Vox Pop

The Prospect's politics blog

Gingrich Campaign Math

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." This is Gingrich's new line of defense: Mitt Romney may win elections but he has yet to prove he can win a majority of Republican votes. Gingrich used a similar variation during his press briefing on Sunday, arguing that the combination of support for him and Santorum dwarfed Romney's polling lead. Once Santorum dropped out, Gingrich implied, he would gain the full backing of the true conservative vote, and any remaining messy details would be sorted out through a brokered convention. The finals results bore out a different story. As expected, Romney won Florida by a wide margin. But it was such a wide margin that he did manage the feat that Gingrich had termed impossible less...

The Public Likes Populism

At the same time that liberals have praised President Obama for his embrace of populist rhetoric, mainstream pundits have attacked him for “divisiveness.” In October, David Brooks criticized Obama’s newfound populism as “ misguided ”—“It repels independents,” he wrote—and more recently, William Galston warned that his focus on inequality “may well reduce his chances of prevailing in a close race.” And while it’s true that the Democratic base loves this rhetoric, it’s also true that it has a home among moderate and independent voters, who are increasingly uncomfortable with the income stratification of American society. In a recent poll from CBS News and The New York Times , 55 percent of Americans agreed with the Democratic contention that the rich pay less than their fair share in taxes. And while 52 percent of Americans believe that capital gains and dividends should be taxed at the same rate as ordinary income, this amounts to a significantly higher tax rate than the status quo—...

Must Be the Money

The GOP candidates who made it through the invisible primary (the months before any vote has taken place but contenders campaign like crazy) and lasted through Florida can thank super PACs, the shadowy political action committees that can take unlimited donations from corporations and rich donors. Once the primary ends and the general election showdown begins, get ready for super PAC spending and donations to skyrocket for both parties. After yesterday’s Federal Election Commission filing deadline, we can now attach concrete numbers and faces to the dark money fueling the 2012 election. Here’s the scoop on the super PACs you should keep an eye on for the rest of the race (we'll be updating with more stats throughout the day). Priorities USA Log in or register to post comments Candidate : Barack Obama Total Raised 2011 : $4.4 million Percent donations of $25,000 or more : 99 percent Spending in South Carolina (according to ProPublica figures) : $96,555 (all on ads opposing Mitt Romney...

His Own Worst Enemy

If Mitt Romney has a big problem in the Republican primary, it’s himself. The former Massachusetts governor can’t seem to keep his foot out of his mouth, and has—through misstatements—portrayed himself as a cold and heartless shill for the 1 percent. Here are some of the greatest hits: “ Corporations are people , my friend.” “I’m running for office for Pete’s sake !” “I like being able to fire people .” “I should tell my story. I’m also unemployed .” When heard in their full context, most of these aren’t as bad as they sound. But, as John Kerry learned in 2004, voters aren’t that attuned to the context of politicians, especially when they say things that leave a bad first impression. On CNN last night, Romney deepened this problem with another tone deaf comment which, fairly or not, will reinforce the image that he is a defender of the wealthy: “ I’m not concerned with the very poor . We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich,...

If Romney Loses in November, Will the GOP Move to the Center?

It's not too early to start speculating about what a Mitt Romney loss in November will do to the Republican party, a charge the New Yorker 's George Packer takes up . Will they move to the center or to the right? The simple answer is, of course they'll move to the right. That's what they do. But in this case, the simple answer is probably the right one. Packer points to 1972, when the Democrats nominated the most liberal guy they could find, George McGovern, and were pushed by this loss to move to the center. If the Republicans were to nominate the guy they now perceive as the real conservative (Newt Gingrich) and lose big, then something similar might happen. But since they're actually going to nominate the guy they think of as a moderate, they'll naturally conclude that less moderation is what they need. As Ezra Klein says : "You can write the post-mortem now: ' Of course America wasn't going to vote for a liberal Republican from Massachusetts who had passed the country's first...

Behold the Power of Newt

ORLANDO, FLORIDA —Newt Gingrich has publicly pledged to have the single most productive day in presidential history. Gingrich has taken to listing his first-day proposals during recent stump speeches, but he promised to take it a step further when he spoke last night. He promised to release a new Contract With America during his non-concession speech— "a personal one between me and you"—that would detail his plans once he enters office. "We're going to put this together in a way that you will be able to see in writing with my signature, and you'll be able to hold me accountable," Gingrich said. For Gingrich, it's not enough to promise voters that you'll bring change to Washington—you have to bring about that change in the span of a few hours. By my assessment, it seemed like far too ambitious of a plan, just given the taxing schedule of inauguration, what with changing tuxedos between each ball and whatnot. But Gingrich offered a rebuke to my timekeeper's cynicism last night. "All of...

Primary Battle Weary

Last night’s victory speech was familiar terrain for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. Instead of asserting his conservative credentials or swiping at his Republican rivals, Romney focused his fire on Obama, with an extended attack on his leadership. “Mr. President, you were elected to lead, you chose to follow, and now it’s time for you to get out of the way," Romney said. This speech was his pivot to the general election—a generic message that can appeal to disgruntled voters and disaffected supporters of the president. And with his big, double-digit win in the Florida Republican primary, it makes sense to return to this terrain. Romney has regained the momentum he lost in South Carolina, and reestablished himself as the GOP’s presumptive nominee for president. The problem for Romney is that this should have happened much sooner. The conventional wisdom surrounding presidential primaries—at least, since 2008—is that competitive contests make for a better general election...

Gingrich, Party of One

ORLANDO, FLORIDA —Newt Gingrich didn't look broken when he stepped up to the podium at the Rosen Centre Hotel's Grand Ballroom last night. "Everybody here has been so positive in every part of the state," he said after ticking off a laundry list of thank-yous. While the event was billed as a "Newt 2012 Victory Party," there was little reason to celebrate. The major networks had all called the Florida primary for Mitt Romney shortly after polls in the western panhandle closed at 8 p.m. But Gingrich—who ended the night with 32 percent of the vote—took the stage with blustery confidence. "[We're] designing and putting together a people's campaign—not a Republican campaign, not an establishment campaign, not a Wall Street funded campaign," he said, reprising the populist rhetoric he had rolled out the previous day against "Massachusetts moderate" Mitt Romney, who won 46 percent of the vote in last night's primary. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) Republican presidential candidate former House...

Hurricane Mitt Flattens Newt

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney beams during his victory celebration after winning the Florida primary election Tuesday Jan. 31, 2012, in Tampa, Florida. M itt Romney and the Republican elite unleashed their full arsenal against Newt Gingrich in Florida—and it paid off big. In a near-total reversal of the results in South Carolina ten days earlier, the former Massachusetts governor won an emphatic, double-digit victory on Tuesday. With a five-to-one spending advantage, and a coordinated media assault on Gingrich, the Romney forces went all in for a devastating beat-down in Florida. With their candidate outperforming Gingrich in two debates last week, and with the Georgian muddling his anti-establishment message, they got it. Most GOP primary-goers said their most important consideration was which candidate could beat President Obama, and exit polls showed Romney winning that group by 25 percent. Republican women gave...

Gingrich Campaigns Until the Last Minute

CELEBRATION, FLORIDA —A candidate's election-day schedule can sometimes be as good a predictor of the results as polling. This is the case with Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich on Florida primary day. Romney, whom polls forecast will walk away with a large victory today, hosted an early morning rally in Tampa, then took the afternoon off. Gingrich, on the other hand, kept his day packed, crisscrossing central Florida to try to scrounge up extra votes. Yesterday, the Gingrich campaign ditched its normal bus for a chartered plane. Even with jet fuel behind him, Gingrich couldn't keep with his schedule; he was at least an hour late to most of his events yesterday. Today, his campaign stayed on schedule, much to my surprise. I arrived (late) at Fred's Southern Kitchen in Plant City about 20 minutes after Gingrich's bus had pulled away but, according to one bystander still milling about, I didn't miss much. Gingrich had rolled through greeting each table and briefly interacted with each voter...

From Sea to Shining Sea?

If you’ve been listening to the pundits, you might think that the only open question in Florida tonight is whether Mitt Romney will croon America the Beautiful in his victory speech. After that, it’ll be a rose-pedal path to the nomination for the man who establishment-bombed and super PAC-ed Newt Gingrich to death in the Sunshine State. But if the topsy-turvy GOP nomination contest should teach us anything, it’s to say: Whoa there, hold your divinations! Gingrich may have proven as lousy a candidate in Florida as he was devilishly effective in South Carolina, but a couple of factors—aside from his sheer cussedness—could propel him forward at least until the Super Tuesday primaries in early March. If Romney’s margin of victory is less than 10 percent, he’ll fall short of the sky-high expectations generated by his rise in recent days—and show that, even while outspending his nearest competitor five-to-one, he can’t quite land a knockout blow. And if the combined vote for Gingrich and...

Breaking: Mitt Romney Loves America

In the good old days—I think this lasted until September 11, 2001, but I could be mistaken—political events of all sorts didn't begin with a series of opportunities for both speakers and attendees to make sure everyone understood that they are, in fact, in favor of America. Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy didn't start their debates with the Pledge of Allegiance. Candidates didn't feel the need to stand with hand on heart for the Star Spangled Banner at all 12 campaign events they do every day. And we were spared horror shows like this: The best part is how at the end, just in case anyone missed the point, Romney says, "I love this country." Nothing forced or pandering about that. My question is, where does he stand on Little League and Thanksgiving dinner? What about puppies—is he pro-puppy, or not? America needs to know. You might remember that in Iowa, Romney would recite the words to "America the Beautiful," but I guess now he's feeling confident enough to just let the tunes fly...

Independent Is the New Democrat

Jewish Americans have been a reliable Democratic bloc for much of U.S. electoral history. However, recent numbers from the Pew Research Center hint at a potential demographic shift in voting patterns. Barack Obama’s hold on the Jewish vote is shrinking—since 2009, Jewish Democratic affiliation has dropped nearly 10 percent, according to surveys by the American Jewish Committee. However, Republicans aren’t reaping the benefits— Jewish affiliation with the Republican Party has increased by only 1 percent. Instead, Jewish voters are heading to the middle ground of independents—along with a record number of other voters, as shown in a recent Gallup Poll . The number of Jewish independents has increased 8 percent. However, trending independent doesn’t mean that these voters have changed their politics—2004 polls showed that the majority of Jewish Independent voters leaned left by a significant majority—but instead that they have lost faith in the two parties. The loss of some once-...

Gingrich Goes After Goldman

ORLANDO, FLORIDA —Newt Gingrich often rails against the establishment elites who have conspired to sink his campaign. Sometimes it is Mitt Romney; others times he targets the liberals (an unlikely tag-team combination), but there is always someone to blame other than himself. I heard a new formulation of this theory at his "Crossing the Finish Line Rally" in Orlando last night. The event, held on the final eve before the primary, was intended as a pre-victory rally of sorts but took a much more subdued tone, as Gingrich's standing in the polls has evaporated over the past week. But angry Gingrich was in true form, lashing out at his opponent's vast wealth and the conspiracy to prevent Gingrich from gaining power: Goldman Sachs is a company that has taken billions from the American taxpayer, and they had a handpicked candidate in 2008 named Barack Obama. They have a handpicked candidate this year named Mitt Romney. They want to make sure that they keep the establishment in charge so...

Super Facts about Super PACs

L ast week, when Mitt Romney claimed not to have seen an attack ad his campaign had produced, he was no doubt trying to blame his super PAC, Restore Our Future, for coming up with it. Whether or not the former Massachusetts governor was being truthful—one can imagine that, in a fast-moving campaign, candidates only passively approve the messages their surrogates put out—the incident underscored the way super PACs, which are barred from coordinating directly with the candidates they are supporting, have come to dominate the political landscape. In the first presidential race since the Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Citizens United , which opened the doors for corporations to make unlimited contributions in support of a candidate, campaign-finance law is at the center of the election cycle like never before. One question that’s come up again and again is whether Citizens United should be blamed for the rise of super PACs and for the apparent spike in large private donations, like...

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