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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Ladies and Gentlemen ~ The Surge Is On

Last week Public Policy Polling teased their latest polling by tweeting that Rick Santorum had taken the lead nationally.  Today that information was formally released.

Rick Santorum has opened up a wide lead in PPP’s newest national poll. He’s at 38% to 23% for Mitt Romney, 17% for Newt Gingrich, and 13% for Ron Paul.

38% doesn’t strike me as a ringing endorsement but it beats the other guys.  But what’s driving these numbers?  Is it simply Santorum’s rather surprising beat-down of his competition last Tuesday?

That’s just part of it.  The other part is that people don’t like Mitt Romney (or New Gingrich).

Republicans are significantly souring on both Romney and Gingrich. Romney’s favorability is barely above water at 44/43, representing a 23 point net decline from our December national poll when he was +24 (55/31)

Newt’s numbers are even worse.  Meanwhile, people like (!) Rick Santorum by a margin of 64% – 22%.  For now, anyway.

So what does this mean for the GOP primary season?  Is Romney done as the frontrunner?  If so, for how long?  Can Santorum ride the momentum to a few more primary/caucus wins?

The Maine caucuses are today where Romney had a tough time at a townhall yesterday.  Then we have Arizona and Michigan on February 28th.  Michigan isn’t a lock and Arizona seems it may just be nutty enough to go Santorum’s way.  March 3rd is Washington followed by … Super Tuesday with Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia (with only Romney and Paul on the ballot).  Seems like Santorum could do quite well in several of those states.  I would suppose Romney would win MA but has he pissed off enough Bay Staters to make it interesting?

Then we head to Kansas, Wyoming, US Virgin Islands and Guam.  Then Alabama, Hawaii, and Mississippi on March 13th.  That’s a month.  To my mind the calendar doesn’t make Romney’s run easy.  Perhaps his best states come in mid-April.  So, does this drag on for two more months?  Can Romney ever deliver some knock-out punch or will he limp to the convention?  Or, OMG, does Santorum actually have a chance?


  1. Shaun Appleby

    Romney narrowly edges Ron Paul in Maine caucuses:

    Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won the Maine GOP presidential caucuses on Saturday, winning a close contest, 39%-36%. Romney and Paul were the only two of the four major candidates to campaign in the state.

    Shannon Travis – Romney does campaign first as Paul hopes for first win in Maine CNN 11 Feb 12

    So Paul doubled his 2008 results and Romney survives another potential nose-rubbing.

  2. Shaun Appleby

    Doesn’t seem to take the Santorum threat seriously in his “memo to the Republican establishment:”

    Your latest nuisance comes in the form of an anti-contraception activist and 18-point loser, Rick Santorum. I’m not here to tell you how to do your job, but you ought to get your hands on a copy of Ricky boy’s book. He’s really hung up on birth control pills, huh? Not to mention, he seems to be pretty down on women having jobs outside of the home. That didn’t play out too well in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. I highly doubt that he will do well in Pontiac or Phoenix. Also, you should look into that little cyberschooling arrangement he pulled off. But I’ve said enough. I know you don’t need my help in disposing of this loser.

    James Carville – Carville: GOP, your real problem is Mitt CNN 11 Feb 12

    Of course, Carville has a clear mission to insure Romney fulfils his appointed role in Democratic election strategy and planning.  They must be worried Romney is too incompetent or timid to do his own opposition research.

  3. HappyinVT

    Sam Stein @samsteinhp

    Romney camp (somewhat inexplicably) sets bar high. senior aide tells harwood they have to win both Mich and AZ

    Hide tweet

    John Harwood @JohnJHarwood

    CPAC/Maine give Mitt psychological boost. But senior aide downplays significance, pointing to 2/28 MI, AZ contests: “We have to win both.”

  4. Shaun Appleby

    But I simply can’t resist this stuff.  Here’s my take at the moment:

    1. Firstly, Romney, while retaining resource advantages is clearly leading a troubled campaign.  It is difficult to see a path around him for anyone else but it is also hard now to see a path to the nomination which doesn’t leave him deeply wounded, in terms of policy and favourables, for the general election.  Especially if the economy continues to recover.  That was always a gamble.

    2. The establishment would do anything to prevent a Gingrich nomination and it’s worked but it has been a Pyrrhic victory for Romney’s perception in the electorate, both Republican and overall.  Santorum is a different case; it is hard to see Romney getting to his right and it is also difficult to imaging a negative campaign against him which didn’t further erode Romney’s favourables and/or alienate the Republican base from coalescing around his eventual candidacy.  At this point, if I were crunching Republican numbers I would be as worried about turnout as actually winning and starting to think defensively about congressional races.

    3. Sooner or later Republican strategists have a difficult choice, which may be slipping from their hands anyhow.  While Santorum has never been perceived as a winning general election candidate his position at the top of the ticket might have a beneficial effect on turnout compared to an increasingly weak Romney candidacy.  As early as it is if the status quo of economic improvement is sustained Romney’s poorly articulated strategy falls apart.  If Republican decision makers come to the conclusion they have lost the presidency already then perhaps a Santorum ticket is a better option for contesting down-ticket races in specific constituencies.  It would also tend to shake the Tea Party monkey off their backs in future contests, whereas a Romney defeat would potentially lead to a serious internal schism with frustrated movement conservatives.

    Everything could change tomorrow, but the upcoming contests will perhaps be watched very carefully on these points.  If Romney loses Michigan and/or Ohio it would seem time to consider a Plan B.

  5. HappyinVT

    they see Santurm up 10 – 15% unless something swings a lot tonight.  They do caution we’re just over two weeks from primary, though.

  6. Latest polls as of 2/13, Obama versus the GOP field:

    Romney vs. Obama Pew Research Obama 52, Romney 44 Obama +8

    Romney vs. Obama Rasmussen Reports Obama 48, Romney 42 Obama +6

    Santorum vs. Obama Pew Research Obama 53, Santorum 43 Obama +10

    Santorum vs. Obama Rasmussen Reports Obama 49, Santorum 41 Obama +8

    Gingrich vs. Obama Pew Research Obama 57, Gingrich 39 Obama +18

  7. fogiv

    for the last few days i’ve been feeling the urge to temper my certainty in the ‘inevitability’ of Mr. Momjean’s ascension.  even yogis think this guy has run out of positions, and the GOP body politic is rejecting him like a transplanted baboon heart.


    he’s in deep trouble.

  8. Shaun Appleby

    Santorum is leading Romney in Ohio and there are rumblings that Romney is running out of other peoples’ money; come to think of it his advertising buy in Michigan is a fraction of his astronomical spend in Florida.

    And Daily Kos does a fascinating analysis of his ‘electability’ contra the parade of not-Romneys we’ve seen over the whole course of the primary so far:

    Up until this point in the campaign, Mitt Romney could reliably claim that polls showed he was a better candidate to go up against President Obama than his Not Romney rivals. But according to some interesting numbers from Public Policy Polling’s Tom Jensen, that’s no longer true.

    According to Jensen, Mitt Romney’s electability advantage in PPP polling has disappeared in the wake of Rick Santorum’s surge. Before the surge, Romney consistently outperformed his leading Not Romney rival in a hypothetical contest against President Obama by 7 points in July, 6 points in August, 7 points in September, 6 points in October, 3 points in November and 7 points in December. But in PPP’s first post-surge poll, it’s Santorum who fares better against President Obama.

    Jed Lewison – Mitt Romney’s electability ‘advantage’ disappears+ Daily Kos 15 Feb 12

    More blood in the water.

  9. First four headline story links under “Latest News”:

       * GM posts biggest profit ever

       * Home building off to strong start

       * Big progress on payroll tax cut

       * Interracial marriage growing in U.S.

  10. Shaun Appleby

    Here are a couple of well informed pieces on current religious liberty and social values issues.  The first a reasoned, historical perspective on the Catholic bishops’ arguments regarding the contraception mandate:

    Catholics have long realized that their own grasp of certain things, especially sex, has a validity that is lost on the celibate male hierarchy. This is particularly true where celibacy is concerned.

    There was broad disagreement with Pius XI’s 1930 encyclical on the matter. Pope Paul VI set up a study group of loyal and devout Catholics, lay and clerical, to make recommendations. The group overwhelmingly voted to change the teaching of Pius XI. But cardinals in the Roman Curia convinced Paul that any change would suggest that the church’s teachings are not eternal (though Casti Connubii had not been declared infallible, by the papacy’s own standards).

    When Paul reaffirmed the ban on birth control in Humanae Vitae (1968) there was massive rejection of it. Some left the church. Some just ignored it. Paradoxically, the document formed to convey the idea that papal teaching is inerrant just convinced most people that it can be loony. The priest-sociologist Andrew Greeley said that Humanae Vitae did more damage to the papacy than any of the so-called “liberal” movements in Catholicism.

    Garry Wills – Contraception’s Con Men New York Review of Books 15 Feb 12

    The other is a classical analysis of Santorum’s 2005 book It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good tracing its religious doctrine and the underlying conflicts with Santorum’s other claimed antecedants, the founding principles of the United States:

    The logic of his argument should lead him to conclude that parents are not free to raise and educate their children in ways that undermine universal moral truths and socially essential virtues. He shrinks from this conclusion, I suspect, because he understands that his fellow citizens would never accept it. Yet, his premises point straight toward the ultimate concentration of state power we call theocracy. Nothing could be farther from the intention of the Framers in whose name Santorum claims to speak.

    William A. Galston – Scold War Washington Monthly December 2005

    The inevitable conclusion is that Santorum is a small-minded opportunist rigidly adhering to a pre-1968 vision of Catholicism and a fanciful, in fact surrealistic, perspective of the formative period and personalities of the early United States.  This is not a great thinker by any stretch and his “sincerity” seems mere reactionary stubbornness.

  11. Shaun Appleby

    Jonathan Chait has finally lost it completely:

    The unpredictable Republican presidential race has taken another surprising turn as recent numbers show Mongol warlord Genghis Khan seizing the lead in national polls of likely GOP primary voters. Benefiting from widespread doubts about Mitt Romney’s authenticity and ideological commitment, Genghis has changed the shape of the race by sounding sharp populist themes that resonate with supporters of the tea party. “Mitt Romney wants to manage Washington, D.C.,” he told an enthusiastic crowd in Scottsdale, Arizona. “I want to burn it to the ground, slay its inhabitants, and stack their skulls in pyramids reaching to the sky.”

    Jonathan Chait – Romney Straining to Get to the Right of Genghis Khan New York Magazine 16 Feb 12

    I have been wondering when the mental toll of reporting on the Republican nomination would take its first scalps.  Signs of delirium and babbling among other noted pundits, forced for months to seriously contemplate the freak show of Republican presidential politics, is increasingly evident.  The intellectual strain of considering any of these candidates as remotely suitable for any public position, never mind the highest office in the land, is an unforeseen but immediate occupational hazard for journalists and commentators nationwide.  

    It this a clever, and necessary, 11th-dimensional chess strategy by the GOP to incapacitate the rationalist media, and their readership, ahead of the general election?  Full story at seven…

  12. HappyinVT

    Mike DeWine, OH’s current AG and professional pol, is set to switch from Romney to Santorum.  This on the heels of polling showing Santorum up in the Buckeye State.

  13. Shaun Appleby

    Torquemada’s accusation of apostasy:

    Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator known for his social conservative views, said Obama’s agenda is based on “some phony theology. Not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology.”

    Steve Peoples – Rick Santorum questions Obama’s Christian values AP 18 Feb 12

    There you have it, the evangelical version of “religious liberty.”  So now Obama’s not a Christian?

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