Now that Rick Perry has dropped out of the presidential race, where are his Perry supporters likely to go? Nate Silver has one take on this here. Here is another snapshot from Lynn Vavreck and me, using a Jan. 14-17 YouGov poll.
For the plurality of Perry voters (43%), their second choice is Mitt Romney. Gingrich comes in a close second (29%). This pattern is evident among all voters except those who prefer Ron Paul. Romney’s status as a second choice for so many voters is evidence of his inevitability, as we wrote about last week here.
The debate among the Republican candidates over Mitt Romney’s time at Bain Capital has raised again questions about whether Romney’s tenure in the “1 percent” will damage his campaign. The Obama team certainly welcomes this debate. After all, they have been attacking Romney along precisely these lines:
The day after Mr. Romney squeezed out a razor-thin victory in the Iowa caucuses, Mr. Obama’s political brain-trust trained most of its fire on him, painting him as both a Wall Street 1 percent type and an unprincipled flip-flopper.
Peter Hamby has a nice debunking of some myths of South Carolina politics. For one, some instances of negative campaigning were widely discussed but never quite confirmed. For another, the negative campaigning that does occur may not work. See also my discussion of the academic literature on negative campaigning, which finds exactly that.
Jordan Ragusa adds another valuable point. Rather than assuming that South Carolina’s “culture” breeds nasty politics in presidential primaries, consider this:
Because the primary system is an iterated process (rather than a one-shot, 50 state election), political “momentum” is critically important…Simply put, candidates who win early primaries like Iowa and New Hampshire are likely to receive greater support in subsequent states because of sophisticated or “front runner” voting (see this paper) as well as generate greater campaign donations and support. This, in turn, improves their chances for winning subsequent primaries. Because South Carolina is third in this sequence, there is an incentive for candidates to go negative independent of the state’s demographics.
As with the Iowa caucuses, vote shares for the Republican candidate in New Hampshire distributed themselves geographically in 2012 in ways that are highly consistent with how they were distributed in 2008. The following graphs illustrate that persistence of support.
In the order of the finish, we start with Romney, whose showing in 2012 repeated that of 2008, just shifted up about 5 percentage points in every town: