Although the conventional wisdom has been that Mitt Romney is the probable Republican nominee, he is certainly having a hard time establishing himself as a front runner. Before today’s poll came out, Nate Silver listed ten previous front-runners in alphabetical order, including some Republicans who led in the polls without being a declared candidate: Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Donald Trump. Today, Public Policy Polling makes Rick Santorum the eleventh. Santorum leads at 38 percent. Romney trails at 23 percent, with Gingrich at 17 percent and Ron Paul at 13 percent.
Rick Santorum does even better if he does not have to divide he conservative vote with Newt Gingrich. If Gingrich were to drop out, the poll shows that 58 percent of his supporters would go to Santorum. In a such a three way race, Santorum get to 50 percent, while Romney would be at 28 percent and Paul at 15 percent.
Leadership in the GOP race has not meant very much to date, but falling behind at this stage does create problems for Romney. He might go negative against Santorum as he did against Gingrich, but his negative ads are starting to backfire. Some suggest that instead of going negative against Santorum, Romney must convert to a positive campaign. I’m not sure how a man who lacks any core beliefs or convictions can do this. His strongest pitch is that he can make up the biggest lies about Barack Obama.
The Maine caucuses conclude tonight with a two-man race between Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. There is speculation that Paul might be able to pull an upset victory. If you cannot beat a crackpot like Ron Paul, it is hard to see victory for the nomination as inevitable.
There’s another potential embarrassment for Romney. Public Policy Polling is also seeing the start of a surge for Santorum in Michigan. A loss in Michigan would be devastating to Romney, both for losing his home state and because of reinforcing Santorum’s dominance over Romney in the Midwest. Perhaps Romney will try to flip-flop on having been born and raised in Michigan. Would Mitt Romney’s birth certificate then become an issue?
CPAC is also conducting their straw poll. To paraphrase Jay Leno, Romney is promising to change his views to whatever views CPAC members desire. Romney pandered before them, claiming to be “severely conservative.” The word severe might sound out of place here, unless you see it as an honest admission from Romney, such as “I am severely insane” or, at very least, “I am severely out of touch with the voters of this country.”
The big question of the day is how Mitt Romney could possibly have lost three contests last night (Minnesota, Colorado, and Missouri) after receiving the endorsement of Donald Trump? As Trump took the credit for Romney winning in Nevada after receiving his endorsement, is there any chance that Trump would accept the blame for Romney’s loses yesterday. So far, no such concession, but Trump is talking about a cabinet position in a Romney administration (which should scare away some more potential votes) and does raise a valid point about Santorum:
Rick Santorum was a sitting senator who in re-election lost by 19 points, to my knowledge the most in the history of this country for a sitting senator to lose by 19 points. It’s unheard of. Then he goes out and says oh ‘okay’ I just lost by the biggest margin in history and now I’m going to run for president. Tell me, how does that work? … That’s like me saying I just failed a test. Now I’m going to apply for admission to the Wharton School of Finance. Okay? He just failed a test…. And now he’s going to run for president. So, I don’t get Rick Santorum. I don’t get that whole thing.
Despite this, Santorum has an outside chance at the Republican nomination because of the degree of dislike for Romney by conservative Republicans and the lack of a viable alternative. Compared to Newt Gingrich, Santorum looks like an acceptable choice to GOP leaders. (Ron Paul remains irrelevant towards the actual nomination even though he will probably pick up a number of delegates, especially in the caucus states). I’m not all surprised that Santorum is emerging as the non-Romney candidate outside of the south. He is the best shot for the big-government conservative movement which remains obsessed with imposing their archaic religious views upon the entire country.
Beyond the Santorum hat trick, the other news out of last night’s contests is that turn out remains low in a contested battle for the nomination to oppose a president who many conservatives continue to think is a black foreign-born Muslim socialist who hangs out with terrorists. (Only the first part of that characterization is accurate, but that is enough to get many Republicans to want to defeat him). Public Policy Polling found that “58% of Democrats were ‘very excited’ about voting this fall, compared to 54% of Republicans. Six months ago the figures were 48% of Democrats ‘very excited’ and Republicans at the same 54%. Generally you would expect voters to get more excited as the election gets near.” The poll also found that “The percentage of Tea Party voters ‘very excited’ about voting in November has declined from 73% to 62% since late July.” Perhaps many will remain home in November if the Republicans do not nominate a candidate they find acceptable, while appealing to the Tea Party will lead to further loses among independent and moderate voters. (One caution on this poll is that the poll was conducted for Daily Kos. There is no evidence that this affects the results, but I always feel uneasy about whether pollsters might attempt to please those paying the bill.)
Other recent polls have also been favorable for the Democrats. The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll shows Obama with a clear lead over Romney nationally for the first time. The trend favors Obama as “By better than 2 to 1, Americans say the more they learn about Romney, the less they like him.” Results in battleground states matter more in the electoral college than national polls but as Obama’s support improves nationally, it is also likely to improve in battleground states. The latest Quinnepiac poll shows Obama leading Romney 47 to 43 percent in Virginia. Democrats are also taking the lead in generic polls over preferred control of Congress.
It is still a long way until November and the polls can still change many times between now and then. Unpredictable events can also have a major influence on the election. There is, however, one predicable series of events which will help Obama. Nobody will be able to wrap up the Republican nomination soon, and the more the GOP candidates campaign against each other, the more the approval for all the Republican candidates declines.
In covering primary and caucus votes I’ve held to two principles: 1) polls, especially in early contests, are meaningless until just before the actual vote, and 2) each vote has the potential to change the dynamic of the nomination battle making polls of subsequent events open to considerable change. These principles were clear when John Kerry and Barack Obama used come from behind victories in Iowa in 2004 and 2008 to defeat the previous front runners for the Democratic nominations. This year, South Carolina has the potential to derail the campaign of Mitt Romney.
The script was supposed to read that South Carolina would be Romney’s third consecutive win, making his nomination inevitable. While Romney very well can still go on to win, this script is now in doubt. Newt Gingrich has overtaken Romney in late polls, while Santorum has been given the win in Iowa. A loss tonight would make Romney one out of three.
Romney has taken some serious hits, including questions about his years at Bain Capital, his admission that he only pays 15 percent in income taxes, his money in the Cayman Islands, and his poor response to questions about releasing his income tax returns. Added to clear demonstrations that Romney has no convictions or ideas as to how to govern, even if he still should win the nomination it is questionable whether he can compete in a general election campaign. Exit polls from South Carolina are showing that voters are looking for the candidate with the best shot at beating Barack Obama, but the old conventional wisdom that this is Romney might no longer hold. At this point Newt Gingrich, with all his faults, very well might be the Republican’s most competitive candidate in a general election campaign–which should be very scary for anyone crazy enough to want to see a Republican in the White House.
I wonder how much more momentum Santorum might have received if he had been declared the winner at the time of the actual vote. His initial placement in second place, along with the endorsement from portions of the religious right, appear to be insufficient to make him the major non-Romney candidate in South Carolina. The main difference is probably that Gingrich, from neighboring Georgia, is better able to play into the fears and prejudices of southern Republican voters. It is doubtful the revelations of his infidelity and request for an open marriage would hurt him at all. The morality of the religious right is in no way related to the morality of decent, honorable people who reject their archaic world view. Many in the religious right hold a strange world view where the paternalistic display of power by Newt over his previous wives would be seen as favorable, and Gingrich’s attack on the press for discussing this would be an even bigger plus. Rights of women and the concept of a free press are two ideas which are foreign to them.
The campaign also got down to the final four this week, first helping Romney and then non-Romney. There is a tremendous benefit to being declared first even before the GOP race allows winner take all votes in April. While Jon Huntsman never caught on, it became possible that his votes could make a difference in allowing Romney to hold on to first place in what was then a five way race. Rick Perry’s endorsement of Newt Gingrich helps balance that vote. The question in upcoming states will be whether Gingrich and Santorum divide the conservative vote, while Ron Paul, who has zero chance of actually winning, siphons off enough additional votes to allow Romney to come in first.
Should Romney have a strong showing today he will become very difficult to beat. However, should Gingrich win then the polls showing Romney with leads in Florida and other states might no longer have any meaning. A win for Gingrich in South Carolina would give an entirely new narrative in the Florida race. Romney’s national lead has fallen to ten points in the latest Gallup tracking poll. That poll was a five day rolling average taken between January 15 and 19. Romney’s position at the end of that period could even be worse., after leading by twenty-three points at the start of the week. Romney could fall even further if he loses in South Carolina, possibly leading to a loss in Florida, or at very least keeping the race going into more states.
David Letterman: Top Ten Things People Said When They Heard Jon Huntsman Was Dropping Out Of The Presidential Race
10. “Who’s Jon Huntsman?”
9. “Is he the rich boring white guy, or the other rich boring white guy?”
8. “Seriously, who’s Jon Huntsman?”
7. “You mean my tax attorney? Oh wait, that’s Stan Huntsman”
6. “Does this mean we can bring Herman Cain back? That guy was hilarious”
5. “So that leaves only four viable candidates, plus Rick Perry”
4. “It’s like Jon Huntsman said . . . Well, actually, I have no idea what he said”
3. “Hey honey, some guy I’ve never heard of is dropping out of the race”
2. “He should have Tebowed more”
1. “Now who’s gonna lose to Obama in the general election?”
The 2012 Republican Iowa caucus had far less impact on the race than the 2004 and 2008 Democratic races which propelled John Kerry and Barack Obama to victories in their party. The biggest question is whether we are seeing a repeat of the 2008 Republican caucus, with Rick Santorum playing the part of Mike Huckabee. Santorum benefited from being the last non-Romney candidate standing, surging with too little time for media scrutiny to harm his campaign. His eight vote loss to Mitt Romney might be analogous to Mike Huckabee’s win if it turns out to be an isolated win for a social conservatives. There is an outside chance that Santorum might capitalize upon this win to become a strong enough anti-Romney candidate to pull an upset. If conservatism was really a small-government movement a supporter of big-government such as Santorum would have no chance, but deep down many Republicans must realize their small government rhetoric is all talk. Even the Tea Party members (who have always been dominated by social conservatives) gave Santorum support.
The biggest difference between 2008 and this year is the desire of conservatives to prevent a replay of 2008 and allow someone they see as more moderate win the nomination. Newt Gingrich now wants an anti-Romney alliance with Santorum, but this looks a lot like a losing candidate trying to remain relevant. Gingrich might destroy Romney, and in the process destroy the GOPs chances at winning the general election. It is about time Gingrich does something useful.
Meanwhile conservative leaders are meeting in Texas to attempt to find a consensus conservative candidate. Good luck finding someone who adheres to the conservative line on most issues and doesn’t come across as bat-shit crazy to moderate and independent voters in a general election.
The biggest loser was obviously Michele Bachmann who dropped out of the race. Rick Perry almost left the race. As he has been raising money better than he has been debating, he might as well remain in the race. As volatile as this race has been, he could still maintain hope of becoming the surviving anti-Romney candidate down the road.
If measuring against expectations, Ron Paul also turned out to be a loser. After appearing to have a chance to win, or at least come in a close second, his third place left him virtually forgotten behind the close Romney-Santorum battle. Besides, there are few states where Paul has a chance to pick up many votes in a Republican primary.
Overall it was an unimpressive night for Republicans, who suffered from low turn-out, and for Mitt Romney. Romney spent years and millions of dollars to show that he could not appeal to any more voters than four years ago. Derek Thompson calculated how much each candidate spent per vote. Rick Perry spent the most per vote at $478.40. Mitt Romney spent $154.90, Ron Paul $103.30, Newt Gingrich $89.84, Rick Santorum $20.50, and Michele Bachmann spent $3.95 per vote. Santorum clearly got the most for his money.
It seemed that there were far more people tweeting about the caucus last night than participating. Some say it is unfair that such a small number of people could potentially choose our president. That is no where as bad as the 2000 election when the election was decided by nine people on the Supreme Court.
I don’t know which is worse, that a major party candidate would tell such a lie or that a major news organization would cover it without pointing out the facts. Rick Perry is repeating the same type lie frequently made by Republicans that the Affordable Care Act would deny people care. This is from NBC:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday warned that President Obama’s health reform law could result in the death of ill patients, relating the story of a cancer patient he met Tuesday at a campaign stop in Creston, Iowa.
“She came up to me and she said ‘Governor, if you don’t get rid of Obamacare, I’m dead,” he recounted. “She said they will never take care of me. And that’s a powerful testimony by that lady.”
A random person makes a factually untrue statement and it becomes a news story because a dishonest Republican candidate repeats it.
The reality is the opposite of what is claimed by Perry. There is absolutely nothing in the Affordable Care Act which would limit care to cancer patients such as this. There are no “death panels.” In reality, healthcare reform became necessary because of the large number of people who really are dying without the needed reforms. Today, many cancer patients do not receive health care because they cannot afford insurance. ObamaCare is changing that. Before the Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies would refuse to sell insurance to people with a history of cancer (and many other problems), and some would drop the coverage of cancer patients to save money.
We expect such lies from Republican candidates, but couldn’t the news media do a better job of covering such false claims?
In the Republican nomination battle what goes up inevitably seems to come down. Following similar patterns by Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich is now falling in the polls. In retrospect it shouldn’t be surprising that people taking a close look at him would be turned off. Republican voters are still understandably not happy with the choice of Mitt Romney. As Gingrich falls, the number of undecided voters have increased. Plus there has been an increase lately in Ron Paul’s polling numbers in Iowa.
This leads some to question if Paul can actually win in Iowa. Ed Morrissey raises this question as a reason to review Paul’s racist and anti-Semitic past. Many libertarians abandoned their support for Paul when his denials regarding the racist writings in his newsletter were debunked. Libertarians really should have taken a closer look at Paul’s ideas as well as past. Paul is not as much a libertarian as a supporter of the old right’s views on states’ rights and isolationism, also tainted by the racist and anti-Semitic views common on that end of the political spectrum. Add to that a belief in numerous wacky conspiracy theories and acceptance of creationism.
Paul will inevitably fall if he should take the lead and receive the type of scrutiny which other candidates have received. With the race so volatile, I wouldn’t rule out the chance that he could win in Iowa before this occurs, but I doubt it. Even if he could win in Iowa, it is hard to see him having much success in subsequent states, which ultimately helps Mitt Romney if no serious threat to him can emerge in Iowa.
The nomination of Mitt Romney cannot be called inevitable considering the degree of hostility towards him by many on the right. He still might be stopped if conservatives can unite around another choice (or perhaps several choices, sending the nomination to the convention). As each candidate rises and falls, it gets harder to see a scenario actually playing out to deny Romney the nomination. On the other hand, polls taken weeks before a primary have limited predictive value and we still might see some surprises in the early contests.
Or perhaps we should not ignore the harm done to Christian children by Jews, atheists, and gays in the War on Christmas. See the public service announcement above.
Community is going on hiatus until spring but did end for the fall with more Inspector Spacetime.
With Inspector Spacetime gone, we will have to settle for Excellent!, a comedy spin off of Doctor Who staring the Cybermen. Title sequence above. Not satisfied? Then we must Save Greendale. Beyond Inspector Spacetime, more reasons to save Community are listed here.
Spin, a short film by Jamin Winans which has won over 40 film festival awards worldwide, shows the complexities of trying to control time in the video above.
There are some hints as to what happens in the season finale of Terra Nova next week:
Someone’s going to die. That much has been leaked about the upcoming two-hour finale on Fox’s Terra Nova, and star Allison Miller promises that fans are not going to be at all happy if the Steven Spielberg dino drama doesn’t get a second season.
“There’s going to be so much left unanswered,” Miller told EW. Miller plays Skye, a traitor within the Terra Nova camp.
The finale, which airs on Monday, Dec. 19, at 8 p.m., opens with the colonists anticipating the arrival of the 11th Pilgrimage. Producers have already spilled that not just one, but two people will die, including a “person who is without family,” there will be an explosion, and there is an unexpected trip back to 2149.
“It felt like we went back to the pilot as far as the scope and scale of everything,” said Miller. “It’s just so huge, it sort of has this post-apocalyptic feel to it that’s dark and interesting.” As far as who might be killed off in the finale, “I was so disappointed. I mean, it’s heartbreaking. It’s so, so sad.”
However, she does say we’ll get some answers. We’ll learn why Lucas wants the portal to go into the future, as well as the past, and how Lucas and Taylor ended up on different sides of things. “You’ll know exactly what has been driving them apart all these years,” said Miller. And we’ll find out about an organization with “something else in mind for Terra Nova.”
Since we’ve already heard about new evildoers named the Phoenix Group, we’re guessing that might be the organization she’s talking about.
According to executive producer Brannon Braga: “We have supercharged the premise of our show in a very chilling way. … Everything changes.”
“It would not be fair to anyone to not give us a second season,” said Miller.
I would like to see the show have more time to develop, but getting a second season has nothing to do about fairness. The first season could have been developed more, but the key factor in delaying a decision is probably the high cost of the show.
Sherlock returns on BBC1 on January 1. Spoiler TV has interviews with Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss, and Benedict Cumberbatch on the second season. The first episode is A Scandal In Belgravia:
The contemporary re-imagining of the Arthur Conan Doyle classic, co-created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, caused a sensation in the summer of 2010, delivering an audience of more than nine million viewers who tuned in to watch Sherlock and John Watson navigate a maze of cryptic clues and lethal killers in three thrilling, action-packed adventures.
In episode one of this new series, compromising photographs and a case of blackmail threaten the very heart of the British establishment but, for Sherlock and John, the game is on in more ways than one as they find themselves battling international terrorism, rogue CIA agents and a secret conspiracy involving the British government. But this case will cast a darker shadow over their lives than they could ever imagine, as the great detective begins a long duel of wits with an antagonist as cold and ruthless and brilliant as himself: to Sherlock Holmes, Irene Adler will always be THE woman.
The BBC has announced that The Hour will return for a second season:
Critically-acclaimed drama, The Hour will return to BBC AMERICA next year with a mini-series sequel, once again co-produced by the network.
Written and created by the award winning Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady, Shame, Sex Traffic) and produced by Kudos Film and TV, the new six-parter (6×60) sees the return of the highly competitive, sharp-witted and passionate news trio Bel (Romola Garai), Hector (Dominic West) and Freddie (Ben Whishaw) alongside beloved Lix (Anna Chancellor), scheming McCain (Julian Rhind-Tutt) and newly assertive Marnie Madden (Oona Chaplin), in this highly acclaimed 1950s newsroom drama.
The next installment rejoins The Hour team a year later in 1957 where we are introduced to new characters played by Peter Capaldi (The Thick of It, The Nativity) Hannah Tointon (The Inbetweeners) and Tom Burke (State of Play).
Perry Simon, General Manager, Channels, BBC Worldwide America says: “The Hour successfully launched BBC AMERICA’s new Dramaville franchise in August by setting the standard for great British drama. Abi Morgan and the Kudos production team delivered an extraordinary television experience and when the opportunity arose for us to co-produce a sequel we jumped at it. I can’t wait to see the next chapter in the lives of these brilliant characters.”
Jane Featherstone, Creative Director and Executive Producer, Kudos Film and Television, says: “In series two of The Hour we are going to find out what happens next in the lives of our news team, as they engage with a new year full of old flames, new loves, thrilling stories and plenty of scandal. Taking us even deeper into our characters’ lives and engaging the viewers with its energy, wit and story, we’re chuffed to bits to be able to keep the world alive.”
The sequel will see the team still striving to broadcast the stories they believe in, as they grapple with the looming spectre of the Cold War and changing social mores. It will chart political intrigue and corruption against the highly charged backdrop of a country in the grip of unsettling and rapid change. With the space race and nuclear power, Britain seems on the threshold of a new era of modernization, economic optimism, scientific progress and cultural change in the face of new immigration from the Commonwealth. But under the buoyant veneer, our characters become deeply embroiled in cover-ups, sexual intrigues and the resurgence of Mosley’s fascism…
Bel Rowley is still single and determined not to get involved with another married man. Clarence is in prison and she must now report to Randall Brown (Peter Capaldi) the eccentric new Head of News. While juggling the sparky relationships around her, she finds out that Hector is being lured to ITV. She fights for her program and finds herself taking on her adversary, Bill Kendall (Tom Burke), a producer whose magnetic charm she can’t help but find irresistible.
Hector Madden has risen to the status of a national celebrity, all while maintaining his lifestyle as a happily married man and face of The Hour. He is unsettled by Marnie’s desire to establish her own career and finds himself drawn to the late night clubs of Soho where he befriends Kiki (Hannah Tointon), a club hostess. No longer happy at The Hour under Randall’s new regime, he is tempted by offers from ITV, but when a night at the club goes badly wrong, scandal threatens and Hector must try to stop a news story that could destroy his marriage and his career.
Freddie Lyons, who was fired after ‘The Lord Elms’ live interview, makes an unexpected return to The Hour. Having been away for several months travelling around the world, he returns as co-host of The Hour, to both Bel and Hector’s surprise. He has however not lost his passion to investigate and as he becomes embroiled with exposing a cover-up, it becomes clear that the ghosts of the past will not let Freddie go.
Lix is still heading up the foreign desk, fighting for airtime for international stories, but a new side to her is revealed when Randall arrives at The Hour. Meanwhile, McCain (Julian Rhind-Tutt) is now Head of Press for Macmillan, protecting the recently elected Prime Minister and the closed circle of his cabinet.
The Republican debates have already been compared to a bad version of Survivor in which losers don’t get voted out. The reality-show comparisons are even stronger now that Donald Trump is going to moderate a Republican debate in Des Moines on December 27. If anyone objects that Trump lacks real journalistic credentials it shouldn’t matter. Trump is joining with Newsmax to host the debate. Newsmax presents right wing fictions as “news” to a degree that by comparison Fox is almost Fair and Balanced.
Some bloggers such as Steve M are saying that the Republican Party cannot be taken seriously after having Trump moderating their debate. It is already way too late. Trump’s lunacy fits in perfectly with the off the wall views of Michele Bachmann, the sexual scandals surrounding Herman Cain, the ignorance of Rick Perry, the push to repeal the 20th and 21st century by Newt Gingrich, the promotion of wild conspiracy theories by Ron Paul, and the total lack of consistency or sincerity in the views of Mitt Romney.
There was a time when Donald Trump might have responded to the inevitable nonsense to come from the Republican candidates by telling them, “You’re fired.” That was when Trump was calling George Bush, “probably the worst president in the history of the United States.” That was also when he was saying, “it just seems that the economy does better under the Democrats than the Republicans.” This year Trump has preferred to adopt the know-nothing attitude of the far right, between his promotion of Birtherism to Trump asking, ““It’s cold outside…so where’s the global warming?”
The winner of the debate is clearly Jon Huntsman who is not attending the event and sent this comment: “”Lol. We look forward to watching Mitt and Newt suck-up to The Donald with a big bowl of popcorn.”
Update:Ron Paul also not taking part, calling Trump as moderator ‘”wildly inappropriate.”