Saturday, May 14, 2011

Roundup of some PPP polls without Huckabee and Palin

Mike Huckabee tonight has announced he will not run for the 2012 Republican nomination. And while Sarah Palin has not announced she will not, almost all indications point to her staying out of the race.

Thus, I will re-post some polls that Public Policy Polling (PPP) has conducted the past couple of months that did not include the two former Governors:

An early April poll of Florida:
Gingrich: 30%
Mitt Romney: 28%
Michelle Bachmann: 11%
Tim Pawlenty: 10%
Ron Paul: 9%
A mid-April poll of Iowa (in which Donald Trump was also not included):
Romney: 28%
Gingrich: 19%
Paul: 16%
Bachmann: 15%
A mid-March nationwide GOP poll:
Gingrich and Romney: 24%
Paul: 12%
Pawlenty: 6%
Haley Barbour and Rick Santorum 5%
May 10 nationwide GOP poll:
Romney: 28%
Gingrich: 26%
Paul: 12%
Bachmann: 11%

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Iowa Republican touts Newt's latest hires: "exceptional" and "impressive"

Earlier today, Newt rolled out his latest hires in the state that will hold the first nominating contest.

Of Katie Koberg, who was the Vice President of a Iowan fiscal conservative think tank until recently, Craig Robinson of The Iowa Republican said:
Koberg is an exceptional hire for Gingrich. With so many of Iowa’s political operatives now working in state government since the state has a Republican governor for the first time in over a decade, there are not that many operatives with a resume like Koberg’s out there for presidential candidates to choose from.

Over a span of almost six years, Koberg has developed contacts and relationships with legislative candidates across the state through here work at Iowans for Tax Relief. Those relationships, and her knowledge of the political landscape across the state, will be an asset for the Gingrich campaign.
Robinson had the following to say about Iowa House Speaker Pro Tempore Jeff Kaufmann:
Gingrich also announced that Rep. Jeff Kaufmann will serve as his senior policy advisor on Iowa related issues such as rural economies, agriculture and energy. Kaufmann is another impressive addition to Gingrich’s Iowa team. Kaufmann has a large following in eastern Iowa and was a huge asset to the campaigns of Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Terry Branstad.

Video of Newt's speech in front of the Georgia GOP


Newt's first official speech -- at the Georgia Republican convention -- as a Presidential candidate.

Gingrich's spokesman, Rick Tyler, posted this picture from Fincher's BBQ in Macon, Georgia:

(I apologize for not posting the last couple of days, but Blogger has been down.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Video of Newt's interview tonight with Sean Hannity

More on Newt's strategy; will compete everywhere and for every voter

Jonathan Martin of Politico has some details about Newt's campaign strategy:
Unlike some of his likely rivals, who are looking to downplay or even flat out skip some states on the primary calendar, Gingrich is headed down a different path, a more traditional route in which he will compete aggressively across the early-state map and among all blocs within the party.


Gingrich officials say their effort will be bigger than any one state and look dramatically different than any other campaign.


Said another Gingrich adviser: “Newt’s a national candidate. He has a national brand. He’s a national leader.”


They want to use technology not only to engage their local supporters but to empower them.

“We want to invite people to participate and be a part of the campaign instead of just having some stale, boring ‘here’s where Newt is tomorrow,’” a Gingrich strategist said.

Though a historian by training, the former speaker has always been something of a futurist, fascinated by the latest technology and next trends on the horizon.

That’s partly why he’s signed up Carney and campaign manager Rob Johnson, both of whom were top advisers to Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Partly informed by social science experimentation in Perry’s 2006 reelection campaign, the governor’s 2010 campaign didn’t spend money on direct mail, paid phone calls, lawn signs or newspaper ads.

Gingrich won’t necessarily follow suit, but he emphatically says he wants to wage a different sort of campaign.


“Anyone right of center is a target,” [New Hampshire consultant Dave] Carney said, when asked who Gingrich’s voters are. “Serious candidates are going to have compete everywhere.”

He's in the race!

Newt will run a local and state-based campaign, not a top-down approach

Ralph Z. Hallow of The Washington Times has some new (as far as I know) info about how Newt's campaign will be structured:
Mr. Gingrich has recruited some of his party’s most sought-after campaign strategists and advisers and will conduct a unique 50-state “10th Amendment campaign” that throws out the old model of regional political directors. The campaign will rely instead, he said, on leadership and direction in each state from people who live in the state and understand the nuances of local politics.


The Gingrich national campaign will set up “a fairly large headquarters in Atlanta” and a “fairly small headquarters in Northern Virginia.”

Instead of the division of the country into geographic regions with regional political directors, the structure typically employed by presidential campaigns, the Gingrich organization will use what the candidate calls the “10th Amendment campaign.”

It’s a reference, he said, to the Constitution’s “federalist” amendment that reserves to the states and local governments all power not specifically granted to the federal government.

“Everything stays in the states, instead of someone from Washington telling the local people how to do the things that the local people know more about.

“We expect New Hampshirites to help carry New Hampshire, Iowans to do the same for Iowa, South Carolinians to do the job for their state, and so on,” Mr. Gingrich said.
Most of the following I have already wrote about, but it is worth mentioning again:
There has been a methodical buildup of the Gingrich operation over the past few months even as some political observers openly doubted he actually would take the presidential plunge.

Mr. Gingrich has recruited people considered to be at the top of the game in politics.

Linda Upmeyer, Iowa’s first female House majority leader, will be chairman of his organization in Iowa, which will be the first state to hold a presidential nomination caucus next year.

He has locked up the services of two other sought-after advisers to Texas Mr. Perry: Craig Schoenfeld, who ran George W. Bush’s fundraising organization in Iowa in 2004, and Dave Carney, the New Hampshire-based political consultant.

He also has recruited former Polk County, Iowa, co-chairman and experienced campaign operative Will Rogers.

Former South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson, considered one of the state’s most talented political operators, will run Mr. Gingrich’s operation there, he said.
The idea to avoid a top-down approach is exactly the right way to go. It is the idea behind the free-market: let a lot of different people try different approaches and then others can pick up on what works best. It is the same kind of campaign that Barack Obama ran. As well as, in many ways, the campaign that made Obama's possible: Howard Dean's in 2004. Both campaigns had competent leaders at the top, but they did not dictate to supporters how to go about advancing their candidate. (What is remarkable is that liberals can easily see the value of bottom-up approaches in campaigns, yet when it comes to economic matters, they are just interested in the top-down approach.

Newt calling it the 10th Amendment campaign is a great message due to the rising attention being paid to the last amendment of the Bill of Rights with the explosion of federal government reach into areas that had not before been under its' domain.

The entire electorate has not already locked in an opinion of Newt, as many suggest

One of the many bits of conventional wisdom surrounding the coverage of Newt Gingrich the past few months is that due to his high-profile Speakership from 1995-1998 and continuing to appear on Fox News for nearly the past decade, that everyone knows of him. And more importantly, everyone knows whether they will support him or not already. Thus, the argument goes, Newt has no room to grow.

Rich Galen, a Republican strategist who used to work for Newt, summed up this line of thinking by telling The Washington Post:
“Newt’s name ID is 130 (percent) so just about everyone who has ever even flipped by a cable news channel en route an NCIS rerun knows who (he) is, and has an opinion of him."
While Newt's name identification -- 80-85% -- is quite high, it is in line with the other GOP frontrunners: Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Mitt Romney. More importantly, in my opinion, is that it is a soft identification (some polls put the undecided about Newt number at nearly 40%). While Galen and others are right that most people know of him, how well do they know him? A recent CBS poll even had more Republican primary voters undecided about Newt than Huckabee.

It is easy for Beltway writers and political consultants to assume that everyone in the country follows politics as closely day-to-day as they do. The fact, of course, is most do not. So while most have heard of Gingrich, they may not have necessarily formed a solid opinion of him. In fact, as Matt Towery pointed out recently, nearly half of the public does not even know Newt was Speaker of the House. Some of that is the younger voters who were not old enough to remember obviously but that does not explain all of it.

But, according to Towery's data, when people are told of the numerous accomplishments during the time Newt was Speaker -- a balanced federal budget four years in a row for the first time in 70 years at the same time taxes were being cut, along with the only time an entitlement program (Welfare) has been significantly rolled back -- he shoots to the top of Republican voters' lists.

And while there were controversial parts of Newt's time as Speaker, a focus group of Frank Luntz's that I have discussed before shows that those low moments may not mean much at all:
Gingrich continues to enjoy a gut connection with Republican voters. Back in 2005, consultant Frank Luntz held focus groups in Iowa and New Hampshire on the Republican candidates. In a report published afterward, Luntz wrote, 'We were genuinely surprised by the strongly favorable reaction' to Gingrich's 'speeches and interviews.' According to Luntz, voters ignored, or in some cases forgot, the controversial nature of Gingrich's speakership. 'The words he spoke were like nothing they had heard from anyone else,' Luntz went on. 'While he didn't start either session with any measurable support, he ended both Iowa and New Hampshire sessions with the most new converts.' Out of office, Gingrich has remained largely insulated from the scandals and debacles of the Bush Republicans. In fact, the 2006 midterm election results could be viewed as confirmation of what Gingrich has been saying for some time: that the Republican party and broader conservative movement have lost their way, and the time has come for a rebirth of the reform impulse that in 1994 brought the GOP to congressional majority status for the first time in 40 years.
Earlier this year, Luntz did a focus group in Iowa in which he played clips of all the GOP contenders -- and Newt took the top spot.

Here is a partial video of the focus group:

All of which is to say that Newt has plenty of room to grow -- and he is already in good standing in polls. If he sticks to a few issues -- his record balancing the budget and the other policy wins as Speaker, jobs, energy, and security -- the public will rally to him.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Newt will hold a dozen events in Iowa next week

Carmen Cox of ABC has the following details of Newt's next week:
At 8 a.m. Friday in Washington at the Fairmont Hotel, he will give an economics speech sponsored by Laffer Associates -- as in Arthur Laffer, creator of the Laffer Curve and the godfather of supply side economics. On Friday night, Newt will give his first official campaign speech in Atlanta.

On Saturday, he'll be in Illinois to give the commencement speech at Ronald Reagan's alma mater, Eureka College. On Sunday, Gingrich will appear on Meet the Press.

Newt will then spend almost all of next week in Iowa -- a dozen campaign events spread out over Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. On Wednesday, he'll head across the border for an event in Minnesota.
The speech in front of Laffer's group is interesting. While it sounds like it isn't an official endorsement, it might be a sign that Laffer -- and other supply-siders -- are not too crazy about the other candidates. CNBC host Larry Kudlow, another influential supply-sider, recently had Newt on his TV and radio shows as well as participated in an American Solutions workshop in 2008.

Cox continues:
Gingrich's campaign organization has already started to take shape. He's already secured space for his campaign headquarters in Atlanta and will soon have a campaign office opening in northern Virginia. And he's hired a campaign manager: 36-year-old Rob Johnson who, most recently, ran Governor Rick Perry's reelection campaign in Texas.

The former Speaker of the House will position himself as the experienced conservative: he's the only candidate who can say he personally fought for and delivered a balanced federal budget, tax cuts, and welfare reform -- all signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

"The response to inexperience should be experience," says Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler.

Newt to announce tomorrow on Facebook and Twitter. Interviewed at 9 ET by Sean Hannity on Fox News.

Newt will officially enter the 2012 Republican Presidential Primary tomorrow when he announces on Facebook and Twitter.

His first interview as a Presidential candidate will be on "Hannity" on Fox News. Gingrich's first speech as a candidate will be Friday in front of the Georgia Republican state convention.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Romney blaming Iowa and South Carolina problem on religion?

I have written previously about the apparent strategy of Mitt Romney to not "play" in Iowa and South Carolina. Two recent columns -- one by Craig Robinson of the IowaRepublican and the other by Ben Smith of Politico -- discusses that strategy.

Robinson, in writing that the former Massachusetts Governor has not been in the Hawkeye State for 195 days, destroys that claim by Romney's camp and the mainstream media -- including Smith of Politico -- that Romney does not do well in conservative states because he belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints. If conservatives were such bigots -- to a religious group, by the way, that is one of the most conservative -- Robinson asks wouldn't have Orrin Hatch faced such criticism when he ran for President? And if Iowa Republicans were so opposed to Mormons, how could Matt Schultz have won a "contentious primary" against the Republican favored by the establishment in the 2010 race for Secretary of State? (Robinson does not mention him, but Jon Huntsman, who will likely be running for President this cycle, has not been dragged down by being a Mormon either.)

So, Robinson asks, maybe it's not Romney's religious faith but his record? His record of flip-flopping on abortion and marriage. His health care bill that is essentially the same as Obamacare. (Romney supporters who distinguish the two bills by saying one was a state and one was a federal statute miss the point of federalism. If government is controlling your life, it does not matter much if the bureau is located in your state capital or the nation's. Federalism is essentially a legal argument: the states have domain over certain issues and the federal government has domain over a few, which does not include forcing citizens to buy health insurance. That makes Obamacare unconstitutional -- on top of bad policy. Romneycare is not unconstitutional -- just terrible policy.)

Robinson quotes Chuck Lauder, a former Executive Director of the Republican Party of Iowa, saying: "The entire fiction [that Romney is being dragged down by his faith] is a twin of the same loser argument that to be opposed to Obamacare means you're a racist."

If Romney hopes to do better in Iowa and South Carolina, along with other states with large numbers of conservatives, he would be well served to not have his campaign hint that the only reason people could possibly have to oppose him is his religion.
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