Thinking About Romney’s Southern Problem

 

By: inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

It’s pretty clear that Mitt Romney has a Southern problem. The Republican candidate has consistently lost southern states. Indeed, it’s probable that if the South didn’t exist, then Mitt Romney would already have the nomination sown up today.

It’s also pretty probable that Romney will be the Republican nominee for the 2012 presidential election. At this point, it would take an extraordinary event to deny him the nomination. It would need to be something on the lines of Romney saying that he doesn’t care about poor people.

It’s a very interesting exercise to think about how Romney’s weakness amongst southerners in the primary will affect his general election performance in the South.

The Republican Party in the South is composed of two constituencies: business Republicans and evangelical Republicans. Back when the South was solidly Democratic, wealthy white suburbanites (the business Republicans) were the first to start voting Republican. The white evangelicals came late to the party; indeed a dwindling number of them still vote Democratic. Romney is weak amongst the evangelical wing of the Republican Party in the South.

A good way to think about what this weakness means for the general election is to take a look at the 2008 Democratic primary, where Barack Obama was weak amongst several groups as well. Most famously, the president did poorly amongst white working-class voters in the Appalachians. This is a bad example to use, however, because Appalachian working-class whites have been moving against the president’s party for a while now. Southern white evangelicals, if anything, are becoming more loyal to Romney’s party.

There’s another group which Obama did very poorly with in the 2008 primary, and which is better suited to this analysis (see if you can guess what I’m talking about before finishing the next paragraph).

This group opposed Obama from the beginning to the end of the Democratic primary, despite his best efforts. People today forget this fact because group (unlike working-class Appalachians) is a strong Democratic constituency. Nevertheless, Obama’s weakness amongst this group made him lose states ranging California to Texas.

Indeed, if you look at Obama’s performance in the counties bordering Mexico in Texas, you’ll find him doing just as badly amongst Hispanics in Texas as he did amongst working-class whites in West Virginia and Kentucky.

The Hispanic vote in the 2008 Democratic Primary and the southern white evangelical vote in the 2012 Republican Primary have a lot in common. Both constituencies voted strongly against the party’s nominee during the primary, but both constituencies are still very loyal to the party during the general election.

So how did Obama’s poor performance amongst Hispanics in the 2008 primary end up affecting the general election? Well, there wasn’t much effect. Obama didn’t do great amongst Hispanics, but he didn’t do poorly. He did about average. Obama won the same percentage of the Hispanic vote that a generic Democrat winning a comfortable victory would win. He did underperform somewhat in several rural Hispanic areas.

By the same logic, Romney’s poor performance amongst southern white evangelicals in the 2012 primary won’t have much effect. Romney won’t do great amongst southern white evangelicals, but he won’t do poorly. He’ll do about average. Romney will win the same percentage of the southern white evangelical vote that a generic Republican will win. He will underperform somewhat in several rural southern areas.

There is one caveat to this analysis. Hispanic opposition to Obama was generally based on Hillary Clinton’s popularity and economic reasons. On the other hand, southern white evangelical opposition to Romney is based on personal dislike for Romney and religion. One could make a pretty strong argument that the latter two are more powerful forces than the former two.

But, all in all, Democrats shouldn’t get too excited about Romney’s Southern problem.

 

 

Ron Paul Is Lying

By: inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

Libertarian Ron Paul is doing quite well in the 2012 Republican primaries; he has taken third place in Iowa and second place in New Hampshire. Perhaps the greatest controversy that Ron Paul has run into is a series of newsletters published under his name. These newsletters are written in a racist and hateful tone.

Ron Paul has defended himself by saying that he never wrote or even read the newsletters. Here is one fairly typical interview of this  defense.

In this interview, the media has tended to emphasize the fact that Ron Paul abruptly walked away from the interview, although it seemed to be ending anyways.

What is much more interesting is to watch the parts of the video in which Paul specifically denies having read or written any of the newsletters. Specifically, look at 7:20. At 7:20, Paul says:

You know what the answer is, I — I didn’t read — write them. I didn’t read them at the time. And I disavow them. That is the answer.

Look at Paul’s body language when he’s saying these words. It’s fascinating. He refuses to meet Gloria Borger’s eyes. Rather, Paul looks at the floor. This is in contrast to the rest of the interview, when Paul does confidently meet the reporter’s eyes.

Ron Paul is lying.

 

Looking at Romney’s Voting Coalition

The primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire have recently concluded, with Mitt Romney winning both. It’s quite probable now that Romney will be the person facing Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election.

Both Iowa and New Hampshire have provided detailed exit polls of the Republican electorate. These paint a good picture of the coalition that Romney is assembling.

Of course, exit polls are notoriously unreliable. If exit polls were trustworthy, President John Kerry would just be completing his second term right now. Any exit poll thus ought to be taken with an enormous grain of salt.

Nevertheless, there are some patterns that are appearing pretty consistently in the exit polls of the Republican primaries. These are large enough to be of some note.

 

  • Romney’s support increases steadily as a voter’s age increases.
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  • Similarly, support for Romney increases steadily as income increases.
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  • Very conservative voters are not fans of Romney.
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  • Neither are born-again Christians. Which is not to say that their support is nonexistent; plenty of born-again Christians are still voting for Romney.
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  • Those with college degrees appear slightly more disposed to voting for Romney.
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  • Similarly, so are Catholics.
  • There is one final pattern which the exit polls don’t show, but which also appears consistently in the results: rural voters do not like Romney. He has done the worst in the rural parts of Iowa and New Hampshire. It will be of interest to note whether this pattern prevails in South Carolina.

    Not all of these patterns occurred in the last 2008 Republican primaries. During 2008, for instance, very conservative voters gradually became the strongest supporters of Romney. In fact, while there are great similarities between the voters Romney is winning now and those he won in 2004, there are also substantial differences. These are fascinating enough to be the subject of another, much more detailed, post.

    Nor should one expect all these patterns to hold throughout the primary season. This is particularly true with respect to religion. In 2008 Catholics were more likely than Protestants to vote for Romney in Iowa and New Hampshire. In later states such as California and Florida, however, Protestants were more favorable to Romney than Catholics (this was true even counting only white Catholics and white Protestants). Why this is so is somewhat of a mystery.

    There is one very important consideration which has not appeared yet: race. So far, the voters in the 2012 Republican primary have been overwhelmingly white. Asians and blacks do not vote in Republican primaries in numbers large enough to be counted by exit polls. Hispanics, however, do. In 2008 Romney won 14% of the Hispanic vote in Florida, compared to the 31% he took statewide; he failed to break single digits amongst Cubans. It will be very revealing to see whether Romney can do better than that this year.

    Implications for the General Election

    Romney appears to do best in the more traditional wing of the Republican Party. His support is concentrated amongst the wealthier, more urbane voters in the party – the part of the party that is commonly represented by the sophisticated businessman. This, I know, will come as a shock to everybody who has been following politics these past few years.

    During the general election, Romney will probably do well in places filled with people of the above description. These include areas such as suburban Philadelphia and the northern exurbs of Atlanta. He may struggle to raise much excitement amongst the rural evangelical crowd, the red-hot conservatives who in bygone days voted loyally Democratic. Unfortunately for the president, these voters probably loathe Obama more than any other segment of the electorate.

    Probably most useful for a political analyst is the fact that Romney’s support increases in proportion to a voter’s wealth, age, and closeness to a major urban center. These are things about Romney’s coalition which political analysts haven’t known about before (especially the facts about voter income and age).

    It will be interesting to see if Romney’s coalition remains the same throughout the next few primaries, or whether it changes. Indeed, Romney’s coalition is actually somewhat different from the one he assembled in the 2008 Republican primaries. The next few posts will compare the exit polls from those primaries and those from the current primaries.

    They will examine:

    Iowa

    --inoljt

     

    Why Mitt Romney Shouldn’t Ignore Iowa

    By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

    Former Massachusetts governor and Republican candidate for president Mitt Romney has embarked upon an utterly stupid political strategy: ignore Iowa, the first voting state in the 2012 Republican primary. As Frank Bruni of the New York Times puts it:

    If the Iowa Republican debate were to provide a truly accurate mirror of the race at this juncture, Tim Pawlenty would wear a sandwich board, with a scrawled plea to the state’s voters: “Save me.” Michele Bachmann would spin onto the stage in a giant teacup, to find a microphone three times the size of anyone else’s and a spotlight four times as bright. Newt Gingrich, looking characteristically put out, would unveil a new campaign slogan: “The Glower for This Hour.”

    And the party’s most likely nominee, Mitt Romney? He wouldn’t show. The less seen of him, after all, the better.

    That’s not my harsh assessment. That’s been his de facto campaign strategy this summer.

    Mr. Romney is following this strategy due to his failure to win Iowa during the 2008 Republican primary. After spending enormous amounts of time and money on the state, Mr. Romney found himself outflanked by former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. Despite running a number of negative ads on Mr. Huckabee, the former Massachusetts governor lost the primary by a considerable margin. Crucial to his loss was the perception of Mr. Romney as a flip-flopper who wasn’t a true conservative.

    So this time the candidate is ignoring Iowa.

    Unfortunately, Mr. Romney simply cannot ignore Iowa, whatever he may wish. If he does so, then he will certainly lose the state. No state likes to be ignored, and Mr. Romney is weak in Iowa already.

    Most probably, either Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann or Governor Rick Perry will win Iowa if Mr. Romney does not compete. A victory in Iowa will then set up either candidate as the Republican alternative to Mr. Romney. The media pays huge amounts of attention to the Iowa caucuses. Whoever wins them, if Mr. Romney does not, will instantly be catapulted into national attention. And, given Mr. Romney’s weaknesses on consistency, there’s a very good chance that he will lose the nomination to them.

    So Mr. Romney shouldn’t ignore Iowa. He has to compete; if he wins, than he can eliminate the threat to his candidacy early on. If he loses, he’ll more likely than not lose the nomination.

    It’s a tough choice. Mr. Romney will more likely than not lose Iowa even if he does spend the next few months of his life campaigning in the state.

    Once again Mr. Romney’s problems fundamentally boil down to the fact that he is a terrible politician. Given the weakness of the current Republican field, by all rights Mr. Romney should be leading his opposition by double-digits. And if he were doing that, then Governor Rick Perry would never have joined the field in the first place.

    Unfortunately, there is little that Mr. Romney can do about this anymore. The only thing that he can do at this point is to stop ignoring the most important caucus in the nation.

     

     

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