama in the General Election if only he could consolidate the Republican base. His problem is in getting the GOP nomination in the first place where, even against a plethora of bad candidates, he has been unable to break through to date.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Feb 11th, 2012 at 01:48:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Romney victory in Maine caucuses - The Irish Times - Sun, Feb 12, 2012

Results of Maine's non-binding straw poll showed the former Massachusetts governor with 39 per cent support, or 2,190 votes, ahead of libertarian Texas congressman Ron Paul with 36 per cent or 1,996 votes.

Former US senator Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the US House of Representatives, who did not campaign in Maine, won 18 per cent and 6 per cent of the vote, respectively.

Despite anecdotal signs of higher voter turnout, the votes cast in Maine were only slightly above 2008 levels. A handful of communities have yet to hold their caucuses.The Maine outcome capped a good day for Mr Romney, who unexpectedly lost to Mr Santorum, a social conservative, in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado on Tuesday to generate new doubts about his appeal to party conservatives.

Republicans are seeking a nominee to challenge Democratic president Barack Obama in the Nov. 6 general election. Some 21 delegates will be allocated from Maine. A candidate needs 1,144 delegates to clinch the Republican nomination.

Earlier yesterday, Mr Romney won a closely watched straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, with 38 per cent support to Mr Santorum's 31 per cent.

It seems an incredibly low turnout and Paul did very well (as I predicted above). I wonder if Romney is still the victor when all the communities cast their votes and all the votes are counted.  In Iowa, Romney was wrongly declared the winner and this gave him momentum going into New Hampshire. By the time Santorum was declared the real winner in was too late to effect the next few Primaries in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Feb 12th, 2012 at 08:31:41 AM EST


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