Tag Archives: Herman Cain

Winning the “Not Romney Primary”

Now that most of the dust has settled from the first-in-the-nation caucus for the GOP presidential nomination, it may be a good time to provide additional texture to the popular political punditry concerning the current state of the GOP presidential nomination contest. Sorting out the true meaning of an election is rarely done well during the night of the contest itself, and so it is with Iowa in 2012.

The major media and the “political punditariat” always are inclined to follow the horse race aspect of any campaign. As media consultant Mike Murphy humorously said recently on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program, “the pool of national political reporters are like a bit like a Tyrannosaurus – 30 feet tall, sharp teeth, red meat-eating, with small brains, but they can follow movement.”

Watching only the shiny moving objects this past Tuesday would indicate that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney very narrowly won the Iowa Caucus over former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. The real importance of the Iowa Caucuses, however, may not be his eight-vote victory. Rather, the truly significant aspect is the winnowing of the field in the “Not Romney primary.”

In fact, Romney’s difficulty in cracking through an apparent support ceiling among GOP primary voters and caucus participants has led to a virtual parade of aspirants to the “Not Romney” mantle in this year’s nomination contest.

After Iowa, it seems clear that Mr. Santorum has become the true leader of the GOP’s “Not Romney” primary contest.

All of the political air that had filled the Palin-Trump-Bachmann-Perry-Cain-Gingrich bubble had to go somewhere and in Iowa that somewhere was to the campaign of Rick Santorum, the only contestant not to have a turn at being the “Not Mitt Romney” candidate. His timing was fortuitous, message clear and pitch-perfect for Iowa Caucus goers, and he failed to implode as others had done before him.

At this writing it’s becoming increasingly clear that Mr. Romney has a current “floor” of about 18-23 percent of the Republican primary electorate and a hard “ceiling” ranging from 25 (Iowa, South Carolina, Georgia) to 40 percent (New Hampshire, Michigan, Massachusetts), depending upon the state. In a six- or seven-candidate caucus or primary field, that’s almost always enough to finish in the top three, and sometimes first. As the field winnows, however, a hard ceiling of 25-40 percent rarely prevails.

It seems clear that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will now turn his rhetorical fire toward Romney, which seems unlikely to improve his own standing, but will very likely hurt his target, thus making him more vulnerable to a Santorum charge.

Performance in the nomination contests through Super Tuesday will largely be expectation-driven. The punditariat has already begun saying that should Romney score less than 40-45 percent in New Hampshire, he will have insufficient momentum to be successful in South Carolina, Florida and the Super Tuesday states of the South. Santorum has been in the low single digits in New Hampshire (and elsewhere) and his impressive showing in Iowa already is being discounted as a “one-state wonder” in some quarters. If, however, the Pennsylvanian places second in the Granite State and Romney finishes in the 30s rather than the 40s, the fight for the nomination will essentially become a two-man race.

The serial movement of conservatives from one “Not Romney” candidate to another, and the former governor’s lack of growth among self-described conservatives suggests that he has emerged as their least favorite option. This is anything but a catbird seat for someone hoping to win the GOP presidential nomination. Romney does have large amounts of campaign and Super PAC money, but conservative dollars are sitting on the sidelines just waiting to flow to the eventual “Not Romney” primary contest winner.

The days and weeks ahead will put all remaining GOP candidates to the test. Considering all that we’ve seen so far, how this ends is anyone’s guess.

Three Scenarios: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina

Now that retired business executive Herman Cain has effectively ended his presidential quest, how will the campaign now unfold?

A new Iowa poll (Selzer & Company; Nov. 27-30; 401 likely Republican Caucus participants) stakes former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to a relatively substantial lead as we come within four weeks of the Hawkeye State Republican Caucuses. At these meetings attenders will cast the first live votes of the 2012 presidential contest.

According to the latest polling data, Gingrich places first with support from 25 percent of those polled. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX-14) is second with 18 percent, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney follows with 16 percent. No other candidate registers in double-digits.

Without Cain in the race, the national campaign will likely evolve into a two-way race, but it’s a threesome in Iowa. A Gingrich win there on Jan. 3 will begin a two-way campaign between Romney and him. Romney still leads in New Hampshire polling and is expected to win the Granite State. No non-incumbent Republican presidential candidate has ever placed first in both the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, and so chances are good that will play out again.

If Gingrich and Romney both have a win under their belts, then the two would go into South Carolina, arguably Romney’s weakest state, tied 101. But a big win there could catapult Gingrich to a victory in Florida, where he is already enjoying landslide leads in polling, and the culmination of these results might make the former Speaker unstoppable.

Should Romney pull what would now have to be considered an upset win in Iowa, he could be in position to wrap up the nomination early; that’s unlikely, but possible. With plenty of resources to turn out his vote, a lower participation rate three days into the bitterly cold new year could allow him to steal a win. Gingrich, because he has less in the way of money and organization, could be polling better than he will actually perform on Caucus night, thus opening the door even wider for Romney.

Capturing both Iowa and New Hampshire would give Mr. Romney strength going south, something he badly needs. Though he would have difficulty winning in South Carolina on Jan. 21 under any circumstance, a good showing coupled with his two earlier victories could make him the favorite in Florida.

Winning three out of the first four nominating events and then moving to the Nevada Caucuses on Feb. 4 (the first western delegate selection event and a Romney place of strength) would make the former Massachusetts governor extremely difficult to stop. At that point, it is likely Gingrich and the others would not have the resources to complete with Romney, whose fundraising would undoubtedly be even more robust than it is today. Should events unfold in this manner, it would be Romney who would then be moving unencumbered toward the nomination.

But, what if Ron Paul wins Iowa? This, too, is possible since he has polled well there for the past several months and has an army of loyal supporters who have proven repeatedly that they will turn out for him. Chances are, however, that a Ron Paul win would be a one-state occurrence. He would likely finish back in the pack in New Hampshire, effectively neutralizing any Iowa win. A Paul victory might then turn the race into a free-for-all, making it a wide-open affair and possibly allow some of the candidates who are not currently polling well to come to the forefront.

The Iowa Caucuses are carrying greater importance than they have in the past because they will almost assuredly set the tone for the balance of the race.

Should Gingrich take Iowa, as he apparently would if the election were today, he sets himself on a path to the nomination with a better-than-expected finish in New Hampshire, followed by wins in South Carolina and Florida.

Back-to-back victories for Romney in Iowa and New Hampshire could, conversely, launch him toward an early clinching.

Finally, a Ron Paul Iowa win would set the stage for a long-term, wide open race that might involve all 50 states before any contender has enough delegate strength to claim the nomination.

It all begins a month from now. Iowa becomes the trendsetter.

A Stunning New Florida Poll

Public Policy Polling has just released astonishing results from their latest Sunshine State poll (Nov. 28-30; 478 Florida Republican primary voters). Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has opened up what could become an insurmountable lead in this important state, if these trends continue. Gingrich now leads former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by a 30 full points, 47-17 percent. The lead could actually grow soon, because the survey was completed prior to the Herman Cain extra-marital affair revelations that broke publicly on Tuesday. In this poll, Mr. Cain scores 15 percent. No other candidate posts in double-digits.

It is clear that the former House Speaker, for years dogged with personal baggage from his own extra-marital affairs and some financial dealings, has completely resurrected his image at least among the Florida Republicans surveyed in this poll. According to the sample, 72 percent of those responding report that they have a favorable image of Mr. Gingrich versus only 21 percent who do not. Mr. Romney also scores a high favorability index rating: 51:36 percent. The also-ran candidates rate poorly, however. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX-14) who garners only 5 percent on the candidate preference question, scores a poor 25:57 percent on the favorability index. Texas Gov. Rick Perry draws only 2 percent support, and notches an equivalent 27:55 percent favorability score.

Gingrich is also pulling away from Paul and Romney in Montana, leading there 37-12-11 percent, respectively, according to PPP’s data in that particular winner-take-all state (Nov. 28-30; 700 likely Montana Republican primary voters). In Louisiana, more good news came forth for the former Speaker. There, according to a new Clarus Research Group study (Nov. 20-22; 300 Louisiana registered Republicans), Gingrich leads Romney 31-23 percent.

If Cain Departs, What Happens?

Yesterday, Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain confirmed he is “reassessing” his campaign prospects in view of another accusation of an extramarital affair. Acquaintance Ginger White claims she had a 13-year liaison with Cain, this on the heels of several women claiming that he had sexually harassed them. Mr. Cain carried on in defiance of the original negative attacks but the fact that he is stepping back from his campaign, at least for a short time, indicates that this latest flap may deal a death blow to his presidential aspirations.

If so, how will his exit affect the Republican campaign, particularly when the candidates are fast approaching a most critical juncture? The Iowa Caucuses, now just five weeks away, could produce a defining result for the remainder of the race. If a candidate other than Mitt Romney wins the Iowa vote, then that person could well become his principal challenger. If Romney is isolated in a one-on-one race where his opponent is commonly viewed as being more conservative, that individual will likely win the nomination. Romney, who repeatedly breaks 25% in Republican primary trial heat polls only in New Hampshire, Michigan, and Nevada despite virtually all of those sampled knowing his name, has yet to solidify the front runner position. He benefits from a crowded field of opponents, each commanding the support of a similar-sized group of voters.

The latest Iowa public opinion polls show a very tight race among Romney, Cain, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX-14). One recent survey showed the quartet of candidates to be within a four-point spread, with Cain topping the group (Selzer & Company, Nov. 10-12 – 503 self-identified Iowa Republicans planning to vote in their respective Caucus meetings: Cain 20 percent, Paul 19 percent, Romney 18 percent, Gingrich 17 percent). Obviously, an eventual Herman Cain withdrawal would have a significant effect upon the Iowa Caucus result and lead to an even more wide-open contest, if that is possible.

The typical Cain supporter is obviously conservative and clearly agrees with the retired business executive’s call to “shake-up Washington.” Therefore, more than likely, the majority of those Cain supporters sharing this mind-set would be attracted to a strongly conservative, non-Washington candidate. Therefore, the more moderate Gov. Romney is in poor position to attract the average Cain voter. Mr. Gingrich would certainly fit the ideological bill, but he is the consummate Washington insider. Rep. Paul probably strikes an economic chord with the Cain voting segment, but he has also been in politics a very long time and certainly does not share conservative views on foreign policy and many social issues.

Therefore, could this be the opening that Texas Gov. Rick Perry needs to restore credibility and return to the first tier of candidates, a la Gingrich’s return from the political ash heap? It’s hard see such a path for Perry right now, but the Texas governor probably blends best with those previously attracted to Cain. And, he still commands the financial wherewithal to communicate such a message.

In a race that has already seen so many twists and turns even before the first votes are cast, it appears that anything is possible. Should Cain retire from the campaign, the Iowa Caucuses become ever more important in determining the final course of this intra-party Republican presidential battle even though, today, the outcome is unclear.

Newt Comes All the Way Back

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has soared to first place in two just-released national political polls, cementing his remarkable comeback into the top tier of Republican presidential candidates.

According to both the Opinion Research Council for CNN (Nov. 18-20; 1,019 adults; 402 self-identified Republicans) and Gallup (Nov. 13-17; 1,062 self-identified Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents), Gingrich now leads former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by slim margins. ORC posts Gingrich to a 24 percent stake over second-place Romney, who is at 20 percent. Retired business executive Herman Cain is third with 17 percent. Then comes Texas Gov. Rick Perry with 11 percent, and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX-14) trails with 9 percent support.

The Gallup data projects an even tighter race. There, Mr. Gingrich squeezes out a 22 percent share over Romney, who is at 21 percent; Cain has 16 percent, Paul 9 percent, and Perry 8 percent.

Once again we see a familiar pattern in the polling. Yet another candidate has now claimed the top spot in a national poll – Romney, Perry, and Cain have all been first in multiple surveys – and Romney continues to flat-line in the low 20s. This race is as volatile as any presidential campaign in recent history. With actual voting beginning just six weeks from today in Iowa, the campaign will soon start to peak. But as we approach Thanksgiving, the 2012 Republican nomination remains in free-for-all status.