Tom Tancredo: Scaring The Crap Out Of Iowans One Ad At A Time

I know I've been a bit pre-occupied with the Republicans today but there's no way I could let this go without a mention. It's Tom Tancredo's new ad, which is set to run in Iowa (h/t TPM.)

I wouldn't have picked him as the fearmongeriest of the Republicans but with this ad he wins hands down as he makes the overt claim that illegal immigration = terrorism and in the process throws any pretense at subtlety or subtext out the window. It begins with

My name is Tom Tancredo and I approved this message because someone needs to say it.

...and ends with...

Tancredo...before it's too late.

And as for the in between, well, watch for yourself.

Yep, "elect me...or else!" is pretty much all the Republicans have to run on, Tancredo's just the first to say it. What's so jarring is the honesty with which he says it.

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Thompson and Romney Get Big Endorsements

Oh, right, almost forgot Fred Thompson was still in this thing. The AP via TPM:

Fred Thompson will be endorsed for president by the National Right to Life Committee, Republicans say.

The endorsement by the prominent anti-abortion group could give a boost to the campaign of the Republican former Tennessee senator, who has seen his poll numbers drop in recent weeks and has failed to become the consensus candidate for conservatives.

This is another big blow to Romney after the Robertson Giuliani endorsement and is actually good news for Giuliani. He knew he was never going to get this endorsement in the first place so Thompson getting it is probably the next best thing, to the extent that this provides further evidence that a "consensus conservative" has not emerged. Also, if Rudy is going to execute his Florida plus strategy, he's going to need the first few states to be split, which means the next best thing to his actually winning South Carolina is Thompson's winning it and this endorsement has the potential to put some wind in Thompson's South Carolina sails.

The news isn't all good for Giuliani though.

From First Read:

The California Republican Assembly today announced it's endorsing Romney's presidential campaign. This is THE conservative endorsement to get in California.

California is key to Giuliani's road to the nomination and this may be a sign that he is less than inevitable here. The assembly's slight of Giuliani shouldn't come as too big a surprise though since, contrary to popular belief, California Republicans are actually quite a conservative minority. Conservative California blog Flash Report puts Romney's endorsement by the CRA into context.

Mitt Romney achieved the two-thirds vote necessary of over 230 delegates to receive the endorsement. Romney beat Thompson with Paul and Hunter in third and fourth. There are three observations that come out of that that seem to be playing out nationally.

Romney wants to win and will organize to do it.

More people are getting over the "Mormon" thing.

Ron Paul is overshadowing traditional conservatives like Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo.

The upshot:

While Mitt Romney is not the perfect candidate, he is becoming the conservative alternative to a Giuliani nomination and he is doing what is needed to be President.

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Ron Paul Has Raised More Than $2 Million Today

As Jerome linked in Breaking Blue, Ron Paul has raised $2 million and counting just today thanks to a grassroots-driven fundraising effort focused on raising money "This November 5th".

From Jonathan Martin at The Politico:

In what is being called a "money bomb," Paul's fervent backers spread the word that today they'd blast their candidate with Internet contributions, setting up a website, "This November 5th," to push the plan.  An aide said they had nothing to do with the effort.

"Supporters have spontaneously organized what I can only refer to as a one-day attack of donations," said Paul spokeswoman Kate Rick.  "We started at midnight with $2.77 million raised for the quarter, and have, as of 9:36 am, climbed up to over $4.1."

As of 12:27, Paul had raised $4.73 million total.

Now, as of 4:30pm, Paul's website shows that total has risen past $5,525,000.

This is a remarkable amount of money for a supposedly fringe candidate and is further evidence that Paul's online support can be measured in real world metrics other than inordinately large support in non-binding online polls. Andrew Sullivan offers his take on what this online Paul uprising signifies:

Memo to today's Republicans: some people still believe in your principles, even if you don't.

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New Winthrop University South Carolina Poll

A new Winthrop University/ETV poll out of South Carolina was just released. A couple of oddities with this poll to note up front: it was taken over a 3 week period and undecideds are huge.

On the Democratic side, while the race is stable, I think it's notable that we are again seeing a larger than normal group of undecideds having an inordinate impact on Clinton's numbers. While she is the clear leader, her level of support and her lead over Obama are 6 or so points below her average (both RCP and Pollster,) unlike Obama whose support here is consistent with his average, which would lead me to conclude that a larger portion of her support is borderline undecided and thus up for grabs.

(534 LVs, Oct. 7-28, MOE 4.24%)

CandidateOctoberMayRCP 3-poll Ave.Clinton3329.239Obama22.720.824Edwards9.610.712.7Biden2.4.6-Don't Know29.630.4-

The more interesting story here is on the Republican side, which finds a 3-way race for first place.

(522 LVs, Oct. 7-28, MOE 4.29%)

CandidateOctoberMayRCP 4-poll Ave.
Thompson17.96.418.3Giuliani16.518.619.0Romney16.511.719.3McCain9.214.412.3Huckabee5.4.86.0Don't Know29.929.9-

As The New York Times wrote last week:

In the contest for the Republican presidential nomination, South Carolina, more than perhaps any other early voting state, is shaping up as a pivotal battleground where each of...four candidates believes he has a solid shot of winning. Since 1980, each victor in South Carolina has gone on to become the Republican nominee.

I like Josh's take on the importance of the state.

But South Carolina is where the white evangelicals -- en masse -- come into play. If Rudy can't win there, the importance of his strong plurality showings on the national level probably fade quickly, both as an indicator and as a reality, since Romney will likely pick up the support of others who throw in the towel. If Rudy can win there it probably means the lifers will trade their principles on abortion for beefed up aggression abroad.

He seems to think it is actually a two-way race between Romney and Giuliani at this point. Certainly, this is the only early state Thompson is still showing real strength but I wouldn't count him out yet, although certainly South Carolina is nothing short of must-win for Freddie. But what I'll be looking for is an uptick from Huckabee in the coming weeks and, as he does so, it will be interesting to see which candidate suffers as a result.

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University of Iowa Hawkeye Poll: Obama and Huckabee Surging

The new University of Iowa Hawkeye Poll (pdf) out this morning has some intriguing results on both sides. But first a note about the poll's methodology. It's important to note that the question asked of respondents was open-ended:

If your caucus was today, who would you support for president in your caucus? Just tell me the name.

Which leads Mark Blumenthal at Pollster to issue the following warning:

We have not included the previous Hawkeye polls in our Iowa chart because of the use of the open-ended question. This is not a statement about the quality of the survey. As I wrote back in August:

This [open-ended question] undoubtedly provides a tougher test of voter commitment, but also produces a much bigger undecided and renders the results incomparable to other Iowa polls.

With that in mind, the results are as follows:

The Democrats (306 LVs, Oct. 17-24, MOE 5.5%):

CandidateOctoberAugustRCP 5-poll Ave.Clinton28.924.828.8Obama26.619.323.6Edwards202621.2Richardson7.29.48.8Biden5.3--Don't Know8.914.4-

This has got to be a painful result for Edwards, coming on the heels of the news that he's just finished visiting all 99 counties in Iowa vs. 59 for Obama and 39 for Clinton. Contrary to popular belief about Iowa politics, if the most recent polls are right, it would appear that there is an inverse correlation between number of towns visited and how well the candidates are polling, and it just may be an indication to Edwards that it's time to start advertising before an "Edwards falling" storyline takes hold. But there is some good news for Edwards: perhaps the more important statistic, the likelihood of attendance at the Jan. 3 caucus.

On the bright side is that the people who do support Edwards have a history of showing up when it counts. Nearly 76% of Edwards' poll supporters attended the 2004 caucus, while 58% of Clinton's and 55% of Obama's supporters made the trip four years ago. "If we only look at caucus-goers who are almost certain to attend, we find that Edwards makes up the gap with Obama and Clinton, and moves clearly ahead," said David Redlawsk, the poll's director and an associate professor of political science at the University of Iowa.

The Republicans: (285 RVs, Oct. 17-24, MOE 5.8%):

CandidateOctoberAugustRCP 4-poll Ave.Romney36.227.826.3Giuliani13.111.713.3Huckabee12.81.813.8Thompson11.47.615McCain63.17Don't Know14.927.4-

The story here is Huckabee who's increased his share of the vote by 11 points in almost 2 months. His tie for second place tracks with other polling in the state and indeed, looking at the internals, it's clear that his growing strength comes from the born again/evangelical crowd. While Romney gets 29% of that vote, Huckabee is close behind with 21%. But it's the non-evangelical vote that the candidates will need to work on if they hope to eat away at Romney's support: he leads this voting block with 41% of the vote, more than 3x anyone else.

Romney's impressive increase in support since August should not go unnoticed, however. Conventional wisdom was that his support was beginning to plateau and Giuliani was starting to close the gap. Clearly, such a trend is not evident here. At the same time, Romney polls so far above his average that it could be an outlier, we'll have to wait for more polling out of the state to confirm if in fact he's surging going into the final 2 months.

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