Sunday, December 18, 2011

A few comments on the Republican presidential nomination

With Herman Cain out, race isn't an issue in the Republican presidential nominating process. It never was among voters, of course, as GOP voters are overwhelmingly white. Age, educational attainment, income, sex, and religious affiliation are still there, but of the polling data I've combed through, the only characteristic outside of political orientation (is the respondent a conservative, moderate, or liberal Republican?) and support or lack thereof for the tea party that gets broken out is sex.

I hadn't given it much thought, but I guess it shouldn't come as a big surprise that women are a lot more supportive of Romney than men are. A Pew poll released earlier this week found that 40% of male likely GOP voters currently support Gingrich, compared to just 19% for Romney. Among women, however, the gap is only one-third as wide, with 29% for Gingrich and 22% for Romney. Gingrich is the ugly, adulterating doughboy; Romney the good-looking, athletic, devoted family man.

More alarming for those like myself who, while not enthused by the idea of a Romney nomination (Ron Paul's still my favorite, though if I had my way his son would be running in his stead), would much rather see the former governor get the nod than Gingrich get it comes from WSJ/NBC polling conducted last week. It asked Republican respondents likely to vote in the primaries to assume that their respective primaries were being held today, and only Gingrich and Romney were in contention for the nomination. Under this scenario, Gingrich cleans Romney's clock, 59%-36%.

The 25% ceiling Romney has been bumping his head on since the campaign began doesn't look like it will rise much even when the race is winnowed down to just two people. As Santorum, Bachmann, and Perry throw in their towels, their supporters will move into the Gingrich camp. Romney gets his best shot if the rest of the field continues to ride the roller coaster up and down. If he doesn't win in Iowa, he needs Ron Paul to. The sooner it becomes Romney vs. the anti-Romney, the worse his chances become.

The Derb has written that Mitt is the odds-on favorite. I wonder if he remains as confident as he did a couple of months ago. Randall Parker concisely stated why Romney is the best choice:
He's got very high analytical skills, understands finance, understands business management, and knows how to be a CEO. His Mormonism is not important. That he governed a liberal state from a moderate position was really the only choice he had as governor of Massachusetts. He's not a nut case or a dummy like some of the other Republican candidates. He harkens back to an earlier (and better) Republican party when executive competence mattered and ideological zeal was suspect.
While I couldn't have put it any better myself, his Mormonism, necessary centrism in a liberal state, and his lack of ideological commitment all do, in fact, matter to most Republican primary voters.


Jokah Macpherson said...

Maybe I live in a bubble but I don't understand what anyone sees in Gingrich. His record is certainly no better than Romney's on towing the conservative line and he can't use the liberal state excuse.

I can understand getting behind a intellectually shallow philandering bullshitter if he's "our" intellectually shallow philandering bullshitter, but from what I have seen, Newt is for sale to the highest bidder, so there's really no point.

Ron Potato said...

On a stage of intellectually shallow candidates, Gingrich comes off as far smarter and experienced than anyone.

If you bring up his record as a conservative, he will start by saying he campaigned with Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp, and end by pointing to welfare reform and the balanced budget.

You must see your enemy's strengths. His self-presentation in the debates is excellent, top notch if you do not look behind the curtain.

Ed Tom Kowalsky said...

On the issues, there isn't a great deal of difference between the two. This being the case, what matters most is who is more likely to knock off Obama. And that should determine a true conservative's support, in my opinion. Personally, I believe Gingrich is more likely to beat Obama. The president has already confronted and dispatched a generic Republican in John McCain, and Romney is this year's generic Republican. Gingrich, on the other hand, is just brilliant, brash and mercurial enough to throw Obama for a loop.

chucho said...

Gingrich could potentially "out-professor" Obama (as Ross Douhat put it) on the trail and in the debates, but that won't really win him many votes. If Gingrich gets the nom, team Obama will just sit back and watch Newt self-destruct.

Obama beat the establishment candidate in 2008, but Obama himself is not the same candidate in 2012. He had a horrible term, and even though the press has given him a pass he will have to fight much harder against Romney.

Noah172 said...

On a stage of intellectually shallow candidates, Gingrich comes off as far smarter and experienced than anyone.

Gingrich, on the other hand, is just brilliant, brash and mercurial enough to throw Obama for a loop.

Are these jokes? Try to imagine how Gingrich comes off to people who are not already Dole-Bush-McCain Republican stalwarts. Gingrich would get clobbered by Obama. I second the commenter who wonders what anyone sees in Gingrich -- unless you are Benjamin Netanyahu or an illegal alien wanting amnesty and US citizenship.

Romney is at best an even bet against the incumbent.

I'm a Paul guy. I expect to write in Paul's name or vote Chuck Baldwin in November, so I have no stake in the Gingrich-Romney battle except to the extent that it helps my favorite.

Ed Tom Kowalsky said...

Yes, Noah, Gingrich is not a likable guy, and that is already well known. But most important--and unlike Romney--he is not a dull, boring retread. For all of Gingrich's baggage and his abrasive personality, he remains an interesting and compelling figure. People sit up and take note whenever Gingrich speaks. With most Republican candidates of recent vintage, they simply doze off. And when they come to, they pull the lever for the Dem. I wouldn't give two figs for Romney's chances against Obama. I'd give one for Gingrich's.

bbartlog said...

The current advantage that Gingrich has against Romney in a head to head matchups won't help him. He'll get hammered in Iowa (I predict a fourth place finish for him, behind Paul, Romney and Perry) and that will hurt him in New Hampshire (where he is currently polling poorly), leading to another likely fourth place finish. Historically, that's been pretty crippling. It also appears that the Republican establishment is behind Romney. Organizationally, the only campaigns that have the money and muscle to compete in the new-and-improved Republican primary process are Romney's, Paul's, and possibly Perry's. Gingrich seems to have been hoping that the Republican elite would give him the thumbs-up and let him use the local party organizations for things like gathering signatures, but since that didn't happen he's been struggling to do the canvasing and filing that is required. Will be interested to see whether he pulls of the 10K signatures needed (by Thursday) to get on the Virginia ballot.