Ruminations on the 2008 GOP Nomination

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Flipping and Flopping

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The acrimonious fighting between McCain and Romney these last few days leading up to today’s Florida primary has made overabundant use of flips and flops.   I have visions of a fishing boat that has just opened its nets on the deck with slippery fish flipping and flopping all over the place.   What I have found interesting about this small piece of the argument is how one sided the accusations appear to be.   Romney has without a doubt flip-flopped.  His changes in position are well documented by the media who have even resorted to using technical language to describe the various revisions of Romney’s positions.   I think Romney 4.0 was the latest one I’ve seen in the media.   But the perception given by most of the media (including clearly right and left leaning institutions) is that Romney is the only person guilty of this charge.  

Shushannah Walshe of Fox News has a brief blog from their embedded reporters entitiled ” Romney on McCain: “Willing to say anything to try and get elected.”   In that blog she makes the following statement: 

Romney accused his opponent of being a flip-flopper: “Senator McCain was against the Bush tax cuts and now he’s for the Bush tax cuts. He was against ethanol, then for ethanol, then against ethanol.” A pretty shocking charge coming from the former Massachusetts governor who has been attacked for changing his views on abortion.

What is so shocking about that?   Where has she been?   What disturbs me most about this particular post is the insinuation that Romney is a hypocrite for calling McCain a flip-flopper.   I will admit right up front that Romney has changed positions and is most certainly vulnerable to the charge of flip-flopper.  However, so are McCain and Huckabee. They have each changed their positions as much as Romney.   They are each promoting policies in direct opposition to their actions as Senator and Govenor.   Yet, somehow that label never gets affixed to them.  The media by and large does not accuse them of such. When Romney points out that McCain and Huckabee has also flip-flopped, he gets accused of hypocrisy.   McCain and Huckabee are guilty of the same hypocrisy, but it will not get reported that way.   Shushannah Walshe has certainly failed to meet Fox’s supposed standard of fair and balanced.  Her brief blog entry was very cleary biased in its presentation of Romney’s comments.   Unfortunately, she is not alone in the media in how flip-flopping among the candidates is presented. 

Rather, it would be more “fair and balanced” to state that Romney and McCain and Huckabee have ALL flip-flopped.   They are ALL hypocrites when they accuse each other of flip-flopping.   The charge of flip-flopping has become childish both by the candidates and by the media.   Let’s move past all the flip-flopping and be honest in recognizing that they are all doing it.   Our time learning about these candidates is better spent on other issues than flip-flopping.

       

Written by hollywood66

January 29, 2008 at 9:36 pm

Romney in First Place and Out of the Race

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            There will be many blogs and media articles today analyzing the results of the New Hampshire race and its impact on the selection of the eventual nominee.   Whereas McCain and Huckabee are proclaiming victory for their first and third place finishes, the Romney camp is characterized by defeat for his second place finish.  

            It is most definitely another tough loss for Romney.   Pundits are already sounding the death knell for him.   Some are touting the line that his checkbook is the only thing keeping him on life support.   Others have called him “dead man walking.” 

            I find this all curious for a guy who currently stands in first place.   I write this not as a supporter of Romney’s but rather as an observer of the system that we use to select our nominees.

            McCain and Huckabee are the current darlings and beneficiaries of their victories in Iowa and New Hampshire — rightfully so.   But what I think will be missed in all this is the fact that Romney is currently in first place.   If you combine the number of votes received in both Iowa and New Hampshire, Romney has received more votes than any of the other candidates.

Combined IW/NH vote totals based on CNN election center figures:

Romney

104388

29.9%

McCain

103294

29.6%

Huckabee

67197

19.2%

Paul

29806

8.5%

Giuliani

24351

7.0%

Thompson

18753

5.4%

Hunter

1735

0.5%

Romney also has won more delegates than any of the candidates.

Delegate Count according to CNN election center

Romney

30

42.3%

Huckabee

21

29.6%

McCain

10

14.1%

Thompson

6

8.5%

Paul

2

2.8%

Giuliani

1

1.4%

Hunter

1

1.4%

            So we have a situation where the candidate who has received more votes than any other candidate and currently leads in the delegate count is considered out of the race by most of the media and bloggers.

             Mitt, you might win most of the votes, but you will lose the race for the nomination.   You might want to consider giving Gore a call.  He’ll understand.  

Written by hollywood66

January 9, 2008 at 3:52 pm

A Goldwater sized defeat for Huckabee?

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Many of the posts and blogs that I have seen in the various conservative websites have many people expressing their concern that if Huckabee where to be nominated as the Republican candidate for the Presidency, that he would suffer such an epic defeat that he would be compared to Goldwater.  Yet nowhere have I seen an in depth analysis that leads to such a conclusion.

After taking a slightly closer look at the possibilities of a Huckabee nomination I have come to conclude that Huckabee will most certainly lose the Presidency to any of the Democratic candidates. However, it would not be of the magnitude of Goldwater’s loss back in 1964.

The first reason why his loss will not be so large is that the electorate is so polarized right now that Huckabee is virtually guaranteed to win more than the six states Goldwater won back in 1964.   Adding the enthusiastic support of the evangelicals to the currently polarized electorate and Huckabee (and any of the leading GOP candidates) would definitely win at least 20 states in November 2008.   Easily besting Goldwater’s performance.   However, in my opinion Huckabee’s prospects for a victory are almost non-existent.

The Democratic nominee can expect to win the following states without breaking too much of a sweat: California, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.   Each of these states was won by Kerry in 2004 by a margin of more than 7% points and can be considered reliably Democratic.  That’s 12 states and DC, which add up to 168 electoral votes.

Huckabee as the Republican nominee can expect to win the following states:  Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming. These states were won by Bush by a margin of more than 7% and can be considered reliably Republican especially given Huckabee’s evangelical support which is very influential in many of these states.   That’s 25 states, which add up to 213 electoral votes.

This breakdown appears to give Huckabee the advantage as we begin to look at the “swing states.”   I am defining the swing states as those states in the 2004 election that were won by a margin of less than 7%.   

These states include: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin for a total of 13 states.  

A few items to keep in mind while examining each of these states: 

§        Democrats are united in their desire to take back the presidency.  Given this premise, I think Huckabee’s appeal to the so-called Reagan Democrats will be limited.

§        Republicans are not.   There is plenty of evidence of Republicans who have said that they would rather vote for the Democratic candidate than vote for Huckabee.  This evidence has begun to be noticed by major pundits as discussion of “Obama Republicans” has just surfaced similar to the Reagan Democrats of the 80’s.  

§        Also, assuming that most independents would rather vote for the Democratic candidate than Huckabee (This assumption does need to be explored in more depth to be validated) as many of the bloggers and pundits believe based upon Huckabee’s currently weak numbers in New Hampshire compared to his stellar performance in Iowa.   Also, polls have shown that most Indpendents will be voting in the democratic primary rather than the republican primary.  

§        The combined loss of moderate republicans and independents will be a killer combination for Huckabee.

So using the assumptions above, I will walk briefly through the remaining 13 “swing states” and examine Huckabee’s potential for winning each of those states.    

  

COLORADO:   Bush won Colorado by 5% in 2004.   Yahoo’s Election 08 Political dashboard shows Colorado’s electorate as being made up of 30% Democrats, 35% Republicans, and 34% Independents.   Any defection of Republicans to the Democrats, as well as a Democratic victory in the independent vote could easily swing Colorado into the Democractic Column.      Democrat 177 Huckabee 213

FLORIDA:   Bush won Colorado by 5% in 2004.   Yahoo’s Election 08 Political dashboard shows Florida’s electorate as being made up of 41% Democrats, 37% Republicans, and 19% Independents.   Huckabee would not only have to avoid any Republican defections as well as win the Independent vote, he would also have to win a good portion of the Democratic vote. Given their ardent desire to win back the Presidency that is highly unlikely.   Democrat 204 Huckabee 213

IOWA:   Bush won IOWA by less than 1% in 2004.   Yahoo’s Election 08 Political dashboard shows Iowa’s electorate as being made up of 31% Democrats, 30% Republicans, and 39% Independents. Any defection of Republicans to the Democrats, as well as a Democratic victory in the independent vote could easily swing Colorado into the Democractic Column.   Democrat 211 Huckabee 213

MICHIGAN:   Kerry won Colorado by 3% in 2004.   In fact, Democrats have won Michigan the last 4 Presidential elections.   Huckabee would not only have to avoid any Republican defections as well as win the Independent vote, he would also have to win a good portion of the Democratic vote. Given their ardent desire to win back the Presidency that is highly unlikely.   Democrat 228 Huckabee 213

MINNESOTA:   Kerry won Minnesota by 3% in 2004.   In fact, Democrats have won Minnesota the last 5 Presidential elections.   Even Dukakis beat Bush here.   Huckabee would not only have to avoid any Republican defections as well as win the Independent vote, He would also have to win a good portion of the Democratic vote. Given their ardent desire to win back the Presidency that is highly unlikely.   Democrat 238 Huckabee 213

NEVADA:   Bush won Nevada by 3% in 2004.   Yahoo’s Election 08 Political dashboard shows Nevada’s electorate as being made up of 40% Democrats, 39% Republicans, and 15% Independents. Any defection of Republicans to the Democrats, as well as a Democratic victory in the independent vote could easily swing Nevada into the Democratic Column.  Democrat 243 Huckabee 213

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Kerry won New Hampshire by just a little more than 1% in 2004.   Yahoo’s Election 08 Political dashboard shows New Hampshire’s electorate as being made up of 26% Democrats, 30% Republicans, and 44% Independents. Any defection of Republicans to the Democrats, as well as a Democratic victory in the independent vote would easily keep New Hampshire in the Democratic Column.  Democrat 247 Huckabee 213

NEW JERSEY: Kerry won New Jersey by almost 7% in 2004.   Yahoo’s Election 08 Political dashboard shows New Jersey’s electorate as being made up of 24% Democrats, 18% Republicans, and 48% Independents.  Huckabee could not afford a single defection and would have to overwhelmingly win the Independent vote.  Democrat 262 Huckabee 213

NEW MEXICO: Bush won New Mexico by less than 1% in 2004.   Yahoo’s Election 08 Political Dashboard shows New Mexico’s electorate as being made up of 49% Democrats, 33% Republicans, and 15% Independents. .   Huckabee would not only have to avoid any Republican defections as well as win the Independent vote.   He would also have to win a good portion of the Democratic vote as well.   Given their ardent desire to win back the Presidency that is highly unlikely.   Democrat 267 Huckabee 213

OHIO: Bush won Ohio by a little more than 2% in 2004.   Bush won Ohio in 2004 and 2000.  Clinton won Ohio in 1992, 1996.   The analysis of the 2000 & 2004 elections showed that the “values voters’ were one of the major differentiators for Ohio.   Given Huckabee’s strong evangelical support, I can see Huckabee solidifying Ohio in the Republican column.   Democrat 267 Huckabee 233

OREGON: Kerry won Oregon by 4% in 2004.   Yahoo’s Election 08 Political Dashboard shows Oregon’s electorate as being made up of 39% Democrats, 35% Republicans, and 22% Independents. .   Huckabee would not only have to avoid any Republican defections as well as win the Independent vote.   He would also have to win a good portion of the Democratic vote as well.   Given their ardent desire to win back the Presidency that is highly unlikely.   Democrat 274 Huckabee 233

PENNSYLVANIA: Kerry won Pennsylvania by almost 3% in 2004.  Yahoo’s Election 08 Political Dashboard shows Pennsylvania’s electorate as being made up of 48% Democrats, 40% Republicans, and 0% Independents.   Huckabee would not only have to avoid any Republican defections as well as win the Independent vote.   He would also have to win a good portion of the Democratic vote as well.   Given their ardent desire to win back the Presidency that is highly unlikely.   Democrat 295 Huckabee 233

WISCONSIN: Kerry won Wisconsin by less than 1% in 2004.   In fact, Democrats have won Wisconsin the last 5 Presidential elections.   Even Dukakis beat Bush here.   Huckabee would not only have to avoid any Republican defections as well as win the Independent vote.   He would also have to win a good portion of the Democratic vote as well.   Given their ardent desire to win back the Presidency that is highly unlikely.   Democrat 305 Huckabee 233

So, although I do not foresee a Goldwater sized defeat for Huckabee should he represent the GOP in the November 2008 Presidential Election, his prospects for a successful run at the Presidency are very weak.   The loss of a large number of moderate Republicans as well as the loss of the Independent vote will doom his campaign.   He must find a way to capture these voters if he wishes to succeed.   However, his campaign style has served to alienate those voters by directly making use of his religion and taking positions that are not welcomed by the center.    

    

A final thought to keep in mind.   If Huckabee is successful at staving off mass defections from the Republican Party and is able to win the Independent vote in several key states, he actually might make the race close.   The race could swing on one state as it did in 2000. Utah has been reliably Republican for decades, but Yahoo’s Election 08 Political dashboard shows indpendents making up 53% of the electorate with 33% Republicans and less than 10% democrats.   Huckabee’s attack on Romney’s Mormonism and especially the vituperative attacks by many of his supporters on the Mormon faith just might be their undoing.   It is not inconceivable that the overwhelmingly Republican Mormons would utterly refuse to vote for Huckabee and either stay home or vote for the Democratic candidate swinging Utah into the Democratic column.   Seems impossible, but Huckabee is the one man who can do that.  How ironic it would be if he were to lose the election because of Utah.  

Written by hollywood66

January 7, 2008 at 4:14 pm

Huckabee not a one state wonder

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Those of you who think that Mike Huckabee is a one-state wonder or that he will not last long in the primary campaign are in for a rude awakening.   Some bloggers have mentioned that Huckabee will have to expand his base beyond the Christian Conservatives if he is to have a chance to win the GOP nomination.   I disagree. Huckabee does not really need to expand his evangelical base that much to win the nomination.   A McCain victory in New Hampshire, which is appearing to be more and more likely, will further weaken Romney allowing Huckabee who is currently only one point behind Romney in Michigan to win there and possibly force Romney out of the race.   Huckabee will then ride the evangelicals to victory in South Carolina and force Thompson out.   That will leave McCain and Giuliani splitting the Anti-Huckabee vote on Feb 5th.  This will give Huckabee a decided advantage on Feb 5th.    With Thompson & Romney out before Feb 5, Huckabee wins Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, West Virginia, North Dakota, and Colorado largely riding the strength of the evangelicals.  Rudy will win New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, Delaware, Massachusetts, and Maine.    McCain wins Arizona, Utah, and maybe Alaska.   That leaves California, Illinois, Missouri and Minnesota up for grabs with Huckabee having the advantage that the rest of the GOP base (non-evangelicals) will split their votes between McCain and Giuliani Such a result would force McCain from the race leaving only Huckabee and Giuliani standing.   What are the next big events?    Feb 9: Louisiana and Kansas –> Both Huckabee wins riding evangelical votes After that?  Feb 12 Rudy will win Maryland & DC, but Huckabee will probably win Virginia due to the evangelicals. After that? March 4th: Texas & Ohio are Huckabee victories riding evangelicals, Rudy wins Vermont & Rhode Island which are insignificant wins compared to Texas & Ohio. The point is simple.   Huckabee CAN win the nomination without expanding his base too much beyond the evangelicals.   He will church hop to the GOP nomination only to get trounced in the general election. There is a reason that the GOP is strong in the south:  Evangelicals.   He will ride them to the GOP nomination and a subsequent Goldwater sized defeat.  Voting for Huckabee might send a message to the GOP party, but it will also hand the Democrats the Presidency.       

Given his victory in Iowa, it now might be too late to stop him.   When this process started it was the social values conservatives who were split and couldn’t find their man.   Well they have found him in Mike Huckabee.   However, the Anti-Huckabee vote is now split.   Romney and Thompson will split those social conservatives who will not support Huckabee allowing Huckabee to force them out early.   Then Giuliani and McCain will be left to divide the anti-Huckabee vote between them that will force McCain out.   That will leave a choice between Giuliani and Huckabee.   Social conservatives who will not support a pro-choice/pro civil unions type candidate will be forced to vote for Huckabee just possibly handing him the nomination over Giuliani.

Huckabee should not be underestimated.   He can and just might ride the evangelical vote all the way to the GOP nomination.

Written by hollywood66

January 4, 2008 at 7:28 pm

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