The Des Moines Registerreleased 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.
Any lingering doubts on Romney's new commitment to winning the Iowa caucus can now be laid to rest. He's opened a new campaign headquarters in Des Moines, a campaign spokesperson said his " strategy is to win there," and starting tomorrow Romney will begin airing a new commercial, his first in Iowa since his 2008 presidential campaign:
Iowa's much-vaunted evangelical conservative base is nowhere to be seen. After propelling Mike Huckabee to the top of the field in the last presidential nomination contest, the common assumption among political pundits has been that the state's Christian right would coalesce around a similar candidate again this year. But, less than five weeks out from the caucuses, all of Iowa's evangelical leaders are still holding off on making a decision.
The National Interest’s Robert Merry isn’t happy with the current presidential nomination process. It’s too long, too costly, and places too much faith in the ability of ordinary voters to control the process. Other than luck, he argues, there’s nothing to keep an unqualified or vulnerable candidate from winning the nomination. It almost happened with the Democratic Party in 2008 (see: John Edwards), and it could happen with this year’s Republican nomination contest. Moreover, the vetting that does exist isn’t foolproof; if a single candidate wins the early primaries, is there any doubt that the game would be over in short order?
Around this time last year, the Senate was setting in to tackle various pieces legislation it put off over the course of the year and capitalize on the remaining time before the House majority switched parties in January. Repealing "don't ask, don't tell"—the '90s-era provision that allowed LGBT soldiers to serve in the military so long as they did not reveal their sexual identity—was near the top of the list for Democrats. Rather than immediately repealing the measure after the 2008 election on the grounds that the rule clearly violated civil liberties, Democrats did their best to appease the regulation's proponents and commissioned an impact study, which concluded that there would be no negative impact on military readiness or morale if the law were overturned.
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.
Rick Perry's campaign is increasingly on the ropes. His poll numbers hover in the single digits, and it looks like his funders have fled, robbing him of his primary hope to propel himself past the crowded field of anti-Romney candidates. His one last option to maintain relevancy: Appeal to the radical Christian right that cannot fathom voting for a Mormon who was governor of the first state with gay marriage.
My article in the Prospect's October issue is up at the homepage. It's a long feature, but here's a quick version: After the Iowa Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2009, social conservatives at the local and national levels joined forces to attack the court. They used a once-obscure procedure of judicial selection to kick three judges off the bench, though the ruling on marriage still stands as law.
Rick Perry has already been declared the front-runner to gain the GOP nomination less than a month after launching his campaign. He's posted a significant lead in recent polls over previous front-runner Mitt Romney. The only problem is that national polls mean nothing at this point in the election cycle -- it's all about how the candidates will perform in the early primary states. The current crowded field will get narrowed down to a handful of candidates by the time most of the states hold their primaries.
The L.A. Timesreports today that Democrats in the California Legislature are pushing a bill to have ballot initiatives appear only in general elections. Their argument is that having important laws passed via initiative in primaries -- when turnout is low, and so a tiny portion of the electorate can determine the state's fate -- doesn't serve anyone's interests.
The Electric Park Ballroom in Waterloo, Iowa, is on the grounds of the National Cattle Congress, right next to the Sunrise Children's Petting Zoo. It's a dimly lit hall, plastered with neon beer signs and old photos of singers like Elvis or Buddy Holly.
The day after Texas governor Rick Perry ended the will-he-won't-he speculation by announcing his candidacy for the Republican nomination in South Carolina, he traveled here to speak at the Blackhawk County Republican Dinner. When he entered the room, Perry ducked to greet each table and pose for photos, despite a throng of reporters surrounding him at all times.
I've written a lot about presidential politics, and I once drove through Iowa. (Blew a timing belt outside West Branch, whose motto these days is "A heritage for success," but whose motto back then was "Sorry, we don't take credit cards.") But I haven't had the misfortune of having to cover the Iowa caucus live in person, which is why I have some sympathy for those reporters currently attempting to write something insightful about the abomination that is the Ames Straw Poll, the event with the lowest meaningfulness-to-coverage ratio in the entire presidential campaign.
The leading figure in Iowa's conservative movement is set to unveil a pledge that would pigeonhole the 2012 Republican presidential candidates into defined positions on a host of social issues. It will include
a 14-point list of pledges ranging from the personal (staying
faithful to one's spouse) to broader policy (keeping the size of the
government small), but the heavy emphasis is on forcing the candidates to codify their opposition to same-sex marriage.
The official deadline for Republican presidential candidates to report their second quarter fundraising totals isn't until next month, but several campaigns have offered preliminary numbers. Let's take a look.