Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Grandiose Newt: A Space Oddity

Mitt vs Newt, Pragmatic vs Epic

There is an excellent article running in the Washington Post today entitled "Romney's and Gingrich's ideas mirror their personalities: Pragmatic vs. epic."
While I am at the point in time, 100% in the Romney camp, I was very vocal about supporting Gingrich for most of the fall. I was determined to stay open-minded, and to not be another Mormon choosing Romney without considering all of the candidates first. I was torn between Romney and Gingrich for a very long time, finally landing on Romney for much of the reasons stated in this article- he makes more sense. Gingrich makes radical, huge, even epic statements, and they can be attractive. But once I stopped and thought about it, I just couldn't follow his lead anymore. Whereas, it is easy to believe, even reassuring to believe, that Romney is capable of fulfilling his ideas and promises.
When Gingrich says, "I'm more of a conservative than Mitt Romney," he really isn't. He's really just more of an extremist. Their ideas and promises (minus moon colonies) are side-by-side similar. But Gingrich just takes everything beyond capable and believable, and moves it into radical extremism.

From the article-
And Romney would build more Navy ships to project American influence into the Middle East. Gingrich would build a moon colony, projecting it into outer space.

Gingrich has vowed to  overthrow the communist government in Cuba and ban embryonic stem-cell research. Romney? Merely wants Castro to go to Hell (and to try to negotiate with Cuba).

Both candidates (actually all four candidates) want to repeal Obamacare and the Dodd-Frank financial regulations. They all want to repeal the estate tax, tougher dealings with Iran, and they are all in favor of a same-sex marriage ban.

But back to the epic vs the pragmatic-
Romney’s plan would lower a corporation’s tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. For individual taxpayers making less than $200,000 per couple, he would end taxes on capital gains and interest. The cost? Probably about $180 billion less in government revenue per year, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.
But Gingrich would do far more. He would cut the corporate rate to 12.5 percent. He would eliminate all taxes on capital gains and interest. And he would allow individuals to opt out of the current tax code, giving them the option of a 15 percent “flat tax” with limited deductions.
On Social Security, the two men exhibit a similar pattern. Romney would raise the age at which future retirees could collect benefits, adding “a year or two,” he said in a debate. And he would tinker with formulas so that wealthier retirees would see their benefits grow less over time.
Gingrich, by contrast, wants to create a new kind of Social Security. He would keep the old system but allow people to opt into a separate system, in which they could keep their money in private, personal accounts. The same private-account plan has worked in Chile, Gingrich is fond of saying.
But it was installed while Chile was run by a military dictator.
 And that last line, says it all.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Exactly who or what is the Washington Establishment?


With all of the back and forth finger pointing among the candidates accusing each other of "being the Washington Establishment," it seemed like a good time to really define and figure out who or what the establishment really is.
A few answers from the internet-
"The Washington Establishment is related to the democrat and republican party. They are highly entrenched in party politics as long as it furthers the agenda of either the democratic or republican party. The people involved in this deception are working hard to further the divide and rule mentality among the populous which if done correctly will continue to propagate the two party system. Any opposition to the two party system will be considered non-mainstream and ignored in terms of public debate. The Washington Establishment has largely been effective at maintaining political control because it seems to include the interests of the government as well as industry. However, the new Washington DC establishment has a difficult time dealing with those outside the corporate and two party system because they don't really have policy that includes these ideas. As a result they attempt to play lip service to such ideas hoping the public will accept a dumbed down version. Which often does not really protect their personal interest but in fact furthers the interests of the establishment. There can be no real substantive changes to the system unless they are in the interest of the Washington Establishment. As long as the main pillars of control are in place the Washington establishment is happy.

24 hrs till FL Returns- so let's review the polls one more time

Two weeks ago Romney was leading in Florida by as much as 26 points.
One week ago Gingrich was up anywhere from 3 to 9 points.
This week? It is Romney by 12.
Anyone else getting whiplash?

The numbers are definitely all in Romney's favor since Thursday night's CNN Debate.
But it is worth noting that 5 days of a lead don't amount to anything if the numbers slope down. Take a second look-
7 days ago Romney was leading by about 9-11 points.
4 days ago- Romney by 14.
Today? Romney only by 5.
But are the points going to Gingrich?? No. One week ago he was at 31%, and today he is still at 31%.
Santorum and Paul haven't moved significantly either. That is a very strong indication that there's as much as 30% of likely voters that are undecided!
Romney can relax enough to get 8 hours of sleep tonight, but there is no guarantee that he is going to win tomorrow. And there is no reason to think that the final primary numbers tomorrow will be the same as the last poll numbers today.
Surprisingly there still aren't any updated Nevada polls, or numbers for next week's Super Tuesday.
Nationally, Gingrich is still in the lead. But Romney supporters (and Santorum and Paul) need not get too concerned. The national polls will move after the FL returns. If Gingrich wins in an upset tomorrow, the national polls will jump even higher in his favor. If Romney takes FL, the numbers will all adjust to reflect his popularity.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

NBC objects to Romney using old footage- but should they?

Open source and widely distributed picture of Tom Brokaw requiring no royalties be paid.

NBC has objected to the use of their material in an ad put out by the Mitt Romney campaign. (Before Romney fans pull a Newt screaming "Liberal Elite Media!" please keep reading to get to the point.) Whether or not you believe news outlets are biased (Liberal Elite Media! Vast Left Wing Conspiracy!), this brings up an interesting point about media bias, balanced journalism, and when the media becomes the story and not just the reporter of the story.
NBC and Tom Brokaw have objected to the use of their material in an ad by the Romney campaign. While this may feel biased to some, the ad is worth considering-

Tom Brokaw is a long-time veteran of television reporting. Unarguably, one of the most revered in his field. About the ad he has said, “I am extremely uncomfortable with the extended use of my personal image in this political ad. I do not want my role as a journalist compromised for political gain by any campaign.”

The Romney ad uses an NBC News report from Jan. 21, 1997, the day Gingrich was reprimanded by Congress for using tax-exempt money for political purposes and giving the House Ethics Committee false information.  Gingrich is only shown in the background in a head shot, while Brokaw's image is used for 28 seconds of the 30 second spot.
As far as political ads go, this is one of the most fascinating ones from a message sender's point of view. It takes an historical event, and the actual news reporting of the time, clearly in context, to share the message. No one can argue that anything was taken out of context, edited, etc. It is effective because it is so simple and straight-forward. This sort of thing is rarely done effectively in commercials. But it works extremely well in this particular ad. The viewer has no reason to believe that anything in it is dishonest or manipulated (as compared to nearly all other campaign ads ever), and because of Brokaw's lengthy and notable career, he is considered very trustworthy.
But Brokaw doesn't like that his image is being used for political gain. And yes, it is being used for political gain- there is no tap-dancing around that. But is he right? Is it compromising his role as a journalist?

Friday, January 27, 2012

CNN FL Debate wrap up- I watch these things so you don't have to

CNN Florida GOP Debate (Linked to source CNN)

The real winner of this debate? CNN and Wolf Blitzer. In spite of this being the umpteenth debate and viewers being completely tired of the same old questions, Blitzer managed to bring his A game and keep things lively.
And lively they were.
Newt Gingrich thought he could start off using his well-honed Saul Alinsky tactics, and hack Mitt Romney off at the knees and attack Blitzer at the same time. It took two seconds to see that the tables have turned. Romney came out swinging and didn't back down. And Blitzer didn't back down either. Gingrich was outplayed at his own game, and spent the entire night swinging wildly without connecting. Gingrich insulted and jabbed, then looked to the audience for affirmation. But affirmation didn't come. Instead Blitzer reminded Gingrich that he's tried these attacks before, and  how about trying to say these things to Romney's face.
Turns out Gingrich is all bark and little bite.
The crowd turned on Gingrich. They laughed. They jeered. And stood and cheered for Romney as he put Gingrich back in his place.
But Romney wasn't safe either. Blitzer played fair and launched into a Romney tax question designed to put him in the hot seat. Romney took it, flipped it, and made it about Gingrich.
The nailbiting moment of the night was when Gingrich accused Romney of investing in Fannie and Freddie. (Which begs the question, which is more condemnable- consulting for millions in fees for them? Or investing in them like millions of Americans have done?) 
But! Romney shocked us all by sharing that Gingrich too had invested in them. The look on Gingrich's face was priceless. You could almost see the steam coming from his ears. Bested at his own game.
Rick Santorum and Ron Paul were nearly invisible for the first twenty minutes, with the exception of a very touching moment at the opening when Santorum introduced his "date" for the night- his 90 year old mother in the audience. The crowd didn't hold back in giving her the applause she deserved. Whether or not you plan to vote for him, you have to admit, she has raised a very good man.
Truth is, Santorum had his best night yet. Romney came off the winner, soundly pounding Gingrich into the ground. But my prediction is that we don't see Gingrich fence-sitters run to Romney. It is Santorum that will gain new supporters this week, demobilizing the Gingrich base.
Romney and Gingrich quite frankly sparred and insulted like jilted ex-wives, but Romney didn't lose his cool. The same cannot be said for Gingrich.  Additionally, Romney finally gave a strong answer on his wealth with a testimonial of capitalism and self-made men. And the crowd loved it all.
Santorum did knock Romney down a peg or two on Romneycare. He made excellent points and proved himself to be stronger and knowledgeable than he usually does in debates.
Ron Paul knows he has nothing to gain in Florida. It is a winner take all state, and he's in fourth place. He didn't waste his energy pandering to pork-barrel ideas, or making empty promises. (A colony on the moon, Newt? Really? In this economy, and with all of the problems around the world, and you want to pander to the Space Coast with a moon colony??) Instead he served mostly as the comic relief for the night, which was very welcome between the intense sparring moments. As usual he had a few completely left field moments about foreign policy that failed to connect, but really, he had a good night.
Now we just sit back and wait for the poll numbers to roll in. Can Romney hold on to his lead until the actual vote on Tuesday? Will Santorum be a real threat? Will any one of them suddenly produce new dirt at the last minute that destroys the competition (again)?
There was a lot of discussion and confusion on Twitter regarding Romney's possible blind trust that invested in Fannie and Freddie. During the debate he claimed that any investments he may have made in them were done by a blind trust, and therefore out of his control. However, by the end of the debate Twitter was alight with the news that this may not be true. Look for this to possibly turn into a news story if Romney was wrong. However, is it really that bad? Find just one home-owning American with a mutual fund that hasn't had some involvement with Fannie and Freddie. There's at least one American who made over a million dollars consulting for them!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Gingrich is an Alinsky Republican- is that a good thing?

Recently, Newt Gingrich has been bringing up Saul Alinsky in his stumping. Which begs the question (for all of those without a master's degree in political theory) who is Saul Alinsky? The answer will pretty much solidify two facts- Newt Gingrich is a fantastic historian. There is no denying that. And, Newt Gingrich wants to be shocking, flashy, and unconventional.
Saul David Alinsky (January 30, 1909 – June 12, 1972) is widely credited as the founder of modern community organizing, now more commonly known as grassroots organizations. He also wrote the book Rules for Radicals.
He was not a well-loved man, and received as much criticism and he did praise for his pot-stirring. He brought attention to poverty and poor communities in the U.S., focusing on African American ghettos in major cities. In the 1930s, Alinsky organized the Back of the Yards neighborhood and founded the Industrial Areas Foundation in Chicago, which trained organizers and assisted in the founding of community organizations around the country.
His activities were notable and memorable. But it was his book (1971), "Rules for Radicals," that this left-wing community organizer outlined his methods for instigating change that he is best known. Many of the tactics he spoke about -- such as exploiting resentment and pitting oneself against the establishment -- are the cornerstones of Gingrich's strategy for securing the Republican presidential nomination.
A few quotes (not taken out of context) from the book-
“Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history... the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer. (Introduction to book)
"The means-and-ends moralists, constantly obsessed with the ethics of the means used by the Have-Nots against the Haves, should search themselves as to their real political position. In fact, they are passive — but real — allies of the Haves…. The most unethical of all means is the non-use of any means... The standards of judgment must be rooted in the whys and wherefores of life as it is lived, the world as it is, not our wished-for fantasy of the world as it should be...."
"The third rule of ethics of means and ends is that in war the end justifies almost any means...."
"The seventh rule... is that generally success or failure is a mighty determinant of ethics...."
"The tenth rule... is you do what you can with what you have and clothe it with moral garments.... It involves sifting the multiple factors which combine in creating the circumstances at any given time... Who, and how many will support the action?... If weapons are needed, then are appropriate d weapons available? Availability of means determines whether you will be underground or above ground; whether you will move quickly or slowly...

Tactics in the Rules for Radicals
1. "Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have."
2. "Never go outside the expertise of your people. When an action or tactic is outside the experience of the people, the result is confusion, fear and retreat.... [and] the collapse of communication.
3. "Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy. Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty. (This happens all the time. Watch how many organizations under attack are blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address.)
4. "Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity."
5. "Ridicule is man's most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counteract ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage."
6. "A good tactic is one your people enjoy."
7. "A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag. Man can sustain militant interest in any issue for only a limited time...."
8. "Keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose."
9. "The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself."
10. "The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition. It is this unceasing pressure that results in the reactions from the opposition that are essential for the success of the campaign."
11. "If you push a negative hard and deep enough, it will break through into its counterside... every positive has its negative."
12. "The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative."
13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.

Alinsky was an unconventional, award-winning, peace activist and community mobilizer. For instance, just before he died suddenly from a heart attack at 71, he gave an interview to Playboy.
PLAYBOY: Having accepted your own mortality, do you believe in any kind of afterlife?
ALINSKY: Sometimes it seems to me that the question people should ask is not "Is there life after death?" but "Is there life after birth?" I don't know whether there's anything after this or not. I haven't seen the evidence one way or the other and I don't think anybody else has either. But I do know that man's obsession with the question comes out of his stubborn refusal to face up to his own mortality. Let's say that if there is an afterlife, and I have anything to say about it, I will unreservedly choose to go to hell.
ALINSKY: Hell would be heaven for me. All my life I've been with the have-nots. Over here, if you're a have-not, you're short of dough. If you're a have-not in hell, you're short of virtue. Once I get into hell, I'll start organizing the have-nots over there.
PLAYBOY: Why them?
ALINSKY: They're my kind of people.

There is no question about it, Newt Gingrich is a Saul Alinsky Republican. 
If you read through the tactics, you have the Gingrich playbook- ridicule, push negative, blind side, polarize, and disregard for morals. While these tactics work in starting a revolution and mobilizing a cause, it begs the question- does it have a place within a party race? Sure these tactics make it impossible for your opponent to respond and overcome. But should these tactics be used within the party? Gingrich isn't trying to mobilize a new cause. He is trying to promote himself. But his tactics of insulting and blind-siding his same party members- is that wise? Is polarizing the Republican party the right thing to do when running for the privilege to be their representative and leader? Could Alinsky tactics cause more harm than good within a party? Or is this Gingrich's motive? These tactics build up Newt, but do not help the party. Is he looking to splinter the GOP?
We have had Reagan Democrats, Rockefeller Republicans and even Goldwater Republicans. And now, Gingrich has brought us Alinsky Republicans. Is there room for a lack of decency, so much ridicule, and unethical means in the family values party?? (And how would Ronald Reagan feel about that?)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A quick look at the FL polls before they all change again

Let's take a quick look at the FL polls before everything changes all over again. This is honestly the craziest thing I have ever seen. Romney is ahead, ahead, ahead, and then Gingrich comes out as the biggest jerk alive, and suddenly Gingrich jumps 20 points? And then, in those 5 days that are missing in the middle there, Gingrich slowly slips back down, and Romney scoots a wee bit up. And now, incomprehensibly, they are pretty much tied in Florida?
Unfortunately, this yet again means that the debate on Thursday night is going to change everything. At least, that is what we have seen every.single.freaking.debate. thus far.
Do we really want to see Romney and Gingrich go round and round again? I submit no. But that won't change anything. I've looked online and can't figure out who will be hosting the debate tomorrow night. It is being co-sponsored by CNN, the Republican Party of Florida, and the Hispanic Leadership Network. My guess is it won't be John King alone up there. But I really do hope we see John King attack Newt.
Expect the questions tomorrow night to be focused considerably on illegal immigration, and health care for lower and middle class families. These are the issues the rest of the country thinks matters to Floridians. Really, most Floridians are very focused on education, the military/defense spending, and taxes. Floridians don't have to pay state income taxes, and therefore are very aware of their federal tax burden. They are also very interested in relations with Cuba. (Oh heavens, please, no one bring up the Elian issues! Terri Schiavo was bad enough! And for the love, NO Casey Anthony!) I, for one, would love to hear their opinions on improving relations with Cuba now, and not just after Fidel finally kicks it. And I think we can all expect to hear Newt rant on and on about how he is going to build a colony on the moon- you know, with all of that money we have lying around!

** Update** I asked CNN via Twitter who was moderating the debate. Response?
Wolf Blitzer and then hosts the after-party

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

State of the Union- I watch this stuff so you don't have to

First, the absolute, no question about it, highlight of the night was seeing Rep. Gabby Giffords walk into the room. The cheering was loud and heart felt. And I know I'm not alone when I say I cried when I saw her.
As for the speech-
In short, if you like big government, and think that the government should control all aspects of your life while asking you to pay more for it, this was a good State of the Union (SOTU). 
If you are not a big fan of big government, you probably hated this speech. 
Some key points-
Without mentioning fracking, he said he wanted to open up domestic oil and gas reserves. (Also didn't mention Keystone.)
He wants to create enough clean energy to power 3 million homes a year. Let's see... that's almost enough to power my home county.
He will "create new jobs tomorrow" by putting Americans back to work repairing our roads and other blue collar work. In other words, he'll tax the rich, to pay for jobs for the middle class, that will be entirely dependent on the government now. 
If government forces new regulations on Americans, it creates jobs! That's how capitalism works!
As if he hasn't already created enough big government and regulation, he wants to create a new oversight/police group. One more thing taxes can pay for. Yippee.  
He wants the money we are saving from no longer being in Iraq to go to nation building here at home. Fist-bump Ron Paul.
Oh and in one of the more incredulous moments of federal government getting too intrusive he wants to "tell states" to pass a law requiring a mandatory age for students to stay in high school (18). Because federal requirements on schools has gone so well. (coughNCLBcough)
I think Hilary Clinton may be wearing a bumpit in her hair.
Also, VP Biden is going to pee his pants if he keeps drinking that much water.
I don't know who that blond chick is on camera, but she's about to nod off live on tv.
He wants to raise taxes on the rich, which is something only people who are not rich think is fair. "He has more, so he should have to share more!" How is that fair? What is fair is an equal flat tax.
And then, in the best moment of hypocrisy in a very long time, the man who cut military spending and has put a freeze on defense spending, took the glory for Seal Team Six apprehending and obliterating Osama bin Laden. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Gov Mitch Daniels of Indiana gave the GOP response. Here are some quotes from that-
"We do not accept that ours will ever be a nation of haves and have nots; we must always be a nation of haves and soon to haves."
‎"If we fail to act to grow the private sector and save the safety net, nothing else will matter much"
Republicans will speak for those "who believe that government is meant to serve the people rather than supervise them"
"We will advance our positive suggestions with confidence, because we know that Americans are still a people born to liberty."  

Thoughts on the NBC Debate

A few mostly unfiltered thoughts on the NBC debate-
Newt's personality is a major problem for me. If you recall, at one point he was my second favorite choice. And may have even been my first choice. But right now he has proven himself to be so arrogant, grandiose, and quite frankly a complete a** hole, that I want to see him defeated more than I want to see my own guy win!
He doesn't address the accusations (of ethical violations, cheating, etc). He shrugs it off, flips it around, and insults the questioner. I HATE this style of debate and personality. To me there is nothing more aggravating than someone who thinks they are right because they refuse to admit they are wrong, even when the facts are stacked against them.
This debate is annoying and boring. Allowing Romney and Gingrich to go on sparring for 9 straight minutes isn't helping anyone. Newt clearly cannot function without validation, and the silences are just awkward.
Mitt did a great job of taking questions, and instead of getting defensive about it, flipping it around and talking about policy.
It irritates me to no end that the debates are wasting time on the personal issues, and then asking the same policy questions over and over. We learned nearly nothing new in this debate except that Dr. Ron Paul can give a coherent explanation end of life and do not resuscitate procedures. (Seriously? Terri Schiavo, NBC? What the hell??)
I actually found myself wishing they would involve Santorum and Paul more because I was so tired of the sparring. But I must say that I think Mitt wiped the floor with Newt.
And as for the completely outrageous claims by Newt that he is NOT Washington Establishment?? I'll let Jon Stewart respond for me-  (I may have made the same exact befuddled and exasperated noises of shock as he utters here)- (while this whole thing is awesome, the most awesomeness starts around 5:30 in)

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Indecision 2012 - The Gingrich Who Stole South Carolina
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Monday, January 23, 2012

The importance of double checking sources- different numbers!

Here's an excellent example of why you should always double check your sources and get more than one source when citing numbers, and why you should never trust just one news source. Three major, and usually reliable, news sources are providing different numbers on what the current GOP delegate count is- CNN even has 2 different pages with different numbers!
To be able to understand the differences in these numbers (which actually are all right) you have to know the finer points and rules of delegate allocation. The best explanation I have found for this is on the Washington Post here.
So which of the following counts should you believe? I'd go with the Washington Post. It is including the "pledged" delegates from future primaries/caucuses that have not yet been held.

CNN delegate calculator

Source: CNN
A different CNN page with delegate calculator
Source: CNN
Washington Post Delegate Counts
Source: Washington Post
NY Times delegates!
Source: New York Times

It's all a numbers game- polls, delegates, and what comes next!

This Republican race is truly unprecedented. We have no historical model to follow, no pattern to expect to emerge. We have four candidates in the race, three have wins, and the fourth one is the only one who has vowed to never drop out of the race! So what happens next? The candidates start looking at the delegate numbers and the polls and weighing likelihood.
  • Total Number of delegates: 2286
  • Unallocated delegates: 2229
  • Number of delegates needed to win: 1144
Gingrich - 25 delegates
Romney- 14
Santorum- 8
Paul - 10

Take a second look at those numbers. Ron Paul who has not won a state, has more delegates than Rick Santorum who can now claim Iowa.

Florida comes next- Jan 31- and it has 50 delegates in a winner takes all state. If you recall, Rudy Giuliani staked it all on winning FL in 2008 (which backfired on him). Five days later will be Nevada with 28 delegates in a proportional allocation state. In other words, win FL you take home 50 delegates. But in NV each candidate may take home a few delegates proportional to how many people have voted for them (which is how Paul has delegates without winning a state).

In 2008 Romney won Nevada in a landslide victory (but no one noticed as they were all focused on the bloodbath in South Carolina).

The pattern in this race has been band wagon mentality all the way. The man that has the best showing in the debate win that week's vote. There is absolutely no clear front-runner, and no one obvious path to follow yet. There are 2 debates this week, which means there are two more chances for upsets and changes.

So let's take a look at the FL numbers-

First, let's discuss the graph and not the actual numbers. Look at the green Gingrich line. He was low, he was high, he dropped, and now, as of today, he's going up again. And there's the red Cain line. Same thing- he's low, he's high, he drops. And then there is Romney with the purple line. He's fairly steady since the summer, with an uptick in the last three weeks, but a sudden fall as Gingrich jumps. Santorum and Paul have remained steady below 12% continuously.
Personally, if I was Santorum or Paul, I'd skip Florida and move on to Nevada. Why? You know you will never win Florida, and it is a winner take all state. Any time spent there is a waste of time and money where you could be elsewhere winning delegates. UNLESS, your goal is not to win the state, but to make you take away support from either Romney or Gingrich to keep them from winning.
I'll be back around later tonight to share thoughts on the debate this evening.

So now- Nevada, and then the slightly less than Super Tuesday. Nevada will holds its proportional caucus on Feb 4. There are few, if any, recent and reliable polls coming out of Nevada yet. But be looking for them to come today soon- like today or tomorrow probably. If it isn't heavily favoring Romney, consider it to be a big surprise. And if you live in Nevada, brace yourselves- the robocalls and pollsters are about to start coming. (And tell the truth to the pollsters!)

Just three days after Nevada comes the mini Super Tuesday. Colorado (36 proportional), Minnesota (40 proportional), and Missouri (52 proportional) will vote on Feb 7. Maine (24 proportional) votes over the course of a week, ending Feb 11. That's 152 proportional delegates in one week, plus the 28 proportional in Nevada. If Florida doesn't produce a clear front runner (and it won't), this race continues to be a massive battle through this first Super Tuesday. After that, the candidates can take quick naps, because the next primary day isn't for 3 more weeks, but is a much bigger Super Tuesday.

In other words, this race is far from defining a winner!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Goodbye SC, Hello Florida

Well, South Carolina, it has been one wild week. When we arrived there were 6 men in the race, and Romney was headed for a virtual coronation. Today as we leave, there are 4 men in the race, Gingrich has surged, Iowa recounts and recants, and this picture of Mitt and Ann Romney doing their own laundry made my whole week.
We worked our tails off this week. I don't regret one second of it. We saw some amazing hard work by volunteers who paid a lot of money to travel here, taking off work, and leaving families behind, to get involved in a cause they believe in. I saw dozens of volunteers willingly going out into the rain and wind (tornado warnings!!) to hand out literature, knock doors, and shake signs yesterday. That takes real dedication and passion! Amazing!
The team of people who work behind the scenes to organize events, get bodies out to the events, work the press phones, and so much more are incredible. They spend weeks on the road, living in hotels, working 14-16 hour days, barely even having time to eat, keeping their spirits and energy high, all to work for the cause. It really is a unique and impressive thing to be a part of.
I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be a little piece of the big picture this past week. All of the work and exhaustion was totally worth it, even if we didn't win. But we got the message out there and we still have 47 more states to get through. And you just might see me pop up in another key state soon... I've caught the campaign bug!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Campaign Life

Last night was just plain awesome. I got to go to Charleston for the CNN debate, and be in the room live. It was so interesting to see things in person. Here's a few thoughts about how it was different in person.
First, if you have never been to a live televised event, you probably don't know there's a producer running around, telling the audience when to applaud, when to applaud louder, when to be back in their seats, etc. When the room is clapping so loud that you can't hear John King open the show? There's a producer frantically waving, telling the audience to clap louder and louder.
The biggest news making moment out of the debate was the very first opening question, directed at Newt Gingrich about his ex-wife's allegations. It is true that Newt's first nasty jab at John King where he said he was appalled that he would start off a presidential debate that way, and went on to use those ever popular words "liberal elite media." That comment got a standing ovation. I won't lie. I even applauded loudly. We're Republicans! That's what we do! We applaud when people say bad things about the liberal elite media! But NO ONE was applauding in support for Newt dodging the issues about cheating on his wife. Newt did a fantastic job of flipping the situation into something else. Good for him. But it doesn't change the fact that he's a lying, cheating bastard.
Next, CNN bringing out Herman Cain this morning to talk about the situation? Are you kidding me? You bring out the womanizer the GOP ran out of town to talk about Newt?? Yeah, I don't think so!
Today (Friday) was my first 19 hour work day in a very long time. I'm exhausted! But in less than 24 hours it will all be over. Today was incredible, and I loved every second of it. We had 180 volunteers come from around the country and the state, to help Get Out The Vote (GOTV). They would walk in the door, and we'd give them a job, flip them around, and send them off to do the good work. We had them going door to door, making GOTV calls, attending rallies, and more. It was a crazy day trying to manage that many people. Plus in the late afternoon I got a call saying I needed to get up to Greenville and bring materials. I dropped everything to drive the 100 miles up there, and attended a rally while I was there.
Tomorrow will be even bigger and crazier. Rallies, voting, and more. I can't wait. I really need to go to bed.
Pictures coming soon!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tales from the Campaign Trail

You probably thought I would have more exciting stories to tell from the campaign trail. But the truth is, I'm so busy, there isn't much time to devote to blogging, taking pictures, or even breathing sometimes. I was working by 7:30 am today and although it is after midnight and I'm back in my hotel room (I left the office just before 11), I'm not sure I've stopped working. Being busy is a great, great thing. My biggest challenge is just keeping up with all of the RSVPs that keep rolling in. We had over 1500 people attend events today! And we have a few more huge events this week still left to go.
Tomorrow night is the big CNN debate in Charleston. (And I'm officially on the list and allowed to go- CNN Security emailed me to say so today!) That will, of course, be huge. And it has potential to be a game changer. The latest polls, out today by CNN, show Romney slipped 5 points, and Gingrich gained 5. They are within 10 points of each other now. That is a scary thing from our point of view. We had a 19 point lead and we're down to 10. And these primaries have been the complete definition of bandwagon politics. If that momentum stays through Saturday, we will all be in for the fight of our lives.
It could also all hinge on what happens in the ABC "expose" of Newt's former wife. If that shows before the debate, Newt could be in for some trouble. But if you were ABC, you would want to run it against the debate to steal some thunder and ratings.
You may think that campaign life is all about politics. That isn't true. In fact, there is hardly time to really discuss actual politics. "Real politics" isn't discussing and debating the issues. It is all about answering phones, stuffing envelopes, making calls, knocking on doors, making sure the signs get to the event, making sure there is someone to pick up the VIP at the airport, listening to senile callers rant and rave about who knows what, handling press requests, and all the work that goes on behind the scenes. It isn't about chewing the fat and pontificating over the finer points of the opponent's health care plan, or which candidate has released his taxes. In fact, if you have time to talk about all that, then you probably aren't working.
That being said, it is after midnight and I'm getting emails in still regarding volunteer assignments, RSVPs tomorrow, and more, that I need to answer before falling asleep. And I need to be back at the office in less than 8 hours.
Campaign life- not for the faint of heart!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tales from the Trail Days 3 and 4

If you were looking for a recap of the debates yesterday, here you go-
Never have I ever been more livid and angry at a GOP candidate than when Newt Gingrich had the audacity to say that he thinks the unemployed 99ers aren't suffering from a lack of jobs, but are suffering from poor skills and need more education. I have been unemployed for the better part of the past 2 years. I fall into the 99ers category. I have sent out hundreds and hundreds of resumes. I have interviewed at dozens of companies. I have been fortunate to get enough freelance work to survive these past two years, in spite of how very precious little I got on unemployment. I have great skills. I have companies I used to work for coming to me and asking me to help them. They don't have the money to hire me! The completely out of touch and ridiculous statement that 99ers need to get more education and better skills, and less assistance, made by Gingrich had me screaming at the television (and on Twitter). And explain to me, exactly how is someone who hasn't had an income in 2 years supposed to afford more education?? The problem is the economy. NOT the overqualified, skilled citizens who were laid off!
As for life on the campaign trail-
I have worked on a few campaigns. I'm no stranger to politics. I have never seen a better run campaign than the Romney campaign. It is truly incredible to see how well organized and executed this high speed campaign runs. There is a staff member dedicated to getting endorsements across the state. There are regional press secretaries, precinct captains, advance teams, and more. We're not sitting in the office stuffing envelopes. The phones ring off the hook, literally over one hundred calls an hour, if not more. (I bet you the other campaigns don't have that problem!) No two days have been the same so far. And I doubt any two days will repeat in the future. Today I assumed a role of mostly overseeing the other volunteers, keeping them busy with projects, while trying to keep up with my own projects as well. We were in the office for more than 14 hours today! It is great to be so busy that you don't even look up and realize you missed lunch until after 4 pm!
We have over 300 volunteers we're assigning out over the state this weekend, and we're doing the prep work for that now. (I came down in advance to help prep.) I've never been on a campaign before where we had so many volunteers just coming out of the woodwork to help out. It really is energizing and exciting to be on a winning campaign.
As you know, I'm from Virginia and I traveled to South Carolina to help. I am not alone in this! Today in our office we had 8 different volunteers who had driven or flown in from other states to help out full time for the week. Can you imagine being so passionate that you would get in your car and drive from Texas (his home) to Iowa, to New Hampshire, to South Carolina, and he plans to go on to Florida next week? We have a volunteer who is doing just that. And no, he's not rich or wealthy with time to kill. It is the opposite actually! Like me, he's unemployed and wants to make a difference with his free time. He was sleeping in his car, showering at the Y, and working some very long days! (When we heard he was sleeping in his car, we found him another volunteer to share a hotel room with. I think he's enjoying having a full sized bed again.) And he does it all because he believes in the cause.
We have so many great volunteers making things work for us right now. We had a great woman come in for several hours today, and with her she brought homemade coffee cake that was the best I have ever had. She brought in juice, clementines, milk, and more. And at lunch time she took orders and went to the (gay bar) cafe across the street to get food for us. I mentioned Ruth yesterday- the woman that Governor Romney gave some money to at an event. She has been coming to the office to keep us updated and to volunteer. Today we told her we had seen her story in the news. She asked which paper. I told her I didn't see the paper, I saw it on CNN, ABC, and Fox. She said, "Fox who?" She doesn't have a TV or internet at her home, and had no idea she had been a story in every single major news outlet. Well, she did have some clue, because she told me her phone was ringing so much she finally took it off the hook. She couldn't take it anymore, so she came to our office to help out. And would you believe the woman making national news stories picked up a bottle of windex and cleaned all of our windows, before she swept the floors, and cleaned the toilet? When she saw the coffee cake and treats in our little kitchen, she loudly yelled, "Oh Praise Jesus! I haven't eaten!" She didn't have any money, and has no food. We happily sent her home with a few items. And she said she'll be back to help tomorrow. I look forward to putting her to work on something a little more exciting than sweeping the floors.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Day 2 Campaign Life

Sunday, Day 2
Campaign life doesn't stop just because it is Sunday, especially with a week left to the state primary. It was another busy crazy day in the HQ. The phone never stopped ringing. I would guess we had over 500-600 phone calls from 1pm-8pm. There are a lot of very supportive and happy people calling to just say they are on our side. And there are a lot of angry people calling to complain about the automated calls they are getting. I don't blame them. Nobody likes getting them. But that doesn't give them the right or reason to say the incredibly nasty things they will say at times. But the good phone calls make up for it.
An interesting story is unfolding in the office. A woman named Ruth is suddenly finding herself in an unexpected spotlight with her story popping up all across the national political news. On Wednesday she was praying for help to make ends meet financially. She was driving her car, pulled over and said a prayer, and then saw the Romney campaign bus, and followed it. She met Governor Romney, told him her story, about being unemployed, a mentally handicapped son, raising her grandchild, and more. He reached into his wallet and gave her what cash he had on him. Another campaign staffer spoke with her, and paid her electric bill for her. Since then she has come by the office a few times to help out and give back. She came by today to say hello, tell us how grateful she is, and that the media keeps calling her. She told us that one major outlet will be sending a limo to take her out tomorrow. To do what? She did not know. But she promised to come back and tell us what happened. Her story is truly legit, and she's truly humble and kind. I hope she's able to find work and help soon.
The big news today came in at 10pm just as we were wrapping up in the office. We found out via Twitter that Jon Huntsman will be dropping out of the race tomorrow, and will be endorsing Mitt. (Gotta love when Twitter breaks news!)
It is always interesting how quickly candidates flip from attacking each other to endorsing each other. This is just another perfect example of it. Last week in the NH debates and the Meet the Press debate, Huntsman came after Romney with both barrels blazing. Sometimes it can be easy to forget we are all on the same side, and that primary campaigns should not be a grown up version of "Lord of the Flies." Huntsman was an aggressive opponent, but never threw mud. However, there are times when it feels like Gingrich has gone completely primal and isn't throwing mud, and has resorted to throwing feces.
Why Huntsman would drop out this close to Saturday is a matter I can barely speak to. It was suggested by someone on Twitter that getting out now and endorsing Mitt would help him lock up a cabinet position if Mitt wins overall. It was only a matter of minutes before the other volunteers in the office started speculating about Huntsman as a Secretary of State. (Let it be known loud and clear- no one in that conversation has any clout or pull over such decisions.) Huntsman definitely has the credentials for a SecState position, but the idea that an LDS president would also have an LDS SecState is pretty far fetched. I can't see it happening.
The polls are still projecting a Romney win on Saturday. But we do see how close Gingrich in on our heels. It is only a 4-7 point lead, and that means we have to work hard this week! I'm excited for the loads of volunteers to show up this week!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

South Carolina Campaign Trail

My first day on the campaign trail-
Even at 5pm on a Saturday the phone was ringing like crazy. I just jumped right in and started answering the phone. No script, no idea what I was doing. Just picked it up and went for it. The first thing I learned? "Somebody" sent out a letter from a gun owners group saying Romney is anti-gun. Thing is, he is pro-gun. So lots of angry callers calling to complain that he's anti-gun. We got a copy of the letter finally, and apparently of the 6 candidates it claims only Ron Paul is pro-gun. Hmm... I wonder who paid for that mailing?
And only a few hundred callers calling to say "this number showed up on my caller ID, who is this?"
Somewhere in the middle of the 200 calls I answered in under 3 hours, a radio show called me. I won't say their name, but you can find them here. First, I'm glad I actually grabbed that call. I was missing more calls than I was able to catch because the phones were so crazy. It would have looked bad if they had called and it went to voice mail. But then, they really weren't looking to do a fair or honest interview. They were calling a state office, and didn't ask to speak to an official spokesperson. (Real professionals would have called the national hq and asked for a press person.) I pulled their website up while speaking to them, and very quickly realized they were going to try anything they could to make Romney look bad. They also never told me whether or not we were on the air. Nonetheless, I just rolled through the punches. Lots of questions about, "Is it true Mormons think..." "Do you think a Mormon can be trusted in the..." Things like that. Nothing actually about what Romney stands for politically. Somewhere in there I messed up and said, "We believe," instead of "He believes." Oops. Next thing you know, I'm getting hit with the Mormon questions. Whatever. I think I handled it well. And got the approval of everyone within earshot when I hung up. It's always fun to be back in the hot seat. But then, considering their website looks straight out of 1999, I'm not too concerned.
We have truckloads of volunteers coming down this week. Things are looking really good. Romney has a huge lead down here, and everyone else is so busy attacking Romney that they are forgetting to make themselves look good.
I'm looking forward to getting back to work in the morning and trying some real BBQ soon!

Greetings from South Carolina

Greetings from South Carolina! After the big win for Mitt Romney in New Hampshire this week I got a call asking me if I wanted to drop everything and go to South Carolina to put my campaigning background to work. I will be at the Romney State HQ for the next week. I look forward to bringing you some campaign insights from the inside. Got any questions about real campaign life? Leave me a comment and I'll try to answer them!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Romney Wins New Hampshire, Now What?

South Carolina County Map

So Mitt won New Hampshire. Now what? 
Despite winning in nearly every group of voters (including winning across the conservatives) the fight isn't over. The race is going in Romney's favor, but is not yet a done deal. And nor should it be! The democratic and primary system was not set up so that two fairly small states could have more power than the other 48!
We're already seeing a shift in strategies. Newt "High Road" Gingrich has abandoned all pretenses of pretending to play nice with no negative strategies. He has come out both barrels blazing to attack Romney in a self-described 'Armageddon.' (Now who's the flip-flopper?)Asked about the negative ads from the Gingrich camp, Romney told Boston radio station WRKO on Tuesday that they "will not help" his rival.
"All I have got to do is keep my head down, keep talking about my message of getting America back to work, my experience in having led two businesses successfully, the Olympics successfully," Romney said.
Of course, Gingrich isn't alone in the attacks. Everybody and their brother's PAC are "on the hunt." This looks to be the fight of Romney's political life to not just survive South Carolina, but succeed in it. It is shaping up to be a bloodbath.
The absolute most current poll data released (taken yesterday) has Romney only leading Gingrich by 2 points in South Carolina (Insider Advantage). And that is from a poll taken after the NH victory. However, polls taken earlier in the week have him with as much as an 18 point lead. But again the fight for third place will be very significant. Paul and Santorum are neck and neck there, and both absolutely need to be to take third to be considered viable. And if Perry ends up in last place, there will be little reason for him to proceed to Florida. Huntsman can take last place and still go on to Florida because he had a strong enough showing in NH.
The difference between Perry and Huntsman right now comes down to having enough money to go forward, but more importantly delegates. Perry skipped New Hampshire, and Huntsman skipped Iowa. But Perry had a lousy showing in Iowa. So he's 0 for 2 right now. Huntsman is 1 for 2. Huntsman can afford another hit. But Perry really cannot. Florida and South Carolina primaries are close enough together that a candidate could financially stay in. But considering both men are polling with less than 5% in Florida, there wouldn't be much of a reason to proceed.
There will be another poll next Thursday night in South Carolina (hosted by CNN). Considering how well Huntsman performed last Saturday in the New Hampshire debate, and how that really seemed to give him a bump up in the primary, this will be key to his success.
It is also very important to realize that Ron Paul is a serious threat right now. He has the money to keep going on for several more states. And if he continues to come in second or third everywhere, collecting delegates as he goes, he alone could really draw things out. (And there is nothing he or his supporters would love more than to really draw things out.) I've looked back over the polling data before and after the debates. His numbers don't move at all. Debates don't seem to help or hurt him like they do the other candidates. He only has 11% in South Carolina, just 1-2 points behind Santorum, for a consistent 4th place. He has yet to break 10% in Florida. If it were any other candidate, I'd say it is time to start his exit strategy. But considering his coffers, and ability to outstay his welcome, I would say expect him to come out swinging harder than the rest. But he's a wily candidate. Don't expect him to go after Romney- everyone else is doing that already. He will focus his sites on Gingrich or Santorum. He's not shooting for first place. A second or third place slot will be his victory. Again, slowly picking up delegates as he rolls along.

Lessons Learned From Haiti

It is the 2 year anniversary of the devastating Haiti earthquake.  I took these pictures personally while I was a rescue worker there in the days following the earthquake. I felt the aftershocks. I held the babies and treated wounds.
Today as I remember Haiti I offer you this one question- as you contemplate who you want to be the next President of your country, ask yourself, who would you want to be in charge if this sort of devastation ever happened here at home?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Live from New Hampshire! It's Primary Tuesday Night!

I will be live blogging my inner monologue throughout the New Hampshire returns tonight. Just like last week, I will be putting new thoughts at the top, pushing the older thoughts down. PLEASE leave comments! I'd love to "chat!" I'll also be on twitter at @swingstatevoter.

12:21 am- For all those on Twitter saying that Romney didn't beat his old numbers, he is currently at 91,460 votes (39%) with 92% precincts reporting. That would be 15,914 more than he had last time.

Interesting to note, that if you add up Romney and Huntsman's votes for a total of 130,632 people, out of the approximately 229,003 votes cast so far, and you have more than half of New Hampshire voters voting for a Mormon. Not too shabby considering how many people kept saying for months they would never vote for a Mormon!

10:22- Everyone has made their speeches. And Romney won. Nothing left to see here, except that Vermin Supreme has 542 votes so far for 1% of the Democrat vote. I've moved on to NCIS.

9:39- In case you are curious, Gingrich is only beating Santorum by 132 votes for 4th place right now. I'd say that bandwagon has come to a screeching halt.
More newsworthy- my math on how many people will vote for Mitt is holding up thus far.

9:17- Mitt's victory speech was inspiring and invigorating. The Ron Paul speech actually made me yawn and want to turn the channel. MAKE IT STOP.

9pm- CNN just broke down the voters by demographic. Romney won with the conservative vote. Take that moderates!

8:47- Prepare yourself for some amateur math. According to my math, Romney currently has 18,600 votes for 36%. 50,663 votes have been cast. An estimated 300,000 people will vote today. So roughly 17% of the votes have come in. Or, 83% have not come in (249,337 remaining to be counted- ROUGHLY). If we take the 249K (and round it to 249,000 for easier math) and say that we expect Romney to keep at 36%, that will give him 89,640 votes tonight. In 2008 he took second with 75,546 votes, and 32%. McCain won '08 with 88,571 votes. So for all those who said Romney has to outdo 2008, there you go. He did. Or at least according to my math he will.

8:23- Wow, tonight really is going to be easier than Iowa. CNN just called it for Paul in 2nd and Huntsman in 3rd. The battle is now for fourth place. Or really, the battle to see who will drop out first- Newt or Santorum? I think the real question now is who will get more votes tonight- Rick Perry or Vermin Supreme (if he wins the nomination, everyone gets free ponies. true story!)

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Vermin Supreme. Who, as of 8:30pm, is beating Rick Perry in the primary!

8:10- Doh! I just made a stupid mistake thinking Bob Dole won in NH in 1996 and replied to CNN's Political Analyst David Gergen on Twitter. I quickly caught my mistake and deleted my comment. Apparently he saw it anyway, retweeted me, and corrected my mistake- to his 21,000 followers. Ouch. Worst part? I worked on the Buchanan campaign in 1996! I really did know better!

8:02pm- Apparently CNN doesn't want to keep us hanging until 2:30 am tonight. They have already gone ahead and projected Mitt Romney as the winner! NICE!
This is the first time in history (keep in mind that is only a 30-40 year history) that the same person has won both Iowa and New Hampshire in a non-incumbent year!

7pm- Some people feel that Romney has to do better tonight than he did in 2008. I'm not sure that I agree. I think it is interesting to see if he does beat that number, but I don't think it is significant if he does or doesn't.

2008 NH results-
McCain 88,571 (37.1%)
Romney 75,546 (31.6%)
Huckabee 26,859 (11.2%)
Giuliani 20,439 (8.6%)
Paul 18,308 (7.7%)
Thompson 2,894 (1.2)
Hunter 1,225 (.5%)
Keyes 203 (.1%
Tancredo 80 (0)
If it matters whether or not Romney beats his old number, it should matter that Paul beats his. The returns are coming in now, so let's see what happens!

6:40- the early returns are coming in even though the polls don't close until 8 pm I think.
Romney 36.8%, Paul 26.3%, Hunstman 21.1%, Gingrich 10.5%, Perry 5.3%.
Anyone else noticing the lack of Santorum on that list?? (Source: http://www.zimbio.com/NH+Primary+Results/articles/EXmn7yoxzif/New+Hampshire+Exit+Polls+2012)

Who you want to win in NH and why!

Let's take one last look at New Hampshire before the fun starts tonight.
Here are the polls that were discussed yesterday-
Click on image to enlarge. Source: Real Clear Politics
It really helps to take a look at the graph and history of changes when looking forward right now. Understanding momentum and bandwagons is important this week. Santorum, who had no following at all in Iowa previously, came in second thanks to a serendipitous bandwagon. But this week it appears to be Huntsman with the loud and rowdy bandwagon. Everybody jump in! Let's see where this will take us! So here's what you need to know depending on who your horse in the race is-

Romney Supporters-
If you support Romney, you can rest easy that he is highly likely to win New Hampshire. But you need to be looking forward to South Carolina and Florida, where he is leading, but not confidently enough. Santorum is gaining in SC, so a Romney fan really wants to see Santorum in third, fourth, or fifth place tonight. (Sixth place is locked up by Perry.) Romney fans really want to see Gingrich in fifth place as well. Why? It will kill any buzz Santorum and Gingrich may have, and dry up their fundraising, if they do poorly in NH. Ron Paul doesn't have much support in SC, so he isn't a real threat there.
The ideal results tonight for a Romney fan would be 1. Romney, 2. Paul, 3. Huntsman, 4/5 Gingrich Santorum.

Paul Supporters-
Only ever want to see Ron Paul win. But looking deeper into it, a Ron Paul path to success tonight would be tthe same as the Romney path. They want to see Huntsman take third, and be able to build on his momentum in SC. That would take the wind out of the Gingrich and Santorum sails. Huntsman has little chance of really gaining too much in SC. But it would open the way for Paul to again make it to second place in SC. (He's currently a distant fourth.)

Gingrich Supporters-
Tonight is all about making it to second place. A third place "victory" isn't going to help or hurt. But in politics if it isn't helping, it is hurting. With Huntsman, Gingrich, and Santorum neck and neck (and neck) right now, third place really is up for grabs. But the momentum (there has got to be another word for this other than momentum) isn't in Gingrich's favor. Fourth place would be a disaster, and fifth place the ultimate disaster. The only good outcome tonight would be second place. Third is okay, but not great.

Santorum Supporters-
Tonight is the real test. Everyone ran like lemmings to vote for Santorum in Iowa, and then actually stopped to hear him speak at the debates this week. I don't think people liked what they heard. They voted and then gave him a chance. It will be really interesting to see if people liked what they heard when they started paying attention. If he doesn't get third place tonight, he will absolutely have to take first or second in South Carolina. (He's currently in second, threatening a weak first place Romney.) But expect the lemmings to jump ship and run to whoever takes second place in New Hampshire tonight. Depending on how much money he has in the war chest (or in his case, what may only be a piggy bank) he should make it on to Florida regardless of how poorly he does in SC. The real question is whether or not he can survive past that. If he performs well tonight, he survives pass Florida. Otherwise? Highly doubtful.

Huntsman Supporters-
All both of you out there have done a great job timing his peak in New Hampshire. Huntsman is the one to watch tonight, no question about it. He is a real threat for third place. But thanks to his great showing in the debates over the weekend, and a lot of extra media attention, he has a real shot of riding this wave to a peak tonight. He could quite possibly take second place. And if he does, that changes everything for everybody. First, all of the Mormon Romney supporters will have to reevaluate which bandwagon they want seats on. Second, it means more money for him, less for everyone else. He's in last place in SC, but only a tiny 1 point behind Perry. If he can take second tonight, and gain in popularity over the next 10 days, (which he likely would) he becomes a serious threat in SC. I don't know why Gingrich and Santorum are out there beating up on Romney this week. They should be attacking Huntsman, because he is the one that they have to beat.

Perry Supporters-
Don't exist.

Update! Live from Dixville Notch!

Dixville Notch, New Hampshire opened up the New Hampshire polling at exactly midnight and concluded a few seconds before 12:01 am, and the results were announced at 12:04 am. (Oh that Iowa had been so fast!) There were NINE whole voters and they voted 3 Obama, 1 Gingrich, 2 Huntsman, 1 Ron Paul, 2 Romney. So there you have it, as of 12:17 a.m. Romney and Huntsman are tied in New Hampshire. Now we just have to wait for another 19-22 hours to get the rest of the results.
Live free or die!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Fun facts about the New Hampshire Primary (I learn these things so you don't have to)

A few interesting fun facts about the New Hampshire primary-
There will be 33 candidates on the primary ballot, not just the 6 you have heard about.
One of those 33 candidates is Bear Betzler.
It is not an "open" primary or a "closed" primary. In an open primary anyone can vote. In a closed primary you have to be registered with the specific party. In this primary a voter will be either unregistered (independents) or a Republican. Democrats or any other registered party member cannot vote in the GOP primary.
The little tiny town of Dixville Notch, NH, population 75, will kick off the primary voting at 12:01 am January 10. (In approximately 3.5 hours from the time of writing this.) This is a long-standing tradition, where all of the eligible voters come together and cast their ballots at the same time. (As few as 6 voters at times!)
The tradition began with Neil Tillotson (1898 - 17 October 2001), who was traditionally the first voter; he would reportedly hold his ballot over the ballot box while watching his wristwatch. At the moment of midnight, Tillotson would drop the ballot into the ballot box and the rest of the town's residents would follow suit. Since Tillotson's death in 2001 at the age of 102, the first voter has been chosen by random ballot beforehand.
If you really want to, you can stay up tonight and watch all of Dixville Notch vote live, as the media tends to love showing it. (Yeah, I'll probably be watching.)
There are approximately 1.3 million people in New Hampshire.
270,705 registered Republicans
266,908 registered Democrats
383,072 undeclared voters 

For a total of 920,685 registered voters in New Hampshire.
The lobster industry brings in more than $300 million annually for NH.
The American lobster is also called the Northern lobster.
American lobsters contain just 98 calories per every 3½ ounces and offer vitamin B12 and zinc.
According to the movie "Love Actually," there was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus.
Yet in spite of this, New Hampshire is not a big Evangelical state.
Lobster is delicious.
Gingrich is going DOWN tomorrow.

Ready or not, here's New Hampshire (polls for Jan 9)


We'll start with New Hampshire, then go on to South Carolina, Florida, and the national polls.
In short, Mitt is going to win New Hampshire. The primaries are tomorrow, and not even another out of the blue Santorum surge can beat Romney now. Now granted, his lead has slipped from 21.3 to 19. Well, unless we stick to my decision to remove all PPP results from overall scores. (Because they continuously, week after week, are significantly different from all other polls, thereby questioning their audience and polling questions.) Which, by the way, if you do, changes the rankings a little bit- Romney (39.6), Paul (20.2), Santorum moves ahead of Huntsman to 11.2, with Huntsman 10.2. Gingrich is moving down in the polls, not up, but could still possibly be in competition in third place. Perry is still losing miserably.
Even if Santorum and Huntsman continue to enjoy a well-timed surge, they are only going to threaten Ron Paul, and not Romney.
1. Results are in by midnight Eastern time, and we're not up till 2:30 am watching CNN.
2. We'll miss Edith and Carol in Iowa.
3. Romney wins with a massive lead.
4. Ron Paul and Huntsman duke it out for second place.
5. Santorum takes fourth.
6. Gingrich blames Romney for everything.
7. Perry doesn't drop out although he really ought to.

So on to South Carolina, where suddenly everyone is convinced the "real winner" will be picked, based on the fact that all GOP nominees won in South Carolina- a point completely disproved previously.
Just one month ago Gingrich was in a 19 point lead 42 to Romney's 23. Today? Romney has the lead, while Newt is down in third, and not gaining. If Santorum takes third or fourth in New Hampshire, expect his second place scores to start dropping. Gingrich will drop even more if he has a dismal response in NH. Which means Paul, who is in fourth right now, is actually the person with the most to gain here. If he takes second in NH, he may move up as far as second in SC, as the Santorum bandwagon slows down.
too soon to say, other than Romney should take first, for an historical sweep of Iowa, NH, and SC. Perry and Huntsman, who have no real reason to think they can even eke it up to third place, will drop out. The real question is whether or not Gingrich will drop out.
A question that can be answered by looking forward to Florida-

Instead of just looking at the current numbers, it helps to understand the past numbers too. In a non-stump state like Florida voters go with the popular name. Gingrich had the name recognition vote for quite some time. But don't be completely fooled by the numbers, these numbers used to have Cain and Bachmann in them as well.
Also, ignore the RCP average. They are pulling in numbers all the way back to early December (again, during Cain's heydey). Only the Quinnipiac numbers should be taken too seriously. We need more polls before we can really understand Florida, and a lot is going to happen in the next two weeks. If Romney stays strong, he can take Florida. But if there are any Gingrich surprises and he does better than expected in NH or SC, he won't want to drop out if he's still holding on in FL. It looks like Paul has been pretty static in FL over the past year. If he hasn't taken first anywhere, and doesn't move up at all in FL, expect him to drop out after FL. And I doubt Huntsman and Perry will still be around by FL, or will drop out immediately thereafter.
Which brings us to the national polls, where the hopes of the future candidates all hang. And that my friends, is where things get interesting-

In NH the order goes- Romney, Paul, Huntsman. (Or Romney, Paul, Santorum if you go with my numbers.)
In SC the lineup is- Romney, Santorum, Gingrich
And FL- Romney, Gingrich Santorum.
And nationally- Romney, Santorum, Gingrich.
In other words, we aren't seeing a consistent series of front-runners. If you are a Romney supporter you can breathe a little easier, but not too easy. An 8 point national lead isn't that confident and stable. Of course, if he really does sweep all of the early states, the 8 points will skyrocket.
But if you are Gingrich and you are in second place in Florida (and all those beautiful delegates), and you have a fighting chance in SC, and nationally you are still fighting for second, when do you call it quits? Do you ride it out and hope that Romney slips up somehow? (After all, all the other front runners have slipped up so far.)
And if you are Santorum, you are just praying hard that you can hold on to your momentum and that the money keeps pouring in. But realistically you know that that doesn't happen.
And if you are Romney, you just stay the course, barely adjusting the sails.