With the Iowa caucus just a couple of weeks away, camapaigns are working hard to make a good impression on voters and to push down rivals. Polls earlier this month had showed Newt Gingrich doing well in the Hawkeye State, but as his record has been attacked, his base of support has dropped.
Recent polls had showed Gingrich in a statistical tie with Paul and/or Mitt Romney in the state; but according to the latest survey from Public Policy Polling (PPP), Gingrich has bottomed out and Ron Paul now leads (though Romney is in the margin of error):
- Ron Paul: 23%
- Mitt Romney: 20%
- Newt Gingrich: 14%
- Rick Perry: 10%
- Michele Bachmann: 10%
- Rick Santorum: 10%
- Jon Huntsman: 4%
- Other/Not sure: 7
PPP dives into Paul’s numbers:
Paul’s ascendancy is a sign that perhaps campaigns do matter at least a little, in a year where there has been a lot of discussion about whether they still do in Iowa. 22% of voters think he’s run the best campaign in the state compared to only 8% for Gingrich and 5% for Romney. The only other candidate to hit double digits on that question is Bachmann at 19%. Paul also leads Romney 26-5 (with Gingrich at 13%) with the 22% of voters who say it’s ‘very important’ that a candidate spends a lot of time in Iowa. Finally Paul leads Romney 29-19 among the 26% of likely voters who have seen one of the candidates in person.
With roughly 75% of the Republican electorate choosing another candidate, Mitt Romney is making an appeal to the Tea Party-minded voters. Romney is hoping that the endorsement of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who was backed with Tea Party support, will convince these voters that he is worthy of their backing:
In a state where the Tea Party may hold greater influence than in any other early primary contest, Mitt Romney told reporters in South Carolina today he could be the “ideal” candidate to earn Tea Party support.
“I believe on the issues as well, that I line up with [Tea Party supporters]: a smaller government, a less intrusive government, regulations being pared back, holding down the tax rates of the American people, maintaining a strong defense – and so many Tea Party folks are going to find me, I believe, to be the ideal candidate,” Romney said.
The former Massachusetts governor also contrasted his personal background with that of the state’s current frontrunner, Newt Gingrich, in making his appeal for Tea Party support.
“I think the Tea Party is anxious to have people who are outside Washington coming in to change Washington, as opposed to people who have been in Washington for 30 years,” Romney said.
At his side, Governor Haley noted that there was “no such thing as a Tea Party candidate,” but that a candidate can be supported by the Tea Party.
“That is what makes the Tea Party great. They’re independent people,” Haley said.
With Gingrich falling in the polls, the very real prospect of Ron Paul winning the Iowa caucus has some, including Chris Wallace of Fox News, saying that it will cheapen its significance. None of that is to say he will win, but it’s clear that there is an element in Republican politics that is going to downplay Paul’s impact in the race.
Over at The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf explains that downplaying Paul and his views — as so many, including the National Review, are trying to do — is a mistake:
Dismissing the burgeoning number of Americans on the right who are suspicious of interventionism and hawkishness is intellectually suspect and unwise. A majority of Republicans now think that the Iraq War was a mistake. The general non-interventionist impulse on the right has never completely gone away. Paul is by no means the ideal vehicle for non-interventionism. But insofar as he plays a significant role in the GOP primary, it will be partly due to the fact that the legitimate concerns he articulates are taken up by no other viable candidate. One needn’t be an ardent Paul supporter to suspect that National Review would rather that no viable GOP candidate spoke up to challenge the hawkish impulses on the elite right .
Things are really getting interesting in Iowa. Polls have shifted during the course of the week. What looked like a strong lead for Newt Gingrich diminished into a tie with Ron Paul. But the latest survey from Rasmussen of likely caucus-goers shows Mitt Romney emerging with a slight lead.
- Mitt Romney: 23%
- Newt Gingrich: 20%
- Ron Paul: 18%
- Rick Perry: 10%
- Michele Bachmann: 9%
- Rick Santorum: 6%
- Jon Huntsman: 5%
- Other: 2%
- Not sure: 8%
Byron York explains the significance of the poll:
In the new survey, every candidate but Gingrich gained support in the last few weeks. The biggest gainers were Romney, up four points; Paul, up eight points; and Perry, up four points. Michele Bachmann climbed three points, as did Jon Huntsman, who has been to Iowa a grand total of one time in the campaign.
Gingrich, on the other hand, fell 12 points.
Gingrich has been the target of a barrage of attack ads on Iowa television and radio, particularly from Paul, Romney, and Perry. The consensus among Iowa GOP insiders is that those ads are beginning to take a toll. “That stuff has an impact, where people are at least going to pause” in their enthusiasm for Gingrich, says Bob vander Plaats, an influential Iowa social conservative leader.
Despite his rise in the polls, not all conservatives are sold on Newt Gingrich. In recent days, Gingrich’s shortcomings as Speaker, his inconsistencies, and support for a bigger, more intrusive government have been the focal point of many in the right-leaning blogosphere.
In recent days, Gingrich has been rightfully criticized by Fred Barnes and George Will for comments about Mitt Romney’s time in the private sector. While Gingrich passes these off as a “joke,” it’s clear that he doesn’t understand the difference between capitalism (the concept of profit and loss) and corporatism, which he engaged in during his time as a lobbyist for Freddie Mac.
To make his growing problem worse, the editors of the conservative National Review came out strongly against Gingrich’s candidacy yesterday:
Yesterday, Stephen Slivinski wrote a excellent piece on how Newt Gingrich betrayed conservatives in the 90’s on issues ranging to budget battles and intra-caucus politics. The long and the short of it is that the Republican Revolution succeded not because of Gingrich, but in spite of him.
There has been a conservative alternative presented by the current crop of House Republicans. Though it may not be perfect, it represents a clear, distinct alternative to the agenda of President Barack Obama, who is trying to expand entitlements and domestic spending as much as possible.
As you no doubt remember, Gingrich knocked Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan back in May during an appearance on Meet the Press; calling it “right-wing social engineering.” This set off a fire storm against the former Speaker that led many to believe his candidacy was dead in the water.
And during a interview last week with Coffee & Markets, Gingrich may have again stepped in some controversy regarding Ryan and his budget. Here is the relevant part of the interview (emphasis mine):
C&M: You know, in terms of your critique of sort of the dangers of forcing people into this, of making it mandatory, I certainly agree with you. But isn’t the problem with that sort of an approach that you don’t have predictability when it comes to the costs of the program in the future? And if you could explain to us, I’d love to hear it, why you’re confident that a public option versus a private option in Medicare will bring these costs down.
Donald Trump has backed out of the December 27th debate, hosted by the conservative magazine, Newsmax, after several Republicans candidates turned down invitations to participate. Why? Well, Trump says it’s because he is still considering an independent bid for president:
Donald Trump has backed out of moderating a Republican debate because, he says, he’s still considering running for president as an independent candidate.
In a statement on Tuesday, Trump said that GOP candidates are “very concerned” that he will announce an independent candidacy after “The Apprentice” ends, and that they won’t agree to a debate with him unless he rules that out. Which he won’t do.
“It is very important to me that the right Republican candidate be chosen to defeat the failed and very destructive Obama Administration, but if that Republican, in my opinion, is not the right candidate, I am not willing to give up my right to run as an Independent candidate,” Trump said in his statement. “Therefore, so that there is no conflict of interest within the Republican Party, I have decided not to be the moderator of the Newsmax debate.”
Over the last several months, we’ve noted numerous times that Mitt Romney is incredibly inconsistent. He’s been on just about every side of issues that are important to conservatives. And the guy comes across like the typical politician; someone that will say anything to get your vote.
While I’m not fan of Newt Gingrich and believe he is just as inconsistent, Romney’s bomb-throwing on his rival’s record is laughable. I know, it’s a primary and every candidate is going to play the “I’m more conservative” card whenever they have a chance. But with Romney, there is just so much to counter this. And it’s not in the way of support for statist policies, Romney has litterally run away from conservatism.
During his race against Sen. Ted Kennedy in 1994, Romney played down the Contract with America, which was key to the Republican takeover of Congress, saying that it “is not a good idea to go into a ‘contract’ like what was organized by the Republican Party in Washington”:
Yesterday, I noted new polling from the American Research Group showing that Rick Perry was making a bit of a comeback in Iowa. That may or may not be true. Polls are difficult to read and nearly everyone shows something different, but what we do know is that Newt Gingrich’s support is fading.
The latest poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP), which is a Democratic firm, shows that Ron Paul is now in a statistical tie with Gingrich. Here is how the field shapes up in the Hawkeye State, at least according to PPP:
- Newt Gingrich: 22% (-5)
- Ron Paul: 21% (+3)
- Mitt Romney: 16% (—)
- Michele Bachmann: 11% (-2)
- Rick Perry: 9% (—)
- Rick Santorum: 8% (+2)
- Jon Huntsman: 5% (+1)
- Gary Johnson: 1% (—)
- Other/Not sure: 7%
PPP also shows Paul with the highest favorability, 61%, of any of the Republicans candidates. Only 31% have an unfavorable view of the Texas Congressman.
When these results were release yesterday, I saw several conservative scoff at them. For example, RedState’s Dan tweeted this:
Folks, Ron Paul can’t crack 20% in IA http://bit.ly/rPwWkZ in 2008 he drew 9% there to Mitt’s 26%. His ceiling’s too low.