Thursday, December 22, 2011

2012 GOP Iowa, a Dead Heat - Bachman in the Race - Gingrich Leads Nationally, Romney Super Pac Sole Target: Newt Gingrich – Shades of Mike Huckabee!


2008 - The Last Men Standing the Least Likely to Win by Pundits Standards


One has to ask themselves, how many polls can be accurate and what methodology is most predictive – the answers will vary, depending upon the pollster; however, one thing in this election cycle is clear – few if any of the polls taken appear to have a general consensus. The latest poll coming out of Iowa and commissioned by Fox News, an automated poll taken by Springfield Illinois Based political consulting firm “We Ask American”, shows a statistical dead heat among Paul, Romney, Gingrich and Bachmann. The pollsters analysis is fairly spot on, given the facts about how the Iowa Caucus is structured - it is the ground game – the arm twisting, the convincing and not the amount spent on advertising, but the ground troops that will win the day. In 2008, although predicted to win Iowa two weeks out in some polling, Mike Huckabee was considered a dark horse, with Mitt Romney favored to win. Romney had, after all, spent millions on ads, most of those focused on attacking the up and coming Arkansas Governor who broke into the lead. Inexplicably (to some) Huckabee won Iowa, and Romney was out of the race after Super Tuesday. In Iowa, apparently, it’s those that walk the walk and talk the talk, despite negative advertising, that will win the day, but only if they have the ground troops.

In this particular automated poll of likely voters We Ask America offers the following (Taken Dec. 21st): Ron Paul 19%, Mitt Romney 18%, Newt Gingrich 16% and Michelle Bachmann 15% - with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5%, that places all candidates within reach of winning the caucus. In their analysis, they give the nod to Ron Paul, who has the apparent ground strength in Iowa.

In the latest national poll conducted by Public Policy Polling, one of the most accurate pollsters (leans Democrat), especially within the last week of any political contest, gives Gingrich the nod, with only a slight loss in support, yet a 35 point margin, with Romney at 22% (which is a number Candidate Romney has owned for two Presidential Campaigns), Paul 11% and Bachmann, again next in line, at 7%. Bachmann, who has taken the position of “tied” in Iowa, can stay fairly even in the race should she finish in the top four. However, a word of caution on Iowa polling – wait until next week to get a handle on Iowa, if this remains unchanged, one can anticipate four winners coming out of the caucus. The main focus on the campaign, however, unless Bachmann gains traction in New Hampshire and South Carolina (the most predictive state), will continue to be Gingrich/Romney and Paul, the top tier candidates for now.

Of course, if one doesn’t care for the outcome of the Public Policy Polling survey, one can turn to ten other national polls, and literally shop which polls they prefer. For example, a national survey released last week by CNN (marginals here) using the same methodology as the aforementioned pollsters, shows Gingrich and Romney tied at 28%, with Paul at 14% and Bachman at 8%. Over at Rasmussen on Iowa, taken on Dec. 21st, one sees an entirely different outcome: Romney leads with 25%, Paul at 20%, Gingrich at 17%, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum at 10% each and Bachmann in this poll at 6%.

Again, these pollsters used automated polling (telephone survey) – apparently one might hazard to guess that it depends upon where one is calling in Iowa, as to the results one will have, given the range of poll results from two pollsters and in the same day. Suffice it to say, what it does tell us is that one of the top three may either place or win in Iowa – and the 4th candidate may be Perry, Bachmann or Santorum.

Mitt Romney and the Super PAC versus Newt Gingrich (the Mike Huckabee of 2011 in terms of who’s in Mitt Romney’s proverbial cross-hairs)

The Political Action Committee directly tied to Mitt Romney in this election (see Club for Growth in 2008), Restore our Future has spent literally millions on a barrage of ads against one candidate only: former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich. The PAC, which the Speaker has rightly pointed out, is made up of former Romney 2008 staffers, and “friends”, has released advertising that is less than truthful and designed to do one thing – remove Newt Gingrich from Mitt Romney’s path. Romney refuses to refute these methods; in the same manner he championed similar programs against Huckabee in 2008. The PAC’s top donors, incidentallyare from Bain Capital – no surprises there (See Open Secrets.org).

Here’s the take on the negative advertising from this perspective at any given time in any give race – it will eventually backfire. It backfires especially with independent voters in the state of Massachusetts, which should be the model for studying the habits of the unenrolleds or independent voter, given that 51% of the Commonwealth’s Electorate is “unenrolled”. What attracts these voters? Apparently not attack ads – Kerry Healy, former Lieutenant governor under Romney, ran 24/7 attack ads against one Duval Patrick, and the result: defeat. Flip to the Democrat side in Massachusetts, and the race between Attorney General Martha Coakley and one Scott Brown, and the same negative advertising run by Coakley, managed to have the same effect.

What can one take away from all the dirty dealings, the attack ads and the conflicting polls? The fact that this is an open and healthy race and that the longer the American Public has to watch this nominating process with four candidates or five for that matter, the better the eventual outcome will be. One can also look at the similar patterns evolving from the 2008 cycle and find that one candidate is proving to be taking a similar path, which ended in a withdrawal after Super Tuesday. In any bettors mind, putting good money on Mitt Romney to go the distance at this point would be a waste. The question is which of the remaining candidates will go the distance? One would hazard to guess, given this round of polls (which is subject to change next week); Gingrich, Paul and Bachmann will be the likely trio emerging. One would, however, caution both Bachmann and Paul to remain rather focused on their own merits rather than pull up 20 year old drivel on the Speaker, as it has a tendency to backfire, sooner than later. They might want to check back with Mitt in March.

As to those pundits who are pointing, rather gleefully, to the Speakers falling poll-numbers, and noting that he is dislike in polls nationwide (obviously not the case), noting that the negative ads would have no impact because they are being run only in Iowa. One has to ask, regardless of the candidate under attack, and regardless of the state, do they really believe the American Pubic is so isolated that they would not see an attack ad against any candidate, on the net, or on one of the many cable shows, or network nightly newscasts that are broadcast nationwide? Would someone is say California, watching a broadcast which shows a negative campaign ad in Iowa, not see it? Again, the disregard for the intellect of the American Public is, in a word (phrase), lacking in common sense.
Here’s the prediction: should these plethora of polls hold true: Ron Paul should sweep Iowa, he has the ground game, in New Hampshire, Mitt Romney may just squeak out a win, unlikely given the same ground forces of Paul and strong tea party support for Gingrich, that contest too is up in the air. That leaves South Carolina – or the gateway to Super Tuesday and the nomination. Should Gingrich take South Carolina, and possibly the now in the outs Florida primary (or place with Romney near the top), the balance of the states will map similarly to those of 2008. However, one might find that instead of Romney running second throughout the south, it may be Bachmann or Paul or both going the distance to the bitter end. Although this blogger holds no crystal ball, only access to articles and insight from previous election cycles (history) these trends that are taking shape, make the aforementioned scenario extremely likely.

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