Friday, March 02, 2012

Election 2012: Spring Is Coming

The second month of the 2012 Presidential primary season has drawn to a close, and we've narrowed it down to a four-man race on the Republican side. As much as everyone's saying that this primary is dragging on far longer than it should, I have to remind them of that one salient fact: This IS only the second full month of voting. Most states haven't even weighed in yet. Now, if we get into April and it's still a three- or four-man race, things could get ... interesting. I expect a bit of a down-select to happen come Super Tuesday. (As always, figures from, current as of Friday afternoon.)

The Year Of The Super-PAC: The various Super-PACs aren't a party per se, but they're having a huge effect on this campaign. It's difficult to over-state the effect that they're having this year. Without Super-PACs, Newt Gingrich would have sank without a trace months ago. Without Super-PACs, Rick Santorum might well have done likewise, or would at least be struggling for support. With Super-PACs, both candidates are struggling for the coveted "Not-Romney" spot ... and don't forget that Romney has that particular card up his sleeve, as well.

There are both good things and bad things associated with this. On the positive side, it's going to cause the campaign to go on longer than it might have otherwise. That's a good thing, because it gives the voting public more time to get to know these men, and to examine their strengths and weaknesses in some detail. But that also touches on a down side ... maybe the voters get to know them a little too well. The longer and more negative the campaign becomes, the farther to the right the candidate has to shift to win the nomination, and the harder it becomes to tack back to the center for the general election. That's going to be a hard pivot for the Republican nominee, whoever that ends up being. That's going to be more like a slight veer for the Democratic nominee, who will be ... well, let's just get on with it:

The Democrats: Yes, we all know it's over. It's just about official, now. Over here, Megan McArdle has an article about an upcoming Obama fundraiser. Said fundraiser's promotional e-mail has this picture as a logo:

That sure seems to settle it. Vegas seems to have caught up, giving Barack Obama a 96.7% chance of re-nomination, with only a handful (3.0%) of holdouts backing Hillary Clinton. And for the VP spot, Biden isn't quite getting that much love, with only an 91.0% chance. A full 10.0% are still betting on Hillary Clinton for VP, even though we all know that ain't gonna happen. Biden's on the campaign literature, people. It's a done deal. As I've said all along, unless one of them takes a ride on a tornado, it'll be Obama/Biden in November for the Democrats.

The Republicans: But on the other side of the aisle, the four-way knife-fight in a phone booth continues in full force. Only one man will be left standing, but he cannot fairly be said to have won, only to have lost less severely than his opponents. They're running to the right so fast, the winner will have a very hard time tacking back to the center for the general election.

Mitt Romney, 83.0%: Vegas still loves him, although he's got some hard sledding between here and the acceptance speech. And, some sources are hinting at money problems for the Romney campaign. It turns out that there's a disadvantage to hitting up the deep pockets first, for the maximum amount ... once they're tapped, they're tapped. If you draw less than the maximum from a broader pool, you can hit them up again later. Plus, as I've said before, Romney has a pair of serious problems that stand between him and the nomination. First, health care reform. I'm not saying Obama swiped his plan ... actually, I am. When someone does have a good idea, you should steal it shamelessly. The problem is, the GOP electorate remembers this, and will probably hold it against Romney to some extent. Also, there's the problem that a fair number of Southern Evangelicals aren't entirely convinced that Mormons are Christian. That will also come into play down South. Still, Romney still has money and organization, and those are two nice friends to have.

Rick Santorum, 6.1%: I was spectacularly wrong last time about Santorum's prospects. He has indeed found traction with the religious fundamentalist wing of the GOP, and is the current front-runner in the "Not-Romney" subclass of this year's Republican primary. He's not doing too badly on the fundraising front, either. As I mentioned above, if you collect smaller amounts from a larger donor pool, you can go back to that well again and again. That was a good strategy for Obama in 2008, and it's proving to be a good one for Santorum in 2012. The betting public isn't sold on his nomination prospects, but that could easily change with a strong showing down South. He could hit it big on Super Tuesday. If he does, then the fight could go all the way to the convention floor.

Newt Gingrich, 3.6%: While Romney has both money and organization, and while Santorum is finding lots of funding, Newt Gingrich has neither. His campaign has rather spectacularly deflated since his early surge. He's pinning his hopes on a big Super Tuesday showing, especially since his biggest base of support is in the South. But he's failed to get on several ballots, including Virginia's, so his organization's basic ineptitude is liable to do him in, if his mouth doesn't beat them to it. Right now, I'd lay odds that Gingrich punches out after Super Tuesday, but I'm not sure I'd put money on it.

Ron Paul, 2.3%: Now, I'd bet an arbitrarily large amount on Ron Paul's candidacy going all the way to the convention. Dr. Paul isn't leaving the race until they pry his candidacy from his cold, dead fingers. The thing I like about Ron Paul is that he's not running to the right like the other candidates. He's saying the same things he's said all along. There are plenty of reasons not to like him, but you know where he stands. He's stark staring blazing-midday-Sun-on-Mercury crazy, but at least he's dependably consistent about it. To an extent, I respect that.

And The Winner Is... As of Friday afternoon, they're giving the Democrats a 60.1% chance of keeping the White House, versus the Republican Party's 38.8% to take it away. If you can find someone willing to give you 3-2 odds, Obama/Biden for the win would be a good bet.

Remember, kids, vote early, and vote often!

1 comment:

Infidel753 said...

... maybe the voters get to know them a little too well. The longer and more negative the campaign becomes, the farther to the right the candidate has to shift to win the nomination, and the harder it becomes to tack back to the center for the general election.

In other words, they have to be so upfront about what they really are -- or at least what the party they represent, and whose votes they need, really is -- that it will be difficult for them to fool the general electorate about it later. That seems like a positive for the country, even if not for the candidates.