Monday, November 05, 2007

GOP Primary analysis

So, where do I think things with the Republican nomination stand at this point? Well, I am going to give my analysis in terms of percentages, and they are bound to be a little non-conventional. Keep in ming that I am not necessarily expressing my preference, just the way I see things as of now. Here goes:

Mitt Romney- 50% chance to win the nomination. There are plenty of people that think this is insane, but I would argue that they are not paying close attention. Currently, Romney holds a very solid lead in Iowa (+13.5% RCP poll average), and a healthy lead in New Hampshire(+8% RCP average.) On top of that, he is running neck-and neck in Nevada, Michigan, and, surprisingly, South Carolina. That is the clincher that convinces me.

It just like in a close basketball game, you want the ball in your hands for the final play, and right now the ball is in Mitt’s hands. If he pulls his plan off, he has no need for luck, or for anybody else to slip up. He just needs to execute. Although this is by no means a guarantee for victory, it is the best position to be in.

It runs down like this:

On January 3rd it is almost a done deal that Iowa goes to Romney. A good showing, like is expected, will tip New Hampshire, where he already holds a lead, into his column (New Hampshire does not currently have a date set, but it must be the first primary in the nation by state law.) This likely provides a week of wall-to-wall Mittmania, especially if Hillary wins Iowa and New Hampshire, as Mitt will likely be viewed as an upset by those who haven’t been paying attention (which is most of America.) Most everybody paying casual attention would think that Rudy has this thing wrapped up, and two big Romney wins will be a surprise to them. I wouldn’t really expect the news media to try to tone things down with a “this was an expected outcome” storyline either. Surprise and upsets sell.

Fast forward to the 15th in Michigan. If Romney had to handpick a midwestern state, this would be it, as it is probably the only place outside of Utah where his family name holds any weight. Although, admittedly, most will be too young to remember his father, George, some still do, and it is an excellent starting point, along with the fact that he spent time growing up in Michigan. I find it hard to believe that a Mitt Romney, fresh off two important victories does not extend his current 5.2% RCP average poll lead over Rudy Giuliani to a victory.

At this point, there will only be three credible candidates, as all of the Tier two candidates will have been neutralized, and either McCain or Thompson will have been beaten bad enough to be marginalized (I think it will be Fred.) Next up is Nevada and South Carolina. Polls have been all over the place in Nevada, but I have to believe that a surging Romney takes Nevada as well.

South Carolina, however, is the linchpin. Should Romney take South Carolina, the nomination is his. I would argue this is true even should he win South Carolina, but drop any one of the previous states. The build up of momentum is designed for this outcome. Even as far as recently as last week, I thought South Carolina an impossibility. According the the RCP average, South Caorlina is a dead heat between Mitt, Rudy, and Fred with McCain not far behind. I would suspect that much of Fred’s support would melt to McCain, but there will be a chunk that would Move to Mitt, and due to Romney’s momentum he would pick up the plurality of undecideds.

Meanwhile, Giuliani will have been on a month long losing streak, often placing third or worse before Florida finally appears on the schedule. I don’t believe he survives this.

Keep in mind, however, that any state Mitt loses prior to Florida drops him 20% in his chances to receive the nomination. The effect is cumulative


John McCain- 10% chance to win the nomination. This will likely cause anger in some quarters, but it is actually a significant improvement over a couple of months ago, where I would have given him no chance at all. Quite frankly the Surge in Iraq strategy could not have realistically went better, and he rightfully has reaped much of the credit, giving him a second life. He should continue to reclaim much of the support that bled to Fred Thompson as McCain’s campaign floundered.

However, unless McCain ties his newfound energy into some very specific results, it will be for naught. It all comes down to New Hampshire. McCain must win here or he is done. Currently he is 12 to 13 percentage points behind Romney, but is within the margin of error with Rudy for second. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of Thompson support in New Hampshire to grab, so it will be an uphill climb. McCain does have considerable infrastructure in New Hampshire, moreso than Giuliani but less than Romney.

What McCain needs is for Huckabee to overperform in Iowa, either giving Romney a close race, or beating him outright. A weakened Romney would be ripe for a McCain upset in New Hampshire. McCain supporters should be hoping for a good couple months from Huckabee, especially as they would be prime candidates for defection to McCain in later rounds as Huckabee’s campaign begins to fizzle.

Should McCain win New Hampshire, Michigan and South Carolina become possibilities. If McCain can take these states, he is likely to unite those opposed to Giuliani which puts him in a very good position.


Rudy Giuliani- 40% chance to win the nomination. His pathway is quite simple. All he needs to have happen is for McCain and Romney’s plans to fail and he is the nominee. I would have rated his chances of success higher but for the notion that he has no way to proactively stop either candidate. His campaign infrastructure in the early states is rather weak and he seems to have placed all of his marbles in to Florida, which was a decent strategy assuming a split field with Romney, McCain, and Thompson offsetting each other in previous state wins. Should Romney or McCain dominate leading up to Florida, Rudy is likely to find himself in a spot of trouble, as his 10 percent lead in Florida would be susceptible to a surge, especially as other candidates fall away. He will have taken quite a beating from the media as well if he has not won any states prior to Florida as he is the presumed national front runner. Howard Dean was done with or without the scream, and Rudy would find himself in much the same position.

Any state that Rudy wins before Florida increases his odds of the nomination by 20% except Nevada which increases him 10%.

Fred Thompson- No chance for the nomination. This may seem harsh, but Fred is already losing ground to a much stronger McCain and holds no advantage in any early state. To top it off, his trend line is diving, and I can envision no scenario outside of another candidate withdrawing for health reasons or severe scandal that revives his campaign.

He peaked too early, and wasted too much time while other candidates built early state infrastructure. He has been outworked by every other candidate, up to and including Ron Paul.

Mike Huckabee- No chance for the nomination.
Should he close Romney’s lead in Iowa in any poll to less than 5%, I may revisit his chances. I’m still not sure that a even a win in Iowa catapults him enough down the road, although it could certainly doom Romney.


Ron Paul- No chance for the nomination. I think that he started from too far back to be in the running this time. He may be a serious player in 2012, especially if Hillary wins, and more especially if Iraq is neutralized as an issue by that time. Anybody who does not take the Paul phenomenon seriously is not paying attention, however. Today alone he has raised more than one million dollars. I suspect that Ron Paul will be a factor even after this election cycle is over.

26 comments:

thinkright said...

With all of the Primaries so early, I don't think early wins in Iowa or SC would propel Romney to a victory.

Things will be a different ballgame, The Super Duper Tuesday winner will be the nominee.
I see Rudy or a McCain. Romney's spent his way through a lot of cash with not much in the way of results nationally.

Don't get me wrong, I'll support whomever the nominee is...I think it will be Rudy, McCain, Huckabee & Romney in that order. Thompson just isn't resonating.

Framer said...

Thinkright,

There is no operating evidence of any sort to suggest that we can throw out the early primaries. Nothing in history suggests that we can do this, compressed or not. Of course Rudy is betting this way, and he is welcome to it, and it may work. He is, however, playing against the odds.

If Romney wins the first 5 states, he will be the nominee.

If McCain can win New Hampshire, Michigan, and South Carolina, or perhaps even two of the three he is in a good spot.

Huckabee has no chance of winning any state outside of Iowa, where he is a longshot.

In wanting to make this a national primary, you miss the fact that, by Florida, it will likely be a two person race. Rudy is polling well, well enough to probably win a plurality election. I believe all the signs to point to this not being the case as there will be Rudy and a not-Rudy, with everyone else fallen by the wayside.

I would really be interested in seeing you lay out the alternative scenarios and percentages. Especially the one that gives Huckabee the nomination. I just can't see it.

Anonymous said...

Framer, perhaps because you are a Romney supporter and fellow member of the Morman Church, you are not able to see clearly the issue that the majority of Americans have with having an LDS President.
Right, wrong, or fair- I recently heard a poll that indicated people would rather have a person of color or a woman as President than than a Morman. Not sure why Mormans get such a bad rap I have never met one I do not like..but they do get a strong viseral reaction from alot of Chrisitans

Framer said...

Anonymous,

I might have bought into anti-Mormon bias being a factor, but then why would Romney be tied or leading in South Carolina?

I believe the anti-Mormon thing to be completely overblown. People dislike Harry Reid because he is a jerk, not because he is a Mormon. In fact I hear very few mentions of Reid actually being a Mormon. Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan, and South Carolina are hardly hotbeds of Mormonism, yet Romney is doing very well in these states. Why is that?

I didn't outline what I want to happen, I outlined what I see happening. If someone has a different or better scenario, I'm open to hear it and could even be convinced.

Just think back to 2000. Had McCain beat Bush in South Carolina, he likely would have won the nomination although Bush had all the advantages in polling and money. Dean led in just about every state until Kerry upset him in Iowa. It was over before the scream. When looking for a President, people eschew weakness and losing, especially if they aren't invested in a candidate. Will the masses wait until Florida to get Rudy started? Possibly, but Rudy will want to derail Romney or McCain long before that if he can.

We will know for sure in just a couple of months.

As for what I want to see happen, I would like to see Glady Knight come from knowhere to be the first female, black, Mormon celebrity candiate to win the nomination. Then everybody could be happy.

Liza said...

Framer,
Ron Paul is already 72 years old, even older than McCain. I just don't think he'll be able to do much in 2012 at age 77.

He's turned out to be probably the most interesting of all the candidates, both Democratic and Republican. And you are absolutely right that he is not a flash in the pan. His popularity should be a major wake up call for the GOP.

Framer said...

Liza,

Paul wouldn't need to be a candidate to be a player. And his total of money raised just today is well past 3.3 million, about a million more than Huckabee has raised for the entire campaign. and about a quarter of Fred Thompson's entire haul so far.

That is in one day!

Tony GOPrano said...

If Romney is the GOP Nominee then H. Rotten Clinton will be the next President of the United States of America. God Help Us! Romney has purchased the Iowa vote. Look at the national polls. Romney is now A Distant 4th McCain or Giuliani will win!

x4mr said...

Interesting thread. Giuliani gets the nod against Hillary. Rom Paul cannot win, but he exposes factors the astute will observe.

Thompson, Huckabee, Romney, and McCain are DOA, each for different reasons.

Giuliani faces Clinton II. Minus the Eggplant, I would lean towards Rudy. However, the most disastrous WH in history, reminding voters of 1974, make for a repeat of 1976. I actually think this country will elect moldy cheese if it gets the D nod for president in 08.

thinkright said...

It clearly will be a different ballgame due to Super Duper Tuesday. If a candidate loses all of the early primaries, but shows well, they're still in it. I'd like to see some of the also rans drop out (Tancredo & Paul) & see where their support goes. But, I doubt they will, the huge field will be able to hold on another month & effect the results.

If you want me to forecast %. I'd say Rudy has 70%, McCain 25% & Romney 5%.
The others no chance.

Sirocco said...

I see a Clinton-Giuliani match-up looming as well, but I agree with Framer that a surprising show of strength by Romney in the early primaries could upset the apple cart.

I think his scenario is far more likely than _any_ scenario on the Dem side which has anyone but Clinton winning the nomination. Sigh.

Framer may be on to something regarding anti-Mormonism being overblown. After all, I don't despise Bush because he's Christian, but for a gamut of other reasons. On the other hand, I can't claim to be "in touch" with how conservative Christian voters make their decisions ... for all I know they all think Romney is on the fast-track to hell, and will refuse to vote for him.

I hope, if they refuse to vote for him, they come up with some better reason.

Framer said...

TR

So in less than 24 hours you have already thrown Huck under the bus? That is not very sporting :)

If early states play no factor whatsoever, you can go ahead and throw McCain into the "has no chance category." If you admit that they do in such a level as to give McCain a one in four chance for the nomination, you would certainly have to make Romney better than a 5 to 1 underdog vs. McCain.

And as far as Paul going away, he has at least a 2 to 1 cash on hand advantage over McCain as of this morning. He, at least, is not likely to go anywhere. Tancredo and Hunter will cease to be any factor at all after Iowa.

The point of my writing this article was not to pump any candidate up, but to show that the superficial analysis that we have been seeing is woefully inadequate. We do not have a national primary so a national poll is not the most useful tool in determining where the race stands.

Of course on the Democratic side, Hillary leads the national polls and just about all of the state polls early or not, so we can extrapolate just a bit more there.

My personal feelings are that I can find something to admire in all of the Republican candidates other than than Chuck Hagel, who I have no use for.

thinkright said...

We're getting close to a national primary in Feb.
New tactics will be devised to take advantage of the new "national primary" for the 2012 race. The candidates that are smart enough to understand it will take advantage of it (Rudy).

Those still playing the old game will get a rude awakening.

[You're right, I did throw Huck under the bus. Sorry, he seems like a good guy - except on economic issues.]

Sirocco said...

I have been increasingly fascinated by this proposal for revamping the primary system since reading the article last week.

Framer said...

Sirocco,

Any proposal that brings the election even one step closer to approximating American Idol should be exterminated with extreme prejudice.

I'm disappointed with you sirocco, I thought you eminently more sensible than that :)

If we are going to turn the primaries into a game show, I would prefer "Survivor." I like to see candidates pit themselves against the rigors of a drawn out primary schedule. I like to see a winnowing out of candidates who cannot hack the rigors of the campaign. Without early Primary states there would have been no Clinton, no Kerry, no Carter (wait a second, I better change my argument. . .)

Early primary states give us the best chance of minimizing the impact of money and name recognition. If you go to a national primary of any form, politics will be changed for the worse.

That being said, I might suggest two changes that I feel would help.

1. There is nothing constitution that says that Iowa and New Hampshire need to be first every year. Rotate early states, but make sure that they fall on a regional basis, west, midwest, south, northeast. You could still include the previous big three, but pair them with different newcomers every 4 years.

2. Make every state hold a caucus rather than a primary, and have the individual parties fund their caucuses. Doing this you further blunt the power of money and increase the importance of message. This would likely encourage more third party challenges as primary caucuses would revert to party only affairs, rather than subsidized institutions that turn into mass media advertisement fests. Caucus goers are also more likely to be educated about the candidates and issues as well. It would also be a lot more fun for us political junkies.

Liza said...

This Iowa/New Hampshire death grip on the first primaries needs to go, I totally agree.

The state of California should always be one of the first primaries. If not first, then in the second wave and absolutely no later. They have just over 10% of the nation's population and that ought to count for something. And it's a very diverse population, contrary to what they might think in the south and the midwest.

Confused in Pinal County said...

Framer are you not the same guy named Humphires who is planning a run for the legislature ?

I did not think candidates for elective office wrote on blogs...maybe I am confused

Tony GOPrano said...

Just posted some BREAKING NEWS
over on my blog. Also, the new CNN POLL is out!

Framer said...

Confused,

Guilty as charged. Although I must admit to being a blogger long before considering a run for the legislature. Most times candidates would shy away from blogging, but it is who I am, and I hope it will provide a change from the bland vanilla policy paragraphs that you often see on candidate website. I hope being a blogger doesn't lower your opinion of me.

Tony,

I have seen the recent polling and that is why I am giving McCain as good a chance as I have. What I wish to see from you or TR is to lay out the path McCain takes to victory. The nomination does not happen by acclimation after taking the lead in national polling. It happens as the result of a well executed plan. I can't see any McCain plan working without his taking New Hampshire, and he needs a specific surge there. Should he move to the top in polling there, I will take away 20% from Romney and give it to McCain.

There have been times when I would have given Romney that same 10%. Its just that right now:

1. He has a well defined plan

2. He has the resources to accomplish that plan

3. There is not any part of the plan that is an obvious stretch (I used to think the South Carolina was a fatal flaw. but Romney has somehow fixed that)

4. Time is getting short for any possible surprises, at least in Iowa and possibly New Hampshire.

5. Romney seems to have a knack for accomplishing his micro goals.

Again, what I want to see is a specific step by step layout of McCain or Rudy's path to the nomination (or moneybags Paul for that matter.) Those types of analysis are rare which is why I felt compelled to write one.

Tony GOPrano said...

Framer,

You want a plan...here is the Plan.
McCain's Plan For Victory!

McCain is the ONLY Republican who has GAINED
in the latest National Polls. I know you don't think the polls mean much, but when voters go to 'pull the lever', they want someone who can win. Show me where Romney can defeat Hillary Clinton, the presumed democrat nominee? People want a winner. Romney can't win nationally...and he certainly won't get any Independent or dem votes if he was to win the GOP nomination.

Anonymous said...

Nobody has to win nationally, not even Romney. Each candidate has to win states—another reason why national polls are less helpful. While momentum is a factor, every state is essentially a new race.

Framer said...

Tony,

I get the rationale for McCain's campaign, I just want to know what he is doing in New Hampshire, or failing that then what? You don't need to sell me, at this point my vote doesn't matter. You need to convince the people in New Hampshire, Michigan, Nevada, and South Carolina. Take care of that, and you don't need to worry about Romney.

I'll tell you what. I'll get in touch with Mike Hellon and have him give a run down of the strategy going forward. Until I see a breakthrough for Rudy or John in New Hampshire, however, I will not dismiss Romney.

Sirocco said...

Framer,

I thought I had replied to your response once already, it must have vanished into the ether.

Anyhow, despite the articles' author making a reference to American Idol in the last paragraph, it's only in the sense that his proposal might encourage people to vote in primaries because every vote is treated equally. Any comparison of the actual proposed system to American Idol is completely invalid.

Framer said...

Sirroco,

You realize that I was being mostly facetious, right? Indeed the proposal has some intriguing aspects. My personal preference however is that the presidential nominating procedure gravitate further toward the parties. I also believe that third party challengers are good for the system at times, and a national primary would weaken that. What good is registering as an independent if you don't get an actual independent to vote for once in a while.

I also believe that money and dynasty would trump all in a national primary, even a drawn out one like is mentioned in the article.

AZAce said...

For the sake of this discussion, it may be useful to distinguish a national primary where everyone can vote for anyone versus retaining the current system with all states voting on the same day. Or am I the only one who thinks he sees both in this thread?

Tony GOPrano said...

Framer you want the plan? I found this on REDSTATE - "Reconsidering Sen. McCain (R) For President"

1) McCain polls better against Clinton than any other Republican, including Rudy. Any electability argument for Rudy applies to McCain equally well and fewer social conservatives are likely to jump to a third party candidate if the pro-life McCain is at the top of the ticket.

2) McCain staunch support of the mission of our troops in Iraq has rekindled some love (and muted some of the hate) that conservatives have felt toward the Senator. McCain's early argument for a change in strategy means he was not a go-along-with-Bush supporter as much as someone looking for a way to win the War. McCain can claim, legitimately, that he proposes the "surge" long ago and the administration came around to the successful strategy far later.

3) McCain's heroic story still lends him unrivaled credibility on military affairs and unequaled respect among those who disagree with him on some issues.

4) As the Republican candidates all seem to be flawed in some respects, Republicans seem to be reevaluating McCain. Instead of comparing McCain to some mythical Second Coming of Reagan, voters are considering McCain in relation to Rudy or Romney and realizing that all have things to like and dislike.

5) Sen. McCain is increasingly and surprisingly likely to be a candidate that doesn't cause a chunk of Republican voters to run to a third party. Rudy and Huckabee are facing (perhaps non-credible) threats from large groups of voters who say they will vote Hillary or nobody if they are nominated. McCain may not be most Republicans first choice, but he is not most Republicans last choice either.

For these reasons, a lot of commentators are taking a second look at the Senator:

Should Republicans reject the false choices being offered — and make a considered choice based on the man and the merits — a second look could give John McCain a second chance.

The final reason that Republicans are giving McCain a second look is that he has muted support for the major issues that divide him from primary voters.

On immigration, McCain always supported increased border security and a path to legalization for current illegal immigrants. This was unpopular with the base to say the least. McCain's response to the failure of comprehensive immigration reform was probably the best it could be. He didn't convert to an inauthentic position, embracing Tancredoism. He didn't continue to support the failed strategy.

He has the same goal (a secure border and earned legalization) but has changed his strategy on how to get there. He realizes that there is a huge distrust of the federal government on immigration (and other issues). Thus, he wants the state governors from border states to certify that the borders are secure before any earned legalization efforts proceed. This puts McCain in the Enforcement First crowd but not the Deport Them Now crowd. Sen. McCain has realized that you have to secure the border first to obtain the trust of the people before any efforts to deal with the current illegal immigrants in the country can proceed. That won't please Tancredo followers, but it may allow him to win over pro-lifers who are not happy with Rudy, don't trust Romney, and find Thompson uninspiring.

Finally, on pork and corruption, McCain has been the top candidate for a long time. Besides Sens. Coburn and DeMint, McCain has done the most to fight the pork-barreling culture. He ties this effort to his immigration views by saying we need to reestablish trust of government. The corrupt earmarking system has eroded the public's trust as much as the failure in law enforcement at the border. Sen. McCain can credibly say he would veto pork barreling and he would put the porkers under a national spotlight.

Sen. McCain is not the perfect candidate. But it seems that some voters are giving him a second chance to make his case. Is this too little too late? Or is the "surge" for real?"

Anonymous said...

It's too little, too late.
The election isn't between Hillary and McCain, so those polls are meaningless at this point. The race is between McCain, Huckabee, Romney, Guiliani, Thompson, etc. Nothing else matters until the general. No poll can tell us what will happen because it's purely hypothetical. People don't poll well on hypotheticals.