Sunday, January 22, 2012

Observations on the South Carolina Primary Results

The Good People of South Carolina Did Not Distinguish Themselves

Mitt Romney did something unprecedented in American politics.  He lost two elections in the same week.  No one has ever done that before.  Actually Mr. Romney didn’t really lose the Iowa caucuses, he tied.  If the national press were anything other than a bunch of bumbling idiots they would have reported the earlier results and the current results that way.

The appeal by Newt Gingrich to the remnants of racism that still exist in parts of the state of South Carolina was the despicable event of the South Carolina primary, not the interview with Mr. Gingrich’s former wife.  Pat Buchanan must be very proud.

As the winner of the South Carolina primary, apparently Newt Gingrich captured  Mitt Romney's stump speech. Mr. Gingrich in his victory statement gave what had been Mr. Romney's diatribe against Mr. Obama.   So Mr. Romney not only lost the primary in South Carolina, he also lost sole possession of his themes against Mr. Obama.  If he was a smart businessman you would think Mr. Romney would have gotten copyright protection for his attack methods.

The once defeated, once tied Mitt Romney went on television to give his standard stump speech.  He is still speaking as if he is the presumptive nominee, campaigning against Mr. Obama with only sleight references to his opponent.  He implies some “unknown” candidate is not fit for the Presidency, but won’t name him.  Mr. Romney, this is not the way to get back on track.

Debates matter, and they matter a whole lot.  Rick Perry, who left the race before he could once again flail in another debate was the best candidate on paper until he opened his mouth in his first debate.  His candidacy was doomed from that point on. 

The Republican base is attentive and energized.  They are paying close attention.  The Democrats should be highly envious of just how engaged the Republican voters are.  Non-conventional wisdom:  an energized minority beats a complacent majority.  Are you listening Democrats.

In 2008 the Florida primary was decisive for John McCain.  In 2012 the Florida primary will not be decisive but it will be the most important of the four early contests.  The winner in Florida will have the better chance of winning the nomination.

That Newt Gingrich can now be thought of as a potential nominee says far more about the Romney campaign than it does about Mr. Gingrich or his campaign.  Mr. Romney has what boxing used to call a "glass jaw".  He cannot take a punch. He seems to think that attacks on his business experience, which he purports as one of his qualifications for the nomination should be off limits.  Witgh Mr. Gingrich taking his stump speech Mr. Romney now seems to be taking Mr. Gingrich's whining characteristic.   He needs to fix that quickly.

The praise of the media on Mr. Gingrich’s debate performance, rather than condemning him for his racist appeals will ultimately be one of the many documented failings of the press.  The decline of modern news reporting can be set firmly at the feet of modern news reporting, not technology.

Another failure of the national press was their mis-reporting of the role that the endorsement of Mitt Romney by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.  Gov. Haley’s endorsement was reported as a huge positive for the Romney campaign.  In fact the Governor is highly unpopular with Republicans in South Carolina and the endorsement may well have done significant harm to the Romney campaign.  The ignorance of the national press on this issue is just inexplicable and is nothing more than the sign of a lazy press.

An interesting issue for the next week is to see if Florida’s Republican Governor Rick Scott makes an endorsement.  The ironic thing is that such an endorsement for Mr. Romney would hurt Mr. Romney, but an endorsement by Mr. Scott of Newt Gingrich would help Mr. Gingrich.  Politics is complicated.

It will take at least until the end of next week before reliable polls in Florida can be generated.  You can use any polls released between now and then to line the bird cage.

Is there any legal way to make Ron Paul and Rick Santorum go away?  It looks like Mr. Paul is going to come in fourth in a four person race.  For some reason he talks as though he has won.  What's wrong with this man?

Is Nate Silver simply not the best political numbers person the nation has ever produced!  His forecast just before the South Carolina primary was that Newt Gingrich would win with about 39% of the vote.  Check the results.

One hopes that people like Juan Williams and John King have learned their lesson about appearing as moderators in Republican debates.  Given the hatred of the press by Conservatives all they did was set themselves up as a huge target. 

Looking ahead there will be a large gap between the Florida primary and the next significant contests.  Thank you to whoever did that scheduling.

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