Digging out of the archives

This could have been saved for the next odds and ends post, but instead I decided it was a nice post for a slow time of year anyway. And, believe it or not, the information is actually useful for my blogging purposes.

This was the e-mail I received a few days ago. I couldn’t quote the whole thing because WordPress is funny about blockquoting lists, so judicious editing was applied:

Hello Michael,

I trust you and your loved ones are healthy and safe at this most unusual time.

I’m writing because you cited (a website, not the one he’s pitching for) here on Monoblogue.

(snip to excise list)

You can learn more (at a site, which I will get to.)

Do you think Monoblogue readers would find our guide helpful? If so, would you please insert a link for your readers? 

Either way, thank you for your consideration, Michael.

Best wishes,


Yes, another e-mail beseeching me to do something I may or probably don’t feel like doing. This guy was lucky.

Joel almost blew it when he laid it on oh-so-thick:

PS. (our site) was recently featured on Huffington Post & CNBC, and it’d make my day to see it on Monoblogue, too 😉

Yes, that’s his postscript.

Besides the fact that I’m being mentioned in the same breath as Huffington Post and CNBC, the reason I had to laugh was the post he cited. It’s a piece I wrote a decade ago during the 2012 presidential campaign as one of my endorsement selection posts. While this isn’t a #TBT, just for the fun of it here is what I wrote at the time about the eventual GOP nominee:

Mitt Romney shrewdly addresses energy independence in his “job creation” category. But terms like “government must be a partner,” “facilitate,” and “address market failures” don’t convince he wants a conservative, small-government solution. We see what kind of “partner” government has become, and it’s not government’s job to interfere with the market. And believing climate change is caused by mankind is a nonstarter. I’m deducting three points.

“For President 2012: Energy independence,” July 10, 2011.

At the time I was torn between endorsing Michele Bachmann and the late, great Herman Cain. Anyway, if Joel Foster is reading this, and despite the fact I appreciate his patronage of my site, I have to think he needs a hobby.

Yet in all this dross there was a little bit of gold. Joel wrote me on behalf of commodity.com, which is a little bit like another site I feature here called ammo.com – they sell a product or service, but also feature lots of reading material in their blog. And the story he pitched has an angle that concerns Delaware, thus succeeding in piquing my interest.

In it, I learned that certain states use more renewable energy than others. In fact, ultra-liberal Vermont should be proud of themselves because they receive 99.9% of their electricity from renewables. Now, before you imagine the charming fall landscape of Vermont littered with solar panels and wind turbines, it’s worth mentioning that hydroelectric generation is also counted as renewable and that’s where they receive most of that 99.9%. In fact, that’s the source for the top six states on the list, with seventh-place Iowa checking in with 59.4%, predominantly from wind. (I actually posted on situations that helped create this wind energy figure several winters ago.)

On the other hand, guess which state is at the very bottom of the list? Yep, that would be the First State, with a measly 2.5% of electricity created by renewables and the fifth-slowest growth rate in the last five years. Expressed in megawatt hours, Delaware produces the least by a factor of four behind the second-lowest generator (Rhode Island) and less than one-tenth that of the 48th ranked state in terms of production, Connecticut. Like a lot of states at the bottom, our leading contributor is biomass. (And the geniuses in Dover think they can get to some figure like 40 percent by 2035 or whenever? Dream on.)

A look at each leading source is interesting. Six states, including Delaware, have biomass as their leading renewable source, while 18 states are listed as hydroelectric, seven as solar thermal and photovoltaic, and the remaining 19 as wind. If you looked at it on a map, the Midwest is pronounced wind country, and hydroelectric rules the northwest, northeast, and Tennessee River valley. Meanwhile, solar rules the southwest and Florida but surprisingly picks off a few other states along the Atlantic coast, including New Jersey and Massachusetts.

Before I summarize the information at hand, I have a comment about the commodity.com blogsite. Unfortunately, while the blogging content on ammo.com comes primarily from a single, talented writer who works with a pro-liberty mindset like mine, a lot of what goes on commodity.com is writeups based on lists like the one I cite – a list of states and ranks in a particular area of interest, expanded to a paragraph or so on the top ten or fifteen states, including the list at the end. It’s the sort of work for which a content mill gives the article author a few dollars if he or she is lucky. (Or, even worse, they do it for “exposure.” That and five bucks will get you five bucks.) In looking at their author list, they seem to be a collection of small-time writers who may have other day jobs, or perhaps wish they did. It’s like paint-by-numbers for the written word.

As for Delaware, I guess it’s our lot to be at the bottom of the renewable list. We have too much cloudiness and haze during the year to be consistent solar producers and not enough steady wind onshore for wind energy. (Offshore wind has to be mindful of shipping lanes into Delaware Bay.) Unless we can make wattage out of chicken poop, we are basically stuck where we are – and that’s okay, because all those sources cited as renewable come in an arbitrary and capricious manner. (Hydroelectric is probably closest to reliable unless we have a severe drought.) I wouldn’t mind them doing the seismic exploration off the Delaware shore to site a couple test wells for oil or natural gas, but that’s not going to happen with our shortsighted state government insisting we depend more and more on unreliable sources of electricity. We can also see if there’s anything to having natural gas in the Delmarva Basin below us, but the anti-fracking zealots won’t allow that either.

Finally, one other interesting tidbit: at the end of the e-mail I found out this is a Delaware-based company – at least legally, since the address cited is that of Registered Agents Legal Services, LLC. It’s in an otherwise non-descript office building in the suburban area of Wilmington. Chances are their energy isn’t coming from a renewable source.

One straw poll down – how many to go?

With the problem of new media in the form of the RedState Gathering being held on the same weekend – and drawing the attention of most of the Republican candidates – the plug was pulled on the Iowa Straw Poll for this year.

While it was a bellweather event, the ISP was not a very good forecaster, even of the Iowa caucuses held just a few short months later. Out of six events from 1979-2011, the summer winner only went on to win the Iowa caucuses half the time and whiffed in both 2007 and 2011. Only in 1999, when George W. Bush won, was the winner the man who went on to be president. Not a really good track record.

But the poll did have some effects on the field – ask Tim Pawlenty about his 2012 campaign which ended shortly after his fellow Minnesotan Michele Bachmann won the last event in 2011. Then again, that was just about the peak of Bachmann’s campaign, which ended immediately after the 2012 Iowa caucuses. In fact, the leftist publication Mother Jones mockingly thanked Bachmann for killing the Straw Poll.

While straw polls can be useful, their function of being a prediction of eventual support for candidates was superseded by both regular polling and social media. Want to know who the hot candidate is? Just check out the number of Facebook likes for their campaign. For example, Rand Paul recently eclipsed the 2-million mark in “likes” and Ben Carson is north of 1.5 million, whereas a candidate like Lindsey Graham isn’t even to 114,000 yet. (By comparison, Hillary Clinton has about 885,000 and our old buddy Martin O’Malley 70,855.) It took me five minutes to find that information and, unlike the Iowa Straw Poll, I didn’t have to pay for dinner nor go to Iowa to participate.

So this year it looks like we will have to wait until later this fall to start eliminating candidates. I have already started with my research, though, and over the coming weeks I’ll share what I’m finding as I make my own decision on who to back for 2016.

My day at CPAC in pictures and text (part 1)

Since I took nearly 100 pictures and 36 made the final cut, I decided to make this a two-part post.

Recently having done a stint at the Turning the Tides Conference, I thought I had a little bit of an idea in what to expect from CPAC. But the entirety of the Gaylord Conference Center and the number of celebrities speaking and milling around tells me that I missed a lot when I missed the first two days of the gathering. Yet the one day I managed to be here was well worth my time in learning from and meeting those who move and shake the conservative world.

Walking into the Potomac ballroom I was blown away by the expanse of the venue. Sure, we have some decently-sized conference rooms for our 300-person gatherings for the Maryland Republican Party, but this room could hold a sporting event. If anything, the stage made the speaker look small.

The first speaker I heard upon my arrival and the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and invocation was TEA Party pioneer Jenny Beth Martin, who repeated the case I’ve been pleading since the most recent incarnation of the pro-liberty movement was born: conservatives are for limited government, fiscal responsibility, and a thriving free market. Instead, Martin said, they are “mocked, marginalized, and maligned.”

She also added that we’re headed to bankruptcy, with an Affordable Care Act which is “unaffordable, callous, and cruel.”

“The reality today is grim and heartbreaking,” Martin added.

She concluded by asserting, in a rising voice, that liberty will endure – if we fight for freedom. “Our Constitution is worth fighting for, because freedom is worth fighting for.”

Rep. Steve King of Iowa followed Jenny Beth to the podium and made the case that “Obamacare has got to go…we can’t let up.” It erodes our vitality and is an “unconstitutional taking,” according to King. He also criticized the immigration initiatives because, as King claimed, 2 out of 3 illegal aliens are Democrats “and the Democrats know this.”

King called on us to “restore the pillars of American exceptionalism…we’ve got a country to rebuild together.”

I should point out that I had pictures of these two speakers and they didn’t make the cut. But this guy made the cut.

Wisconsin is a state which has a leader, said emcee Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA, and Governor Scott Walker detailed a number of ways he’s indeed led.

Harkening back to recent initiatives, Walker noted welfare reform and tax reform originated in the states. And just as the states created the federal government, the 30 states with GOP governors – most of which also have Republican-led legislatures – can improvise with good, conservative ideas. But Walker made the point that “to be successful, we have to be optimistic, relevant, and courageous.” It’s obviously working in Wisconsin, where 93 percent of the state said it was heading in the right direction. “We’re the ones who care about fixing things,” he added.

Walker was ready with a number of examples of poor policy, like the first-year Milwaukee teacher who was selected as their teacher of the year but furloughed because she was at the bottom of the seniority chain. His union reforms eliminated that problem. The overall idea, continued Walker, was to replace the narrative that a successful government was one which created dependents with one which made the case that government works when it assists people to wean themselves off dependence by making it easier to get a job.

“In America, we celebrate the Fourth of July, not April 15,” shouted Walker. “We believe in the people, not the government!”

And then came Newt – a guy who only needs one name to convey who I’m speaking about.

Gingrich addressed the concept of government needing to be pioneers of the future, and get out of being prisoners of the past. As a movement our contrast with President Obama “couldn’t be more vivid.”

But he saved withering criticism for the “Republican establishment class,” which “couldn’t be more wrong.” Holding up a candle and light bulb, Newt chided Washington as “being prisoners of the past…they’re all trapped in the age of candles.” Both parties in Washington are blind to the future, though.

Interestingly enough, Newt promoted a book by a liberal author, the former mayor of San Francisco and now lieutenant governor of California, Gavin Newsom. But Citizenville was a book “every conservative should read” because it promoted a more active citizenry. Gingrich used the analogy of the Facebook game Farmville, with the idea being earning rewards for public-spirited achievement rather than planting virtual crops.

Newt also took a swipe at the establishment wing of the party, saying that since 1976 “the dominant wing (of the GOP) has learned nothing.” Nor should we be strictly the anti-Obama movement, said Newt.

The powerful morning lineup of featured speakers concluded with Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, the 2012 Presidential hopeful whose campaign flamed out after a great summer of 2011.

She explained about the TEA Party movement “we love people in this country…we want everyone to succeed in this country.” As key parts of that success, Michele believed there were a lot of goals we could accomplish “if we put our minds to it” such as cutting the price of gasoline to $2 a gallon, preserving our Second Amendment rights “for your sister and your mother,” and most ambitiously finding a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease in the next decade. The key wasn’t big government, she argued, but “big innovation.”

Bachamnn also chided the inefficiencies of government, pointing out that for every $10 spent on food stamps only $3 goes to recipients while the other $7 goes to bureaucrats. She also dubbed the Obama presidency as “a life of excess.”

In the hardest-hitting portion of her remarks, Michele savaged Barack Obama for the “shameful incident” of Benghazi. “This is a story of not caring,” Bachmann said. Because (Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, the two ex-Navy SEALs killed at Benghazi) cared, they defied orders and they chose to go to the aid of their brothers…they fought for our country.”

As the attack raged on, “they continued to radio their government begging for help,” charged Bachmann, “and that help never came.” This despite the fact President Obama knew of the attack within its first hour, she continued.

“A war was raging in Benghazi for hours, and all we know is that our President went AWOL,” she continued to a chorus of boos and catcalls for Obama. “No one knows to this day where the President was.”

Of all the Saturday speeches I heard, Bachmann’s was perhaps the most critical of Barack Obama.

After she finished, I decided to skip the next panel and head out to explore a little. I hadn’t really had the chance to walk around as I arrived shortly before the proceedings began. It was a crowded lobby to be sure.

This space also featured the famous “Radio Row” I’d only heard about, although on a Saturday morning it wasn’t as busy.

The TEA Party Patriots were busy doing a radio show, though. (Actually, it may have been just before or just after this video was done. The blond gentleman in the background of my picture is Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit.)

There were a few television broadcasts in various stages of production, such as those of Hot Air.

Also working on content was the TEA Party News Network, who thankfully sponsored the internet access (more on that in part 2.)

Further down Radio Row, another start-up operation was making itself known to the broadcasting world.

Later in the day, it was announced that One America News Network would make its debut July 4 of this year. “We will be the platform for the conservative message,” said OANN’s Graham Ledger. He cautioned, though, that cable systems “will resist putting on a conservative news network.”

Once I made my way down the hall and down a level, I was at the entrance of the exhibit hall. I didn’t count them, but there were probably over 100 groups exhibiting their wares. By the time I was through, the swag bag I received at the entrance was very full (I took the picture when I got home.)

The exhibit hall was fairly expansive as well.

Here was a group I think needs further investigation. Unfortunately, there was no one there to explain the concept to me. From what I gather, it’s a database of conservative companies to support.

Another group I’d love to have seen a representative of was this one. Maybe their volunteer (or intern) had an encounter with some union thugs.

I got to talk with this group, though. They represent an outfit I’ve referenced a lot over the years.

A newer but very nice organization has been referenced on this site since its formation. Unfortunately, in missing Friday I missed a chance to talk with its founder.

Someone else who might be on the 2016 ballot had some unofficial help. These were placed on a side table, but not many were wearing them that I saw.

There was also an area in the exhibit hall for book signings. When I was down there, Newt and Callista Gingrich were signing their tomes with Ellis the Elephant looking on.

Some people simply took the opportunity to relax and take a quick break in the CPAC Lounge. They could watch the action upstairs on the monitors.

Just like them, I’m going to rhetorically relax and take a break, since this seems like a nice dividing point. Part 2 will be up tomorrow morning.

Where in the world…

If the Good’s Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, by the time you read this I will be at CPAC. It’s been a goal of mine to go, and even though I’m not getting the full three-day experience (in part due to my outside job) there will be plenty enough to do in one day. Among the bright conservative lights I’ll be sharing my Saturday with are Governor Scott Walker, former Speaker Newt Gingrich, Rep. Michele Bachmann, former Governor Sarah Palin, Mayor Mia Love, and Senator Ted Cruz. Not too shabby, huh?

I’ll have my laptop with me, so hopefully I will be able to provide coverage while I’m there. You may also want to follow me on Twitter as I update. My job will be to give you a taste of my experiences, since I really don’t know what to expect. It may be overwhelming but it surely should be exciting. I’m also hoping to meet a lot of my blogging cohorts there.

Tomorrow I will see what my notes and pictures look like and give you my impressions in pictures and text.

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.

Is Perry done?

I was just listening to Rick Perry’s concession speech, and he announced he was returning to Texas to “reassess” his campaign. Well, I think his reassessment is going to find him leaving the field because he finished fifth with 10 percent – I was under the impression he was going to South Carolina to campaign.

But like Tim Pawlenty before him, he may have decided that if he can’t spend scads of money and win Iowa, he’s not going to win anywhere – despite the fact that, unlike Pawlenty, Rick did manage to finish ahead of Michele Bachmann.

Yet Bachmann is planning on staying in despite the paltry 5% or so she received. Well, she could conceivably get a chunk of those Perry votes but I sort of doubt it given the Gardasil controversy.

So let’s say Perry is out. I suspect that his voters would most likely go to Newt Gingrich and here’s why: they’re both plain-spoken Southerners who have a relatively pragmatic approach to the issues. Mitt Romney won’t benefit because he’s pretty much plateaued at his 25% support ceiling and Rick Santorum is more of a social conservative – again, it goes back to the Gardasil question. I think Ron Paul has also hit his ceiling of support as well, particularly when it’s revealed that independents and renegade Democrats bolstered his Iowa totals. Once we get to closed primary states that advantage won’t be there.

There you have it: a simple Iowa caucus postmortem. I’m sort of sorry to see Perry go since he was the top of my second tier of candidates.

Update: Maybe Bachmann will be out. Bummer.

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.