1/07/2012

CRYSTAL BALL SEASON

Well, I'm back with another set of comments on politics. This is what happens when a fella like me has too much time on his hands due to convalescence, I'm afraid. Just to be clear, I'm feeling better, but when I'm really better, probably won't have time to blog. It's kind of like the guy who said he was "calling in well", and that you would know he was sick because he'd be back in the office, nursing what made him unwell in the first place.

In an earlier post, I had made a couple of predictions about the ever-entertaining GOP primary season under way....

1) A new pro-Santorum super PAC begins media buys highly critical of Romney in South Carolina.

I'm looking pretty good here. The Senator's main source of funding prior to last month was his own "leadership PAC", called America's Foundation. As of June, they had spent slightly more than half a million on Santorum's campaign, but during the buildup to the caucus Santorum's, um, sympathizers have quietly moved the major donors to a new super PAC called Red White and Blue Fund, which has ponied up for ads in South Carolina, while at the same time using an increasingly-popular accounting trick to delay revealing their donors list.

2) The conservative elites will go back to attempting to ignore Congressman Paul, because he doesn't need their money and isn't going anywhere.

This is very interesting, because all the candidates but Romney have suggested that Paul and his supporters need to be treated with respect. But the fallout from increased media scrutiny over Paul's fringe-feeding newsletters seems to have deprived him of his hoped-for bubble:


The blue bubble is Gov. Perry, who was undone by gaffes in public appearance that reflect a lack of preparation. The red bubble is the meteor named Herman Cain, who simply wasn't prepared to handle media scrutiny of his personal life. The green bubble is the reinvention of Newt Gingrich, who for nearly a month portrayed himself as a happy warrior and changed man, and the likely nominee. Super PAC money, mostly from Mitt Romney's, um, sympathizers, must have missed the memo, crushing Gingrich with a slew of negative (and to some degree misleading) ads.

Paul, with a solid Iowa operation, did go up a tad, but he never peaked the way the previous three "ABM's" launched, plateauing before the caucus, which allowed Sen. Santorum a means to seize what was essentially the best part of a three-way tie. There is no yellow bubble, and there's not going to be one. From this moment on, the story is going to be of three lines moving roughly in parallel: Romney, Santorum and Gingrich.

Interestingly enough, the independent or moderate-minded Republican who might've been intrigued by Paul seems to be shifting their attention to Huntsman, who has a make-or-break, all-or-nothing strategy in the Granite State. Whether it is the lack of coverage by conservative media, an endorsement by the Boston Globe, or just a juvenile episode is hard to say, but at this critical juncture the Paul and Huntsman campaigns have turned a lot of their attention towards sniping at one another, rather than attempting to make inroads against the front-runner (Gov. Romney).

3) All the major media will do their "Who is Rick Santorum, really?" story and for the most part, he will gain traction because he has a pitch that distinguishes himself from the rest of the GOP field, one that resonates with blue-collar voters without the populist rhetoric that alienates establishment Republicans.

The first half of that "prediction" is comically easy to demonstrate, I won't bore you with it. The second part is up in the air: so far Santorum hasn't gotten more press (mostly bad) for combative exchanges with college-age voters, most of whom are in school or who don't seem to be blue-collar in orientation. As with everything else in the next 48 hours, debate heroics (or the lack thereof) will probably determine who gets traction, and who fades.

As for my big prediction, that evangelicals are looking for a conservative they can back against Romney, at least one of the heavy hitters I alluded to earlier (Gary Bauer), just came out with an endorsement of Santorum, less than 24 hours after being quoted as being opposed to any conclave to diss Romney. If it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck.....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

nice opinion.. thanks for sharing...