At the moment, this is President Barack Obama’s situation: The economy has seen two consecutive months of good job growth, with 200,000 jobs added in December and 234,000 in January. What’s more, Obama has adopted more populist rhetoric, with an emphasis on tax hikes for the wealthy that will make them pay their “fair share.” The stronger economy has made the president’s message that much more potent and has significantly improved his standing with the public. If there’s anything that will guarantee goodwill for an incumbent president, it’s economic growth. The economy doesn’t have to be objectively good, but as long as it's getting visibly better, any president can count on support for his message and voter approval.
The most important rule in Nevada is don’t bet against the house. The guys who got it wired tend to win, and Mitt Romney, candidate of the Mormon majority, didn’t disappoint in Saturday’s caucuses. Equally unsurprising was the low turnout, which probably fell short of the number of people dropping their paychecks in the MGM Grand Casino on Saturday night. The best efforts of the media to drum up a story notwithstanding, the Nevada caucuses yielded no surprises and barely anything of interest.
To no one’s surprise, Mitt Romney repeated his 2008 performance in Nevada with a double-digit win last night. Given the poll numbers, which had the former Massachusetts governor leading by up to 20 percent, Romney’s victory was nearly preordained.
It’s silly to pretend that those of us writing about the GOP nomination race don’t have a vested interest in a drama without end. This is to say that we have no interest in the resolution that the whole of the Republican Party wants badly even as its individual parts resist it.
The next stop on the national humiliate Newt Gingrich tour lands in Nevada tomorrow when, if recent polls have even an ounce of truth, Mitt Romney will trounce the competition. Every survey this week has Romney up by staggeringly wide margins. Public Policy Polling's latest numbers have Romney doubling Gingrich and gathering support from 50 percent of Nevadans. The Las Vegas Review-Journal's numbers aren't quite as rosy for the former Massachusetts governor; Romney tops Gingrich by only a 20 percent margin.
It isn't easy getting a read on what motivates Mitt Romney. He's always polished and prepped, his square jaw firmly in place and every word carefully planned and delivered as though it were part of a 57-slide PowerPoint presentation. He married his high school sweetheart and raised a gaggle of strapping boys, not a rebellious one among them (so far as we can see, anyway). He has no visible vices. When he's frustrated he gives a fake laugh. He never seems to get sad or angry. In short, it's hard to discern what turns the wheels inside him.
Earlier this morning, Nate Silver argued that 150,000 was President Obama’s “magic number” for job growth, in part, because 150,000 is the dividing line between a bad report—where the economy isn’t growing fast enough to keep up with population—and a decent one, where it is. If the economy could generate that many jobs on a monthly basis, then Obama is on OK footing for the election in November.
Campaign operatives love nothing better than a sharp, highly favorable contrast between their candidate and the opposition—and President Obama’s people had to be chest-bumping and high-fiving over the one they got today.
Even if Mitt Romney hadn’t appeared on stage to collect it, there is nothing good that can come of Donald Trump’s endorsement of the former Massachusetts governor. Not only is the real-estate mogul unpopular with the country at large but he is thoroughly associated with the “birther” conspiracy—the belief that President Obama is not actually a natural-born citizen of the United States.
Federal Election Commission super PAC filings proved largely anti-climactic when the figures were released Tuesday. Suspicions were confirmed that Jon Huntsman's largest benefactor was his father, who chipped in 70 percent of the funds for the PAC supporting his son. And Wall Street bankers have poured millions of dollars into Mitt Romney’s campaign.
For a guy who is widely known as disciplined and methodical, Mitt Romney sure does utter a lot of gaffes. And I use the term "gaffe" not in the Michael Kinsley sense (when a politician inadvertently tells the truth), but in the sense of a statement that reinforces the supposed character flaw reporters have identified as the candidate's Achilles' Heel, whether the prevailing interpretation was actually what the candidate was trying to say or not. Romney can barely go a week without uttering some awful statement that makes his aides wince as it shows him to be just the patrician, out-of-touch capitalist overlord his opponents paint him to be (I listed a bunch here).
Governor Mitt Romney signs Massachusetts health care reform in 2006.
Last year, at the University of Michigan, Mitt Romney gave a speech on health care to address his prior support for the individual mandate—the linchpin for the Affordable Care Act and Romneycare in Massachusetts. The core of his speech—and of his message on health care since then—was that it’s unacceptable for the federal government to require health insurance for its citizens. As he said:
Our plan was a state solution to a state problem. And his is a power grab by the federal government to put in place a one size fits all plan across the nation.
ORLANDO, FLORIDA—No one—save perhaps journalists—is more disappointed than Democrats by Newt Gingrich's poor Florida finish. The former House speaker's continued relevance and attacks on Mitt Romney has provided great news fodder.
Mitt Romney sure knows how to celebrate a triumph. This morning, on his victory lap after thumping Newt Gingrich in the Florida primary, he spoke with CNN’s Soledad O’Brien and volunteered the following: “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net out there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it.” Noting this might “sound odd” to millions of poor Americans, O’Brien kindly threw the former Massachusetts governor a lifeline to explain himself. He proceeded to make matters worse: “There’s no question: It’s not good being poor,” he said, foot traveling ever nearer mouth. “You can focus on the very rich; it’s not my focus.
ORLANDO, FLORIDA—"I think Florida did something very important coming on top of South Carolina," Newt Gingrich said last night after the results of his loss had already been confirmed. "It is now clear that this will be a two person race between the conservative leader Gingrich and the Massachusetts moderate."