Friday, December 30, 2011

New Hampshire and Beyond Notes

Just a few quick things, notes style, while waiting for tomorrow's DMR poll and then, well, finally, the Iowa Caucuses.

1. Remember about New Hampshire: very sudden swings are possible. Gary Hart went from nowhere to a New Hampshire win in eight days, and that was off of a relatively unimpressive second place finish. Nor should you assume that New Hampshire Republicans won't go for a social conservative; there are plenty of Republicans everywhere who support (national) mainstream conservatives.

2. On the other hand, assuming we're talking about Rick Santorum, we have no idea how he'll handle scaling up his campaign to a national level. Might go well; might not.

3. Santorum won't have ads up right away. Not a big deal; free media can swamp paid over the short term.

4. Although as I said earlier, there's still no guarantee that it's Santorum, not Rick Perry, who bounces. Outside possibility: they both do well enough in Iowa to survive. Even more outside possibility: Gingrich or Bachmann winds up surviving Iowa. Although, of course, they could stay in anyway, and they were never viable, so I'm not quite sure the right wording for that one.

5. Romney hasn't yet had to deal with a real blizzard of attacks against him. Could happen in South Carolina. It's possible it won't.

6. Beware anyone who trots out "never happened" claims -- such as the two reported here that winner in South Carolina is always the nominee and that no one has won South Carolina without first winning either Iowa or New Hampshire. Some of those rules of thumb are useful, but most aren't. Remember that there have only been a handful of GOP open-seat nomination contests since reform (1980, 1988, 1996, 2000, 2008), only a couple of those without a standout obvious candidate, and none all that similar to the structure of this one.

7. I'll repeat what I said over at Plum Line's possible that this thing is really over, and that the large number of Republican leaders who have held back are really in the bag for Romney and will declare after Iowa. It's also possible that they're hanging back because they're waiting until they know who the conservative alternative is. We don't know, but that's the biggest factor in whether we're heading for a Romney coronation or a tough fight that would start with a solid advantage for Romney, but would still be competitive.

OK, that's enough for now, I guess.


  1. 4. "stay relevant to the cable media".

    I think that's what you're going for, even if I can't phrase it as elegantly as you would manage?

    Me, I can't see Bachmann moving on from a single-digit, sixth-place finish in her birth state, as the polls appear to be pointing to at this time. Gingrich can keep his book tour rolling at least into March if he wants to, but a fifth-place Iowa finish doesn't leave room for much fundraising upside to wage an upper-tier campaign.

    If either of them can defy current polling, and remain relevant to the cable news shows (and so in the national discussion), I think that's the dividing line between being nominally part of the actual nomination race, and plowing forward on their boutique "business plan" campaign.

  2. Iowa didn't do much for Huckabee in NH. It did bring Buchanan a victory in the state... but Perry and Santorum really have no traction there. Perry is tied with Buddy Roemer and Santorum isn't doing much better.

    Ron Paul, on the other hand, seems to have settled into second place in NH. If Iowa ends up as a Paul v. Romney contest, Paul seems best poised for a Buchanan-type upset there.

  3. Beware anyone who trots out "never happened" claims

    You mean a claim like, a candidate with non-traditional credentials and experience winning the nomination has never happened?

  4. Yes, you should be careful about such claims. I've supported mine in several ways -- including evidence that no such candidate has come anywhere close to a nomination. And the process that makes it work -- which in fact we've all seen working in the cases of Bachmann, Cain, and Newt. So, yes, you should be careful of that sort of claim, but that doesn't mean that they're all wrong.


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