Elections in the United States

Ron Paul's Threat to Gingrich

With his vast trail of scandals and long list of enemies, Newt Gingrich is unlikely to win the Republican presidential nomination, even if he’s leading the polls. But if you were to imagine a path to the nomination for the former House speaker, it would begin in Iowa. A strong win in the Iowa caucuses would provide Gingrich with the momentum necessary to place well in New Hampshire (or win it, under the right circumstances). With the momentum of two primaries behind him, Gingrich would cruise to victory in South Carolina and Florida and finish January as the presumptive nominee. Iowa is a must-have for Gingrich, which is why Ron Paul’s surge—he is tied with Gingrich in the latest survey from Public Policy Polling—is so dangerous. A Ron Paul win in Iowa would both derail Gingrich and help Mitt Romney as he navigates through the New Hampshire primary. In that sense, Paul is Romney’s greatest ally in the Republican presidential primaries. If Paul can keep Gingrich from building momentum...

Ron Paul Leading...on Google

Google search activity may or may not be predictive here, but this is interesting nonetheless: Google Insights for Search Gadgets powered by Google For virtually all of 2011, including the past month, there is more search activity about Ron Paul than any other candidate. I thank John Coleman for highlighting this for me. What could this mean? Maybe Ron Paul supporters just spend a lot of time on the internet. Or maybe this is another indicator of the intensity of their support. One thing supporting the latter interpretation: search activity for Paul seemed to presage his second-place finish in the Iowa Straw Poll. If this proves true again, then Ron Paul is headed toward a strong showing in Iowa. His poll numbers are up in Iowa as well. I’ll go even further out on a limb. Say Gingrich wins Iowa but does a little worse than “expected.” Paul comes in second and does better than “expected.” Romney comes in a distant third. How much of a bounce would Paul then get in New Hampshire? After...

Googling Ron Paul in Iowa

Google search activity may or may not be predictive here, but this is interesting nonetheless: For virtually all of 2011, including the past month, there is more search activity about Ron Paul than any other candidate. I thank John Coleman for highlighting this for me. What could this mean? Maybe Ron Paul supporters just spend a lot of time on the internet. Or maybe this is another indicator of the intensity of their support. One thing supporting the latter interpretation: search activity for Paul seemed to presage his second-place finish in the Iowa Straw Poll. If this proves true again, then Ron Paul is headed toward a strong showing in Iowa. His poll numbers are up in Iowa as well. I’ll go even further out on a limb. Say Gingrich wins Iowa but does a little worse than “expected.” Paul comes in second and does better than “expected.” Romney comes in a distant third. How much of a bounce would Paul then get in New Hampshire? After all, he’s in third place there and his numbers are...

Why Gingrich Should Be Afraid of Paul

Gage Skidmore
Newt Gingrich’s rise to front-runner status has dominated the news cycle for the past few weeks, and the main question that's plagued analysts is this: Will the former speaker be able to overcome his many mistakes— i.e. , the affairs—and trounce Mitt Romney? The general arc of these arguments is right: Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich will be the Republican nominee. They are the only two candidates who come close to having the right mix of electability, popularity, and approval by party elites to become the GOP nominee. While the Mitt-Newt showdown may seem inevitable, it is wrong to take for granted that either one will win in Iowa. Given polling there, there is a good chance Ron Paul could win. What would this mean for the rest of the campaign? According to a Des Moines Register poll released this past weekend, 25 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers in the state support Newt Gingrich; 18 percent support Ron Paul; and 16 support Romney (a drop from last month’s 22 percent). Nate...

Gingrich Leads Confused Iowans

The Des Moines Register released its well-regarded Iowa Poll over the weekend. Newt Gingrich topped off the field with 25 percent support a month out from the Iowa caucuses. It's a complete turnaround from his performance in the first two Register polls this year—one in June and another just a little over a month ago—in which the candidate only notched seven percent. Ron Paul comes in second with 18 percent, a sizable jump from his standing in the previous two polls. The seemingly infallible 20 percent support for Mitt Romney might not be as rock solid as predicted; he dropped six percentage points down to 16 percent, though that is still a strong third over the rest of the field. Gingrich would appear to be in strong shape with such little time remaining until Iowa Republicans vote for their preferred presidential candidate. But the poll likely indicates that early state voters will remain fickle right up until voting day. Only 28 percent of those sampled said that they have fully...

Chart of the Day, Endorsements Edition

Via political scientist Seth Masket comes this chart showing the distribution of endorsements among the Republican presidential candidates: Yes, it’s true that there haven’t been many former candidates, which distorts the graph a little. Even still, it remains the case that while Gingrich might be popular among Republican voters, party elites are far more amenable to Mitt Romney’s candidacy. The latest Political Insiders poll from National Journal shows a similar result — only 17 percent of Republican elites (out of 102 surveyed) believed that Gingrich could beat President Obama in a general election. If it’s truly the party that decides the nomination, then I have a hard time believing that Gingrich stands a chance, even with his impressive poll numbers. Of course, it’s also true that party elites are competing for influence with conservative media personalities and their outsized influence in Republican politics. Sure, GOP elites might not like Newt Gingrich, but if Rush Limbaugh...

The Anti-Newt Campaign Begins

It was only a matter of time before one of the Republican candidates unloaded on Newt Gingrich, attacking him with all (or at least some) of the reasons rank-and-file Republican voters ought to dislike him. So who was it: Mitt Romney, the man most threatened by Gingrich's rise? Rick Perry, looking to crawl back into the race? Herman Cain, in a last-ditch attempt to save his campaign? Michele Bachmann, hoping to win back the Tea Party voters who loved her for about 12 seconds a few months ago? Nope, none of them. Believe it or not, it was Ron Paul, who delivered 2 minutes and 28 seconds of hurt: The only thing the video doesn't have is an explicit mention of Gingrich's marital history, with its multiple infidelities and trading in of wives for younger mistresses. But most everything else is there, including the famous ad he made with Nancy Pelosi supporting action on climate change, his prior support of an individual health-insurance mandate, his criticism of the sainted Paul Ryan, and...

A Big Endorsement for Gingrich

(AP Photo/Erik Kellar) Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich signs a copy of his book "A Nation Like No Other" as he and his wife Callista Gingrich greet supporters during a book signing event at Books-A-Million in Naples, Fla., Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011. This weekend’s big election news comes by way of New Hampshire, where the Manchester Union Leader , the state’s largest and most widely-read newspaper, endorsed Newt Gingrich for the Republican presidential nomination. This is great news for the former House Speaker, who has been catapaulted to the front of the pack by the GOP’s large cohort of anti-Romney voters. Because of its large influence—and New Hampshire’s distinction of holding the first Republican primary in the nation—the Union Leader ’s endorsement is coveted by GOP presidential candidates. Between now and the primary, it’s safe to say that the Union Leader will devote its time to boosting Gingrich and tearing down his competitors. On the face of it, this nod...

Reality Check

For all of the punditry (from myself and others) about Mitt Romney’s unpopularity with GOP voters, it’s worth noting the extent to which Republicans are perfectly happy with the former Massachusetts governor. Here’s Gallup with its most recent look at the Republican presidential contest: Mitt Romney is just as popular as Herman Cain or Newt Gingrich, his problem—in part—is that he has too many competitors, and Republican voters are indulging the extent to which they have a fair amount of choice. When the field begins to winnow in January, odds are very good that Romney will pick up a lot more support from Republican voters.

Are Debates Hurting the Republican Candidates?

So far, the Republican Party has held 11 presidential debates, and between audience cheering for the death penalty, attacks on gay soldiers, or huge candidate gaffes, each debate has shown the GOP candidates in one unflattering light or the other. With 14 more debates to go, The New York Times reports some Republican elites are worried about the effect they could have on public perception. “This is the core of the Republican brand. You mess with it at your peril,” said Peter Feaver, a national security official under President George W. Bush. He compared the foreign policy flubs to reports about safety problems in Toyota vehicles. “The whole reason you bought a Toyota was so that you didn’t have those problems,” he said. “It cuts directly to the essence of the brand. Republicans should be concerned about this.” It’s hard to say how much effect these debates have had on the public’s perception of the Republican presidential candidates. It’s certainly true that primary debates can...

Gingrich Isn't Going to Be the GOP Nominee

The arguments for why Herman Cain won’t be the Republican presidential nominee, even if he’s popular, are straightforward. He has little history with the Republican Party establishment and shallow relationships with GOP activists on the state and local level. He lacks an on-the-ground campaign in the early primary states, and he’s devoted his time to states like Alabama—irrelevant to the nomination contest but a fine venue for selling books. Indeed, Cain’s upcoming visit to Iowa—the state he has to win or do well in to have a shot at the nomination—is his first since mid-October. Serious candidates tend to spent a lot more time in “make or break” states. At the moment, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is surging in the polls. In the latest survey of Republican voters from NBC News and The Wall Street Journal , Gingrich earns 22 percent support, a 5 point increase from his previous performance. The reasons for his newfound popularity aren’t hard to grok; the once-ascendent Herman...

Primaries Not Doing the GOP Any Favors

Gallup has some interesting numbers out on the presidential race. With the usual caveat that this is only one set of polls, over the past two months he has moved from trailing a generic Republican by 8 points to being even. The figures among independents are what is really striking: What happened in the interim? Why, the Republican primary race, of course. Americans have gotten a look at what the GOP is offering, and it ain't pretty. Unlike a few months ago, when the pollster asks about supporting "the Republican Party's candidate for president," there are particular individuals who come to mind. There's that wide-eyed radical woman from Minnesota, that Texas Ted Baxter, that ignoramus pizza guy whom lots of women say made crude advances toward them, that robotic corporatist. There are no more fantasy candidates—all the candidates are real. I couldn't help think back to the Democratic primaries of four years ago. If you'll recall, it was certainly a brawl, with plenty of charges,...

Throwing Caution to the Wind

On one hand, you should be careful not to overinterpret idiosyncratic election results. On the other, there’s no way you can ignore survey results like these from Public Policy Polling’s most recent poll of Ohio voters: Obama led Mitt Romney 50–41 on our poll. He was up 11 points on Herman Cain at 50–39, 13 on Newt Gingrich at 51–38, 14 on Ron Paul at 50–36, 14 on Michele Bachmann at 51–37 and a whooping 17 points on Rick Perry at 53–36. It used to be Sarah Palin’s numbers that we compared to Barry Goldwater, but Perry’s deficit would represent the largest Republican defeat in Ohio since 1964. President Obama benefits from a hugely unified Democratic base in the state. Obama gets 88 percent to 92 percent of the vote against the Republican candidates, despite the fact that his approval rating among Ohio Democrats is 73 percent. If Democrats maintain this level of unity through next year, it bodes very well for the president’s prospects in the state. With that said, it’s important to...

What's Next for Herman Cain?

Since his rapid rise to the top of the Republican presidential field, I’ve been adamant that the Georgia businessman is not a “real” candidate for the nomination. Aside from giving speeches at high-profile events, Cain has done nothing to show interest in actually becoming the GOP nominee—his organization in the early primary states is nonexistent, his fundraising is mediocre, and he boasts few endorsements from important stakeholders within the Republican Party. His campaign, more than anything else, is an exercise in vanity—an opportunity for him to boost his national profile, and sell a few books in the process. For the last month, none of this has mattered to Republican voters. In poll after poll, Republicans have declared their support and enthusiasm for the former CEO, who captured imaginations of conservatives with his sunny demeanor and excellent speaking skills. It also helped that he soothed the racial anxieties of white conservatives, with quips about President Obama’s...

Democrats Misbehave, Obama Gets the Time-Out

http://www.flickr.com/photos/robr/2912198704/sizes/m/
When it comes to addressing the economic crisis, creating jobs, or tackling the deficit, Congress is at a standstill and the American people know it. This morning, a poll from the National Journal shows Americans have little faith that Congress will take on the issues that matter most. For example, 68 percent of respondents said it was "very important" for Congress to spend money in order to create new jobs, but only 27 percent thought it was likely to happen. Another poll, this one by The Washington Post , found that 50 percent of Americans believe Republicans are holding up President Obama's jobs bill for political reasons. The public sentiment expressed in these polls should spell disaster for Republicans who are perceived to be recklessly blocking popular legislation. In elections today and a year from now, these sentiments should play to Democrats' favor. The problem, however, is that in hard economic times, the president takes the blame, even if the other party deserves a hefty...

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