Newt Gingrich will be the Nominee of the Grand Old Party. I can’t be the only one who senses that we conservatives have finally given up our infatuation with Ronald Reagan in a skirt, our Cowboy romantic fantasies and a Democrat-demographic crushing Cover-Grail and settled for the Gingrich Next Door. Let’s quickly look at what polling reinforces this conclusion and second, what we have learned as conservatives in the process.
WHY NEWT WILL BE THE NOMINEE
1. No Surprises. No one (outside of Texans) had ever heard a Rick Perry speech – let alone a debate until after the Iowa caucuses in July. Many of these candidates were – to us - like that cool cell phone we think we’ll like, until we find out the battery life is measured in terms of minutes rather than days. Show me the next phone. Cain had scandals and Bachmann was the unfortunate victim of a Perry false promise. We already KNOW Newt. As Charles Hurt says, Gingrich HAS been vetted and his dirty laundry is well known, rewashed and folded. Gloria Allred won’t get any clients or airtime. Every other candidate who fell, did so because of an education process by the base, and the thrill of a new scandal treasure hunt by the media. Candidates rise in the polls ONLY because we either think they can beat Obama, or firmly govern from unwavering conservative policies. There will be nothing new in Newt that will change EITHER of these, baring a health problem or sudden entrance of Sarah Palin.
2. Intensity. Gallup released their “positive intensity” poll showing the former Speaker the ONLY GOP candidate in double digits (20) with a double digit lead (11) over Romney at 9. Back in July/August he hovered in low single digits while we flirted with Michelle and Rick (and leaving our dance card open for Sarah.) Notice however all other candidates intensity except Cain never truly rose from their initial introduction to the base. It’s like dating. People can not hide who they truly are for long. Whether it is 3 dates or 3 months, at some point you feel hope, horror or hopeless indifference at the prospect of a long term relationship. Gingrich is not only consistently rising since we first saw all the candidates on display in Iowa side-by-side for the first time, ALL other candidate interest is falling – not even maintaining a plateau. And unlike others who fell as new ones rose – Gingrich has risen WHILE all others were rising. I suspect Bachmann is the only person who we haven’t gotten a fair shot to “know” yet, but it looks like the Newt momentum won’t give her another chance.
3. Anti-Romney Trends. People who think the race has been chaotic only do so through a personality purview. The polls have been CONSISTENTLY 75% to 80% anti-Massachusetts Mitt nearly the entire year. Everyone else was trying different horses on the Merry-Go-Round but NEVER sat in that stupid bench they always stick in the middle. And it is interesting that the FIRST time Romney has had a significant fall in enthusiasm, is ONLY with the rise of Newt. I suspect this means that Newt is not only inheriting Cain supporters, but possibly those attracted to the “articulate politician with government experience” type. While many of us are sick of politicians in general – Hurt highlights the fact that Newt never really was part of the GOP establishment but certainly has a “experience” to appeal to shoppers concerned about a government inner-workings newbie. Newt is unique in being RINO friendly without seeming like a total sellout. The establishment crowd who always want a Harvard Political Science major – can actually settle for Newt, much more than a Tea Partier could toast the Mitch Daniels or Chris Christies.
4. Newt Friendly Primary Calendar. We have suspected Romney would do better in blue, northern primary states and tea party supported candidates would dominate the South. The GOP has many more “winner take all” primaries AFTER APRIL, but at the moment, Gingrich stands to do exceedingly well in the first 5 primaries. Romney wrote off Iowa long ago and Gingrich has a commanding lead there. New Hampshire, a supposed “gimmie” for Mitt has been narrowed to only a 10 point lead, AND DELEGATES WILL BE APPORTIONED relative to the vote. It’s not a winner take all. I don’t know how important the New Hampshire Union Leader endorsement has been in the past, but it should be noted the narrowing NH margin happened BEFORE that announcement. Gingrich doesn’t need to place first to take a commanding delegate lead with Iowa, a healthy 2nd place in New Hampshire and cleaning up in South Carolina where he leads by 20 points. If New Hampshire Nods to Newt over Mitt – it is highly unlikely Florida would be enough to save Mitt perhaps repeating the 2008 scenario where McCain forced Romney out by Super Tuesday building an insurmountable lead. Romney's New Hampshire lead reversely correlated to Michelle Bachmann’s strength although you will notice a dip with the rise of Newt below:
While Romney has dropped from 42 to 34 while loosing ground to Newt in New Hampshire the past three weeks, Florida shows similar patterns to the national polls. Romney’s high was 33 and is down to 21 (depending upon which poll you believe.) The last poll was early November when Cain was up by 6. If Florida indeed tracks closely to the national polls, it is quite likely that Gingrich could have a commanding 10 point lead there also by the first of the year. (Again – look at the almost exact reverse mirror movements of Bachmann’s campaign with Romney.) UPDATE: Poll released overnight has Gingrich at 41, Romney 17, Cain 13 in Florida. Damn PolitiJim is Good!
The takeaway here is that Florida is not only winnable for Newt, but even if he looses and ALL the delegates go to Romney he would only be slightly behind in cumulative delegates with Colorado/Maine/Minnesota/Nevada one week later where Newt seems to have a fair shot to make up the difference. Southern-loaded Super Tuesday (26% of all national delegates) is a month later and states like Texas are winner take all affairs. (Indispensible primary delegate calendar, rules and tally here.)
I know Mitt has money and can run a million ads to try and skew current numbers, but it seems improbable that he would win Florida where Cain (whose voters and momentum Newt should inherit) has held a 6 point lead.
So I conclude that none of the other candidates have any basis for a resurgence either from some new glorious reason (like a 999 plan) to vote FOR them, or a terrible revelation against Newt. He has spent his last 20 years heavily working in the family values worlds writing books and producing movies like why GOD needs to be in America and American history. The Freddie Mac stuff has been proven to be likely exactly what Newt said. I don’t see how Newt can loose this lead.
LESSONS LEARNED FOR THE CONSERVATIVE
With the massive moves of Perry, Bachmann and Cain, the fake outs by Palin, Ryan and Christie, we should have learned something in this process and I’ll take my shot at it. Just three (of 100) points in no particular order:
1. Not all conservatives are conservative. Ann Coulter wanted to push a pro-amnesty, pro-global warming anti-2nd Amendment candidate because he she had a fantasy cage match with Obama and SEIU dancing in her head. Romney (or anyone for that matter) can claim they are conservative because of one position which may or may not be a position they held 10 years ago. It’s great that our side likes the term unlike Democrats who reenact Usain Bolt’s 100 meter dash World Record in running away from the label “liberal.” But there ought to be a blood test or something so we know who and what we are dealing with in the media or among ourselves.
2. We have some stupid conservatives. No seriously. Every candidate has weird followers and Cain, Palin, Paul and Perry each had a small minority that were so mesmerized by theirs, peyote would have helped them see clearer. Confirmation Bias and Information Cascade will corrupt the most sincere “smaller government” advocates who are too quick to believe everything their candidate or favorite conservative talk show host tell them. There is a LOT of information, so independent research on EVERY issue isn’t always possible. But jumping to conclusions about past positions, proclamations or personal matters injure more than just your ego when you turn out to be wrong. Examples? Palin was right on death panels, PolitiJim was right in arguing against the debt ceiling (Boehner Bill 2.0) compromise and Erick Erickson was wrong on pushing Perry and dismissing early polling of Cain with great condescension. (As I’ve admitted before even I was wrong once….when I thought I was wrong once.)
3. We HAVE to keep respectfully challenging each other. And especially our candidates. I’ve been physically sick at the personal attacks on each other, but very heartened by many who showed humility when they turned out to be wrong. We are all learning and will need these bonds to fight Obama and the liberal plague that isn’t just a problem at the Federal level, but especially our state and local battles. The Perry or Palin supporter you alienate today, could have been your greatest help on a school board fight and probably agree with you on 99% of the OTHER issues. It is a challenge to simultaneously be patient and intellectually open to another’s position, while simultaneously challenging assumptions in a respectful manner. ESPECIALLY when your opposition is acting less than mature.
One quick example was Cain’s 9-9-9 unfairly slammed by people just because it wasn’t THEIR candidate. 99 percent of those arguing on twitter didn’t know a flat tax from a fair tax (or which Cain’s was) let alone just READ the entire thing and wait for opinions to settle. Some acted like Cain had proposed Sharia law and others like it was the NEXT Ten Commandments. Arthur Laffer, Cato Institute, Heritage and others quickly affirmed it was the single biggest step toward conservative ideals any major candidate has ever proposed since Reagan. Others still foolishly argued that the sales tax could be raised ignoring the EXACT same problem with ANY plan with ANY number. In the end, it moved the debate forward, taught us all (hopefully) a lot about what these things should and should not accomplish and hopefully the best parts will championed by us all and adopted by our nominee.
4. Honesty Must Be Paramount. My most popular posts so far this primary season seem to have been calling out media and conservatives. I am NOT being disrespectful to the office by saying that the current occupant is a lying scumbag who intentional deceives even his own party to further a malicious philosophy intent on destroying the foundations of this country. Obama IS a Marxist and surrounds himself with such. He lied to get into office and continues to strategically lie and obfuscate though his Wizard of Oz curtain is more transparent by the minute. And we despise those who don’t question what he says or what he is doing (or has done) all the while ferociously defending him. Then when truth comes out and is obvious to all they ignore it, change the subject or even attack those who brought it to light. It is the core of Rules for Radicals originally dedicated to Lucifer (yes that one) by Saul Alinsky. And some of our people – so called conservatives – have done the same thing bringing disgrace to the conservative cause. Not only do we need to require honesty from our opponents, but also from our leaders. And not just from our leaders – from ourselves.
And these points are critical because we have a battle ahead. Some of you are still hanging on to your Train or hope of an Alaskan grizzly resurging and that’s fine. But if I’m right (and I am of course), we might only get one chance at a neighbor, co-worker, friend or family member.
I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve met that want NOTHING to do with Christianity, because of an experience with a bad Christian. Going forward we will bleed in battle and have a riot (both literal and figurative most likely.) But we have to become better people to win the war of ideas. We aren’t Muslims (the vast majority of us at least) so we don’t read a holy book that commands submission through force. And I don’t know about you but I’m much more willing to listen to ideas from someone who is respectful and gives me respect than a dismissive arrogant blowhard. And if I listen – I certainly have a better chance of learning. I hope we all are.