The Late Great Commonwealth: Catching Up to the Republican Primary

                                                     by WALTER BRASCH

                                                               

It’s the beginning of April, and that means I have just finished celebrating New Year’s Eve, and will soon begin shopping for Valentine’s gifts. In a month or two, I may even get around to toasting St. Patrick.

It’s not procrastination, it’s just that I’m a Pennsylvanian, and the state encourages me to be behind the times. At one time, Pennsylvania was first in just about everything-—and then Ben Franklin died. Since then, we’ve been first in ridiculous license plate slogans.

When other states, including those settled by Puritans, got rid of their “blue laws,” Pennsylvania still bans the sale of cars on Sundays. By archaic practices, it still allows municipal governments and school districts to raise taxes and create more buildings without giving the people the right of a vote, common in most states. It is also the only state that still taxes people for income, property, and their occupation. Forty-nine other states believe pigeon shoots are animal cruelty; we proudly proclaim our state as the last bastion of the right to “bear arms and blast birds.” And, we don’t allow Independents to vote in our primaries.

Iowa, with anomalies known as a straw poll and a caucus, is the first major battleground in presidential races, having usurped New Hampshire, which thought having the official primary was a birthright dating to when granite first showed up in the state. Nevertheless, whether Iowa or New Hampshire, Americans understand that the people need something to break them out of their Winter funk when snow covers what will eventually become cornfields in Iowa and the ski lifts of New Hampshire will no longer be inoperable because of blizzards.

With nothing else to do in January, the media schussed into the Hawkeye State—just as soon as they could find enough chauffeurs to drive them to wherever Iowa is. With megawatt lights and dimly-lit minds, they infiltrated the state so that the voters not only had their own individualized politicians, they also had their own puppy-dog reporters prancing brightly behind them to the coffee shop, factory, and bathroom.

Surrounded by the media who smugly said they were only telling the public what they needed to know to defend and preserve democracy—and millions in advertising revenue—the candidates played to the press, attacking each other rather than attacking the issues. In neatly-packaged seven-second sound bites, politicians and the media sliced, diced, and crunched the campaign to fit onto a 21-inch screen.

Because of an inner need to believe they matter, the media predict who will win the nomination, changing their predictions as quickly as a fashionista changes shoes. For what seemed to be decades, the ink-stained bandwagon has pulled voters and campaign dollars, and left Pennsylvania voters waiting at the altar for candidates who don’t care anymore, abandoned by the media who have found other “stories of the week.”

For all practical purposes, the Pennsylvania primaries, with large slates of uncontested local and state races, is about as useless as a Department of Ethnic Studies at Bob Jones University. By the time the 2000 primary rolled into Pennsylvania, Al Gore and George W. Bush each had 65 percent of the delegate vote needed for their parties’ nomination. In 2004, Bush and John Kerry had already locked up the nominations. In 2008, Pennsylvania became a pivotal state for the Democrats for the first time since 1976, with Hillary Clinton defeating Barack Obama before losing the nomination by June. For the Republicans, it was “business as usual,” with John McCain having already sewn up the nomination.

A Republican needs 1,144 delegate votes to get the nomination. Mitt Romney, America’s best runner-up, has 568; two-term senator Rick Santorum, recovering from a blistering loss to a moderate Democrat in Pennsylvania’s 2006 Senate campaign, has 273; Ron Paul, who may or may not be a Republican, has 50. Newt Gingrich has 135 delegates; however, this week he announced he downsized his staff and campaign, and is layin’ low—except, of course, for the times he can get free TV time to lambaste Romney and Santorum who are engaged in a vicious personal battle that has bubbled out of the TV ad cauldron.

The April 3 primaries will add a maximum of 98 delegates. And that brings Super Northeast Tuesday, April 24. The Republican leftovers and their never-ending TV ads will blitz Pennsylvania, which might even become relevant.

Even if Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Rhode Island—and Pennsylvania with 72 of the 231 delegate votes—go for Romney, it won’t be enough to get him the nomination. However, it will be enough to cause major financial backers to pull their support for Santorum and what’s left of the Gingrich campaign, leaving Romney to flip-flop into the Republican nomination convention, Aug. 27, in Tampa, Fla.—which seems to be the Republicans’ destiny.

[Dr. Brasch has covered political campaigns for more than three decades. His latest book is the critically-acclaimed fast-paced mystery Before the First Snow, available at amazon.com and his publisher, Greeley & Stone.]Within the next week, another nine states voted.

 

 

The Late Great Commonwealth: Catching Up to the Republican Primary

                                                     by WALTER BRASCH

                                                               

It’s the beginning of April, and that means I have just finished celebrating New Year’s Eve, and will soon begin shopping for Valentine’s gifts. In a month or two, I may even get around to toasting St. Patrick.

It’s not procrastination, it’s just that I’m a Pennsylvanian, and the state encourages me to be behind the times. At one time, Pennsylvania was first in just about everything-—and then Ben Franklin died. Since then, we’ve been first in ridiculous license plate slogans.

When other states, including those settled by Puritans, got rid of their “blue laws,” Pennsylvania still bans the sale of cars on Sundays. By archaic practices, it still allows municipal governments and school districts to raise taxes and create more buildings without giving the people the right of a vote, common in most states. It is also the only state that still taxes people for income, property, and their occupation. Forty-nine other states believe pigeon shoots are animal cruelty; we proudly proclaim our state as the last bastion of the right to “bear arms and blast birds.” And, we don’t allow Independents to vote in our primaries.

Iowa, with anomalies known as a straw poll and a caucus, is the first major battleground in presidential races, having usurped New Hampshire, which thought having the official primary was a birthright dating to when granite first showed up in the state. Nevertheless, whether Iowa or New Hampshire, Americans understand that the people need something to break them out of their Winter funk when snow covers what will eventually become cornfields in Iowa and the ski lifts of New Hampshire will no longer be inoperable because of blizzards.

With nothing else to do in January, the media schussed into the Hawkeye State—just as soon as they could find enough chauffeurs to drive them to wherever Iowa is. With megawatt lights and dimly-lit minds, they infiltrated the state so that the voters not only had their own individualized politicians, they also had their own puppy-dog reporters prancing brightly behind them to the coffee shop, factory, and bathroom.

Surrounded by the media who smugly said they were only telling the public what they needed to know to defend and preserve democracy—and millions in advertising revenue—the candidates played to the press, attacking each other rather than attacking the issues. In neatly-packaged seven-second sound bites, politicians and the media sliced, diced, and crunched the campaign to fit onto a 21-inch screen.

Because of an inner need to believe they matter, the media predict who will win the nomination, changing their predictions as quickly as a fashionista changes shoes. For what seemed to be decades, the ink-stained bandwagon has pulled voters and campaign dollars, and left Pennsylvania voters waiting at the altar for candidates who don’t care anymore, abandoned by the media who have found other “stories of the week.”

For all practical purposes, the Pennsylvania primaries, with large slates of uncontested local and state races, is about as useless as a Department of Ethnic Studies at Bob Jones University. By the time the 2000 primary rolled into Pennsylvania, Al Gore and George W. Bush each had 65 percent of the delegate vote needed for their parties’ nomination. In 2004, Bush and John Kerry had already locked up the nominations. In 2008, Pennsylvania became a pivotal state for the Democrats for the first time since 1976, with Hillary Clinton defeating Barack Obama before losing the nomination by June. For the Republicans, it was “business as usual,” with John McCain having already sewn up the nomination.

A Republican needs 1,144 delegate votes to get the nomination. Mitt Romney, America’s best runner-up, has 568; two-term senator Rick Santorum, recovering from a blistering loss to a moderate Democrat in Pennsylvania’s 2006 Senate campaign, has 273; Ron Paul, who may or may not be a Republican, has 50. Newt Gingrich has 135 delegates; however, this week he announced he downsized his staff and campaign, and is layin’ low—except, of course, for the times he can get free TV time to lambaste Romney and Santorum who are engaged in a vicious personal battle that has bubbled out of the TV ad cauldron.

The April 3 primaries will add a maximum of 98 delegates. And that brings Super Northeast Tuesday, April 24. The Republican leftovers and their never-ending TV ads will blitz Pennsylvania, which might even become relevant.

Even if Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Rhode Island—and Pennsylvania with 72 of the 231 delegate votes—go for Romney, it won’t be enough to get him the nomination. However, it will be enough to cause major financial backers to pull their support for Santorum and what’s left of the Gingrich campaign, leaving Romney to flip-flop into the Republican nomination convention, Aug. 27, in Tampa, Fla.—which seems to be the Republicans’ destiny.

[Dr. Brasch has covered political campaigns for more than three decades. His latest book is the critically-acclaimed fast-paced mystery Before the First Snow, available at amazon.com and his publisher, Greeley & Stone.]Within the next week, another nine states voted.

 

 

Primary Preview: Gingrich and Santorum on Edge

Tuesday’s Alabama and Mississippi primaries are all-important for Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. Each are staking their campaigns on how well they perform Tuesday night, and bolstering that whoever loses should drop out.

Gingrich has essentially been banking his campaign on his performance in the South since the Florida primary loss to Mitt Romney. Gingrich at the time knew the northern contests in Michigan and Ohio would not play well to his favor and never put much into those primaries. Now Gingrich has a chance to prove his candidacy, and legitimize his reluctance to drop from the race, by showing he’s a strong favorite through the south and that, for instance, if Rick Santorum were to drop out, Gingrich could sway a large portion of Santorum’s voters his way to defeat Romney.

This is ostensibly the same argument Rick Santorum is making. In light of last week’s primary wins in Tennessee, Oklahoma, and North Dakota, and his near victory in Ohio, the Santorum campaign has publicly pressured Gingrich to drop out, arguing voters will coalesce behind him to defeat Romney.

Both candidates have strong cases for the other to concede defeat. Anti-Romney sentiment runs high in the GOP, seeing his wealth as a bulwark to connect with the average voter – and his gaffe-prone campaign cements that image nearly every day. Romney also does not have strong support in the south. Gingrich is from Georgia and can easily wrap up several southeast states in the general election. If voters are given Romney as the candidate, they may be willing to vote for Obama simply based on the improving conditions of the economy. Santorum, in contrast, polls well with southerners on social issues and can pull the evangelical vote his way throughout the south and the beltway. The evangelical voting-block could be essential for republicans this fall if they stand any chance of winning the White House. A poll today of likely GOP voters shows that a large majority of Alabama and Mississippi voters do not believe the President’s continued stated admission of his Christian beliefs and think he is a Muslim. But let’s be honest, Mississippi and Alabama also rank in the bottom 5 in education with some of the lowest high school graduation rates in the country. So, there’s that.

But maybe Romney still has the best argument for both Santorum and Gingrich to drop out. According to weekend polling in Mississippi and Alabama, Romney is virtually in a dead-heat with these other candidates. If he doesn’t win either state outright, he’ll still secure some delegates and inch ever-closer to the magic 1,144 needed for the nomination. And after last week’s big Ohio victory, the Romney campaign began making their case that they should be the nominee. Of course, it’s not about policies or that he really is the better candidate. It’s math! The Romney campaign thinks the others should drop out because they can’t possibly reach 1,144 delegates now, so, just get out! I know nobody wants me to win, but I’ve got a twenty run lead. You should just forfeit now in the bottom of the third. I’ll pay you…

Jason Owen with TJ Walker and AmericanLP

 

 

Daily National 2/17 Breifing

        AmericanLP covers all the top headlines in politics on both sides of the aisle in this morning’s news brief. Major headlines yesterday once again pointed to a rebounding economy. New applications for unemployment hit a 4-year low. Also, the DNC released a new ad, which you can view at the 1:15 mark, highlighting the diverging ideologies between the Obama administration’s decision to save the auto industry and Mitt Romney’s 2008 Op-Ed “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt”. The bailout was unequivocally a successful administrative decision for President Obama, and coupling this with the rate for unemployment applications falling, and last week’s news that the overall unemployment rate has fallen to 8.3 percent, we have public opinion of the President quickly on the rise. 44% of Americans, according to a Pew Research Center poll believe economic conditions will be better in 2013 than this year. This coincides with a CNN poll yesterday showing the President’s approval rating is back to 50% for the first time in 8 months. The administration, and the Obama re-election campaign, have really begun hammering home the jobs numbers, focusing not on the unemployment rate so much, as that number is still unfortunately high, but rightly talking about how bad things were when Obama came into office (750,000 jobs hemorrhaging from the economy per month) to how his policies have vastly turned this country around (250,000 jobs added in January; a 1 million point swing) and have created the most manufacturing jobs since the 1990’s.

Switching over, AmericanLP discusses the latest from the GOP presidential campaign. Mitt Romney, on the verge of losing his front runner status in some polls, gave a speech Thursday in which he addressed the concerns of entrepreneurs looking for funding to start their own business. In a swipe at the Solyndra controversy, Romney excoriated the benefits of government funding a start-up business and instead suggested entrepreneurs should apply to venture capitalists, angels, or their parents for funding. A statement such as this is on par with Romney’s “$10,000 bet” and once again reinforces the notion that Romney is so fiscally out-of-touch with the general American public (the average salary for Americans is $26,000/year; Romney makes $57,000/day) that it’s hard to fathom how he’ll win the nomination. Romney was born to the kind of wealth where if he wanted to start his own company, he could go to his parents for the capital to get the project off the ground. However, most Americans cannot. Most Americans struggle to pay their own bills, and many are helping their parents through retirement after the recession. It seems every time Romney opens his mouth, he further ostracizes himself from the general American public. Maybe that’s why he chose to drop out of the CNN Georgia debate scheduled in a couple weeks. Rick Santorum also declined the invitation; his motivations for doing so are less clear. With less money and generally one of the candidates who performs well in these debates, it doesn’t really play to Santorum’s strengths not to participate. But Santorum was not immune to the ‘tax return release’ scrutiny either. Santorum released 4 years of his tax returns and they paint a startling contrast to much of what Santorum has been saying on the campaign trail. Posturing himself as a threat to big government, Santorum has actually made $3.6M in lobbying fees since losing his re-election bid for the U.S. Senate. Try as he might, Santorum seems just as much a “Washington Insider” as Newt Gingrich.

                A new segment on AmericanLP, “News From The 14th Century,” highlights the ridiculous spectacle yesterday from Congress where Darrell Issa barred a woman from testifying on a birth control hearing in response to the contraception controversy. Republicans, for all their talk of individual freedom, want to deny women access to birth control, even though 98% of Catholic women say they have used some form of contraceptive in their life. Issa, instead of allowing one woman to testify, decided to fill the panel with men and priests. Clearly, they’ll have a deeper understanding of contraception than any woman might…

These are just a few of the highlights from this morning’s briefing. Watch the whole video for more news in politics from around the country. ~ Jason Owen with TJ Walker

 

 

Romney's Sunshine State "Lead"

Can't find an average putting Romney at less than +6% over Gingrich, some have him at +12% so it looks like this one is down to how big/little the lead.  Big lead, Romney might have leverage to at least get the headlines about him more than his oppenents with nothing to lose, at least ask nicely for them to step aside.  Smaller lead, we still have a game here at least as far as headline chasers are concerned.  Either way Gingrich and Santorum have little reason not to drag this out, but their credibility in doing so may evaporate tonight.  What's amazing is how much it's costing "Mr. Most Electable" (?) and SuperPAC friends, how much energy the campaign is having to expend just to stay ahead of Newt Gingrich.  NewtGingrich.  Romney's not connecting. 

While you're waiting for polls to close:

Gallup sizes up 6 months polling and finds swing state registered voters evenly split in an Obama/Romney matchup.

Also: Ron Paul.

FiveThirtyEight: Romney still vulnerable.

Historic partisan love/hate for Obama.

Romney the chameleon may be what's holding back the Newt.  He's the closest candidate GOP voters have to "generic Republican" in a suit and tie.

Finally, not a poll, just cool: Physicists publish The Theory of F#@!ing Everything.

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