With just a couple of days to go until the South Carolina Republican primary, we’re seeing some movement of the anti-Romney vote in the state back to Newt Gingrich as Rick Santorum falls back to earth.
This is reflected in several surveys, but to show you the numbers, here is a look at the last four polls out of South Carolina conducted by Rasmussen, who has done the most frequent polling in the state.
|1/18||31%||33% ||11% ||15% ||2%|
|1/12||28%||28% ||16%||16% ||6% |
What is exactly is happening to cause this second Gingrich surge? While Romney benefited from a fractured conservative base and many Republican voters accepting the “inevitably” of his nomination, recent strong debate performances and questions about Santorum’s fiscal conservatism and electability are bringing anti-Romney vote back into a one camp.
Gingrich will no doubt be aided by Perry’s withdrawal and endorsement even though his numbers weren’t all that great. The fiasco in Iowa, a state that Santorum seems to have now won — though some ballots have been lost, has showed us that every vote matters in this election. As I noted earlier, Perry’s supporters may just be what pushes Gingrich over the top in South Carolina.
CNN is reporting that Texas Gov. Rick Perry will drop out of the race for the Republican nomination today, just a couple of days ahead of the South Carolina primary, and endorse Newt Gingrich:
Rick Perry is telling supporters that he will drop his bid Thursday for the Republican presidential nomination, two sources familiar with his plans told CNN.
The Texas governor will make the announcement before the CNN debate in South Carolina, the sources said.
It was incredibly unlikely, given his poor debate performances and gaffes, that Perry would be able to make a comeback in the race. Perry had hoped for a decent showing in South Carolina, but polls there had showed him at the bottom of the pack.
Many influential conservatives had been calling on Perry to drop out of the race so the anti-Romney vote could coalesce behind Gingrich, who has been surging in South Carolina in recent days (I’ll have more on that later today).
Given Perry’s numbers may not be significant, but it could be just enough to put Gingrich over the top on Saturday.
In recent days, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), an outspoken fiscal conservative, has defended Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), noting that Republicans should embrace some libertarian ideas. DeMint also sees the risk many Republican take in their public criticism of Paul, who has an incredibly dedicated group of followers, many of whom are young.
This led to rumors of an endorsement yesterday on Twitter and Facebook before the all important South Carolina primary. But DeMint, keeping with a statement he made a couple of months ago, has said he will not endorse:
One of the most sought-after South Carolina politicians said Monday he would not endorse a candidate ahead of the Palmetto State’s primary.
Sen. Jim DeMint, who has offered praise to all of the candidates in the field, said in a statement, “I do not have a favorite in this race and I will not endorse a candidate.”
DeMint said his stance reflected the view of many voters in South Carolina.
“I’ve gotten to know each of the candidates over the past year and they are all far superior to Obama,” DeMint said. “My view reflects what I’ve heard from Republican voters across South Carolina who remain divided in this race.”
DeMint would have been a big get for any candidate in the GOP field, given his high regard among conservative voters. Many of the contenders have met with the senator in person, looking to gain his backing.
Despite the confident tone of his concession speech in New Hampshire and receiving a glowing endorsement from an influential South Carolina newspaper, Jon Huntsman has decided to end his bid for the Republican nomination and endorse Mitt Romney:
Jon Huntsman will drop out of the Republican presidential race on Monday, a campaign spokesman told ABC News.
A source close to the Huntsman campaign said the former ambassador to China and Utah governor was “proud of the race that he ran” but “did not want to stand in the way” of rival Mitt Romney, the current front-runner for the Republican nomination.
Huntsman plans to endorse Romney at an 11 a.m. press conference Monday in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
After a disappointing third place finish in New Hampshire — a contest on which he had staked his candidacy — Huntsman vowed to fight on. In his concession speech in New Hampshire, he told his supporters: “I say third place is a ticket to ride, ladies and gentleman! Hello, South Carolina!”
A Huntsman aide tells ABC News that the decision came in the wake of the results of the New Hampshire primary.
“He has been discussing with his family after they woke up after a successful evening in New Hampshire. They felt good about their performance in New Hampshire, but he and his family had a discussion and this is the decision they came to,” the aide said. “At the end of the day he decided he did not want to hurt the best chance of beating Barack Obama and that’s Mitt Romney. By continuing into South Carolina and Florida, that’s what he would have been doing.”
There are many libertarians, including some members of United Liberty, who think Paul may win South Carolina. I hate to break it to you folks, but I don’t see that happening. Will Paul have a surge and get higher numbers than he’s polling now? That’s possible, but I don’t know. Paul could easily get third in the Palmetto State, could potentially get second after a brutal, slogging contest, but I find it very unlikely that he’ll get first.
Mitt Romney continues to hold a modest lead in South Carolina’s Republican primary for President. He’s at 29% to 24% for Newt Gingrich, 15% for Ron Paul, 14% for Rick Santorum, 6% for Rick Perry, 5% for Jon Huntsman, and 1% for Buddy Roemer.
Things haven’t changed too much at the top in the last week. Romney is down 1 point from his pre-New Hampshire standing, while Gingrich has gained a point. There’s more movement in the middle. Paul has gained 6 points to move into 3rd place, while Santorum has dropped by 5 points. Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman have each picked up a single point and remain in 5th and 6th place respectively.
Why is Romney winning South Carolina? Voters there are overwhelmingly focused on the economy this year and that’s working to his advantage. 39% say jobs and the economy are their top issue, closely followed by 34% who pick government spending and reducing the debt. Asked who they trust most on economic issues 35% pick Romney to 25% for Gingrich, 16% for Paul, and 10 for Santorum. And despite the attacks on it this week Romney’s business background is an asset for him. 58% have a favorable opinion of his record in business to just 27% with a negative view of it.
The Republican horse-race heads to the South
Thoughts from the after-hours news desk…
Americans love to gamble. And because of that, Mitt Romney stomps out of New Hampshire like a prize beast entering the last leg of the Triple Crown — with a flowing black and gray mane, 500 degree genitals and a frothing anus in victory. If he were about to enter the Belmont I am sure that the odds would be in his favor. The elderly like him because he ‘looks like a president;’ not black. And the rest of the folks like him because he looks like a sure thing.
There will be no mint juleps for Rick Santorum however, and nobody has even considered placing a wreath around Newt Gingrich; not that Gingrich would wear one, or Santorum would even consider drinking it. There is something very real and untrustworthy about a man who wont have a drink at the races, and Santorum is that man. American’s can see that. It doesn’t matter if Gawd really did choose him for this mission, or if all of us will be further damned if he isn’t elected. Pigs are here for bacon, whiskey for the races, and American politics to protect us from delusional, grandiose paper champions like Rick Santorum.
If I were to keep with the the horse racing theme, I would probably make some quip about how Newt Gingrich better not break so much as a news story less the public looks the other way while his handlers put his campaign out of it’s misery. The truth, however, is that I am just as confused by Newt’s trailing as he is. In my eye’s Newt Gingrich is everything conservative America should be rallying behind this election. He’s sharp-witted, experienced, and calculating, (spiteful, unendearing, and jaunty); and other than Paul is probably the only person who could get America to make the nut. He is religious, but unlike Santorum he isn’t 100 yards and a grease pencil away from being the Tebow of the Republican party.
In my brief primer yesterday on the New Hampshire primary, I noted that Mitt Romney needed at least 40% of the vote in order for his “win” not to be considered a “loss.” By that I mean that conservatives in the anti-Romney faction of the GOP were going to point to that as a “proof” that Romney winning the nomination isn’t inevitable.
With 98% of precincts reporting, Romney won 39.3% of the vote — a slightly higher percentage that John McCain took in 2008. While it’s not quite 40%, based on what I’m hearing and reading this more from many anti-Romney conservatives (many of whom where firmly behind him four years ago), it’s close for them to read the writing on the wall.
So what does this mean? I suspect that we’re about to see things get very nasty with Jon Huntsman and Newt Gingrich stepping up their attacks Romney. Rick Perry will probably wind up attacking everyone, particularly Gingrich and Romney.
Huntsman’s has a ceiling. If he doesn’t catch fire in the next two or three weeks, he’ll have a tough time justifying sticking around until Super Tuesday. That’s just reality. You may say, “Well, he finished third in New Hampshire. That counts for something.” No, it doesn’t. Huntsman based in campaign there. That’s why his poor showing in Iowa didn’t matter.
For Huntsman, a third place finish in New Hampshire is no better than finishing last since Gingrich, Romney, and Santorum weren’t really contesting the state. Those three have their eyes set on South Carolina, where Huntsman isn’t going to be nearly as competitive. He will, at best, cut into Romney’s numbers and possibly hand the state to Santorum or Gingrich.
As we head into the South Carolina primary where former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum may still have a shot at the GOP nomination, it’s worth recalling what Sen. Santorum had to say about libertarians and others who favor limited government during an interview with NPR in August 2005:
One of the criticisms I make is to what I refer to as more of a Libertarianish right. They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulations low, that we shouldn’t get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn’t get involved in cultural issues. That is not how traditional conservatives view the world. There is no such society that I am aware of, where we’ve had radical individualism and that it succeeds as a culture.
This has rightly riled many libertarians, who insist that the “radical individualism” derided by Santorum was the basis for the American experiment. But libertarians should really be thanking Rick Santorum. He’s provided us with a valuable reminder that far from being a limited government ally of libertarianism, traditional conservatism is actually inimical to libertarian principles. Traditional conservatism was America’s first statist, big government ideology.
Herman Cain, who exited the race for the GOP nomination early last month, announced last week that he would launch a bus tour in support of his gimmicky “9-9-9” plan, which was panned by several prominent conservatives, hoping that the push will lead to support in Congress:
The one-time Republican front-runner announced his “Cain’s Solutions Revolution” during a Fox News interview with Sean Hannity on Wednesday night.
“I started a new movement. The biggest comment I got when I ended my candidacy was to keep 9-9-9 alive. That’s what this is about, and I’m going to keep it alive with what I’m calling Cain’s Solutions Revolution,” Cain said.
“You have a bus,” Hannity interjected.
“Yes, sir. I have a bus with my picture on it,” Cain said, smiling, as Hannity displayed a photo of a vehicle that looked similar to the campaign bus he used on the trail until the day he pulled up in it at the early December rally in Atlanta when he ended his campaign.
The Atlanta businessman said he plans to “get commitments from members of Congress in 2012 before Election Day” and that the legislation is currently being drafted.
Cain also announced that he’ll be making an endorsement in the race on Thursday, January 19th — just before the primary in South Carolina. Given that he is from Georgia and is close to Newt Gingrich, you can probably guess who he’ll wind up backing.