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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 14th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The third update is of March 14, 2012 – and the game of strip-poker is still on! And we still work on it.

As per the Voice of America:

“The three top Republican presidential candidates are locked in a tight race, as results trickle in following primaries Tuesday in two southern U.S. states.

Exit polls and early results in Alabama and Mississippi show Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are in races too close to call.  

The results of the races in those two predominantly conservative states are important to each of the candidates.  

Romney is hoping for victories to propel him forward and prove he can win over very conservative and evangelical Christian Republicans, who have been drawn to his main rival, former U.S. senator Santorum.

Santorum wants to knock Gingrich out of the race to stand as the sole conservative challenger to Romney. 

Gingrich, a former U.S. House speaker, has focused his efforts on the southern vote and is hoping victory on Tuesday will make him the comeback favorite for the nomination.  Otherwise, he could face increased calls to drop out.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, is far ahead of the others in the delegate count, winning nearly 40 percent of the 1,144 needed to secure the party’s nomination.  

A new
Washington Post-ABC News poll shows he leads U.S. President Barack Obama in a hypothetical election match-up (49 to 47 percent), while Santorum would be in a competitive race, three points behind (46 to 49 percent) Mr. Obama, if the election were held now. 

The other Republican candidate, U.S. Representative Ron Paul, has not won a nominating contest.  He has single digit support in Alabama and Mississippi.”

———–

At midnight March 13-14, 2012 – it seems that – Rick Santorum has won Tuesday’s Republican presidential primary elections in the states of Alabama and Mississippi, solidifying his status as the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney, the leading candidate in the race.

Santorum narrowly won both staunchly conservative states, with Newt Gingrich finishing second and Romney coming in third.  The former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania told supporters that his campaign was “about ordinary folks doing extraordinary things” and that he was “defying the odds” with their help.

He said it was time for conservatives “to pull together” so they can take on Democratic President Barack Obama in the November general election.

Gingrich had hoped to win in at least one of the two states to keep his candidacy viable.  But the ex-U.S. House speaker told supporters at a late-night rally that he will ignore calls to drop out of the race, describing himself as a “visionary” leader who can restore the country.

The twin losses were another blow in Romney’s efforts to win support from very conservative and religious Republicans who have so far backed Santorum.

————

THE WASHINGTON POST EVALUATION OF THE REPUBLICAN PRIMARIES IS THAT FROM NOW ON IT WILL BE ROMNEY TIME:

Early exit polls in Mississippi made it look like Romney was primed for a breakthrough. He held an early lead with blue collar voters, tea party supporters and even evangelicals — the one group that has beguiled him more than any other.

Problem was, it was too good to be true.

Indeed, by the end of the night, reality set in, the numbers in Mississippi shifted, and Romney lost all three groups in both states.

Romney again relied heavily on non-evangelical voters, more moderate voters, wealthy voters and voters who just want someone who can beat President Obama — just as he has in every other state. It’s been good enough in most states; in the South, it’s just not.

And his track record there speaks volumes.

How consistent is Romney? He has taken between 26 percent and 30 percent of the vote in every Southern state dominated by conservative voters — Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

The thing is, while that consistency cost him on Tuesday, it’s likely to benefit him going forward. While the voting is just halfway done, Romney is almost done with his most troubling region, the South, and his most troubling contests, Midwestern caucuses.

Even in the remaining Southern states, things may get better; both Texas and Louisiana feature more concentrated urban populations (a Romney strong suit) than other Southern states, which should help him perform better. (Romney also performed well in Western Mississippi, which is a good omen for his campaign in the state’s neighbor-to-the-west, Louisiana, on March 24.)

Romney’s problems outside the South have been almost completely relegated to Midwestern caucus states with low turnout. In fact, the only primary Romney has lost outside of the South was in Missouri, which was a beauty contest in which Romney didn’t compete.

————

A Bloomberg National Poll of Republicans shows Romney with the support of 37 percent, compared with 27 percent for Santorum. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s backing is 13 percent while U.S. Representative Ron Paul draws 11 percent.

“He’s a businessman and has a better idea of how to run something,” said a Republican poll participant, 68, a clerical worker from Maumee, Ohio. “So many things about our country should be run more like a business, instead of just throwing money at everything.”
There are warning signs in the poll for Romney, should the former Massachusetts governor become his party’s presidential nominee. The extended primary season has driven his unfavorability rating up 10 points, to 48 percent, since September.

His past private equity work cuts both ways: it’s a credential that appeals to Republicans, while a slim majority — 52 percent — of all Americans – view his business practice as harmful to the economy, and 68 percent object to the favored tax rate applied to profits generated by the industry.

We conclude. that in the electorate at large, there is no excitement of business practices of candidate like Romney.
But from the Obama – Biden campaign headquarters we got:

“If the general election were held today, President Obama would lose to Mitt Romney — according to the latest poll fromWashington Post-ABC News.

Now, many other polls put the President on top, but all point to the same reality: We’re looking at a race that will be tighter than you think. And the other side has groups ready to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to tear down President Obama.

We cannot underestimate someone like Romney who has shown he will spend and say anything to win.”

——————————————————————————————————

This is an update of the January 29, 2012 article – this after results from Florida, Nevada, Missouri, Minsesota, and Colorado are in.

Santorum solidly defeated Romney in Minnesota and Missouri, and he narrowly edged the former Massachusetts governor in Colorado, according to state GOP officials.

The victories mark a sharp turnaround for Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, whose candidacy had been sputtering after he failed to capi­tal­ize on his narrow win in Iowa last month. Santorum’s wins across the Midwest Tuesday could bestow new legitimacy on his insurgent efforts and boost his fundraising in the critical period before next month’s major contests.

Santorum now appears to pose a more serious threat not only to Romney, but also to Gingrich, who had been positioning himself as the logical alternative to Romney.

Santorum staked his own claim on Tuesday. “Conservatism is alive and well,” he told supporters at his election night party in Missouri. “I don’t stand here and claim to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. I stand here to be the conservative alternative to Barack Obama.”

For Romney, his poor showing Tuesday raised anew the question that has dogged his candidacy all along: Can the relatively moderate, former Massachusetts governor become an acceptable standard-bearer of a party that is increasingly dominated by evangelical conservatives and tea party activists who have long been skeptical of Romney?

After big wins in Florida and Nevada, Romney had hoped to extend his winning streak as he moved to strengthen his claim to the mantle of presumptive nominee. But in recent days, he was clearly bracing for losses on Tuesday.

Romney enjoyed strong establishment backing in Minnesota, with the vocal support of former governor Tim Pawlenty, yet he trailed not just Santorum but also Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.), finishing a distant third.

Addressing supporters in Denver, Romney congratulated Santorum and insisted that he still expects to eventually become the nominee eventually.  Thus – two weeks after Florida – nothing was resolved and the poker game is on in a spit party where one way or another – the minority will be turned into the majority.

================================================

UPDATE 2 comes after non binding caucuses in Maine and a straw poll of the Conservative leadership – finalized Saturday February 11, 2012. These show Mitt Romney in front by a breeze.

Mr. Romney scraped by Mr. Paul by just 194 votes. But fewer than 6,000 votes were cast — about 2 percent of registered Republicans.

Mr. Paul was unbowed, and gave no indication that he would drop out.

“We’re not going away,” he told his supporters.

Although the vote had no substantive meaning in terms of delegates, losing it could have created a political headache for Mr. Romney, the former governor of nearby Massachusetts, and extended a negative storyline that had been building since last week when he lost Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri to Mr. Santorum.

Those losses suddenly increased the symbolic importance of Maine’s all-but-ignored caucuses, and an additional loss on Saturday in his own backyard would have magnified concerns that he cannot seal the deal with voters.

As it was, Mr. Romney also won the annual straw poll of activists at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday. He took 38 percent of the 3,408 votes cast, compared with 31 percent for Mr. Santorum, 15 percent for Mr. Gingrich and 12 percent for Mr. Paul of Texas, who won the last two years but did not attend this time.

Mr. Romney was among those who had ignored Maine, assuming he had it sewn up, until he arrived Friday night. In the face of tough questioning at a town-hall-style meeting in Portland and the evidence of strong organization by Mr. Paul, Mr. Romney decided to stay over Saturday and campaigned at caucus sites. His campaign added a last-minute jolt of radio and television advertisements.

Mr. Paul made a foray to the state last month and also visited caucus sites on Saturday.

It was not clear how much the late activity helped either candidate because many people had already voted in the rolling caucuses, which began on Jan. 29.

“Romney’s win shows that the pragmatists in the Maine Republican Party really came out in force,” said Sandy Maisel, a political scientist at Colby College in Waterville, Me.

“Remember, this is a state party that has elected Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins to the Senate, over and over,” he said.

“While the Tea Party element is strong,” Dr. Maisel added, “those whose principal goal is beating President Obama came to the fore.”

Mr. Romney easily won the low-turnout caucuses four years ago, with Mr. Paul coming in third.

But this time around, Maine offered a rare opportunity for Mr. Paul, a libertarian, to plant his flag.

Although New England Republicans are generally more moderate than the party’s supporters elsewhere, the Maine members are fiercely independent, and the state has become a cauldron of activity for Tea Party supporters, fiscal conservatives and libertarians.

The honestly insignificant numbers of Republicans of Maine, joined by the straw-poll of Conservatives that once backed Santorum then moved to Gingrich – show that the eventual time that it will be a pasodoble  rather then a Texas Waltz is being slowly set in motion.

Maine Caucus Results for the 6000 that showed up to vote as per percentage of the hands up – is »

CANDIDATE PCT.
Romney 39.2%
Paul 35.7
Santorum 17.7
Gingrich 6.2
Others 1.1

=================================================

POLITICS

Buoyed by 3 Victories, Santorum Campaign Sets Ambitious New Goals

By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE

Rick Santorum is setting sights on home-state challenges to Newt Gingrich in Georgia and Mitt Romney in Michigan after a trifecta of wins on Tuesday.

In Santorum’s Sweep, Sign of G.O.P. Unease With Romney

By MICHAEL D. SHEAR

Rick Santorum’s defeat of Mitt Romney in three states could scramble the dynamics of the race.

NEWS ANALYSIS

Romney Faces Rebels on the Right and Softness in the Middle

By JEFF ZELENY

The persistent competition with Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich is forcing Mitt Romney to guard his right flank instead of directing his attention to President Obama.

================================================

The winner in South Carolina is clear – not by 8 votes or 34 but by a stretch of a mile!
Is this a final blow in the rotating front-runner-and-out  game? No, nobody thinks so at the present time. We may be even more confused after Florida we say.

Vice President Joe Biden, speaking to House Democrats at a retreat on the eastern shore of Maryland, took a sharp tone toward the GOP and said Republicans had a “fundamentally different” menu of priorities that the American public is starting to reject.

“I really do think we’re going to win back the House,” Biden said during the House Democrats’ three-day retreat. “I think we will win based purely on the merits of our positions.”

And it’s not just the merits of Democratic positions, either, Biden noted, but the stubborn intransigence of their opponents:

The vice president portrayed congressional Republicans as a stubborn crew unwilling to cooperate with Democrats in Washington to solve the nation’s problems. He called out several by name, including Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

He said the GOP is solely intent on obstructing action in order to ensure Obama’s defeat this fall.

——————

three days before the Florida primary,  at a moment when Gingrich is badly in need of something to rekindle the momentum he gained in the wake of his South Carolina primary victory, former contender Herman Cain has publicly endorsed Newt Gingrich.

Since then, polls have shown that he is losing ground against former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in the State of Florida, even as Gingrich has gained a lead in national surveys.

“I had it in my heart and mind a long time,” Cain said of his endorsement, appearing with Gingrich at a Republican fundraiser. “Speaker Gingrich is a patriot. Speaker Gingrich is not afraid of bold ideas.”

Gingrich joked, “I had no idea it would be this interesting an evening,” he said last night.

Cain is the latest in a series of popular conservative figures to back the former House speaker, while much of the GOP establishment is marshaling against him.
Among Gingrich’s other recent supporters are former Alaska governor Sarah Palin; his onetime presidential rival, Texas Gov. Rick Perry; and former senator Fred Thompson (Tenn.)

——————–

Candy Crowley of CNN decided to interview this Sunday Ron Paul who just returned to his home in Clute Texas from two days of campaigning in Maine. He was a no show in Florida and preferred to have his organization handle this State for him. Ron Paul concentrates on Caucus States where he can fire up easier his local troops. He knows that in the Republican primary in Florida with Romney and Gingrich pitted against each other it will be the the upward mobile Latinos, that are impressed by success and steady family life, will go for Romney rather then Gingrich, but in the real elections in November it can be expected that the Latino vote will go for Obama – this because of issues like the Dream Act that Obama supports in order to help legalize the status of Latino immigrants that served in the army and served well their host country in which they are not allowed to become citizens. Ron Paul talks to the Occupy Wall Street crowd and hopes that some of this reaches also to the future voters in the primaries, and in the eventual election – the strategy seems to be about the long haul – not really about the immediate skirmish.

——————–

Mitt Romney may be the favorite of the Republican establishment, the Republican politicians, the great majority of the “1%” that funds the campaign, the media that belongs to that 1%, but when adding up the the votes that Newt + Rick + Ron get – Mitt is in the minority. The fact that the Conservatives and the remnants of he Tea alliance flock now to Newt, we think that there is a chance Florida will push out Rick and that after Florida, with only Ron Paul still in the running besides Mitt and Newt, the field will have narrowed to a battle that will then drag on so that the show on the road will last at least to April.

Carlos Gutierez who was the G.W. Bush Secretary of Commerce is campaigning for Mr. Romney among the Latinos of Florida, and Governor Rick Scott is worried that the skirmish among the Republicans may eventually weaken the party in the general elections.

Ron Paul says the Tea Party is an agglomeration of different people with different issues of discontent. He knows he has there a wedge that will stay with him.

Master gambler Sheldon Gary Adelson provided Newt Gingrich with $5 Million for South Carolina and wife Dr. Miriam with another $5 Million for Florida, so entering the post-Florida long haul there must be now a consolidation of the two major camps, with the only cloud hovering on the side – Ron Paul and his Libertarian friends. President Obama’s State of the Union speech was intended to make sure that the disenchanted young people that backed him in 2008 do not look sidewise to Ron Paul as the alternative for change.

—————–

Looking at the results so far Mr. Romney has obtained 25% in Iowa of those that bothered to vote in the Republican primaries, 39% in New Hampshire and 27% in South Carolina. That means that even in the most favorable State to his candidacy stil it was a total of 43% – thus more then his 39% – went to the other three members of the present quartet – with Ron Paul getting 23% and the other two 10% each. Assuming that Ron Paul manages to hang on to a 20% of the vote – what is left is a very heated contest between Messrs. Romney and Gingrich and the possibility that none of the above will reach a clear majority before going to the convention.



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