Romney’s pretty good, not great night

posted at 8:45 am on January 4, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

The counting was still going on when I went to bed last night, so the first thing that I did when I woke up was to check my iPad for the results.  I wasn’t too surprised to see that Mitt Romney had won the Iowa caucuses, but it wouldn’t have surprised me if Rick Santorum had prevailed, either.  Both men gain from the night’s conclusion, but Romney had become a winner almost from the moment the Iowa GOP began tallying the votes.  CNN asked me for some spot analysis (late) last night, and I explained why Romney was on track to have a pretty good night either way:

His partners at the top of the chart make it even better for Romney. Had Newt Gingrich or Rick Perry — or both — won or finished strong in Iowa, Romney would have a much tougher task in consolidating support to secure the nomination quickly.

Perry could have presented a formidable opponent in terms of organization and fundraising, while Gingrich would have challenged Romney in debates all through the primaries in much the same way that Hillary Clinton dogged Barack Obama all through the winter and spring of 2008 before finally admitting defeat as summer arrived.

Gingrich, however, finished a distant fourth place despite having led the polling in Iowa a couple of weeks ago. Perry was an even bigger disappointment; he had precinct captains at every meeting stumping for him, and he spent well in excess of $1 million in a final saturation ad campaign. His low finish has prompted the governor to return to Texas to “reassess” his candidacy, which means that he’s almost certain to withdraw.

Paul and Santorum present fewer difficulties for Romney. Santorum could become a rally point for social conservatives, but if Perry and Gingrich remain in the race, that’s less likely. Santorum’s low fundraising numbers hark back to the Huckabee campaign, which won Iowa but lacked the resources to capitalize on the victory.

Byron York sees this more as an embarrassing escape than a good night:

Santorum could reasonably claim a moral victory because he had started so far behind and labored in obscurity for so long.  But Romney won the actual victory, even if it was by just eight votes.  And Romney did it far more easily than Santorum, attending a total of 38 campaign events in a mere 19 days in Iowa while Santorum attended more than 350 campaign events in 105 days in the state. If the caucuses were determined by bang-for-the-buck, Romney would have won in a walk.

In the end, Romney escaped humiliation, and he did it at far less cost than in 2007-2008, when he gave Iowa everything he had in his first run for the GOP nomination. “If you look back four years ago, we had 52 paid staff in Iowa, and this time around, we have five paid staff,” top Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said a few hours before Tuesday night’s results came in.  “In terms of advertising, we spent $10 million in the run-up to the caucuses four years ago, and we’ve spent a fraction of that this time.  And in terms of the candidate’s own appearances in Iowa, he was here 100 days or so four years ago, and this time we’re at about 15 days.”  [It was actually a few more, but that doesn't change Fehrnstrom's point.]

So Romney avoided what would have been an embarrassing loss after his decision to go all-in in Iowa.  But what now?  He’s heavily favored to win in New Hampshire, but he’s likely to face a reconfigured field that will give his rivals the opportunity to pick up more support in the quest for a candidate to go up against Romney one-on-one. Iowa insiders predict that Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, who received ten and five percent of the Iowa vote, respectively, will be out of the race within 48 hours.  Nationally, Bachmann and Perry are at a combined 12 percent in the polls — support that will go to some other candidate or candidates, but not to Romney.  That will make Romney’s job 12 points harder.

The problem with this analysis is that it presumes that Santorum can replicate this performance throughout the early primary cycle.  It took Santorum months to get into position for his first real look from Iowa voters, and he has not had to face the national scrutiny that buried Perry and has seriously bruised Gingrich.  Unlike Perry, Santorum still lacks the resources to establish a ground game to challenge Romney’s in a serious fashion.  Santorum won’t get much traction in New Hampshire, which mistrusts populists who win (or come close) in Iowa, especially not after being as comfortable with Romney to give him near-majority support in poll after poll.

That’s not to say that conservatives couldn’t coalesce behind Santorum if everyone else drops out.  Perry is going back to Texas, and as I write this, there are rumblings on Twitter that Michele Bachmann will hold a presser this morning in Des Moines and will also not travel to South Carolina.  That puts 12 points in Iowa up for grabs — in Iowa.  In South Carolina, in a poll taken before Santorum’s surge but while Gingrich dominated the polling, that would be 13 points … to add to 4 for Santorum, which doesn’t even get to the 19 points that Romney was drawing in South Carolina before his Iowa win.

Romney benefits by having Iowa produce as his closest rivals a fringe libertarian and a strong conservative with a weak organization.  The latter can be fixed, but Santorum only has days in which to do so, and the longer other candidates stay in the race the less he can do so.  It may not have been a great night for Romney, but it was a pretty good one.


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E L Frederick (Sniper One) on January 4, 2012 at 10:57 AM

(rim shot)

MJBrutus on January 4, 2012 at 10:58 AM

No matter what happens next, America is screwed and the people are the real losers here. If Mitt ends up being the nominee he may beat Barack Obama but we are simply choosing to die slower rather than quicker as there is no difference between the two candidates. I don’t believe Romney when he says he will repeal Obamacare, and I don’t even think he will have a strong argument against it in a debate against Obama because he has implemented his own version of government instituted healthcare. I will never vote for Obama and will plug my nose and pull the lever for Romney when the time comes…but I will not like it and I know that it will soon lead to our demise, just slower instead of faster.

Scorched_Earth on January 4, 2012 at 10:21 AM

Cheer up. We’ve got a great frontrunner. He’s articulate, smart, well-organized, without personal baggage, has good executive experience and impressive business background, has a record of lowering taxes, is pro-life, is strongly opposed to illegal immigration, is pro-getting-tough-with-China, is against bailing out Europe, is polling well in the battleground states, and is six points ahead of Obama in the polls nationally. What’s not to like?

He’s not perfect, but we don’t need a perfect candidate. We need a winning candidate. If we take the WH, the House and the Senate everything else will fall into place, including repealing Obamacare.

writeblock on January 4, 2012 at 10:58 AM

You’re absolutely right about the context and the context you provided is the context with which he said it. My problem is that if you are truly a fiscal conservative you should be working on stopping the federal government from taking so much money from the States. Then there would be no reason to get the tax dollars back to the States with pork projects. Bills need to be clean. Earmarks should be disavowed and put in separate appropriation bills. Spending money like this deepens our national debt.

Zooid on January 4, 2012 at 10:55 AM

I believe that Santorum recognizes this and has said as much in his book according to rockmom. I think the guy deserves a chance. He certainly is not the creep people are trying to paint him as. So he supported medicaid part D and supported Arlen Specter. I guess that is worse than Romneycare in many on this forum’s opinions??

KickandSwimMom on January 4, 2012 at 11:00 AM

Santorum has better organization that people give him credit for. He has offices in nearly every county in New Hampshire, and has visited South Carolina more than any other candidate. His visits to New Hampshire come in second only to Huntsman.

vegconservative on January 4, 2012 at 9:13 AM

I agree. Romney received fewer votes than four years ago and his speech last night was horrible. Does anyone remember the report that Romney had to remove his teleprompter because Santorum spoke without one? Romney the optic candidate, needs teleprompter just like Obama. There is a reason why many call Romney, “Obama lite”. He is!

Santorum has locked up many local endorsements and does have a ground game in NH. How is it possible that people still overlook this fact?

Romney as Newt stated is at best a moderate Repub from Mass. Hello anyone remember Scott Brown?

PuritanD71 on January 4, 2012 at 11:04 AM

Who to choose when there is no reasonable discernible difference?

newtopia on January 4, 2012 at 9:59 A

One is a socialist, the other believes in free enterprise. If you can’t tell the difference, you’re in over your head.

writeblock on January 4, 2012 at 11:05 AM

Mitt Romney 2012 campaign is McCain 2008 part II. Same playbook, just a different election cycle.

jjnco73 on January 4, 2012 at 11:06 AM

Romney….Santorum….Paul….????

.-. – - – .-.

timberline on January 4, 2012 at 11:07 AM

writeblock on January 4, 2012 at 10:58 AM

You are a moron! No baggage? Really? After this primary battle, this is personnal.

jjnco73 on January 4, 2012 at 11:09 AM

You bring up a point I’ve always suspected. The animus against Romney is primarily regional, not ideological–and this poses a difficulty for Santorum as well. But look at it this way–the regional Southern bias is also what makes a southerner a poor fit in other regions.

Do you actually know what you are talking about? Regional?
I am a former NYer…moved to NC 12 years ago. 50%+ of people that NOW live in the South…including Florida are orginally from New England, Mid West and “Northern” states. In the last 10 years look at demographic’s of who’s moving to the south.

“Regional Southern Bias makes a southerner a poor fit”

is the most assinine statement I’ve heard in a long time.
Congrats!!

coach1228 on January 4, 2012 at 11:10 AM

jjnco73 on January 4, 2012 at 11:06 AM

Yep. Nothing has changed. It isn’t as though the GOP nominee has to run away from a terribly unpopular incumbent or that the new incumbent Dem has proven himself to be the worst POTUS in history or anything. Yep, it’s the same ol’ some ol’.

MJBrutus on January 4, 2012 at 11:11 AM

Real Clear Politics NH:

41.0 Romney +22.2
18.8 Paul
12.5 Gingrich
10.8 Huntsman
4.0 Bachmann
4.0 Santorum
2.5 Perry

So, we have Romney up by 22.2 points. Over 40% (For those of who you keep harping on the 75%)

So if Perry and Bachmann both endorse Santorum, Santorum gets a whopping 10.5 to still leave him behind Huntsman.

If all their support goes to Newt that kick Newt up to 19, putting him in second place ahead of Paul, but still 22 points behind Romney.

E L Frederick (Sniper One) on January 4, 2012 at 11:14 AM

To put this in a little perspective, our “winner” had 75 percent of the people casting votes against him.

Tennman on January 4, 2012 at 11:15 AM

Mitt has my vote. He would create a more business-friendly environment that would result in more jobs. I am very conservative, and will gladly vote for Mitt. Santorum is too focused on the social issues. I know he believes that they are tied up together with other issues…and maybe he’s right. It doesn’t work for me, though.

Paddington on January 4, 2012 at 11:15 AM

Tennman on January 4, 2012 at 11:15 AM

Let’s add some more perspective. Mitt is a Mormon who won the caucus in evangelical Iowa! He did so with nary a word this entire campaign about social issues. He collected more caucus votes than his 2 most formidable rivals, Perry and Gingrich combined.

MJBrutus on January 4, 2012 at 11:19 AM

Thank you!
The sooner that religion is taken out of politics – especially the weekly political sermons in Black churches, the better off will be America.
And I’m a Traditional Roman Catholic.
(who wouldn’t have voted for JFK if I could)

~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on January 4, 2012 at 10:20 AM

I wasn’t around to vote for JFK in ’60, nut I’d certainly vote for him today. He being to the faaaaaarrrr right of where Mittens is now.

It just shows how critical it is that we stand athwart history and yell stop in 2012. The political battle field has lurched so towards leftist collectivism that the nation no longer even resembles its rugged individualist under-pinnings. JFK, who is so ostensibly worshipped by the DNC & the Progs, would today be lambasted by them. His platform & the way he governed would arguably be further right than where the TEA party has staked it’s claim.

People need to recognize that what we now are mistakenly(actually purposefully by the MSM)told is the middle is in fact very much to the left are where we were just 50 odd years ago. Mittens might, at best, arrest this insidious collectivist pull, but no more than that. When our very survival depends on a reversal of this trend. A Romney presidency would act as no more than a static place marker from which the left would merely pick up again in ’16, or if wew are really lucky in ’20.

This is why actual conservatives keep vacillating between the not-Romney’s, they understand that delaying catastrophe is not good enough. We need a sharp turn rightwards to avoid the collectivist ice-berg that looms before us. A reduction from ramming speed to a more “moderate” pace while maintaing present course, which is what Romney represents, is not really a viable option.

Archimedes on January 4, 2012 at 11:21 AM

Damned typos!

Archimedes on January 4, 2012 at 11:22 AM

Unless you count government spending and taxation, only Christie is to the right on fiscal issues. Giuliani’s sole claim to conservatism was putting Mafia dons behind bars and forcefully condemning Islamist attacks on NYC. I’m still not sure what Romney’s claim to conservatism is, but it sure as hell is not fiscal.

Steve Eggleston on January 4, 2012 at 10:23 AM

Totally wrong. Before Christie and Palin there was Rudy. Rudy was a Reaganite from the word go. He lowered taxes 23 times and balanced a budget bigger than most states–and for the first time in decades. He privatized public properties and fired deadwood bureaucrats. He consolidated agencies and closed down others. He revolutionized crime-fighting, making it more economically efficient as well as effective–the serious crime rate dropped precipitously as a result. He introduced workfare long before anybody else ever heard of such a program. He fought the unions tooth-and-nail, he fought the Media, including the NYTimes, he fought the race-hustlers. All this was before 9/11.

And before that, as US Attorney, he cleaned up Wall Street, sending billionaire Boesky and junk-bonder Milkin to prison. This was before he went after the Mafia dons. So try getting your facts straight. Nobody running before or since was ever more fiscally conservative–not Daniels, not Christie, not Palin–and those three learned from him. If you wonder why the Tea Party is fond of him, there’s your answer. If you wonder why he couldn’t get traction in his own party in 2008–ask Dr. Dobson.

writeblock on January 4, 2012 at 11:25 AM

This is a mess. From the people who brought you Ted Kennedy , Barney Franks and now Mitt Romney. He is no conservative, and from his track record as Governor, big believer in massive taxes. Check the number of mass exodus from his state, running from cost of living. I don`t know how anyone can afford to live in New England the taxes are thru the roof.

LSUMama on January 4, 2012 at 11:29 AM

MJBrutus on January 4, 2012 at 11:19 AM

Great accomplishments, to be sure. However, when viewed as a whole bucket, he had 25 percent four years ago, 25 percent four months ago, 25 percent two weeks ago, 25 percent two days ago and 25 percent last night.

That still leaves 75 percent who would prefer someone else. Will we vote for him if he’s the only one left? Sure we will. But we’d still prefer someone else.

Heck of a way to start and maintain a presidency.

Tennman on January 4, 2012 at 11:32 AM

Romney WON Iowa, a state he ignored until about 2 weeks ago. Would a blowout win have been better? Of course, but Romney used Iowa to take out the only 2 candidates that really had a shot to actually beat him, Perry and Gingrich. (they actually destroyed themselves, but Romney gave them a little help) Rick Perry, in contrast, camped out in Iowa, spent something like $800 per vote, and pandered in every conceivable way possible (with positions like opposing abortion even in cases of rape) yet he still came in 5th place.

Romney now goes up against Santorum that will have only a few weeks to build a national organization and no money. Also, Santorum has a lot of baggage that has yet to be vetted. He really is the poster child for Big Government Bush Conservatism, yet also combines that with social positions that will make him completely unelectable in a general election (which is a big reason why he lost his home state by nearly 20 points).

Romney is sitting pretty right now. Had Newt or Perry placed in the top 3, he would have actually had a fight on his hands.

BradTank on January 4, 2012 at 11:33 AM

MJBrutus on January 4, 2012 at 11:19 AM

Let’s stick to the facts: ACTUAL VOTES.

Romney got 25% of the vote in Iowa.

All others got 75% of the vote.

Please don’t give me poll numbers…they are NOT actual votes.

Question….if everyone drops out except Newt, Santorum and Paul….who gets Perry and Bachmann supporters?
Do the “anti Romney” votes go to Romney?…or what percentage do?
I have my suspicion Romney will get less than 20% of those…in states like SC and Fla.
Love to hear from Bachmann and Perry supporters on this…and the question to them is: Do you support the “anti Romney” or Romney now?

coach1228 on January 4, 2012 at 11:34 AM

well when you tie for 1st w two other candidates, get less votes than you got the last time you ran, have your super pac run millions of negative, dishonest ads against the person who was far ahead of you and still only get 25% of vote, it’s not exactly a glowing recommendation.

wodiej on January 4, 2012 at 11:40 AM

have your super pac run millions of dollars of negative, dishonest ads against the person who was far ahead of you and still only get 25% of vote, it’s not exactly a glowing recommendation.

wodiej on January 4, 2012 at 11:40 AM

wodiej on January 4, 2012 at 11:42 AM

Do we really want a fight among Republicans? I say save it for Obama. The most important thing is for him to be voted out of office. We have a smart, resourceful man who knows how to lead in Romney. If Newt teams up with Santorum against Romney (as it is rumored) it will make both of them look like petulant teenagers.

Paddington on January 4, 2012 at 11:42 AM

We are hurting, that’s for sure. Santorum’s conservative social positions doom him in the general, and Paul’s foreign policy positions and general demeanor doom him. So, we are left with Romney, because we all have concluded Newt just won’t happen. So, we get Romney. No surprise, big disappointment.

GaltBlvnAtty on January 4, 2012 at 11:44 AM

Just to elaborate on my previous post about Giuliani’s conservative fiscal credentials, here is what Gary Jason of American Thinker said in an article entitled, “Remembering Baroness Thatcher”:

In my lifetime, I have witnessed only three cases of what I consider masterful governance: Ronald Reagan’s presidency, Rudy Giuliani’s mayoralty, and Margaret Thatcher’s prime-ministership. I have certainly witnessed other prominent historical figures — great moral figures such as Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Vaclav Havel, Lech Walesa, and Pope John Paul all come readily to mind here. But for taking an unwieldy government, in the midst of crisis, in the face of massive resistance by rent-seeking special interests and ideologically opposed elites, and forcing major economic and social improvements in the body politic over which one has been given executive power, those three were peerless.

Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/12/remembering_baroness_thatcher.html#ixzz1iVbrbSTi

It still is galling to me that some of you are still clueless about Rudy’s actual record in a city with a larger population than most states and a bigger budget. You passed up an opportunity to nominate a winner in 2008 when he was leading Obama in all the polls, based largely on total ignorance of his fiscal record as an executive genius–in favor of a fiscal know-nothing like McCain who was nothing more than a Democrat lite. Some of you are trying to do the same to Romney this time around.

writeblock on January 4, 2012 at 11:47 AM

Rudy, Christie and Mitt are to the right of them on most fiscal issues–but get little respect on conservative blogs.

writeblock on January 4, 2012 at 10:10 AM

Mitt’s record as gov of MA:

– $550M in new taxes/fees his first year
– increased spending by 15% his first year
– campaigned to cut personal income tax rate from 5.3% ot 5.0%. Once in office reneged on that promise his first year

That’s a fiscal conservative? Please.

angryed on January 4, 2012 at 11:48 AM

With Mitt the “inevitable” GOP nominee….second look at President Obama?

Who to choose when there is no reasonable discernible difference?

newtopia on January 4, 2012 at 9:59 AM

This is precisely why I believe Obama can beat Romney in the general election, and that this “most electable” meme about Romney is actually flawed logic. The same logic that gave us John McCain. The punditry keep applying the conservative voter thinking of “anybody but Obama” to the moderate voting block, and then assuming therefore that a moderate candidate will attract those voters. Except that not all moderates are as desperate for anybody but Obama as the right is. They are willing to listen to both candidates in the general election. And when they see two candidates with records that aren’t significantly different, then why bother voting for the new guy? May as well stick with the devil you know, especially when Obama and team are at full song on the campaign trail. Let’s face it, the one and only thing Obama is good at is campaigning.

gravityman on January 4, 2012 at 11:50 AM

Great accomplishments, to be sure. However, when viewed as a whole bucket, he had 25 percent four years ago, 25 percent four months ago, 25 percent two weeks ago, 25 percent two days ago and 25 percent last night.

That still leaves 75 percent who would prefer someone else. Will we vote for him if he’s the only one left? Sure we will. But we’d still prefer someone else.

Heck of a way to start and maintain a presidency.

Tennman on January 4, 2012 at 11:32 AM

He doesn’t care about the other 75%. He has spent 6 years telling that 75% to go to hell. I can’t think of any other president, Dem or Rep, who so despises 75% of his own party.

He’s banking on so much hate for Obama that the 75% will fall in line. That’s a pretty big gamble for him to take. Especially when so many of that 75% are disgusted with the GOP in general and are on the verge of saying screw it, I’m voting 3rd party. Mitt is pushing those people over the edge with every speech he gives.

angryed on January 4, 2012 at 11:51 AM

You are a moron! No baggage? Really? After this primary battle, this is personnal.

jjnco73 on January 4, 2012 at 11:09 AM

Read my post again. I said no personal baggage. I didn’t say he had no baggage at all. Romneycare is baggage enough. But he’s personally above reproach, good marriage, solid family man, etc.

writeblock on January 4, 2012 at 11:51 AM

Perry had it right: Santorum is not going to win anything. He didn’t win Iowa, for crying out loud, and thats the very best state for a social conservative! It’s one of the few where evangelicals comprise a huge portion of the active voting block in primaries, and Santorum went to every single county courting their votes. Heck, he lived there for six months, and he still didn’t win. Santorum no goes forth into states where he has no organization, requiring lots of money, and needing a message that appeals well beyond social cons to fiscal cons and indies.

But Santorum is a big spending, big government guy. There go the fiscal cons (like me). His message is confined to life and marriage. There go the indies, who are tired of those who want to use government to change our national culture (like frigging Democrats).

Perry had it right: “Santorum is unelectable.”

MTF on January 4, 2012 at 11:56 AM

Even many Democrats are anxious for “anybody but Obama”. To the extent that 2010 was about Obama, and I think it was, look at the results of the Toomey/Sestak race for the Senate. Not to mention all the drama on the Dem side that let up to that election.

Paddington on January 4, 2012 at 11:58 AM

Read my post again. I said no personal baggage. I didn’t say he had no baggage at all. Romneycare is baggage enough. But he’s personally above reproach, good marriage, solid family man, etc.

writeblock on January 4, 2012 at 11:51 AM

True to an extent. His family life and personal life seem very much on the up and up… except he is a Mormon. Personally, as an aetheist, I could care less that he is a Mormon. I don’t consider a candidate’s religion in my thinking at all, unless they wear it on their sleeve and tell us that their religious beliefs should be codified in law (one of my big problems with Santorum). So far, I have not see Romney do that at all, so the fact that he is Mormon has no factor in my dislike for him as a candidate. However, there are those out there for whom the Mormon factor is a big issue, and it’s probably more people than we would like to think.

Lest we forget, 50 years ago we elected our first Catholic president in JFK, and that was considered a huge deal at the time. Many people wouldn’t vote for a Catholic at that time, and now most people would not think twice about the difference between voting for a Catholic vs a Protestant.

gravityman on January 4, 2012 at 12:04 PM

I’m not sure I see the guy who is the butt of Sodomy jokes winning the election.

E L Frederick (Sniper One) on January 4, 2012 at 10:57 AM

I’m not sure those ‘jokes’ will work the way you seem to think. They might be ‘funny’ and ‘cool’ to the idiot indoctrinated college crowd and other libertines, but they might backfire in a great big way for many others. I think we are about to see what Rush warned about when he talked about how the homosexual lobby hates Rick Santorum and will attack him no holds barred. At least we might finally know just how low this country has sunk, morally speaking. If what so many here say is true, and someone with the moral positions of Rick Santorum really can’t win in this nation, we are doomed. It will be a relief, in a way, to know once and for all, if we have truly gone beyond hope for reliance on the protection of Divine Providence that our Founding Fathers held.

I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Choose therefore life, that both thou and thy seed may live. For nearly 40 years we’ve been choosing death and Romans 1 has come to pass, while the social libertines blindly ignore it, to their own and the nations peril. I tend to think we’ve passed the point of no return, but maybe we have one more chance to choose life, and $50 abortions and seat on the board for PP isn’t it.

Santorum 2012!

pannw on January 4, 2012 at 12:05 PM

Santorum spent $21 per vote, while Romney spent $156 per vote. The question is what value one can place on time spent on the ground.

I would argue that Romney’s $156 is what bough Santorum his 2nd place spot. Newt was 20 points ahead of Santorum before Mitt opened the wallet on him.

hanzblinx on January 4, 2012 at 12:09 PM

But Santorum is a big spending, big government guy. There go the fiscal cons (like me). His message is confined to life and marriage. There go the indies, who are tired of those who want to use government to change our national culture (like frigging Democrats).

Perry had it right: “Santorum is unelectable.”

MTF on January 4, 2012 at 11:56 AM

Agreed. Which I why I think Perry should stick around until South Carolina and Florida. I think he could maybe recover ground in those states for the reasons you noted. Typically the South does not care for the Northeast Liberals of the GOP, and Perry has the money to put together a fast and hard ground game in those states. I think he should write off NH, and go straight to SC and FL and make a hard and huge push there.

gravityman on January 4, 2012 at 12:09 PM

This is why actual conservatives keep vacillating between the not-Romney’s, they understand that delaying catastrophe is not good enough. We need a sharp turn rightwards to avoid the collectivist ice-berg that looms before us. A reduction from ramming speed to a more “moderate” pace while maintaing present course, which is what Romney represents, is not really a viable option.
Archimedes on January 4, 2012 at 11:21 AM

The country is not ready for a “sharp turn rightwards”. We are a center-right country. All your Utopian plans are useless if you can’t actually, you know, get elected.

It still is galling to me that some of you are still clueless about Rudy’s actual record in a city with a larger population than most states and a bigger budget. You passed up an opportunity to nominate a winner in 2008 when he was leading Obama in all the polls, based largely on total ignorance of his fiscal record as an executive genius–in favor of a fiscal know-nothing like McCain who was nothing more than a Democrat lite. Some of you are trying to do the same to Romney this time around.
writeblock on January 4, 2012 at 11:47 AM

Exactly! I’m a New Yorker and experienced Guiliani’s fiscal (and law and order) conservatism first hand. I was torn between Rudy and Mitt last time around, but Rudy blew his campaign strategy (and conservatives were stuck with the false notion he wasn’t a conservative cause of social issue). Anyhoo, enjoy this recap of his brilliant career, from Stephen Malanga at City Journal – “Yes, Rudy Guiliani is a Conservative”. Enjoy!

Buy Danish on January 4, 2012 at 12:10 PM

There are no sound fiscal positions that exclude sound moral positions -someday the anti-religious fiscal cons will recognize they have no right to their own money or even a right to opine about money (biodiversity rules the Godless?) without having morality as the basis -You simply cannot sever morality from money in or out of political life without catastrophy. Doing such is the essence of Godless communism or some form of statist dictatorship.
You destroy the social cons at your ownexpense -keep your eyes on the word conservative and stop dividing to conquer -that’s the enemy’s game that’s destroying America.

Don L on January 4, 2012 at 12:14 PM

Ed, you really think the “strong conservative” label applies to Rick Santorum? The man who voted for Medicare Part D, No Child Left Behind, and a plethora of wasteful earmarks? The guy who vocally supported Arlen Specter? I’m not buying it.

I think it’s time for a second look at Huntsman. I’ve personally preferred Huntsman to Romney from the start- and I’m convinced he’s the only candidate left (if Perry gets out) with both a chance to a) top Romney for the nomination and b) top Obama in the general.

I think the only question left for those among us who are uncomfortable with Romney is simply: Is Huntsman significantly better than Romney? Personally, I think he is. His record is more consistently conservative, he has foreign policy chops that Romney lacks, and he’s the best positioned to give Obama a real run in the general. For all the Perry-Bachmann-Santorum-Gingrich people out there: You owe it to yourselves to at least answer the question I just posed, because it’s the only realistic scenario left to stop Romney.

Publius 2.0 on January 4, 2012 at 12:14 PM

Will.Not.Vote.For.Romney.Period.
Many of the folks I talk shop with feel the same.
Anecdotal evidence and all that, but his numbers are too weak to even think about him taking down Obama.

MouthyMainah on January 4, 2012 at 12:32 PM

There seems to be this strange (to me, anyway) sentiment that Romney “must be stopped!!!”

Frankly, I don’t get it.

What exactly are people afraid he is going to do if he is elected?

Mitt seems to know his audience.
In MA, the bluest of blue states, he gave the people what they wanted.

In a Center-Right country, he will do the same.

Personally, I think some (granted, not all) of the “mitt-riol” being flung is nothing more than silly rebellion against some imaginary, nefarious Establishment. Got to stick it to the Man, man.

My advice:
Take a step back.
Breathe.
Learn how to separate your emotions from your politics.

The world is much easier to live in when you do.

RightWay79 on January 4, 2012 at 12:37 PM

Do you actually know what you are talking about? Regional?
I am a former NYer…moved to NC 12 years ago. 50%+ of people that NOW live in the South…including Florida are orginally from New England, Mid West and “Northern” states. In the last 10 years look at demographic’s of who’s moving to the south.

“Regional Southern Bias makes a southerner a poor fit”

is the most assinine statement I’ve heard in a long time.
Congrats!!

coach1228 on January 4, 2012 at 11:10 AM

Apparently you’re the one who’s clueless. The next election will be fought in the battleground states, not in the red states. And of the eleven or so battleground states, the most important remain in the Rust Belt, not in the South. The struggle will be about who will take PA, OH, MI and WI, not who will take the South–which will go Republican, no matter who becomes our nominee.

So the main issue for us should be to nominate the candidate who’s a good fit for the swing states that would be vital for Obama if he hopes to be reelected. It’s not about who can win the Southern states. Conversely, those most attractive to the South are least attractive in other regions–for the exact same reasons Northerners would have a tough time in SC or GA or TX. This is just fundamental identity politics.

Romney has roots in the Midwest and is therefore a much better fit for the central state region than either Perry or Newt. (He would also fare well in a state like NV with a large Mormon population.) Contrarywise, the very factors that make somebody like Perry strong in Southern states in fact would work against him in the central states.

Take, for instance, the very public expressions of religious piety that play so well in the South. Midwesterners and Pennsylvanians recoil at such expressions–mainly because their citizenry are so much more religiously diverse than are the voters in the South. In a region with great numbers of Catholics and Jews and atheists and everything in-between, religion is definitely a ground politicians learn to tread gingerly if they want to win. What boosts a southern politician’s stock in the South would be exactly what would lower his stock in the Midwest and NE.

writeblock on January 4, 2012 at 12:37 PM

This is a mess. From the people who brought you Ted Kennedy , Barney Franks and now Mitt Romney. He is no conservative, and from his track record as Governor, big believer in massive taxes.

This is plain out false. He lowered the income taxes on the middle class and lowered the capital gains tax. He refused to raise taxes and balanced the budget without doing so. He was no believer in “massive taxes.”

writeblock on January 4, 2012 at 12:54 PM

MouthyMainah on January 4, 2012 at 12:32 PM

Too many Mainiacs are what my husband calls “adamantly stupid”. We lived there for years and dealing with them in business situations was beyond exasperating. I don’t care what you do in the primaries, but if you stay home in November, please don’t come around whining later when Obama finishes the job of “fundamentally transforming America” because you had would.not.vote.for.Romney.Period.

More important, if you have children or grand-children, please think about their future and try to get past your stubborn intransigence.

Buy Danish on January 4, 2012 at 1:03 PM

I would vote for Paul if someone promises to whack him in the head every time he says ‘Iran’ or ‘Israel’. I can see crying myself into drunken stupor after pulling the lever for Mittens. But will not, I repeat, will abso-effing-lutely not vote for another religious douchenozzle. I’m mighty sick of compassionate conservatism.

Archivarix on January 4, 2012 at 1:05 PM

I was raised in Penna. by quietly religious parents. We were taught not to “wear our religion on our sleeves”. Its a cultural thing. I bet many other people feel the same. Nothing wrong with being outspoken. Just not for everyone.

Paddington on January 4, 2012 at 1:10 PM

There are no sound fiscal positions that exclude sound moral positions -someday the anti-religious fiscal cons will recognize they have no right to their own money or even a right to opine about money (biodiversity rules the Godless?) without having morality as the basis -You simply cannot sever morality from money in or out of political life without catastrophy. Doing such is the essence of Godless communism or some form of statist dictatorship.
You destroy the social cons at your ownexpense -keep your eyes on the word conservative and stop dividing to conquer -that’s the enemy’s game that’s destroying America.

Don L on January 4, 2012 at 12:14 PM

We live in a democracy. That means all citizens get to vote, religious and non-religious. Simply because some of us–I include myself–emphasize electability, doesn’t mean we’re not religious or moral personally. It means before everything else, electability matters most and that means taking into consideration the opinions and attitudes of voters in more moderate states that are crucial in a general election. Without electability, we lose everything– Supreme Court nominees, control of the EPA, control of energy development, etc. etc. etc. So it’s not about destroying the soc cons, it’s about using common sense. You can be a social conservative without being foolish politically by demanding an impossible purity that loses elections.

writeblock on January 4, 2012 at 1:10 PM

Real Clear Politics NH:

41.0 Romney +22.2
18.8 Paul
12.5 Gingrich
10.8 Huntsman
4.0 Bachmann
4.0 Santorum
2.5 Perry

That’s the benchmark. If Romney fails to get 40% in NH this year, it is another black mark for his campaign.

If he manages to underperform in both IA (already did) and NH, then his campaign will be in a free fall.

Norwegian on January 4, 2012 at 1:23 PM

This is plain out false. He lowered the income taxes on the middle class and lowered the capital gains tax. He refused to raise taxes and balanced the budget without doing so. He was no believer in “massive taxes.”
writeblock on January 4, 2012 at 12:54 PM

I find it interesting that you said “He lowered the income taxes on the middle class“.

Did he raise taxes on anyone else? Did he raise fees? Did he raise ANY other taxes? I’m asking because I truly don’t know the answers to these questions.
I went to the website http://romneyfacts.com/issue_tax.php and there are a LOT of items that are listed there, which ones are true, I don’t know, but it’s worth a look.

Zooid on January 4, 2012 at 1:24 PM

Romney beat expectations. There is no other way around it.

scotash on January 4, 2012 at 2:16 PM

Eisenhower, Nixon, Bush 41, Bush 43. All Moderates who won 7 of 8 elections. But all the hand wringers want to focus on Dole and McCain’s losses instead.

If we could bring back Reagan and Goldwater from the grave and make them the 2012 GOP ticket, we’d be asking them to do things that no Presidential Administration has ever done before.

How do we know that Romney won’t do what no one else has ever done before (because the can could always be kicked down the road), if these things MUST be done NOW to save the country from economic calamity?

ardenenoch on January 4, 2012 at 2:42 PM

Romney would be destroyed in the general.

Romney’s track record is nothing to run on.

All the media has to do is provide the details of his horrible economic track record in Massachusetts (tax & fee increases, 47th in the nation in job creation), then report provocative stories on the Mormon “cult” with racism, polygamy and Warren Jeffs all being mentioned.

The evangelical base will not support Romney in the numbers needed to win the general.

cyclo on January 4, 2012 at 3:11 PM

This was recently posted on Powerline. It should answer any doubts about Romney’s fiscal conservatism. The post begins by citing The Club for Growth:

Governor Romney’s single term contained some solid efforts to promote pro-growth tax policy. In May of 2004, Mitt Romney proposed cutting the state’s income tax rate from 5.3% to 5.0%—a measure Massachusetts voters had approved in a 2000 referendum, but was blocked by the State Legislature in 2002. The proposed tax cut would have provided $675 million in relief over a year and a half. When the Massachusetts Legislature refused to budge, Romney proposed the same tax cut in 2005 and again in 2006 with no success. Romney was more successful when he took on the State Legislature for imposing a retroactive tax on capital gains earnings. After a bloody fight, Romney succeeded in passing a bill preventing the capital gains tax from being applied retroactively, resulting in a rebate of $275 million for capital gains taxes collected in 2002. …

Governor Romney’s record on spending must be considered within the liberal political context in which he governed. … On balance, his record comes out more positive than negative, especially when one considers that average spending increased only 2.22% over his four years, well below the population plus inflation benchmark of nearly 3%. …

Governor Romney successfully consolidated the social service and public health bureaucracy and restructured the Metropolitan District Commission. Romney even eliminated half of the executive branch’s press positions, saving $1.2 million. He also used his emergency fiscal powers to make $425 million worth of cuts in 2006, taking particular aim at local earmarks, instead of allowing the Legislature to dip into the state’s $1.2 billion rainy day fund. While there is no question that Governor Romney’s initial fiscal discipline slacked off in the second half of his term, on balance, he imposed some much-needed fiscal discipline on a very liberal Massachusetts Legislature.

On welfare and entitlements, Romney’s record was excellent:

As governor, Romney pushed for important changes to Massachusetts expansive welfare system. Although federal welfare reform passed in 1995, Massachusetts was woefully behind, relying on a waiver to bypass many of the legislation’s important requirements. Romney fought for legislation that would bring Massachusetts’ welfare system up to date with federal standards by increasing the number of hours each week recipients must work and establishing a five-year limit for receiving benefits. Much to his credit and to the dismay of many Massachusetts liberals, Romney successfully forced Medicaid recipients to make co-payments for some services and successfully pushed for legislative action forcing new state workers to contribute 25% of their health insurance costs, up from 15%. Governor Romney also deserves praise for proposing to revolutionize the Massachusetts state pension system by moving it from a defined benefit system to a defined contribution system.

Romney’s record on regulation was also very good:

He also vetoed a “card check” bill that would allow unions to organize without a secret ballot election. As governor, he often clashed with the knee-jerk anti-business Legislature over his attempts to ease Massachusetts’ regulatory burdens. Though some of his largest undertakings were ultimately crushed by liberal opposition, Governor Romney deserves praise for attempting to change the relationship between government and private enterprise for the better. These efforts include:

* Pushed to revamp the Pacheco Law, a union-backed measure that makes it nearly impossible to privatize or outsource state services
* Aggressively pushed to deregulate Massachusetts’ “Soviet-style” auto insurance industry. Massachusetts is the only state in which the government mandates maximum insurance rates and requires insurers to accept every applicant
* Called for the privatization of the University of Massachusetts medical school
* Proposed measures to eliminate civil service protection for all municipal workers except police and firefighters and exempt low-cost public construction jobs from the state’s wage law
* Proposed easing decades-old state regulations on wetlands
* Proposed easing pricing regulations on Massachusetts retailers
* Signed a bill streamlining the state’s cumbersome permitting process for new businesses
* Eased regulations for brownfield development
* Vetoed a bill limiting the ability of out-of-state wineries to ship directly to Massachusetts consumers, calling the legislation “anti-consumer”

The idea that Romney is not conservative or that he is liberal or that he’s no better than Obama is simply false. Those who argue this way show ignorance of his real record. Romney was solidly conservative–as much as any Republican could hope to be, given the liberal context in which he functioned as governor. As Powerline points out, the Cato Institute scored him higher as a fiscally conservative governor than Jeb Bush, Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels and Haley Barbour.

writeblock on January 4, 2012 at 3:20 PM

Sorry, Ed, but it’s BS to say Romney’s win was just “okay.”

8 weeks ago he wasn’t even considered in the running in Iowa, remember?

Santorum had a great night yesterday. So did Romney.

CoolCzech on January 4, 2012 at 5:25 PM

If he manages to underperform in both IA (already did) and NH, then his campaign will be in a free fall.

Norwegian on January 4, 2012 at 1:23 PM

Psst. Mitt won IA. As little as 2 weeks ago few people gave him a chance. But you go ahead and keep setting the bar where you think it ought to be and then raise it when he clears it. In the mean time Mitt will win NH, FL, NV and ME before you know it. In fact it’s quite likely he won’t lose a single state in Feb:

February 4, 2012
- Nevada (caucus)
February 4–11, 2012
- Maine (caucus)
February 7, 2012
- Colorado (caucus)
- Minnesota (caucus)
- Missouri (primary)
February 28, 2012
- Arizona (primary)
- Michigan (primary)

The only state prior to super Tuesday that I would give him less than even money on is SC. And even there, SC has yet to go with a candidate who has not won IA or NH. And Mitt will have both of those in the bag in a week from now. This year SC finally just might break that pattern.

MJBrutus on January 4, 2012 at 8:01 PM

Rudy was a Reaganite from the word go. He lowered taxes 23 times…

And yet the NYC budget quadrupled under Rudy. Those 23 tax cuts must have been ever so tiny.

RJL on January 5, 2012 at 5:32 AM

writeblock on January 4, 2012 at 3:20 PM

Welcome aboard! So nice to see open comment registration offered an opportunity for some knowledgeable Romney supporters to get in. It has been a very lonely 5 years here…

Buy Danish on January 5, 2012 at 12:00 PM

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