Primary crystal ball predictions

Just for the heck of it, I’m going to do my set of predictions on some key races locally and around the state. In the past we did this among ourselves at the Central Committee meetings but we didn’t discuss it last night. So tell me what you think, and if I turn out to be wrong – well, don’t laugh too much. Most of this is a (somewhat) educated guess.

I’m going to begin with the Presidential race, on a statewide level. There have already been several polls on this, so there’s a little bit of cheating involved; then again, the polls actually pretty much mirrored my gut instinct all along.

In Maryland, I see the race like this:

  1. Mitt Romney – 41%
  2. Rick Santorum – 28%
  3. Newt Gingrich – 16%
  4. Ron Paul – 11%
  5. Fred Karger – 2%
  6. Rick Perry – <1%
  7. Buddy Roemer – <1%
  8. Jon Huntsman – <1%

The polls seem to have Romney winning bigger (Rasmussen has it 45-28) but I think Mitt’s people will tend to figure he’s got it in the bag and turnout will be better in certain areas where Gingrich and Paul may run a little stronger.

How about Wicomico County? This is more of a crapshoot but I think the top 4 results will be a little different:

  1. Rick Santorum – 35%
  2. Mitt Romney – 33%
  3. Newt Gingrich – 18%
  4. Ron Paul – 13%

The voters here tend to be more conservative than the state at large.

The other statewide race is for U.S. Senate. Now I’m really going to go out on a limb here, because there aren’t any polls I’m aware of (aside from the sure fact campaigns have internal polling I’m not privy to) but my gut is telling me we may have a barnburner on our hands:

  1. Dan Bongino – 36%
  2. Richard Douglas – 34%
  3. Robert Broadus – 8%
  4. Corrogan Vaughn – 5%
  5. Joseph Alexander – 4%
  6. David Jones – 4%
  7. William Capps – 3%
  8. Rick Hoover – 3%
  9. John Kimble – 2%
  10. Brian Vaeth – 1%

In Wicomico County, I suspect the top three will be Bongino (42%), Douglas (36%), and Broadus (8%). None of the others will be over 3 percent. Incumbent Ben Cardin will be the opponent, with the over-under line for me being 70% of the statewide vote.

And how about the Sixth District race? It’s the most talked-about Congressional primary since the 2008 First District primary, with the added benefit of mud flying on both sides.

On the Republican side, I think Roscoe Bartlett will hold on to his seat with 33% of the vote, with David Brinkley gathering 29%, Joseph Krysztforski 14%, Robin Ficker 10%, and Kathy Afzali 7%. The other three will split the remaining 7%.

What saves Bartlett’s bacon is the fact that there are so many in the race that people may just throw up their hands and go with the name they know. If there were just four or five in the race I think Brinkley has a shot, although the last-minute release of 9-1-1 tapes featuring his ex-wife may knock a point or two away from Brinkley and provide Roscoe’s margin of victory. It’s the voters on the extreme western end of the district who are likely most swayed by that because they don’t really know David that well.

On the Democratic side, I’m sensing a bit of an upset. We figured that this seat was drawn for Rob Garagiola, but I suspect the charges laid against him by John Delaney have done enough damage that Delaney will squeak out a close win, something on the order of 31-30. Milad Pooran will likely run a respectable third with 21%, while Ron Little grabs 10% and Charles Bailey the last 8%.

The Second District GOP race is also interesting, but I think Nancy Jacobs will win it with relative ease, probably with 40% or so of the vote. Larry Smith comes in around 28%, Rick Impallaria with 19%, and the other two with single digits apiece.

Meanwhile, I think John LaFerla will be the First District Democratic nominee against Andy Harris and he’ll end up just short of a majority – 49% district-wide against Wendy Rosen’s 43%. Kim Letke will get the last 8%. What puts LaFerla over the top in the primary is the endorsement of Wayne Gilchrest. What keeps him from winning in November is being endorsed by NARAL and Planned Parenthood.

GOP winners in other districts will be Eric Knowles (3rd), Faith Loudon (4th), Tony O’Donnell (5th), Frank Mirabile (7th), and Dave Wallace (8th). Wallace gets the nod because the other three candidates will likely split the Montgomery County vote just enough for him to win over Ken Timmerman. Of course, there will not be any upsets among the incumbent Democrats – all of them will get over 75% in their respective primaries.

So what do you think? Am I all wet or do I have a good chance of being correct – and why? As opposed to yesterday, I’m going to leave this up all day until results come in.

Cain: Gingrich is able

This truly wasn’t a shock; back in December when Herman Cain exited the race I came right out and said I wouldn’t be surprised if he endorsed Newt Gingrich. They’re very familiar to one another as both hail from Georgia and you may recall they had a one-on-one debate with each other last fall. (Gingrich also had a similar debate with Jon Huntsman, which neither did anything for Huntsman nor got him to endorse Newt, as Jon Huntsman now backs Mitt Romney.) Cain’s consolation prize is now a position chairing Newt’s tax reform efforts.

However, the timing of this perhaps shows Cain’s lack of political savvy – or, to play devil’s advocate, means he marches to his own drummer and eschews standards which would place him within the political norm. Your choice. The latter seems especially true when you consider Cain had already made his “unconventional endorsement” of “the people.”

Honestly, as a former Cain supporter, I think Herman’s post-campaign decisions have been quite disappointing. His TEA Party response to the State of the Union address was all right, but it seemed to me he pulled his punches somewhat; of course one could also argue that had he endorsed Newt earlier he would not have received the slot. As I said up top, it wasn’t unexpected that he endorsed Gingrich but doing so at this time, when Newt’s campaign is otherwise imploding in Florida, smacks of desperation on the part of both – but moreso Gingrich, who’s trying to corral onetime Cain supporters into his camp.

Too bad that, for many, the horse has already left that barn – Newt isn’t going to get much of a bounce from an endorsement eight weeks after the candidate’s withdrawal. Obviously it wasn’t needed for Newt to win South Carolina, so to do so now indeed seems like flailing from a candidate who vows to “go all the way to the convention.” That movie has played before, and usually that sort of declaration comes just before the closing credits roll on the campaign.

Unfortunately, the GOP voters and caucus participants who have come before me have seen to eliminate most of my top selections from the race. It will leave me a choice – as too often seems to be the case in Presidential politics – of:

  • voting my conscience (even if he dropped out before the primary), or
  • voting for my third- or fourth-favorite choice who’s still there, or
  • voting against the guy I don’t want to win with his strongest remaining opponent.

A combination of the second and third options was the approach I took in 2008, basically voting against John McCain rather than for Mike Huckabee. Huckabee was pretty much my fourth option after Duncan Hunter, Fred Thompson, and Rudy Giuliani withdrew. (As I recall, Florida was Giuliani’s Waterloo, too.) In 2012 I’ve already lost Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Perry (although Perry is on the ballot here.)

But we’ll see if Cain’s backing for Gingrich is too little, too late. If it ends up I vote for Newt Gingrich, it won’t be because Herman Cain endorsed him. Instead, see bullet point #3 above and you’ll find my reason.

Another one bites the dust

Just two days before the South Carolina primary, Rick Perry decided at last to drop out. You may recall he was considering withdrawing after the Iowa caucuses, but instead decided to concentrate on placing well in South Carolina. Turns out he wasn’t doing well there either, so Perry decided to throw in the towel and endorse Newt Gingrich.

That’s the topline story. So what can I dredge up from between the lines?

First of all, Perry is the first notable dropout to endorse Newt. Others who were in the race either endorsed Mitt Romney (most recently Jon Huntsman but also Tim Pawlenty and Thad McCotter) or have remained silent as to who they would back. It was thought that Herman Cain would throw his support behind Newt but he made no official statement to that effect, and Michele Bachmann has likewise been mum with her choice.

This also changes the equation of the race, as it’s now down to four main contenders. In political terms among that rapidly shrinking group, Perry’s departure leaves only Mitt Romney with any sort of executive experience as a former governor and Ron Paul as the last remaining current officeholder – Newt left the House in 1998, Rick Santorum was defeated for re-election to the Senate in 2006, and Romney chose not to run again in 2006. And presumably the anti-Romney vote is now split just three ways, with conventional wisdom predicting the new weakest link to be Rick Santorum.

But let’s talk about some other factors at play here.

Continue reading “Another one bites the dust”

Report: Huntsman to drop out, endorse Romney

According to an AP story by Philip Elliott and Kasie Hunt, Jon Huntsman is preparing to drop out of the GOP presidential sweepstakes and endorse Mitt Romney. Ironically, the same newspaper whose edition of the story I used (The State, based in the Columbia, SC area) spent its Sunday edition endorsing Huntsman in the South Carolina primary to be held next Saturday.

But the die for Huntsman was probably cast in New Hampshire, where he finished a distant third in a state where he was counting on competing with Mitt Romney for moderate Republican, independent, and disaffected Democratic votes. Finishing 22 points behind Romney and not expecting much of a showing in a much more conservative state (South Carolina) where Gov. Nikki Haley already placed herself squarely in the Romney camp, it was probably felt that Huntsman had no path to victory against his former boss, Barack Obama. So the two convention delegates Huntsman won can go ahead and support another candidate rather than be among the loneliest duo at the national Republican convention.

Yet while a number of conservative pundits believed Huntsman was a conservative actually attempting to broaden his appeal as a moderate, in reality Jon had two major problems I found: he supported the DREAM Act and believed in anthropogenic climate change. Neither of them are particularly conservative, and they overshadowed many of his good points with an electorate which has cried for a more conservative candidate than Mitt Romney.

Still, Romney will be Huntsman’s choice going forward, based on perceived electability – no surprise there. However, all that may do is bump Romney’s ceiling from 25 percent of the GOP electorate to 26 percent. Unfortunately, there’s not much Romney could gain from a Huntsman endorsement; meanwhile, Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain, who both exited the race with a broader base of support, haven’t stated publicly which competitor they will endorse. Those two endorsements could help sway the race to more of an extent than Huntsman’s commitment and it’s fairly likely they’ll be backing one of Romney’s opponents.

So we have the first qualifier on Maryland’s ballot to drop out of the running. Now the question is how many other “ghost” candidates will be on the docket we see April 3rd.

Bachmann’s turn is over (but Perry’s isn’t after all)

Well, it was fun while it lasted. The monoblogue kiss of death has claimed another victim, Michele Bachmann.

After gamely trying to convince herself and others the fight wasn’t over last night, apparently she slept on it and “decided to stand aside” this morning. This was the statement on her website:

I will be forever grateful to Iowa and its people for launching us on this path with our victory in the Iowa Straw Poll. While I will not be continuing in this race, my faith in the Lord God Almighty, this country, in our republic, has been strengthened. As I have traveled around Iowa, and the country, I have seen the very best in America, our people. And I will always believe in the greatness of them and the greatness of our God.

And, of course, I am deeply grateful to our entire campaign team, here in Iowa, in South Carolina and everywhere. I have no regrets. We never compromised our principles and we can leave this race knowing that we ran it with integrity and that we made an important contribution.

Thank you, God Bless you.

At this time, she hasn’t made an endorsement but presumably her decision was hastened in part by the necessity to begin her campaign to retain her Congressional seat – a campaign which has already drawn her GOP opposition and perhaps may place her in another Congressional district, as the DFL (their version of the Democratic Party) redistricting plan does. She also remains as the titular head of the TEA Party Caucus.

So the old adage that there are only three tickets out of Iowa may yet prove almost true, as the list of contenders gets whittled down to six: Newt Gingrich (4th in Iowa), Jon Huntsman (7th, but did not campaign there), Ron Paul (3rd in Iowa), Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum. (The latter two essentially tied for first.) Fifth-place finisher Rick Perry was going to “reassess” his campaign, but perhaps Bachmann’s decision allowed him to stay in the hunt.

This hasn’t been much of a campaign for conservatives. Many would have liked to see Sarah Palin run, while others pined for a TEA Party favorite like Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana. Other names tossed around were Senator Marco Rubio and Congressman Allen West of Florida, and Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, all reliably conservative.

But many conservatives coalesced around the lesser-known Herman Cain until a series of unfounded allegations of marital misconduct and sexual harassment knocked him out of the race. Others have been in the Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann camps early on and stayed during the frequent ups and downs.

Now we have fewer but certainly not better choices: Mitt Romney will forever have the albatross of ushering in the precursor to Obamacare in Massachusetts and has the perception of being the “establishment” choice in an era of anti-establishmentism. (Come on, he’s been endorsed by John McCain – how much more of a milquetoast, reach across the aisle pander can one get?) Likewise, Newt Gingrich is the consummate Beltway insider who never really left Washington once he left the House.

Rick Santorum is the darling of the social conservative group – and that’s an integral part of our cause. But Rick won’t be the fiscal conservative we need and hasn’t always shown fealty to the cause of limited government – one can ask Pat Toomey about that. (Yet for everything Santorum has said he seems to have a manner of parsing his words later. I call it saying what he thinks will get him elected.)

Jon Huntsman started out turning his back to the TEA Party movement and his idea that anthropogenic climate change is real is a disqualifier. And then there’s Ron Paul. If being President didn’t involve a lick of foreign affairs he would be my guy, but the Constitution is not a suicide pact.

And while Perry is back in, will this post-Iowa misstep work the same as John McCain’s late suspension of 2008 campaign efforts in order to address the economic crisis? After that he never recovered in the polls.

That’s all folks. That’s what we now have to choose from, unless there’s somehow a brokered convention and some white knight rides in to save us from ourselves. Certainly any of the above would be an improvement over the current occupant of the Oval Office, but I somehow get the gnawing feeling that we’re leaving a huge missed opportunity here.

But Rome wasn’t built in a day, either, and to undo nearly 100 years of damage to the Republic will take more than four. The trick is just getting started on the task.

More endorsements (from the Maryland establishment) for Romney

I didn’t notice this when it came out just before Christmas, but over three dozen more Maryland elected officials made their support for Mitt Romney public, according to the Sun. Rather than the roster of mostly General Assembly members composing the September release, version 2.0 is more focused on county- and local-level officials. One name which jumped out at me, though, was TEA Party favorite and Maryland AFP head Charles Lollar. Aside from the endorsements of District 37 State Senator Richard Colburn and District 37B Delegate Addie Eckardt on the original September list, no new local leaders were added in this go-round.

Conversely, Newt Gingrich also has a key endorsement in Congressman Andy Harris.

But TEA Party leaders seem to be all over the map. I’m one who’s settled on Michele Bachmann after Herman Cain withdrew from the race, while many others prefer Ron Paul, a number like Gingrich, and scattered others have settled into the camps of the Ricks – Santorum and Perry. Not so many like Jon Huntsman or Romney, which makes an endorsement like Lollar’s cause to scratch my head.

Obviously the field will begin to move after Tuesday’s Iowa caucuses, with Bachmann predicted to be among the first to go. However, the conventional wisdom hasn’t often been correct in this race and there’s no reason to suspect otherwise. We may yet play a part in it, and by then the question will be whether these endorsements are an asset to a thriving Romney or a liability to all those who went all-in behind the former Massachusetts governor as he limps along in the race.

Finally, a note to my readers: this will be the 451st and final post of 2011 so Happy New Year to all of you! I’m looking forward to an exciting 2012 and many historic and spirit-crushing (for statists and their fellow travelers, that is) victories to celebrate by year’s end!

Crashing the third party

It’s being reported as a done deal, but the official withdrawal of Gary Johnson from the GOP presidential race will likely occur next week. Supposedly he’s dropping out to seek the nomination of the Libertarian Party, but apparently that’s not a slam dunk because others covet that ballot spot as well.

Gary had little to no chance of gaining the Republican nod despite his obvious similarities in platform to Ron Paul, a candidate who’s currently near the top of the GOP heap. Running as a Libertarian will get him ballot access in most states and might put the state of New Mexico (which went for Obama in 2008 but was thought to be a good chance for a GOP pickup) back into the Obama column. While it’s only five electoral votes, that may tip the balance in a close election.

Continue reading “Crashing the third party”

National straw polls still like Gingrich – but for how long?

Anyone who’s a political junkie of any sort knows that the presidential winnowing process will begin in Iowa a week from next Tuesday, January 3, 2012. By the end of that day we’ll have some idea of who the Republicans in that state prefer, with the battle then shifting to New Hampshire a week later.

But what if there were a national primary? Well, there is no such thing, but there were two recent straw polls which attempted to widen the focus out a little bit. These polls were conducted by two different groups: one was the Townhall/Hot Air Primary and the other was the Tea Party Straw Poll. I participated in the former but not the latter.

One interesting facet of the Townhall/Hot Air Primary was the opportunity for a “second choice” vote. As we all know, there are times we have to settle for our second choice as Herman Cain supporters are finding out. But I’ll start with their topline results (poll taken December 13-15):

  1. Newt Gingrich 36.5%
  2. Mitt Romney 18.8%
  3. Michele Bachmann 17.7%
  4. Ron Paul 17.4%
  5. Rick Perry 9.5%

Second choices:

  1. Michele Bachmann 25.4%
  2. Newt Gingrich 20.6%
  3. Mitt Romney 20.4%
  4. Rick Perry 18.2%
  5. Ron Paul 15.4%

There’s more summary here, but I found it fascinating that Bachmann supporters were the most diverse and that those who voted for Ron Paul must not have had a second choice. Jonathan Garthwaite’s article doesn’t mention who those that backed Paul voted in as their alternate selection. Worth noting as well is that Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum weren’t included because they didn’t attain 5% in national polls.

The Tea Party primary had the same frontrunner but also a caveat: four of the seven candidates they polled also participated in a tele-forum held in conjunction with the poll, so results may be a little skewed. I’m denoting forum participants with an asterisk (*).

  1. Newt Gingrich* 31%
  2. Michele Bachmann* 28%
  3. Mitt Romney* 20%
  4. Rick Santorum* 16%
  5. Ron Paul 3%
  6. Rick Perry 2%
  7. Jon Huntsman 0% (0.34%)

Obviously the poll was very skewed in favor of participants, but one can still make a reasonable assumption that Bachmann and Santorum in particular get a heavy dose of their support from the TEA Party, with Gingrich enjoying a more broad appeal among conservatives at-large. On the other hand, Mitt Romney isn’t making the hearts of the right wing go pitter-patter.

Yet there’s another item one can read between the lines. It seems that every time one turned around, Ron Paul was winning a straw poll someplace. But he didn’t do all that well in these two (granted, he didn’t participate in the call so his numbers would naturally be artificially lower) at a time when he’s supposedly becoming the front-runner in Iowa. We hear about Newt’s campaign “collapsing” but these numbers don’t necessarily bear that theory out either. I know Paul has his passionate supporters but too many find his isolationist foreign policy scary. And the trumpeting of the news that we’re no longer in Iraq may take away the Long War issue from the front burner.

As we have seen over the last several months of this GOP campaign, a week means a lot. Since the voting began in the Townhall/Hot Air Primary we’ve had a GOP debate and the media has trained its heavy fire on Gingrich. It’s no wonder some voters are having second thoughts, although some must be on thoughts six or seven by now. The only candidate still in the running who hasn’t had his day in the sun is Rick Santorum and maybe he’ll peak just in time for Iowa. Stranger things have happened.

Bachmann: all in for Iowa

I’m not sure this is the most surprising thing out there, but I find it interesting how open Michele Bachmann’s campaign is about what needs to happen. Here’s a video Bachmann campaign head Keith Nahigian put up.

So let’s play this scenario of an Iowa Bachmann victory out. At this time there are perhaps six candidates who can compete well in the caucuses: Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum. If she wins Iowa you can say goodbye to Rick Santorum, as he’s sought the same “teavangelical” (I like that word) vote as Bachmann. The remainder will continue on to New Hampshire, where Jon Huntsman is also staking his hopes.

Obviously Bachmann has written off New Hampshire, which will be the test for Mitt Romney. If Romney doesn’t win New Hampshire, a state in his backyard, he’s a walking dead duck in the race. Newt Gingrich is also becoming a major player in the race, and as I noted Jon Huntsman is playing to win or at least do well in New Hampshire. Of the three, the loser is probably the odd man out and likely it will be Jon Huntsman. As well, Rick Perry is probably not strong enough to take two early losses like this. But if he is, he may play a role farther down the line – I don’t see it happening in my crystal ball, though.

At that point, it would be down to the final four: Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Mitt Romney. I think the Bachmann firewall is South Carolina, for if she doesn’t win there (remember, this is in Newt’s back yard) it’s doubtful she’ll have the money to keep going. (You’ll notice the final segment of the video was a fundraising pitch.)

There’s no doubt I think Michele Bachmann is perhaps the best candidate remaining out there. But we know what happened to the last GOP candidate winning Iowa – Mike Huckabee lost his momentum quickly because he was perceived as unelectable and not a real fiscal conservative.

I don’t doubt Bachmann’s conservatism, but the trick will be getting her message out at a time when the narrative is that of a two-man race – Romney vs. Gingrich. That’s a battle of establishment candidate vs. Washington insider who’s acceptable to those inside the Beltway, too. I’m not sure it’s what America needs at the moment, though.

So give Michele a chance. Once we get through the clutter of nearly a dozen candidates still seeking the GOP nod, we can start focusing on the real race – the one to bring the end of an error come January 2013.

When do the candidates drop out?

We’re just 45 days out from the Iowa caucuses (believe it or not) but there are still ten serious candidates seeking the GOP nomination.

I bring this up because, in the 2008 cycle, we had already lost a few people when they realized the money wasn’t going to be there or they had no path to victory. This is going to be true among probably six or so of the 2012 contenders, but they soldier on regardless.

Perhaps this is because the person who was counted out a month ago may make a meteoric rise in the polls based on a campaign plank, a great debate performance, or just the fact they were viewed as the hot new item in public perception. Thus far, this phenomenon has benefited several candidates: Herman Cain (twice), Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and now Newt Gingrich. Even Tim Pawlenty had his turn, although once his down cycle arrived (at the peak of fellow Minnesotan Michele Bachmann’s cycle at the Iowa Straw Poll) he decided to exit the race. Way back when, before the race had really jelled together, Jon Huntsman had a turn at the wheel too. But by the time he actually announced that support was gone.

On the other hand, one has to wonder if the turns will ever come for guys like Gary Johnson, Buddy Roemer, or Rick Santorum. They continue to suffer from abysmally low poll numbers, and the question is now getting to be whether they’ll have the money or manpower to get their message out before it’s too late.

And you’ll notice I didn’t mention Mitt Romney or Ron Paul. It’s because both seem to have a narrow strata of support which ranges in the low twenties for Romney and right around ten percent for Paul. They don’t seem to deviate much from those plateaus, which begs the question of whether the field is too crowded for them right now. Presumably they can tread water until some of the bottom-feeders finally exit the scene.

I’m going to do a poll for a few days and see what you think will be the result of the coming shakeout. I think it’s interesting to speculate who just doesn’t have the horses to continue on.

A secondary election day

I always thought it was the Tuesday after the first Monday, but today was quite the election day on three different fronts.

One election I participated in was a straw poll held at the MDGOP Fall Convention over the weekend, with the results tabulated and announced today. (My analysis comes after the jump.)

Continue reading “A secondary election day”

Herman Cain should be the new Bill Clinton. Right?

Haven’t we seen this movie before?

I have to admit, though, it’s sort of fun to watch it blow up in the faces of liberals who gloated for a decade about how all the allegations about Bill Clinton and the cover-ups of his sordid affairs weren’t as important as how he ran the country – to them, it was all a sideshow from Republicans who were angry they couldn’t beat him at the ballot box. (Never mind there was perjury enough for Clinton to be disbarred.)

Continue reading “Herman Cain should be the new Bill Clinton. Right?”