While President Barack Obama is leading his possible Republican competitors in head-to-head matchups in most polls, a new Gallup poll shows that the GOP still has an important advantage in voter enthusiasm:
By 53% to 45%, Republicans, including independents who lean Republican, are slightly more likely than Democrats and Democratic leaners to say they are “more enthusiastic than usual about voting” this year. Republicans have consistently led Democrats in voting enthusiasm since last fall, but to varying degrees.
The 53% of Republicans who feel more enthusiastic about voting today — as Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are engaged in a pitched nomination battle — is greater than the 44% found in February 2008 when John McCain and Mike Huckabee were still dueling in the primaries.
This poll really means nothing this early on, but is an indicator that Republicans are motivated to out Obama. And for all of the talk about a brokered convention or supporters of one candidate threatening not to vote for another, I’m willing to bet that this will quiet down the closer we get to the fall as ousting Obama will become a common objective.
While some Republicans are still looking for another candidate to emerge this late in the ballgame, hoping that a brokered convention can unseat other candidates that they are not so happy with; it looks like Mitt Romney has momentum in his corner. At least for now.
The latest national poll from Rasmussen Reports shows Romney jumping to a 16-point lead over Rick Santorum, with Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul lagging behind (numbers from the previous Rasmussen poll are off to the side):
- Romney: 40% (+13)
- Santorum: 24% (-15)
- Gingrich: 16% (-1)
- Paul: 10% (-2)
In mid-February, Santorum was crusing at 39%, a 12-point lead over Romney. So you’re looking at a 15-point drop for him and a 13-point gain for Romney. So we’re still seeing a lot of volatility in the race.
But Romney’s momentum could be short-lived if he doesn’t do well on Super Tuesday. Polls out of states that will vote next week show that Santorum and Gingrich will most likely do well, but Romney may be weighed down; and that suggests that Santorum may see another bump.
Santorum has some hurdles facing him; however, at least concerning electability. The focus on social issues, which he wrongly blames on the media, is going to hurt him in a general election. And his reaction to questions about his views on contraception, which apparently includes lashing out at a talk show host, will be used against him; a point that he doesn’t seem to understand:
It wasn’t without drama in days leading up to Tuesday, but Mitt Romney won primaries in Arizona and Michigan. Polls in recent days, specifically in Michigan — Romney’s birth state, showed a close matchup between the former Massachusetts Governor and Rick Santorum, who had encouraged Democrats to cross the aisle to vote for him.
- Romney: 47%
- Santorum: 27%
- Gingrich: 16%
- Paul: 8%
- Romney: 41%
- Santorum: 38%
- Paul: 12%
- Gingrich: 7%
These results don’t mean that Romney is out of hot water. Super Tuesday (March 6th) looks like it will be a tough day for him, and it may become even tougher if Newt Gingrich decides to drop out of the race after what may be a poor showing. Conventional wisdom is that much of Gingrich’s support would go to Santorum.
But it doesn’t look like the race for the Republican nomination for president is going to end anytime soon, which bodes ill for the party. A nasty, prolonged race helps President Barack Obama and also hurts the GOP’s chances of holding the House and taking the Senate.
Newt Gingrich likes to portray himself as a “Reagan Conservative,” someone that believes in and pursues limited government policies. But the Washington Post reports that Gingrich was critical of Ronald Reagan’s views and wasn’t at all an advocate of a limited government:
In an unnoticed 1992 speech, Newt Gingrich in a single utterance took aim not only at a beloved conservative icon but also at a core tenet of the conservative movement: that government must be limited.
Ronald Reagan’s “weakness,” Gingrich told the National Academy of Public Administration in Atlanta, was that “he didn’t think government mattered. . . . The Reagan failure was to grossly undervalue the centrality of government as the organizing mechanism for reinforcing societal behavior.”
A review of thousands of documents detailing Gingrich’s career shows it wasn’t the first time he had criticized Reagan, whom he regularly invokes today in his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. When Gingrich was in the House, his chief of staff noted at a 1983 staff meeting that his boss frequently derided Reagan, along with then-White House Chief of Staff James A. Baker III and Robert H. Michel, the House Republican leader.
It’s no secret that the editors of the National Review, a highly influential conservative publication, aren’t fans of Newt Gingrich. Back in December, they came out against the former Speaker’s bid for the Republican nomination, despite his lead in GOP primary polls at the time. They weren’t finished. Just last month they slammed Gingrich for his for his anti-capitalist attacks on Mitt Romney’s wealth.
And yesterday, the National Review called on Gingrich to get out of the race and endorse Santorum, using Gingrich’s own logic from last month against him:
At the moment Rick Santorum appears to be overtaking Newt Gingrich as the principal challenger to Mitt Romney. Santorum has won more contests than Gingrich (who has won only one), has more delegates, and leads him in the polls. In at least one poll, he also leads Romney. It isn’t yet a Romney–Santorum contest, but it could be headed that way.
We hope so. Gingrich’s verbal and intellectual talents should make him a resource for any future Republican president. But it would be a grave mistake for the party to make someone with such poor judgment and persistent unpopularity its presidential nominee. It is not clear whether Gingrich remains in the race because he still believes he could become president next year or because he wants to avenge his wounded pride: an ambiguity that suggests the problem with him as a leader. When he led Santorum in the polls, he urged the Pennsylvanian to leave the race. On his own arguments the proper course for him now is to endorse Santorum and exit.
For what it’s worth, I’m opposed to the individual mandate in ObamaCare. I believe it’s a violation of the Commerce Clause for the Congress to compel anyone to purchase a certain product. However, many conservatives are now faced with explaining why they once backed the individual mandate, but now oppose it. Over at Forbes, Avik Roy explains:
As far as I have been able to find, Stuart’s [Heritage health-policy chief Stuart Butler] 1989 brief is the first published proposal of an individual mandate in the context of private-sector-managed health systems. In 1991, Mark Pauly and others developed a proposal for George H.W. Bush that also included an individual mandate. While others credit Stanford economist Alain Enthoven with the idea, Enthoven’s earliest published reference to an individual mandate was an indirect one in the 1992 Jackson Hole paper.
Politico reports that Mitt Romney has won the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) straw poll over Rick Santorum, who has been surging in recent days in the race for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.
While official results have not been released on CPAC’s official website, here is what Politico and other outlets are reporting:
- Mitt Romney: 38%
- Rick Santorum: 31%
- Newt Gingrich: 15%
- Ron Paul: 12%
Romney, who spoke at the conference yesterday, also won in 2007, 2008, and 2009. Ron Paul, who declined an invite to speak this year (though his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), spoke on Thursday), won the straw poll in 2010 and 2011.
While Newt Gingrich has high aspirations to start an American colony on the moon (or something), a recent poll from The Hill shows that voters are, well, not as far out there as the former Speaker:
Newt Gingrich’s proposal for a lunar colony still has a long way to go before it meets with voters’ approval.
The Hill Poll found that just 1 in 5 likely voters support the idea of a permanent American base on the moon. By contrast, 64 percent are opposed to the idea.
Gingrich said on Jan. 25 that there would be a permanent U.S. base on the moon by the end of his second term, if he were elected president.
He has defended the idea since then, arguing that the United States should pursue bold projects. He has implied a parallel between his belief in this realm and the actions of past presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, who advocated, respectively, for a transcontinental railroad and a manned mission to the moon.
For someone that gained so much support from conservative and Tea Party-minded voters, Gingrich is sure willing to spend a lot of money to see his odd and, frankly, aburd proposal come to fruition. But Gingrich’s high hopes for a moon colony has given the cast from Saturday Night Live some fodder:
While the media focus in recent weeks has been the on the battle between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich — and more recently Rick Santorum, as he begins to pull some conservatives into his camp, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that Ron Paul is now second in the field (though within the margin of error).
- Mitt Romney: 29%
- Ron Paul: 21%
- Newt Gingrich: 20%
- Rick Santorum: 18%
I spoke to a friend last night about the race. He just happened to be in Nevada over the weekend and he explained that it’s a “likeability” factor. Even though he’s not a supporter, he thinks Paul comes across as the most consistant, most genuine with the clearest convictions of the remaining four candidates. Aaron Blake caught this in the entrance polls out of Nevada, showing that caucus-goers viewed Paul as the “true conservative” in the race.
Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that this will translate into primary or caucus wins. Clearly and unfortunately, it hasn’t. But it does show that the libertarian-leaning message Paul presents to Republican voters, even at this late moment in the race, is gaining more traction and may be difficult to ignore in this and future elections.
After finishing a distant second to Mitt Romney in Nevada on Saturday, Newt Gingrich became unhinged during an evening press conference, promising a prolonged battle for the Republican nomination:
Newt Gingrich vowed again to stay in the Republican presidential contest until the convention in August and said he will spend the next several months engaged in a bitter battle with Mitt Romney.
Speaking to the press after the Nevada caucuses Saturday, Mr. Gingrich repeatedly hammered Mr. Romney as a pro-abortion, pro-gun control, pro-taxes candidate who has the backing of the Republican establishment.
“I am a candidate for president of the United States,” he said. “I will be a candidate for president of the United States. I will go to Tampa.”
Mr. Romney ignored Mr. Gingrich in his victory speech tonight. But Mr. Gingrich seemed insistent on making sure that his rival cannot simply look the other way.
He accused Mr. Romney of purposely leaking false information about Mr. Gingrich’s plans to drop out of the presidential race, calling that Mr. Romney’s “greatest fantasy” in the race.
And Mr. Gingrich said that recent meetings he held with donors were meant to map out a plan to continue getting his message out despite Mr. Romney’s superior fund-raising.
“The entire establishment will be against us,” he predicted. But he said that by appearing on national television and doing interviews in newspapers, he will spread his agenda.
“The American people want somebody who is genuinely conservative, who is prepared to change Washington,” Mr. Gingrich said.