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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Mitt Wins Big

Feb 1st, 2012

Boy, was I wrong about Florida. Although I was certain Mitt would take the win and, with it, all of the delegates, I was convinced that older GOP voters and early voting would produce a much narrower margin than the most recent polls were showing. In fact, the opposite proved to be true.

Having lost by nearly fifteen points, Newt has pivoted, again, to what was only recently the kind of argument we hear from Democrats; That is, that money basically bought the Romney team's victory. The thing is, he has a point. Just as he was correct in arguing that Bain Capital's methods were somewhat dubious (the latest example is HERE), the degree to which vastly larger amounts of money and negative advertising by Romney and his backers made this victory can't be understated.

The Guardian's Ewan MacAskill noted the disproportion last Friday:

"On television stations from Jacksonville in the north to Key West in the south, as well as radio stations, negative ads about Gingrich are near unavoidable, paid for either directly by the Romney campaign or by the super-PACs supporting him. The television spots, popping up regularly between ads for carpets, weather-resistant paint and holidays, focus on Gingrich's tempestuous years as House Speaker and ends with a picture of him with Obama, saying "If Newt wins, this guy (Obama) will be very happy."

The radio ad claim Gingrich has "more baggage than airlines".

Gingrich ads by comparison seem sparse, with a ratio that feels closer to six in one. Gingrich describes himself in the ads as the "true conservative". In another ad, yet to be broadcast, he accuses Romney of lying five times in the CNN debate on Thursday in Jacksonville, Florida"

In the end, Romney took 46.4% of the GOP primary votes. Gingrich had 31.9%, Santorum had 13.4% and Ron Paul eked out a mere 7.0% with all the ballots counted.

Here's where things are getting interesting and somewhat reminiscent of the bruising battle the Democrats fought among themselves in 1980... No one is pulling out of this race. At least, not yet.

Rachel Rose Hartman reports:

"Gingrich claimed Tuesday's results solidified the 2012 primary as a "two-man race" between a "conservative leader" and a "Massachusetts moderate." He vowed to remain in the race for the duration.

"We are going to contest every place, and we are going to win, and we will be in Tampa as the nominee in August," Gingrich said, speaking from his Florida headquarters in Orlando. Gingrich claimed he will show how "people power" can defeat "money" in this race.

Gingrich also announced that he will soon release a new version of the Republicans' 1994 "Contract with America," which Gingrich helped author.

In Las Vegas, despite his third place finish, Santorum vowed Tuesday night to remain in the race. He called on his competitors to focus on issues instead of "mud wrestling."

While I predict Santorum will cave no later than Super Tuesday, there is every reason to believe that Paul and Gingrich will, as they say, "take this all the way to the convention."

Paul's motives are still clearly a desire to force certain concepts into the debate. Newt, however, has a renewed lust for vengeance. It's in the core of his nature.

David Corn agrees:

"Thirty-four years ago, Newt Gingrich summed it up. In a speech to College Republicans—shortly before he would win his first election to Congress—the future speaker had a piece of fundamental advice for the young and impressionable GOPers: "I think one of the great problems we have in the Republican party is that we don't encourage you to be nasty. We encourage you to be neat, obedient, and loyal, and faithful and all those Boy Scout words."

Nasty—that was a critical component of Gingrich's formula for political success. And through the 1980s and 1990s, as Gingrich wielded his nastiness to overturn the Democratic order in Congress and seize the people's House for the GOP, he was hailed by Republicans."

While Corn seems less convinced than I that Newt will refuse to bow out before the convention, he's correct in seeing the next few weeks as likely to be even more vicious and unrelenting than anything we've seen so far.

Grab the popcorn and get ready to duck.

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