Saturday, February 04, 2012

Live-blogging the 2012 Nevada caucuses: An easy win for Romney in a Romney-friendly state


7:22 pm - This won't be like Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, or Florida. I'll be live-blogging, but there won't be much to say. Nevada is solid Romney territory -- heavily Mormon (particularly in terms of Republican caucus-goers) and business-friendly libertarian. He'll win easily, and, indeed, he's already well ahead. With 3% reporting, he's up 52 to 20 over Paul (who should do relatively well here), with Gingrich third at 19 and Santorum bringing up the rear at 9. (See the results here.) And in winning easily he'll cement his position as clear frontrunner and likely nominee. It's hard to see any way he can lose at this point.

7:29 pm - What's interesting is that Newt will be holding a press conference, rather than giving a speech, later on this evening. His campaign has been unravelling, but, then, he doesn't much much money or organization to begin with. It's pretty clear that he peaked in South Carolina, that he doesn't have much left in the tank, and that another surge, a third, isn't happening. And while he's been saying he's in it for the long haul, even he and his massive egomania can't deny what's going on. It wouldn't surprise me if he said tonight he's suspending his campaign. Prayers won't be enough to keep him going.

8:14 pm - Looks like Newt's big-time backer, Sheldon Adelson, will turn to Romney if and when Newt pulls out:

Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino executive keeping Newt Gingrich's presidential hopes alive, has relayed assurances to Mitt Romney that he will provide even more generous support to his candidacy if he becomes the Republican nominee, several associates said in interviews here.

The signals from Mr. Adelson, whose politics are shaped in large part by his support for Israel, reflect what the associates said was his deep investment in defeating President Obama and his willingness to play a more prominent role in the Republican Party and conservative causes.

The assurances have been conveyed in response to a highly delicate campaign by Mr. Romney and his top Jewish financial supporters to dissuade Mr. Adelson from adding to the $10 million that he and his wife have given to a pro-Gingrich "super PAC," Winning Our Future, that has been tearing into Mr. Romney through television advertising.

Several people who have spoken with Mr. Adelson over the past two weeks said he would most likely continue to help the group as long as Mr. Gingrich remained in the race. But, they said, he is concerned that additional deep-pocketed donors have not joined him. And, they said, his affection for and loyalty to Mr. Gingrich, who met with him here on Friday, have not blinded him to the reality that the nominating contest is tilting in Mr. Romney's favor. 

No surprise here. If Adelson is looking for pro-Israel extremism, Romney, who has enthusiastically embraced such extremism, is a useful vessel for his millions. The more pressing question is what Newt would do. He couldn't drop out and throw his support behind Romney, at least not right away, not after his attacks on Romney as a "Massachusetts moderate." He could eventually, but he'd likely want to remain neutral if only to maintain his credibility (to the extent he has any), unless he so despises Romney that he'd be willing to support a sure loser like Santorum.

10:03 pm - So, what did I miss while I was having dinner and watching The Great Dictator? Seems like... not much. It's just a boring, ho-hum night. Of course Romney was going to win. There's no drama, nothing. Blitzer et al. may be trying to play it up, but so what? Pretty much everyone I follow on Twitter -- reporters, pundits, bloggers -- is bored. There's just nothing to say.

10:06 pm - And, yes, just after 10 pm, the networks called it for Romney. Hoo-wah.

10:07 pm - Though turnout looks embarrassingly low and the results seem to be coming in embarrassingly slow. Right now, with 10% reporting, it's Romney 48, Paul 21, Gingrich 20, Santorum 11. But even Romney only has 4,766 votes so far. Which means that a tiny sliver of party die-hards, mostly 45+, are deciding how to allocate Nevada's delegates. Not terribly democratic.

10:11 pm - Funny headline at MSNBC: "Romney wins Nevada caucus, solidifying momentum." How can you solidify momentum?

10:13 pm - Romney's doing especially well in Clark Co. (Las Vegas): 56 to 18 for both Paul and Gingrich. Looks like Sin City likes its Republicans rich, privileged, and full of douchebaggery.

10:17 pm - Now 13% reporting. Mitt at 47, Gingrich surging into second with 22!!! Can you feel the excitement? No? No. Neither can I.

10:18 pm - I guess now it's just a matter of waiting for Newt. Whatever will he tell us?

10:20 pm - For your viewing pleasure, as we ponder Newt's future...

You do know about the whole "Eye of the Tiger" controversy, no? Well, whether you do or don't, make sure to watch Colbert's hilarious take on the matter, with Survivor's Dave Bickler turning the copyright infringement tables on Newt.


12:53 am - Just watched the great Jean-Pierre Melville's Léon Morin, Priest, with Jean-Paul Belmondo and Emmanuelle Riva, from 1961 -- an intense meditation on the confrontation between faith and desire that's left me in a rather pensive mood.

12:56 am - Still just 43% reporting. (Honestly, what's the problem? Can the Nevada GOP not count?) And it's Romney at 43 followed by Gingrich at 25, Paul at 19, and Santorum at 12.

12:58 am - And, yes, Obama won. Obviously. He was unchallenged.

1:09 am - At his press conference, Gingrich said he's in the race all the way to the convention in Tampa. He may mean it tonight, but things change and one suspects that he'll eventually change his mind. Unless Romney stumbles badly, which hardly seems likely, or Newt can somehow resurrect his campaign a third time with big wins on Super Tuesday on March 5, which also hardly seems likely, he has no shot at the nomination and will only meet more intense resistance within the party the longer he stays in.

Let's put the over/under (before/after) on him getting out of the race at, yes, March 5. Do you take the before or after? I might still take the after.

But if it's March 7, I think it has to be the before. There's just no way he lasts beyond a day after Super Tuesday. The pressure on him to get out will be immense, and even with his massive egomania and loathing of Romney it's hard to see him fighting on beyond that. He is, after all, a hyper-partisan Republican. Ultimately, he'll do what the party needs him to do.

1:13 am - Alright, that's it for me tonight. We'll be back with more new posts later today, including a Super Bowl preview. 

Good night, everyone.

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