It’s very tempting to dismiss the Iowa caucuses as much ado about almost nothing: As Iowa goes, so goes . . . Iowa, and little more. But, despite its inherent myopia, the early part of the 2012 primary season has managed to be clarifying. Indeed, by combining the most recent survey evidence, we can learn a great deal about the state of the contemporary Republican Party. Put simply, its dominant concerns are economic—especially the federal budget deficit.
Having spent much of 2011 writing incessantly about the Republican presidential nominating contest, I’m simultaneously relieved and saddened by the impending end of the “invisible primary” and the beginning, with next Tuesday’s Iowa caucuses, of the actual voting.
So there’s no question that Romney is all-in now in Iowa. The Des Moines Register reports today that Romney will throw himself a caucus after-party in the state, then stick around to do a circuit of morning-after interviews. As First Read puts it: Folks, that is playing to win. Talk about confidence The safe move -- and the one that seemed telegraphed a few weeks ago -- would be to travel to the friendly confines of New Hampshire before or immediately after the caucuses, to downplay their importance and do the morning shows from Manchester, NH.
A new poll out from PPP gives some indications about where things are headed in the home stretch. Given that it's only one poll, and that the polling was done between the first and second nights after Christmas--and that it pours some water on my Gingrich uptick theory--I'm not going to interpret the results too literally. But they do offer some hints about what's going on. First, as on the Democratic side in 2008, it looks like turnout is going to tell us who'll win the caucuses well before the actual votes are tallied, at least if present trends continue.
The Republican field is crowded and fluid right now, but it won’t be for long. By January 11th, there will be at most three remaining contenders, and we’ll have a much clearer understanding of how the race will develop. There are seven candidates with a pulse, and only six of them—divided into two groups of three—are competing in Iowa. For two of the three denizens of the lower tier—Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum—failing to finish among the top three on January 3rd would spell the effective end of their candidacies.
For years, Ron Paul published a series of newsletters that dispensed political news and investment advice, but also routinely indulged in bigotry. Here's a selection of some especially inflammatory passages, with links to scanned images of the original documents in which they appeared. Race “A Special Issue on Racial Terrorism” analyzes the Los Angeles riots of 1992: “Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began. ... What if the checks had never arrived?
The 2012 “invisible primary” is looking likely to end just how and where it began: with Republican ideologues anxiously looking to Iowa for signs of an electable “true conservative” alternative to Mitt Romney. Depending on whom you ask, they have found no such candidate, or have found too many of them. In either case, despite their fevered hopes the First-in-the-Nation Caucus is not likely to play its intended role as an all-important arbiter where ideological squishes are disciplined or destroyed and the faithful find their champion.
Nearly four years ago, on the eve of the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary, The New Republic published my expose of newsletters published by Texas Congressman Ron Paul. The contents of these newsletters can best be described as appalling.
Newt Gingrich, facing plummeting poll numbers in Iowa, has turned to the only alternative cash-strapped candidates have: whining about their opponents’ negativity. Gingrich, master of the nasty political attack, is now complaining about the withering assaults on his own record, leveled mostly by Ron Paul and Mitt Romney (both of whom are beating him in the latest statewide polls).
In an invisible primary where it seems everyone other than Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum is fated to have his or her brief day in the sun, two new polls from Iowa show the indefatigable Ron Paul now leading the field among likely caucus-goers, with just two weeks left before actual voting occurs. The media, much to the consternation of fanatical Paulists, is already writing him off as another flash-in-the pan, his libertarianism too extreme to gain the support of moderate conservatives and too at odds with social conservatives to win over their vital support.