Monday, December 05, 2011

Forget Gingrich, Bye Bye Cain; Here Comes Paul

As the MSM/Beltway Media/Idiot Punditocracy obsess over who's the next anti-Romney on the Republican presidential field of nightmares, reluctantly settling on the totally unelectable Newt Gingrich — he's a "great debater, knows the issues, has experience" etc., they mumble, pointing uncertainly to the polls showing a Newt "surge" — Ron Paul has been making quiet, but steady progress under the radar, suddenly looming behind the frontrunners and poised to spring a shocker in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Presidential primary politics is a game of expectations.

As such, Ron Paul doesn't need to win either of those states to precipitate a tectonic shift in the increasingly chaotic Republican primary process — of 1968 Democratic primary proportions. In 1968  Minnesota Senator Gene McCarthy, the Democratic peace (in Vietnam) candidate was given little chance by the media when he challenged a sitting president, LBJ. As with most things political, the media's analysis of voters' discontent with Johnson's handling of the Vietnam war was way off-base. Senator McCarthy actually lost New Hampshire to President Johnson, 50%-42%. But McCarthy's strong showing against Johnson who barely cracked 50% was viewed as a titanic defeat for the President. Bobby Kennedy jumped into the race and less than 20 days after his New Hampshire "victory" Johnson announced he would not seek re-election. It was the ultimate political Pyrrhic victory.

Cut to the present day: The "expectations" game in New Hampshire for Mitt Romney is similar to what it was for LBJ in 1968. McCarthy was viewed as a marginal candidate and President Johnson was expected to poll upwards of 60%-70%. The surprise came in that polling then was not what it is today. Even so, New Hampshire voters have a long tradition of independence and bucking polls. Just ask Hillary after they defied the polls and revived her presidential campaign in 2008. As the former governor of neighboring Massachusetts, if not a favorite son Mitt Romney is at least a favorite cousin whose media expectation of a "clean" victory is well above that 50% Johnson magic loser's mark. And even accounting for a multiple candidates field, Romney's support has dropped precipitously this past month from 55% to 38% while both Gingrich and Paul have surged to 21% and 17% respectively. If Gingrich's support flatlines and Paul jumps ahead to second in NH behind a faltering Romney — a distinct possibility once voters get to see Newt up close and personal — all bets are off. Ron Paul is currently polling second in Iowa at 19% to Gingrich's 28% while Romney is fading at 17%. Ron Paul may well pull off a double surprise in Iowa and New Hampshire. Look out for the big Paul mo' just doing his "thing." He may yet force a brokered convention thus saving the Republican Party from itself.

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