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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Morris sees Romney as the Front Runner

"It is one of the maladies of our age to profess a frenzied allegiance to truth in unimportant matters, and to refuse consistently to face her where graver issues are at stake." — British writer Norman Douglas (1868-1952)

The following is an analysis I received in an e-mail from Dick Morris regarding the ranking of candidates for the GOP presidential nomination:

“On arriving at the Democratic Convention of 1960, reporters asked Adlai Stevenson who would emerge as the nominee. "The last survivor," he answered. Perhaps the 2012 Republican nomination will be determined by the same criterion.

With the departures of John Thune, Mike Pence, Mike Huckabee, Haley Barbour, Donald Trump and, now, Mitch Daniels, we have constantly to revise or scenarios of the likely outcome.

As always, the geographic mix of primaries is overshadowed by the ideological aspects of the contest. On the center court, Mitt Romney stands to win the moderate-Republican quarterfinal now that Trump, Daniels and Thune have dropped out. Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman are his only rivals. Huntsman, hobbled by his service in the Obama administration, is unlikely to make much progress while Romney is running, but Pawlenty might be more viable. The former Minnesota governor enjoys important advantages in next-door Iowa. If he can finish above Romney there, he could be a viable opponent down the track. To knock Pawlenty out of the race, Romney needs to beat him in Iowa.

Meanwhile, in the conservative quarterfinal, Michele Bachmann is the odds-on favorite now that Huckabee has gotten out of the way. An Iowa native, she seems ideally poised to win the first caucus. Her main rivals will be Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain. Newt has to finish above Bachmann. Will enough conservative women flock to Michele to overcome Gingrich's advantage among the right-wing faithful? A lot depends on whether she can contain the grassfire of enthusiasm spreading for the Tea Party favorite, Cain. Now that enough insiders have dropped out, there might be running room for the charismatic former CEO of Godfather's Pizza. But Bachmann's role as the leader of the Tea Party Caucus in the House gives her a big advantage. From that perch, she can protest Boehner's deals with Obama and demand a militancy as popular on the hustings as it is anathema in the House Speaker's Office.

The most likely outcome in Iowa would be: Bachmann, Romney, Gingrich, Pawlenty, Cain, and Huntsman.

Then attention will turn, of course, to New Hampshire, where Romney has a big lead whose solidity is questionable. Having failed to win there in 2008 facing McCain, can he prevail now that he has been out of office as Massachusetts governor for six years? Romney needs to win or he will be badly hurt. And, following a likely Bachmann win in Iowa, Gingrich must finish at least second to remain in contention.

The most likely result is that Bachmann and Romney head into South Carolina with major momentum. There, next door to Georgia, Newt will make his last stand. Failing an upset, the Mitt and Michele show will take to the road.

A battle of Romney vs. Bachmann would be less a struggle between the center and the right of the Republican Party than of its top against its bottom. The party establishment, its donors, its business allies and its elected officials would rally to Romney while the Tea Party and evangelical voters will back Bachmann. (In the Democratic Party, it's always wise to bet on the bottom, but in the Republican Party, the top usually prevails.)

(If Chris Christie enters the race, all bets are off. He could win Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and everyplace else. But this particular dragon seems too reluctant to run.)

Working for Romney is a sense of legitimacy. The Republican Party is essentially monarchic, always looking for a duly anointed heir. With Bush leaving office intestate, Romney's good run in 2008 and his loyalty to the GOP since create a sense that it is his turn. On the other hand, his RomneyCare legislation in Massachusetts will offer the Tea Party ranks of Michele Bachmann a huge target in primary after primary. Has the Republican Party become enough like the Democratic — dominated by an energized grass roots — that an upset is possible? We'll see.”

Dick Morris pretty much says what I said in my post yesterday about Romney. In the latest Fox News poll Romney now leads the pact of GOP potentials with 30% while the rest of the pack lingers in single digits — and he hasn’t even announced his candidacy yet. While I would love to see someone more openly conservative than Romney at the head of the GOP ticket I am a realist and believe the will be nominee.

A survey completed on May 23rd shows Mitt Romney seizing a decisive national lead in the Republican Presidential Primary. Romney, who was getting only 22% of the vote before Trump and Huckabee pulled out, now swells to 30% of the primary vote (if Sarah Palin does not run). The survey also found that former House Speaker Newt Gringirch was neither helped nor hurt by his rocky announcement of his candidacy and has come through the firestorm triggered by his gift giving to his wife and his criticism of Paul Ryan's Medicare cuts unscathed. The survey also shows real momentum for the bottom of the GOP field, notably for former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. With Palin out of the race, the Morris Poll found the following results:

Romney = 30%

Gingrich = 15%

Bachmann = 7%

Cain = 7%

Pawlenty = 5%

Santorum = 3%

Huntsman = 1%

With Palin in the contest, Romney still leads with 25% of the vote, followed by Palin at 16% and Gingrich at 11%. No other candidate gets more than 6%.

Essentially, this poll shows the GOP field taking shape. Romney is far out in the lead and Gingrich is fending off challenges from Cain, Bachmann, Pawlenty, and Santorum for the right to be his chief opponent.

The rise of Cain is particularly notable. Coming off a strong debate performance in the second tier GOP debate in May (neither Romney, Gingrich or Palin attended), the charismatic African-American is building up momentum and winning the votes of many of the Tea Party activists. Particularly if Palin does not run, Bachmann, who has yet to announce, also has great potential to overtake Gingrich for second place.

It would be the utmost folly to play into the hands of the Democrats as Republicans did in 2008 and allow the split between conservative and moderate Republicans allow Obama to be elected again. It will be disastrous for the country.

I hear a lot about voting for principles, especially from the conservative radio talkers, and while I agree that this may hold in local House elections it does not hold in national elections. Look what happened to McCain when the conservatives abandoned him — we got Obama.

The Democrats will remain united behind Obama — that is what they do. According to a Gallup Poll taken in August 2009 self-identified conservatives outnumber self-identified liberals in all 50 states of the union.

At the same time, more Americans nationwide are saying this year that they are conservative than have made that claim in any of the last four years.

In 2009, 40% percent of respondents in Gallup surveys that have interviewed more than 160,000 Americans have said that they are either “conservative” (31%) or “very conservative” (9%). That is the highest percentage in any year since 2004.

Only 21% have told Gallup they are liberal, including 16% who say they are “liberal” and 5% who say they are “very liberal.”

Thirty-five percent of Americans say they are moderate. Even though conservatives out number liberals by almost two to one it’s the 35% who claim to be moderate that determine elections. It was many of those “moderates” who voted for hope and change in 2008, but switched to the conservatives in 2010 when the House went to the GOP. The big determinant was ObamaCare.

Even in the Democrat victory in the special House election in New York’s 26th District. In losing to liberal Democrat Kathy Hochul by a margin of about 47% to 43%, State Assemblywoman Corwin lost the Buffalo-area district that had been firmly in Republican hands since the late Jack Kemp won his first term in Congress there back in 1970.

But in so doing, the GOP got a good and alarming look at what to expect in 2012. Inarguably, the spirited Democratic effort to link Corwin to the GOP budget plan crafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan helped make a cliff-hanger out of a race that should have been a “slam dunk” for the GOP.

In speeches and debates, Erie County Clerk Hochul almost always brought up her opposition to the Ryan plan, which Corwin endorsed early on. Hochul’s television salvos slammed Corwin for supporting a plan which, the Democrat charged, “would essentially end Medicare.”

Corwin, who also carried the ballot lines of the Conservative and Independence Parties, hit back at Hochul, but, critics said, she was responding too late. She emphasized her support for Medicare for those 55 and over (for whom which the Ryan plan leaves the current Medicare structure intact) and her opposition to ObamaCare (A Siena University poll a week before the voting that showed Hochul leading Corwin by a margin of 42% to 38% also showed voters district-wide opposing ObamaCare by a margin of 50% to 12%).

The GOP cannot focus on the entitlements of Medicare and Social Security in 2012. They need to keep the pressure on ObamaCare and other budget busters such a Medicaid and food stamps. ObamaCare, Jobs, the economy, debt, deficit and foreign policy should be the issues to attack Obama with. Libya and Afghanistan will still be viable issues to attack the Democrats on. These will keep the moderates and seniors in the fold.

Once there is a Republican president along with a Republican House and Senate the entitlements of Social Security and Medicare can be tackled in a rational debate. But, they have to get elected first.

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