After Iowa


Mike Dwyer

Mike Dwyer is a former writer and contributor at Ordinary Times.

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65 Responses

  1. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Thanks for this, Mike. Good to see it all laid out. Who wins in Arizona do you think? The Tea Party state we may be, but we hardly vote in a sensible or predictable fashion.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to E.D. Kain says:


      You arre right that AZ is not very predictable. If the primary were today though, I believe Santorum would win huge. Push it out to Feb 28 and I think AZ will probably just help confirm whoever has the lead.Report

      • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        So the Tea Party really is just the bastion of big-government social conservatism now, eh?Report

      • Avatar Michelle in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        Santorum? Really? I’d think Romney would pull it out, as McCain did against his Tea Party rival. I’ve never gotten the impression that the evangelical wing of the Party is strong there and to me, that’s the group from which Santorum draws most of his voters. I’d also suspect that Paul would play well in Arizona.

        I agree with you that Santorum is well positioned to win South Carolina. He’s the closest thing to an evangelical Protestant the party’s now got (assuming both Bachmann and Perry pull out of the race within the next few days).  But I still think it will be Romney in the end.Report

  2. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    I think there are only two fundamental questions for 2012.  First, can the big business super PACs buy the nomination for Romney, their anointed candidate?  Last night’s results suggest that they can, with Romney winning (no matter how narrowly) despite paying little attention to the state himself, and despite relatively low expectations.  Second, can the big business super PACs buy the election for Romney in November?  I don’t know the answer to that, as there will be large amounts of money on Obama’s side as well.  Living in a swing state, I’m not looking forward to the flood of mail and phone calls that they’ll both buy.Report

    • Avatar Michelle in reply to Michael Cain says:

      I think the outcome hinges on the economy and how it looks come the last few months before the election.  If things look okay, Obama is poised to win. I admit to some bias, but I simply don’t see any appeal to Romney the Candidate. He comes across as a humorless technocrat.

      I spent the last two elections in California (so nobody really bothered us) but this time around, we’re in Pennsylvania which is likely to be in play. Oh joy!Report

  3. Oddly enough, I suspect this primary season outside of a few important differences may shape up pretty similar to 2008.  We forget, but in 2008, Romney was the conservative talk radio candidate of choice, much as Gingrich was until the last few weeks, and as Santorum has become now.

    In essence, you’ve got the front-running establishment candidate perceived as too moderate by conservatives (McCain in 08, Romney in 12), the surprise social conservative candidate who comes out of nowhere in Iowa (Huckabee in 08, Santorum in 12), a nasty SOB trying to cash in on past glories while basically forfeiting Iowa and NH (Giuliani in 08, Gingrich in 12), a late entrant drafted by conservatives but whose campaign never got off the ground despite some early popularity (Thompson in 08, Perry in 12), a few also rans (Tancredo in 08, Bachmann in 12), Ron Paul, and a rally-behind-him-to-stop-the-RINO candidate (Romney in 08, an amalgam of Gingrich and Santorum in 12).

    The biggest three x-factors, to me, are:

    1. Santorum has a vastly better relationship with the conservative punditry than Huckabee did in 08, which is why Huckabee never benefitted from a push as the default Stop McCain choice; and

    2. Gingrich’s ego  combined with his extreme personal animosity towards Romney.  For a normal person, the latter would mean stepping out of the race and endorsing Santorum to do all that was possible to stop Romney.  Gingrich, however, has a gigantic ego, and seems to have convinced himself that he is The One.  If Gingrich beats Santorum in SC and/or outperforms expectations in NH, he seems especially likely to fight it out to the end in a particularly nasty manner, even if that means the True Believer contingent is never able to unite behind just one Stop Romney candidate; and

    3. Huntsman, who doesn’t really have a good parallel from 2008, but who also seems likely to be prepared to step aside and put his infrastructure to work for Romney for the good of the party/country/world if the True Believers are able to unite early on behind Santorum or Gingrich.Report

    • “Gingrich, however, has a gigantic ego, and seems to have convinced himself that he is The One. ”

      I am still not sold on the second part of this statement.  He still does not seem to me to be running a serious campaign, and I am still puzzled as to what his reasons for running might be.  (Though addiction to the spotlight certainly pops in in my brain over and over.)

      I noted last night while being interviewed on FOX that Palin kept bringing him up – (specifically how unbelievably awesome he is, and how he may be in the lead soon) –  over and over, without prompting.  It did make me wonder if there is some kind of Newt/Sarah partnership that may be unveiled in the future.  If so, it seems highly unlikely that it is a campaign partnership rather than a business/media partnership of some kind.

      If nothing else, such a thing would give Andrew a reason to keep getting up and going to work every day.Report

      • Fair enough- I suspect you probably have a better feel for Gingrich than I.  That said, the crave for the spotlight in my analysis would play pretty much the same role as the notion of Gingrich as The One, so consider my analysis amended accordingly.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        I’ve never believed that Gingrich thought he could win. I always assumed he just wanted to try and reform the electoral process. I think now though he’s getting frustrated and starting to lash out. Maybe when he got in the lead he started to think he actually had a shot and his ego got away from him.Report

      • Avatar Michelle in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        I think Gingrich is a raging narcissist who cannot understand why he hasn’t yet sewn up the nomination. Like Palin, he doesn’t think that the normal rules of presidential campaigning (or gravity) apply to him.  I believe he will stick around as long as he can to get back at Romney who, like Clinton, has deeply wronged him and, through pernicious lies, taken away the victory that should have been his in Iowa. His anger and Romney-hatred was almost palpable in last night’s speech.

        I’ve also gotten a huge laugh out of his telling anyone who’d listen over the last few days that he was going to combat Romney by using the “truth.”  The Newster’s “truth” exists only in his own mind and has no relationship to reality.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        I am still puzzled as to what his reasons for running might be. 

        One theory is that it’s all a front for his personal business interests.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Mark Thompson says:

      One has to admit that a Romney /  Huntsman partnership looks very ‘presidential’ on paper. I just can’t imagine them being brave enough to try an all-Mormon ticket.Report

      • I’m not suggesting a Romney/Huntsman ticket, just that I could see Huntsman choosing to drop out and put all of his not-insignificant resources into backing Romney in order to make sure that the Republicans don’t nominate someone whose sanity is seriously in question.Report

        • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Mark Thompson says:

          Looking at Huntsman’s actual campaign, he’s had the best anti-Romney ads. So, I’m guessing they aren’t good friends. In fact, when Huntsman drops out, I bet he endorses nobody and maybe endorses the nominee in a half-hearted way at the convention or something.Report

          • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

            Yeah…Huntsman’s contempt for Romney keeps oozing through in his ads. Huntsman’s campaign may be terrible in every other respect, but his hit ads on Romney are pretty awesome.Report

    • Avatar Mike in reply to Mark Thompson says:

      You’re forgetting the real reason that Santorum was able to poll this high in Iowa: he painted himself as the “anybody but the Mormon” candidate to the Evangelicals.

      It really is that simple. Provided Perry and Bachmann drop, Santorum can do surprisingly well in the South, where they don’t consider Mormons to be “real Christians” (for that matter, they don’t much like Jews or Catholics either in Baptist Country).Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Mike says:

        The latter of which is probably a problem, seeing as how Santorum isn’t just Catholic, but a creepy Opus Dei style conservative Catholic.Report

        • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

          Eh, from everything I’ve read, the uberCatholics and uberBaptists have mostly put away their swords for each other to attack the real enemy – the godless atheist heathens. Sure, there’s the occasional random Baptist preacher getting in trouble for saying wacky things, but the political wings of each movement largely agree with one another.Report

        • Avatar Mike in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

          Ever noticed his stump speeches? He avoids the “Catholic” word like the plague. It’s all about “Christian” this and “Christian” that, even when he discusses his personal faith. This isn’t by chance.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Mark Thompson says:

      In essence, you’ve got the front-running establishment candidate perceived as too moderate by conservatives (McCain in 08, Romney in 12), the surprise social conservative candidate who comes out of nowhere in Iowa (Huckabee in 08, Santorum in 12), a nasty SOB trying to cash in on past glories while basically forfeiting Iowa and NH (Giuliani in 08, Gingrich in 12), a late entrant drafted by conservatives but whose campaign never got off the ground despite some early popularity (Thompson in 08, Perry in 12), a few also rans (Tancredo in 08, Bachmann in 12), Ron Paul, and a rally-behind-him-to-stop-the-RINO candidate (Romney in 08, an amalgam of Gingrich and Santorum in 12).

      I just wanted to say that I loved this paragraph.Report

  4. One of the things that’s interesting to watch is how Santorum’s campaign is somewhat reminiscent of Mike Huckabee’s 2008 run.  David Brooks noted how Santorum was one the few GOP candidates that talked about social mobility and in 2008 Huckabee was one of the few that talked about poverty.  Social issues aside, there seems to be a message among Republicans to talk about things like social mobility and wage stagnation.  It’s too bad that in both cases they were wedded to a very hard right social agenda.Report

  5. Avatar Lyle says:

    There is however one big difference between now and 2008 the end of winner take all primaries. The republican delegate process is now proportional assignment of delegates just like the democratic one. Last night for example Romney got 13 and Sanatorium got 12.

    So close races will lead to divided delegate counts and it won’t be possible to run the delegate counts up so fast. So it becomes then more a contest in terms of how much money can continue to be raised.Report

    • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Lyle says:

      Um, that’s not exactly true. More states are proportional representation, but starting in April, the states go back to being WTA.Report

  6. Avatar 4jkb4ia says:

    Don’t write off Missouri for Santorum so fast. Huckabee almost took the state the last time and  it will be a caucus state, so if the evangelical/conservative Catholic community decides that he is their guy maybe they can organize themselves to get him to win. Romney and Paul may help him by splitting the secular vote.



  7. Avatar DarrenG says:

    Some of your predictions are at serious variance with current polling. Huntsman is currently polling a distant fourth in New Hampshire, and I really don’t see him picking up much of the Perry or Bachmann voters.

    Gingrich currently has a significant lead in South Carolina with Santorum down in rounding error territory. I could see Santorum picking up some of the Bachmann/Perry voters there, but enough to win?

    There’s not much fresh polling out of Florida, but it’s also important to note that by moving up their primary they got half their delegates stripped from them by the national party, so they’re not the huge prize this year.

    Nevada could actually play a key role for a change, and they have a large Mormon population…Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to DarrenG says:


      I agree Huntsman is a longshot but with the money he spent and the fading of Gingrich and Pery I think the polls will tighten up. Saturday’s numbers will be the best indicator.

      I firmly believe Gingrich will be dead in the water before SC. He’s already talking about forming an alliance with Santorum to take down Romney (which indicates this has become personal for him and he sees Santorum taking the Far Right slot from him).

      Florida is not a huge prize in delegate count this year BUT it’s still a good indicator state, much like Ohio and Michigan. A win there matters for momentum.Report

  8. Avatar Morzer says:

    I think most of you seriously underestimate Gingrich in South Carolina, Florida (and, of course, in due course, Georgia).  I suspect Santorum will falter pretty quickly, and by Feb 7th will have patently slid back into the status of token rabid Christianist fringe candidate.  Romney will win comfortably in New Hampshire, but I expect much more in the way of negative campaigning by Gingrich and Perry, which will strip away some of the glossy illusion from the Former Governor Of The State You Do Not Name.  The interesting one will be Paul. How negative does he go?  Has he really given up the idea of a third party run entirely?Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Morzer says:

      Gingrich’s problem is that he doesn’t have an effective campaign organization.  His negative campaigning will have limited utility for him because he doesn’t have a good enough organization to build on whatever damage it does.  Besides, for those southerners who are too conservative to love Romney, Gingrich’s many moderate moments are going to turn them off him, too.Report

      • Avatar Morzer in reply to James Hanley says:

        I suspect you underestimate the impact of Romneycare, Mormonism, the enormous archive of clips of Romney proclaiming himself to be, in essence, a Massachusetts liberal “Republican”.  Sure, Gingrich is a lazy, disorganized blowhard – but that doesn’t mean he won’t find sympathy and support, not to mention friends with influence, cash and organizations.  He’s also a much better debater than Romney – and will be less inhibited by longterm strategic calculation. Mittens doesn’t dare go too far right, because he has to think of the general and the skittish independents who will flee at the faintest whiff of teabaggery.  Gingrich, by contrast, doesn’t have to worry about the nation holding him in greater disdain, given his remarkable unfavorability ratings.  I can easily see Gingrich bloodying Romney in the debates, while Mittens has to stand there and take it, smiling uneasily.  No-one is going to intervene to save him either.  Huntsman obviously loathes Romney, Perry would love to see him fall, Santorum isn’t likely to intervene, Paul is never going to pretend to be a plutocratic centrist.  Where does the cavalry come from to save the day?Report

  9. Avatar Kolohe says:

    Here’s my take (similar to yours, in fact I used it as a cheat sheet)


    1) Paul seriously underperformed in NH last time, and I expect him to so again. There’s less crossover voting (because registered Dems can’t vote, but independents can), Huntsman’s going to take some of the ¬ Romney ? ¬(¬Romney du jour) voters, and the NH electorate is not so independent minded and contrarian as the conventional wisdom holds (except for some odd flirtations with Pat Buchanan, has pretty much gone with the moderate establishment for its entire existence.

    2) Paul’s anti-war message will not hold up well in SC, vestigial home of the Jacksonian Democrats that now hold much sway in the modern Republican party, and, while not the concentration area it used to be, still punches above its weight in military industrial complex infrastructure. (The ”active duty troops love Paul’ has little bearing on this, I’m talking the larger establishment, the associated employment and the retirees).

    3) Florida will be the last stand of the ¬ Romney’s, the remaining contests will be Romney, Paul, and the sole surviving ¬ Romney. Paul will do pretty well in the caucus’s leading up to Super Tuesday, Romney wins Mich handily, and Arizona is a real wild card and the true test of both Tea Party sentiment and influence. Romney wins a clear majority on Super Tuesday, ¬ Romney suspends his campaign, and then the fur starts flying for the whole enchilada (and the ads start running).

    Paul has a rather high floor of support (at least double digits) but is stuck with an equally fixed ceiling (no more than 30% overall) all the way through to the convention.Report

  10. Avatar Morzer says:

    One interesting article about the plans for the putative Paulite renaissance:

    Make of it what you will.Report

  11. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    So, when Romney’s the candidate, who does he make his running mate? Santorum would solve the problem he likely has with evangelicals. I’m just wondering how the media is going to push that horseshit idea they have about “which candidate you’d rather have a beer with” if Romney is the candidate.Report

  12. Avatar James Hanley says:

    Oh, you must be really really old (*grin*).  I was referring to the claims that the Mormon Church had bought PepsiCo and had a new revelation that caffeine was ok.  But on double-checking, I see that Snopes has refuted that.  Dang, I hate it when reality spoils a joke.Report

  13. Avatar Mike says:

    Doesn’t really matter who “wins the nomination”, they’re all on the same platform. Republican history for just over the past decade:

    – Repealed Glass-Steagall and all the reforms that were supposed to prevent the corruption that led to the Great Depression from happening again.
    – Presided over the initial results: Enron, Worldcom, and a dozen other accounting and outright consumer fraud and price gouging scandals.
    – Presided over the Jobless Recovery, which wasn’t a meaningful “recovery” in any sense.
    – Presided over the buildup of the Housing Bubble / Flipping Bubble, by creating rules allowing more and more people to buy multiple houses with no money down.
    – Bailed out the “too big to fail” companies.
    – Stood idly by while the middle class took it up the ass for the entire decade 1998-2008, then blamed the black guy.Report