Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Whither Prince Herman's Supporters?

Oh, gosh, I haven't done a post about Prince Herman yet since the last round of good fun was had at his expense (that is, the accusation/revelation that he's had a long-term affair). And now he's threatening to drop out of the race...not that it matters, as his support has been collapsing even before this latest blow. I mean, matters to who will win; political junkies, of course, want him to stay in and continue to provide non-stop amusement. I understand he's giving a foreign policy address tonight -- with any luck, most of it will focus on Iranian mountains.

Ah, but to be sort of serious for a moment...there are basically two ideas that people have about this. The majority opinion is represented in this tweet from the pollsters at PPP (and see their post here):
Herman Cain's supporters love Newt Gingrich and HATE Mitt Romney...true in all 7 GOP polls we've done this month
While the minority opinion would go to a comment over at NRO from a Paul Zummo:
It will be amusing to witness the cognitive dissonance that takes place when Cain drops out and endorses Romney. I'm not sure whose heads will explode with the most force: Cainiacs or Romneybots.
I have no idea whether Cain will drop out this week, or after Iowa, or even after New Hampshire...but I'm with the minority opinion here: that sounds just about right to me. Sure, it's possible that Cain won't endorse the Mittster -- you can't predict individual actions of this sort -- but the pattern of endorsements so far has been very clear, and it hasn't slowed down or halted during Gingrich's surge. That makes me believe we're going to see more mainstream conservatives, and perhaps even some Tea Partiers, backing Romney. Including, I strongly suspect, some of the current candidates as they drop out.

As I've said before, I just don't see a solid, very large anti-Romney block of voters in the GOP. A faction, perhaps 20% or 25% tops, yes, but that's it. And it's clearly true that there's no great enthusiasm for Romney. But the same can be said of all the other candidates, none of whom has been able to approach 50%, either. And party actors have been very reluctant to line up for any of the surge candidates other than (while he was hot) Rick Perry. Which, again, makes me believe that if Perry (somehow) catches fire again he'll have a real shot at the nomination, but the other anti-Romneys just don't.


  1. but the pattern of endorsements so far has been very clear, and it hasn't slowed down or halted during Gingrich's surge.

    What about the Union-Leader endorsement?

  2. I'm unsure I'd go out on either limb.

    The Hermanator is kinda unpredictable. Honestly, I would not have predicted he'd drop out from this one. It's not like his harassment behaviors weren't ATTEMPTS at having affairs, so I just don't see how this one is worse. But, apparently, it is (maybe he knows the evidence is damning).

    So, I don't know that we can predict his behavior with any accuracy. However, IF we assume that he was only running for president to get the "black guy on Fox" gig, then it would seem to me that ideological purity would be required, and somebody like a Bachmann or Gingrich would be required. Yes, Fox is much more about the party than the ideology, but I think that Cain would need his bona fides with the base.

    The pattern of endorsements IS a Romney drumbeat, but those endorsing so far are actual party elites with enough experience to know a bandwagon when they see one. Cain is, well, not one of them. I don't think he's predictable. I don't think he endorses Rick "Niggerhead" Perry, nor goes off the reservation with Paul, but I have no confidence in my ability to predict his choice among his remaining choices (Romney, Gingrich, Bachmann--ruling out the non-factors Johnson, Huntsman, and Santorum).

  3. What's the Union Leader? That's possibly a pol junkie milestone, but I'd say totally invisible to the average voter, most of whom are not even watching yet the wonderful circus the Repubs have been providing the rest of us. As a lib,I'm rooting for Gingrich to triumph as he is about the most incompetent populist ("Elite" is stamped all over him) anti-Romney, and also, so much more apt to blow message discipline because of his enormous-even-for-a-politician ego. I think Obama will have a much tougher time against the more teflon-y Mittster.

  4. Andrew,

    Good point, but (if I may, JB), I think that the endorsements of politicians are a different beast from newspapers. The former have to worry about endorsing a losing horse; the latter don't. So, pols are much more prone to bandwagoning, which makes them a good indicator variable of likelihood of winning. It's not that endorsements CAUSE success so much as that winning candidates get endorsed by other pols.

    Plus, today, Romney picked up 3 of those pols, the 3 elected/recently elected Cuban MCs from Florida. So, even while Gingrich picked up a nice endorsement, Romney is still way out in front in the overall count, heck, even the count this week.

  5. Re: the Union Leader...generally, we don't have evidence that newspaper endorsements work the same as endorsements by high-visibility party actors; that is, they tell you mostly about what that particular newspaper thinks, not about what party actors think. That's certainly true of the UL's picks over time.

  6. Romney's candidacy becomes the vehicle for determining whether the Republican Party - and by extension an entire ideological superstructure and the state of relations it reflects - is in crisis. There is likewise inescapable evidence (the global economic conjuncture in all its dimensions, political paralysis afflicting the leading/hegemonic nation-state as reflected in unprecedented dissatisfaction with the system) that that may in fact be the case, but JB is right to be reluctant to assume that the process is at a truly decisive point - or that it is far enough along to have completely overturned the established bases of major party politics.

    In other words, Gingrich may imagine himself to be a world-historical figure, but he has yet to prove that he is a vehicle for significant historical change. If JB's analysis is correct, then a Gingrich victory could be taken as evidence that the center - as reflected in centrist political science - really is no longer holding.

  7. So you're saying that there is about 25% anti-Romney in the GOP primary electorate? With the 25% or so Romney consistently polls in that same group, I guess that leaves the decision with the 50% not committed one way or the other. Actually, counting Ron Paul's solid 15% - it's up to the remaining 35% to break the tie.

    There are many politicians starting to endorse Romney, but are there more than lined up now behind Mitt than there were lined up behind the "inevitable" Hillary Clinton at this point four years ago?

    I guess what I'm getting around to wondering, is what happens if Roger Ailes and/or Sarah Palin decide to back Newt? I think Rush has already declared against Romney (I know, as much as he was adamantly against McCain in the '08 primaries). They count as party actors too, don't they?

    (FWIW, there are two new NH polls out that show Gingrich cutting Romney's 30+ point lead there, one had Newt within about 20 points, another has it closer to 10 now.)

  8. Cain is going to call together a panel of experts to tell him who to endorse. I nominate Matt.

    Really though, I agree with Matt about Cain's unpredictability. He did have that love fest debate with Gingrich (billed as Lincoln-Douglas?!!!), but he might be angry that Newt's keeping his distance. What the heck--I predict he'll endorse Newt (as an ideas-man) or nobody until the thing is settled.

  9. I just don't see how Romney is so inevitable if he cannot get over 25% in the polls. He's been the front-runner for four years. Republican primary voters know who he is because he ran in 2008.

    If a Republican ain't for Romney now, I don't see how a flood of endorsements from establishment, pseudo-conservative, government-entrenched Republicans is going to budge him off that number.

    Put it another way: if you're a conservative, do you plug your nose and vote for a flawed conservative, or plug your nose and vote for Mitt Romney?

  10. Maybe endorsements are a lagging indicator. (Think Dems in '08).

    It's been my consistent & principled view that Mitt Romney is the front-runner and most likely nominee. But I'd be very hesitant to say, "oh, Romney's gotten more endorsements, therefore he's going to get more endorsements, from e.g. Herman Cain."

    Obviously, the GOP is not in love with their front-runner. So someone else could come in and take it. They're cursed with a gaggle of clowns as not-Romneys, each more unelectable than the last, because, as we all know, Republicans have no policy beliefs that can't fit on a bumper sticker. An unserious party produces unserious candidates. But some unserious candidate will be the nominee of the unserious party. I still think it'll be Mitt, on the theory that Newt will go they way of Trump, Cain, Perry, and Bachmann. But I could be wrong. The endorsement context might change.

  11. I just don't see a solid, very large anti-Romney block of voters in the GOP.


    No? I guess there's no gettin' through to the terminally perceptive. ;-)

    The anybody but Romney block is at 25% minimum. That's both solid and very large. Basically, it's the only consistent thing in this primary race, I'd say. It's a constant, seemingly the only one. Everything else has been a maelstrom, with only one common theme: Anybody But Romney. Volatility and carnage everywhere you look, but Romney's numbers don't budge, unless it's down.

    This guy is poised to lose the nomination to frickin NEWT GINGRICH. That should tell you all you need to know about his status. Pawlenty must be kicking himself right now. If only he'd waited out the Perry/Bachmann boomlets.

  12. I caught a clip of Pat Toomey on CNBC the other day, with raised eyebrows and incredulous gaze he was lamenting the failure of the supercommittee, and again and again he repeated the mantra that the Republicans were eager to make sweeping reforms to Medicare, but those damn obstructionist Demoncats...

    And you watch that show and think, really, Pat? You want to take significant chips away from your reliable elderly voters? Its easy enough to say so on CNBC, but in real Washington life, not so much.

    That vignette gets to the heart of why no genuine conservative wants to be President, why the primary is a circus of RINO Mitt and the clowns. People like Cain and Bachmann and Gingrich and Palin (if she were smarter) want to burnish their brands as supposedly-tough conservatives, to cash in on the residual benefits via Fox News and elsewhere, but they don't want to be President.

    Because as the message between the lines of Toomey's astonishment clearly reads, the only way to be a successful President in the early 21st century, is to make sure you keep right on giving people at least as much as the last guy.

    The only way to be a successful President is to be liberal.

    No respectable conservative wants any part of it.

  13. I very much liked ModeratePoli's line about experts. Nice.

    On the point about the size of the anti-Mitt bloc...I'm really not sure how large it is, but when I looked at the polls a while ago his unfavorables were at 20%, and 24% of those who knew who he was. My guess is that the anti-Mitt bloc is actually smaller than that, but I very much doubt it's much bigger, anyway. Would be nice to know how many Paul supporters are in that, wouldn't it?


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