Romney on fire, Paul pulls into second

Romney on fire, Paul pulls into second

Summary: No non-incumbent Republican has ever won in Iowa and then gone on to win in New Hampshire. Until now.

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No

non-incumbent Republican has ever won in Iowa and then gone on to win in New Hampshire. Until now. Willard Mitt Romney, age 64, child of former Michigan governor George Wilcken Romney and the former Lenore LaFount has firmly firmed up his Republican front-runner status.

Nipping at his heals, to quote Ron Paul, is Ron Paul. Ronald Earnest Paul, at 76, is five years older than John McCain was, when McCain ran in 2008. Paul made a strong showing in the heavily independent, relatively liberal state of New Hampshire.

Coming up a weak third was Jon Huntsman, followed by Gingrich, Santorum, and a very pallid Perry.

Despite being two-for-two (this contest a strong win, the previous contest an ugly win), Romney is not necessarily the shoo-in for the nomination. He faces an uncomfortable fight next week in South Carolina, where many evangelicals are not exactly happy to be voting for a Mormon, particularly one who did missionary work in Le Havre, France as a youth.

This, in fact, is where the race gets interesting. Romney clearly has the organization, the momentum, and therefore the money. He's been heavily strafing the Florida airwaves (Florida comes after South Carolina) as a backup plan, in case he doesn't take South Carolina.

Going into South Carolina are two marginal candidates, Perry and Santorum, but both have a powerful appeal to the evangelicals, especially with their focus on right-to-life and their assaults on gay rights. Although Ron Paul has come out against choice, his focus on individual freedoms seems strongly counter to ideas like Constitutional amendments banning gay marriage.

This makes Paul a very interesting candidate in South Carolina, because he's also a Baptist, and the Baptists are a quite considerable segment of the population.

Predicting the election this early is a bit of a game, but here's my guess:

  • Paul, because of his Tea Party popularity and Baptist roots, will pick up some steam in South Carolina. He may not win, but if not, he'll come in a stronger second.
  • Romney, widely considered the most electable against Barack Obama, will remain strong, but will lose some wind because of his Mormon background.
  • Huntsman will implode. None of his messages will resonate well in South Carolina, and all he can do is hope he survives to Florida.
  • Gingrich will remain Newt. There will be no change, he will not quit, he will not get stronger. He will just be Newt.
  • Santorum will do worse than he expects. He might score around 10% of the vote, but the Romney-can-beat-Obama-ers and Ron Paul's fanatical supporters will take away most of his remaining Iowa juice.
  • Perry will show on the map, but not enough to make a difference. There's yet another debate, and yet another chance for Perry to un-distinguish himself.

The big issue for Romney is the continuing attacks on his time at Bain. On the one hand, many Americans are willing to give someone with something of a clue about business a chance to fix some of our economic problems. On the other, Romney's very rare off-key statement about "liking to fire people" will play badly, and constantly, for the next few weeks.

Right now, it's Romney's race to lose. There's still a (slim) chance he might if Bain becomes his bane.

Correction: Article originally stated "No Republican has ever won..." when the real fact is "No non-incumbent Republican has ever won...". Fixed. Thanks, Wayne.

Topics: Storage, Data Management

About

David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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16 comments
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  • Disaster in the making for the GOP

    Ron Paul as a second place finisher couldn't be worse news for Republicans looking towards the 2012 presidential election. The reason...he will be frozen out at the convention. Even if Paul stays in a solid second place position, there is no way that Romney or any other GOP nominee would choose him to run as VP. The writing will be on the wall long before the convention, which will give Paul an opportunity to mount a third party bid for the presidency. This scenario will absolutely guarantee a Republican loss in the general election. The party would have a far greater chance if Paul pulled a Rick Perry and sank to less than 1% of the Republican vote. Since that isn't likely to happen, I'm making an early 2012 prediction... Obama/Biden win reelection with 46% of the popular vote over a Romney/Santorum ticket thanks to Ron Paul pulling 19% of the popular vote as an independent candidate. Write it down.
    jasonp@...
    • Not to disagree

      @jasonp@... <br>But Allan Lichtman's criteria for predicting presidential elections hold that significant third party and independent candidacies normally hurt the incumbent party candidate, regardless of their ideological alignments. Presumably this is because they are a sign of popular discontent.<br><br>I think, however, that there are a lot of good reasons to believe that there will be a split in Republican ranks, starting with Dr. Paul's charisma, the reluctance of a lot of fundamentalist Protestants to vote for a Mormon (any Mormon), and the fact that a business Republican (which is what Mr. Romney really is) isn't exactly what Tea Partiers have spent the past 3 years clamoring for.<br><br>If Dr. Paul runs as an independent, I think another weakened, minority presidency (the fourth in the last six terms) will be inevitable, no matter who wins. But just maybe, that will provide some motivation to reform the Electoral College.<br><br>Reply to mwagner:<br><br>I understand what the Constitution says about the Electoral College and I'm quite certain that winner-take-all plurallity voting was not at all what the framers had in mind. This was adopted by individual states as a way to maximize their own influence, prompting other states to follow suit to keep from losing theirs. We put up with it because the winning candidate usually has a majority of the popular vote anyway, and the candidate with the popular vote plurality has only lost four times (and only once since 1888). <br><br>All the while we scare people into supporting one or the other of the major party candidates by (credibly) claiming that their votes are wasted otherwise and even if a third party candidate wins electoral votes, it raises the possibility of a Congressional deadlock.<br><br>I don't think popular vote is a good idea because it would require the feds to administer presidential elections directly (this has always been the job of the states), but we could require (by constitutional amendment) that presidential electors be chosen by popular vote using proportional representation, and specify that if the choice of the president falls on the House, that it choose between the top two vote getters (instead of three) and each member would have one vote (instead of each state). Thus, the electoral vote would much more closely reflect the popular vote, the possibility of deadlock would be eliminated, and divide-and-conquer would cease to be a viable presidential election strategy. As added bonuses, presidential candidates would be forced to run nationwide, instead of focusing on a few key states, and the likelihood of fiascos like Florida in 2000 would be greatly reduced (why mount a lawsuit over a single electoral vote?).
      John L. Ries
      • There is no compelling reason to reform the Electoral College.

        @John L. Ries ... The Presidency has ALWAYS been selected by the States - not the People.

        That is what the Founding Fathers intended. It was the States themselves who decided to base their decision on the will of the People and it was the States who decided to make "winner-take-all" the rule in "electing their electors".

        In fact, the Constitution does not even require Electors to vote the same way as the People of their State. Once again, each State made that choice for themselves.
        M Wagner
      • RE: There is no compelling reason to reform the Electoral College.

        @mwagner@ Actually, the Electoral College was reformed (the 12th Amendment to the Constitution) as a result of the 1800 presidential election between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. In addition, Thomas Jefferson, a so-called Founding Father, and a Republican (note the word 'Republic') believed the Constitution to be a living document that should be periodically revisited, and modified as necessary.
        Rabid Howler Monkey
    • Nothing says Romney has to pick Santorum (or any runner-up) ...

      @jasonp@... as a running mate and nothing indicates to me that Santorum (a Catholic) will do any better in the long run with the Evangelicals than a Mormon would. Nor am I convinced that Ron Paul will run as an independent. He has been campaigning for years and he never has mounted a third party campaign before.

      Romney is the only candidate who stands a chance against Obama and it really doesn't matter who is second on the ticket anyway.

      Actually, I see no reason why Romney might refuse to select Ron Paul. Libertarians are fun to listen to - even if their proposals are non-starters because they are totally impractical in the modern world.
      M Wagner
      • Ron Paul ran as a Libertarian once

        @mwagner@... <br>I don't remember the year, but he was a sitting Republican member of Congress at the time. It was actually the first time I'd ever heard of him and I suspect that's true for a lot of other people as well.<br><br>I could easily see Ron Paul running as the candidate of both the Constitution and Libertarian Parties; indeed the Constitution Party candidate 4 years ago promised to step aside for Dr. Paul if he ran.

        Reply to sfaid:

        Given the state of the economy at the time, I think McCain was going to lose anyway (I believe in the Lichtman criteria). I voted for him, but Palin made me think twice about it.
        John L. Ries
      • RE: Romney on fire, Paul pulls into second

        mwagner, It doesn't matter who is second on the ticket?<br>Are you kidding me? <br>The GOP shot itself in the foot, no wait, the head when it picked Palin last time around!
        sfaid
  • RE: Romney on fire, Paul pulls into second

    Ron Paul has appeal to diverse groups all across the political spectrum. He may be running in second place, but if he can do this consistently I can see him winning the nomination purely through a process of elimination. His two most potent enemies appear to be the old line politicos and, of course, the major media.
    nikacat
    • RE: Romney on fire, Paul pulls into second

      @nikacat wrote:<br>"[Ron Paul's] two most potent enemies appear to be the old line politicos and, of course, the major media.<br><br>Ron Paul is talking about transforming the U.S. from it's current state, a floundering empire, back to our roots as a Republic (I agree that this is necessary). And by Republic, I mean Thomas Jefferson's view of a Republic with strong States rights (remember the Federalists? they won). Jefferson's, and others from the South, embrace of slavery doomed State's rights to be tossed into the wind at the close of the Civil War.<br><br>Paul's enemies are much worse than this. The military-industrial-congressional complex (including the mercenary companies created during the Bush/Cheney administration). The monster banks on Wall Street (that just got a $13 trillion U.S. bailout, courtesy of U.S. taxpayers: the diminishing middle-class). Agricultural corporations (with their various subsidies). Energy-related corporations (esp. the major oil companies). Just to name a few. His vision realized would strip a great deal of corporate America of its powers. Truly revolutionary.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
  • RE: Romney on fire, Paul pulls into second

    "No Republican has ever won in Iowa and then gone on to win in New Hampshire. Until now."

    If there's one thing that annoys me about today's media, it's the use of statistical flukes to try to make predictions. That was probably a statistical outlier rather than some sort of cause/effect thing.
    CobraA1
  • RE: Romney on fire, Paul pulls into second

    The US doesn't need a corporate twat like Romney at this time.
    root12
    • RE: Romney on fire, Paul pulls into second

      @root12 It's either that or a gov't twat, which isn't much better.
      CobraA1
      • RE: Romney on fire, Paul pulls into second

        @CobraA1 ???isn't ANY better???
        drokkon
  • RE: Romney on fire, Paul pulls into second

    I know yours are opinion articles, but I can usually still enjoy them if I disagree with them. However, "their assaults on gay rights" just yanked me right out of your article. What? Can you tell me what gay rights the two candidates have assaulted and how?<br><br>A libertarian-leaning conservative, my opinions about "gay rights" is evolving and I can honestly say I don't have a dog in the fight at this point. However, your phrasing really tipped your hand way more than usual.<br><br>I'm sure Perry and Santorum are for a national marriage amendment or something, but you make it sound like they are trying to strip existing "rights" away from homosexuals. Not so. Theirs is much more an "enforcement of the status quo" or "defending the traditional definition of marriage" than it is an "assault on gay rights."<br><br>(Let's not forget that Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law, the same law that the Obama Justice Dept. now refuses to enforce.)
    drokkon
  • RE: Romney on fire, Paul pulls into second

    That works for me - I lost any shred of respect I had for Newt and Perry when they began suing the state of VA to be on the ballot... sure, forcing your way on a ballot will definitely generate voter interest/sarcasm
    athynz
  • RE: Romney on fire, Paul pulls into second

    I would not vote for any of these nut jobs for various reasons like religion, too old, and not having a effing clue about science
    deaf_e_kate