Saturday, April 2, 2011

Newt is getting good press in the early states. Is Romney's strategy of de-emphasizing the early states a fatal mistake?

Responding to some negative national stories being written about Newt, Matt Lewis of the Daily Caller reminds people that "[t]here won’t be a national primary election, but rather, a series of state elections." Which you would think that no one would need reminding of that after 2008 -- when Barack Obama was far behind in national polls even as he won Iowa in January. Only after Iowa did he become Hillary Clinton's equal in national polls. Plus, Newt is in much, much better shape nationally than Obama was at this point.

Lewis links to positive local news reports from Iowa, New Hampshire, Georgia, Massachusetts, Texas, North Carolina. (Yesterday, I quoted an article that South Carolina is not seeing much of the candidates yet.)

One from his speech in Salem, Massachusetts:
“From someone who usually but not always votes Democrat, I’ve never agreed with a Republican more than I have tonight,” said one man who stepped up to the microphone during the brief question and answer period at the end of the speech.
One from New Hampshire is especially encouraging due to the retail style of politics so important in that state as well as Iowa:
Francesca Marconi Fernald, owner of Geno’s, said Gingrich was approachable and easy to talk to about everything from small business to international issues.

“He listens to what you’re saying and he looks you in the eye when he talks to you,” she said.

Business matriarch and former Portsmouth city councilor and deputy mayor Evelyn Marconi was pleased to see Gingrich.

“I was impressed with him and I always have been,” she said.
The reason that only Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina (and, to a lesser extent, Nevada) matter at this point is that they are the only states in which most voters are paying close attention right now. And that's because those states will be casting meaningful votes -- votes that will propel the winners onward and kill the campaigns of the losers -- within nine months. Most other states will not be casting a meaningful vote until November 2012 due to their primaries being held after -- in all likelihood -- the nomination is secure.

This fact is why Mitt Romney's strategy of while not entirely sitting out the early contests, certainly not going all in on them, could be disastrous for the former Massachusetts governor. Romney has reportedly calculated that, much as in 2008, he will struggle in Iowa and South Carolina -- and so he hopes to build a large enough war chest to compete in the contests after the first four, when the other candidates could -- could -- be cash-strapped.

While he may not have a choice -- it is unlikely, no matter how much money and time he spends, that he will win either Iowa or South Carolina -- this strategy does not have much of a precedent of working. Rudy Giuliani tried this to some extent, using Florida as a firewall -- which is also a state Romney is banking on -- but the former New York City mayor was out of the news due to lackluster performances, and his lead in the Sunshine State evaporated.

Romney's camp points to Barack Obama winning the Democrat nomination in 2008 on the back of later wins in small states, piling up the delegates in Montana and similar states. This look at Obama's campaign misses one very important thing: Obama, above all, put everything into the first early contests.

Obama won Iowa, placed second in New Hampshire (after being way up in the polls after Iowa), and dominated in South Carolina. From there, he was able to use the money advantage he had over Clinton -- as well as his supporters in small states organizing on their own -- to pile up delegates in the later states. If he had ignored two of the first three, his candidacy would have been dead in the water.

If Romney is old news after South Carolina, his firewalls of Nevada and Florida may not be so sturdy, and money and volunteer offers may dry up. Much has been made of Romney, unlike any other candidate, being able to write himself a $50 million check. The importance of that, however, is unknown as he did just that in 2008 -- and it did little good for him.

Romney is banking on chaos -- say Gingrich and Barbour splitting Iowa and South Carolina with neither doing very well in New Hampshire, which is a must win for Romney. And a close win would likely not be enough; it would have to be overwhelming.

Like I said, Romney may not have another choice, but having to bank on winning the nomination while not focusing all of his energy on the early states is not a good position to be in.

No comments:

Post a Comment

This page is not affiliated with any political campaign or party.

  © Blogger template Webnolia by 2009

Back to TOP