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News from the Votemaster

Romney Set to Win Big in Florida     Permalink

The (Republican) empire strikes back. The Republican establishment, shocked after Newt Gingrich's win in South Carolina, put everything it had into defeating Gingrich in Florida. It appears to have worked. There have been an endless series of polls there in the past few days and Romney has clearly retaken the lead by about 8-10%. Anything less than a Romney win in or close to double digits would be seen as an upset.

For a brief while after the South Carolina primary, Gingrich was ahead, but the massive Romney attack machine, which outspent Gingrich by millions of dollars, coupled with numerous endorsements from Republican leaders, have put Romney safely back in the lead. Gingrich, almost conceding defeat today, has vowed to continue fighting until the convention. But candidates on the verge of a big loss always say that to avoid making the loss even bigger. In actuality, candidates don't drop out because they are losing in the polls or losing actual primaries. They drop out because campaigns have become unbearably expensive and they are out of money. But Gingrich is a special case. He really hates Romney on account of the withering attacks he received from Romney-allied superPACs in Iowa and might go on longer than usual just to annoy Romney.

Santorum Faces Easy Choice Tomorrow     Permalink

Politicians are always talking about how they are the ones to make tough choices, but tomorrow Rick Santorum has to make an easy choice. His 3-year-old daughter, Bella, was hospitalized with pneumonia last week, but her underlying disease, trisomy 18, is nearly always fatal. Only 8% of babies with it make it to their first birthday, so Bella has already had a long life for someone with her condition. Santorum has made "family" the cornerstone of his campaign. Tomorrow, after an expected dismal showing in Florida, he will have to decide whether to continue his pointless campaign or stop it, to, in those famous words "spend more time with my family." In Santorum's case, a decision to drop out tomorrow to spend more time with his family would actually be true and would be a very graceful way out. When the history of Campaign 2012 is written, it would then be said he dropped out because he felt his daughter's life was more important than his political aspirations. That sounds much better than "he dropped out because he had no money and the voters didn't like him." The real test of ambition vs. family comes when a candidate who is leading is faced with a family crisis. For example, Mitt Romney's wife, Ann Romney, has multiple sclerosis. Suppose, heaven forbid, her condition were to suddenly deteriorate very badly. Would he drop his presidential quest to take care of her or would he hire a room full of nurses? Who knows? But, hopefully, her condition will remain stable and he will not face such an agonizing choice.

If Santorum drops out tomorrow or within a few days, this will surely encourage Gingrich to stay in and make it a one-on-one race against Romney for that piece of the Republican world not part of Ron Paul's private universe. If most of Santorum's supporters go to Gingrich, he could probably survive for a little while, but if they are torn between their hearts (Gingrich is the only conservative) and their minds (Romney is going to win no matter what), it might not help him much.

Prediction: Florida Will Win Today     Permalink

No matter which candidate wins the Florida primary today, the real winner will be the state of Florida itself. It broke the Republican National Committee rules and moved its primary to January. Then to add insult to injury, it made the primary a winner-take-all event, something the RNC has forbidden states to do unless their primary or caucus is April 1 or later. What was the punishment? Florida's delegates to the convention were cut in half. But unless something even stranger than we have seen already happens, we are not going to have a brokered convention with multiple ballots in which every delegate matters. The bottom line is that Florida unilaterally made itself the focal point of the campaign, brought in lots of money and attention, and got away with it unharmed. Needless to say, every other state except Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina is going to think about doing the same thing in 2016. The Iowa caucuses could be on Halloween 2015 in the next cycle, in part to stay ahead of everyone else and in part because their predictive value is going to take a big hit after Santorum's win this year.

Virtually everyone agrees that the method the United States uses to pick presidential candidates is completely nutty, but (1) there is no agreement on what could replace the system and (2) the states are all competing with each other to go as close to the start as possible. One proposal often floated is a series of regional primaries and caucuses, with, say, the Northeast voting in February, the South voting in March, the Midwest voting in April, and the West voting in May the first year. In the following cycle, the South would go first and the Northeast would go last, so over time each region would get a shot at going first. That could be combined with allowing the four traditionally early states (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada) to vote in January. The one plus of letting these small, unrepresentative states go first is that candidates without a lot of money (like Rick Santorum) can still make a go of it by moving to Iowa or New Hampshire for a year. If the first voting event required campaigning in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland, only very well-financed candidates could possibly compete.

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Previous headlines

Jan27 Romney Takes Off the Gloves in Final Florida Debate
Jan27 Romney Failed to List Foreign Investments on Legal Form
Jan25 Obama Lays Groundwork for a Populist Campaign in State-of-the-Union Speech
Jan24 Romney Releases 2010 Tax Return
Jan24 Role Reversal in the Debate: Romney Attacks, Gingrich Plays Defense
Jan24 Fred Thompson Endorses Newt Gingrich
Jan22 Gingrich Crushes Romney in South Carolina
Jan20 Perry Drops Out and Endorses Gingrich
Jan20 Gingrich Surging in South Carolina
Jan20 Gingrich's Second Wife Attacks Him
Jan20 Romney Loses His Win in Iowa
Jan20 Romney Reported to Have Millions of Dollars in the Cayman Islands
Jan20 The Final Four Take Off the Gloves in the Last Debate before the South Carolina Primary
Jan17 Hard-Hitting Debate in South Carolina Changes Nothing
Jan16 Huntsman Expected to Drop Out Today and Endorse Romney
Jan16 Why is the Republican Field So Weak?
Jan16 South Carolina Debate Tonight
Jan15 Social Conservatives Agree to Back Santorum
Jan13 Eleventh Commandment Repealed
Jan11 NH: Romney 39%, Paul 23%, Huntsman 17%, Gingrich 9%, Santorum 9%
Jan11 Charlie Cook: Redistricting is Politically Neutral
Jan10 Romney Leads Going into the New Hampshire Primary Today
Jan10 Gingrich Goes Negative in South Carolina
Jan08 Romney Survives Debate Unscathed
Jan08 Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it
Jan05 Bachmann Drops Out
Jan05 Perry Hesitates, but Stays In
Jan05 Movement Conservatives Attempt to Find a Consensus Candidate
Jan04 Iowa: Romney 24.6%, Santorum 24.6%, Paul 21.4%, Gingrich 13.3%
Jan03 All Eyes on Iowa Today
Jan03 The Horse Race as a Horse Race
Jan01 Happy New Presidential Election Year
Jan01 Iowa Caucuses Are This Tuesday
Jan01 Final Selzer Poll: Romney and Paul on top but Santorum Rising
Dec16 No Fireworks in Final GOP Debate
Dec11 Romney Offers Perry a $10,000 Bet During Debate
Dec11 Where is Sarah Palin?
Dec11 The 2012 Contest: Whole Foods Clients vs. Cracker Barrel Shoppers
Dec07 Gingrich Way Ahead in Iowa
Dec07 Obama Gives Fiery Speech Attacking the Republicans

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