Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Live-blogging Super Tuesday 2012: A day of reckoning for the GOP


UPDATED FREQUENTLY.

7:08 pm - Is there anything more super than Super Tuesday? (Don't answer that.) In politics, and for those of us who follow the horse race, it doesn't get much better than this. All I would ask for is a bit more drama. Oh, sure, the media are all about the drama, but, then, the media have an enormous stake in drama. It's what they can talk about instead of, you know, policy, or the complexities of the world, and it drives viewership as well as readership, to the extent people read anymore. Certainly it's good for us bloggers, too. With public interest way up, traffic is up as well. And that, to be sure, is super.

7:11 pm - But, really, Super Tuesday 2012 is Romney Day. I firmly predict that he will win Ohio and do well enough across the board to wrap up the nomination -- well, all but wrap it up. He won't have the delegates to declare victory -- that won't come for some time yet -- but he'll continue pulling away from Santorum and the other two also-rans, Gingrich and Paul, something he started doing with his big wins in Michigan and Arizona last week, and what we'll witness tonight, in his "victory" speech, is the confidence of the winner.

7:15 pm - If you're into the numbers, Nate Silver looks at the possibilities in the ten states voting today.

7:17 pm - I would just note that the night has begun with some good news for Newt, probably the only good news he'll get all night. He has won Georgia, CNN projects based on exit polls. This is no surprise, of course. He's from Georgia and was the expected winner. He'll be a distant third or fourth everywhere else. And that, as they say, will be that. I put the before/after of him getting out of the race at March 8, two days from now. I think it may just be the before. Look for him to say tonight, disappointment all around, that he'll talk about his campaign with friends and family and decide on where to go next. The announcement could come tomorrow. The road has ended.

7:21 pm - It's going to be a very busy night. I'm off to have some dinner and will back shortly. I'll be adding to this post all evening and no doubt into the early-morning hours. Richard will also be commenting, as usual. While we'll be following the returns and the "drama" of the night, particularly in Ohio and Tennessee, the two key states in play today (as Massachusetts and Virginia are sure things for Romney, and the other states are small, like Vermont and Alaska), we'll also be looking at the narrative that emerges, or is set to emerge, from these results and look at the bigger picture, with Romney, backed by the party elites, preparing more urgently now for the general election campaign to come. In other words, we'll try to keep this interesting and amusing.

RKB: Wow. Boring so far. They are calling Virginia for Romney, but only he and Paul were on the ballot, so no biggy.

7:40 pm - Yup. (Wait, did Richard just use the word biggy? If you knew him, you'd find that odd.)

RKB: What? I use "biggy" all the time.

Ron Paul is speaking from North Dakota and as crazy a libertarian as he clearly is, he's consistent about not liking the wars we are in and wanting them to end. Gotta like that about him. Other than that, he's crazy as batshit, but I'm with him on the anti-war agenda. 

8:10 pm - I'm telling you, my dinner (tacos!) was a lot more super than Super Tuesday.

8:11 pm - The problem is that I was watching CNN while I was eating, and that made the food go down with an unpleasant bitterness. (Thankfully, I'm washing it down with a Granville Island English Bay Pale Ale from Vancouver.) I know it's too easy to pick on CNN, but it really is awful. John King can talk voter and result demographics with his magic boards, but his analysis is ridiculously superficial. And Wolf was talking about the scoreboard, as if this is just some sporting event. Which it is, in a way, but people like Wolf don't even pretend there's any more to it.

RKB: Although it was expected that Gingrich would win Georgia, it will still mean that he won't be getting out after tonight or soon. With Santorum and Gingrich still in the hunt, this thing continues to grind on no matter how well Romney does tonight. I guess that begs the question, does anyone get out before the convention? I suppose that also means that Romney will have to continue spending money to swat at Santorum and will have to continue dealing with the social conservative background noise that won't go away as long as Santorum is in.

I wonder if there is anything the GOP establishment can threaten these guys with or promise them to get them out.

Sometimes the power brokers can promise support for future contests as a quid pro quo to get out and sometimes they can promise to crush a candidate who won't play along. Is there anything like that that could work for Santorum? I hardly think he'd be the party's choice in 2016, say, if Obama wins in 2012, but there might be something he could be offered. 

8:16 pm - Free condoms for life? Oh... right.

RKB: On that former point, sometimes the power brokers promise to help pay off campaign debt if a candidate gets in trouble, not that we are necessarily at that point yet.

8:17 pm - Or maybe Santorum would accept that heart that was stolen in Dublin the other day. You know, being a crazy Catholic and all.

8:18 pm - Richard's on fire tonight. Here's more from him:

RKB: I don't know. Is the story tonight that Romney is continuing to plod along towards the nomination but no one really loves him? I'm pretty sure we knew that. It looks to me like the narrative is not going to change all the way to convention. Romney wins but no one cares. How many different ways can we, and everyone else, say that?

No real knock-out blow, just a war of attrition and Romney gets the nomination and we have to suffer through the half-hearted attempt of GOP opinion leaders to extol the virtues of Mitt. I'm still not sure it can't work under any circumstances, but it sure doesn't feel like it. 

8:20 pm - Oh no. Wolf goes to Wasilla, to the Thrilla herself, Sarah Palin, who just voted. (Alaska's holding caucuses today.) Is Sarah allowed to go on a network other than Fox? Breaking news: She's an idiot. And all she's got are the usual bobble-headed anti-Obama speaking points. Basically: There are five men running for president and Obama is the worst of them. The other four are duking it out. Uh, yeah, sure they are. You go, Sarah. Go far, far away.

RKB: Romney's people are signalling to reporters that Romney will turn his full attention towards Obama and more or less ignore the other candidates in his speech tonight. So, no matter what happens, he will try to act like the nomination process is over and he has won. It's a new age thing, act like the thing you want to have happen is already true. I think that pathological, but that's me. 

8:24 pm - Just as I suggested about an hour ago. Romney suffers badly when he has to focus on the silliness of the Republican race. He'll likely suffer badly when placed under the spotlight of the general election campaign, but for now he looks best when he's allowed to position himself, or be positioned, above the fray, that is, as the only credible candidate in a race of awful also-rans. And today's results will likely allow him to do that.

8:27 pm - The geniuses on CNN are now analyzing what Sarah had to say. And Wolf had to note, hyping the drama, that Sarah said she might be open to getting involved at a brokered convention. Please. It won't come to that. And even if it did, it wouldn't be Sarah to whom the party would turn.

8:29 pm - Okay, enough Sarah Palin.

8:31 pm - But let me say that I do agree with David Gergen. This is about Sarah Palin Inc., about her brand, about her business. She's "artful." And she's not serious about getting into this or any other race. Now let's move on, even if CNN insists on continuing with its Palin obsession.

8:32 pm - I note that Richard and I disagree over Newt. I think he'll get out soon, perhaps even tomorrow. He thinks he'll stay in for a while and that "this thing continues to grind on no matter how well Romney does tonight." Fair enough, but Richard also pointed out that the party's pro-Romney power brokers could offer him and perhaps also Santorum a significant quid pro quo for getting out. I think that's possible with Newt, should he not get out on his own soon, but Santorum is likely in it for the long haul at this point. Particularly if he wins Tennessee and even comes a close second in Ohio. And let's not forget that if there's one thing we've learned about Santorum, or been reminded of, it's that he's a true believer with nothing to lose. If nothing else, he'll stay in to continue to advance his far-right social conservative (theocratic) agenda.

8:37 pm - Aha. CNN calls Tennessee for Santorum. Not surprising, but still a fairly big win. "A very, very important win," says Wolf. I wouldn't go that far. The key here, though, is not that Santorum won but that Romney can't win anything in the South without serious help. He won Florida, yes, but that's not really a fully southern state. And he won Virginia today only because Santorum and Gingrich weren't on the ballot. He'll win some of the South in November, of course, but he'll struggle to whip up Republican voter enthusiasm.

RKB: Hey, Karl Rove and I agree about something, which is that there will be enough good news for all four candidates tonight for them all to stay in.

Much as I don't want to get into the nitty-gritty details of delegate counting, it really is the meat and potatoes of this whole process. Fox News is spending a lot of time breaking it down. It's true that wins and loses state by state make good headlines, but we are going to have to pay some attention to the process and the rules and how it all shakes out as we come out of Super Tuesday. Democracy sure is complicated.

8:41 pm - One of Newt's wives is speaking... The big talk and smiles, from Callista and his supporters... is it self-delusion? Do they know it's all theater, that they're reciting lines that have no connection to the truth?

8:44 pm - Okay, fine, maybe Richard and Karl Rove are right. And maybe it's the after on Newt -- that is, maybe he stays in past two days from now. But it really is ridiculous for him to talk about how he was down, how no one believed in him, etc., etc., as if he's back with a shot at the nomination. He won a historic victory in South Carolina, he says. Historic? That might be overstating it. He won. That's it. And since then he's won nothing. Is he right that the party elites with their Wall Street money have knocked him down? Sure. But that's just the way it is. And there's nothing he can do about it. And he's not back. And he doesn't have a shot. This is all just self-aggrandizing spin. Yes, yes, I know it's what these guys have to do, it's how the game is played, but that doesn't make it any less ridiculous.

RKB: Fox News reports that Santorum has won both Oklahoma and Tennessee. That'll give him enough to be happy about.

8:50 pm - You won Georgia, Newt. That's it. It's your home state. And the takeaway is not that people will vote for you when they know you, as they do in Georgia, but that even you can win your home state. Period.

8:53 pm - Newt is an egomaniac, to be sure, and he probably does believe he can out-debate Obama, but there's something in the tone of his voice that suggests he doesn't quite believe what he's saying. 

8:54 pm - Ah, a teleprompter quip. Newt, you and your fellow Republicans underestimate the president at your own peril. If you really think he can only speak coherently with a teleprompter (which, by the way, is pretty much de rigueur for public speakers in large settings), you're an idiot. Actually, his dismissiveness of the president is just vile. And now he's saying that energy policy should all be about drilling, making fun of Obama's remark about algae. I've said it before and I'll say it again. These flat-earth Republicans, which is pretty much all Republicans, would have ridiculed Newton for claiming the apple fell on his head and would have ridiculed Bell for the whole telephone thing and would have ridiculed Ben Franklin for that whole kite-in-the-sky thing and... you get the point. What a fucking moron.

8:56 pm - Here's Richard on Newt's speech:

RKB: Newt is saying that efforts of the "elites" to kill his campaign have failed. No, Newt, you did that all by yourself.

He's talking about his polling numbers back in December, like that matters anymore.

He's criticizing Wall Street money for damaging his campaign taking a shot at Romney, who he is calling a Wall Street candidate. He's still playing the populist card. Newt, the man of the people, because all the people have accounts at Tiffany's.

His point is that everyone in the GOP nomination battle has had their day and he will have his again. That may not be true, but it's as good an argument as any.

He is clearly really pissed off at Romney's negative ads. It's clearly very personal between those two.

People power vs. money power is what he's calling it.

When Romney wins the nomination, Gingrich may get behind him, but that will obviously be hard for him to do.

I have to say that Gingrich doesn't sound quite as obnoxious as he usually does. A little muted tonight, actually. It's not a bad speech for him.

He is still using the argument that he's the best candidate to debate Obama because Gingrich is so gosh darn smart. What bullshit.

Gingrich is also saying that no Republican will outspend Obama, so Romney's approach in the nomination process won't work.

Gingrich seems a little energized in a way.  

9:01 pm - More on Gingrich from Richard:

RKB: Gingrich is really pushing his energy policy so, he says, no American president will ever again bow to a Saudi king.

Can't blame Gingrich for focusing on gas prices.

This is what he is spending most of his time talking about.

Okay, I'm tired of this. Yes, promising cheaper gas, because Newt can deliver that.

Damn, Fox News is staying with the whole damn Gingrich speech. What a yawn.  

9:07 pm - Good, funny point from Ari Fleischer (believe it or not), during discussion of Newt's attack on Wall Street money: Newt's money is Las Vegas money. It's all money. Of course, Fleischer's something of a Romney surrogate, but he's right. Newt's only here tonight because he's been funded (or, rather, his Super PAC has) by billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. It's not like Newt's a grassroots phenomenon. His Main Street populism is utterly phony, utterly opportunistic.

RKB: Alex Castellanos, GOP flack, made a good point about Gingrich that his speech was all about himself and not at all about the voters of the state of Georgia who voted for him. It is true that good politics dictates that you talk about the voters. "Yes We Can" is about "We." Everything about the Gingrich campaign is about him.

But even though his claim to be alive and well in the process is delusional, staying in raises the profile of his personal brand and makes it easier for him to earn the big bucks when it all over. That's all it was ever about for him.

9:15 pm - Santorum speaking soon. Seems early.

RKB: Man, Ohio is very close with Santorum slightly up. This would be a big night for him if he won the state. It just drags things out that much further. 39% to 36% for Santorum with about a quarter of the vote in. Still really early. John King is implying that Romney could easily come back because of where his strength is, i.e., in densely populated areas where the vote count happens more slowly.

9:18 pm - "This is our roots," says Santorum. He looks relaxed and confident. And he's right, this is is where he's from. Newt's populism is phony, and Mitt is a privileged rich douchebag, but Santorum's genuinely a man of the heartland who speaks to and for the values and many who live there. "This is about the towns that have been left behind..." He's an extremist, let's not forget that, but his appeal is unmistakable. And he's a lot more effective when he's taking economic populism than, oh, say, birth control or pornography.

9:24 pm - "What right does a government have...?" Santorum asks. Um, well, the federal government is a democratic government. Republicans like to ignore that basic fact. They treat Washington like a kleptocracy. But haven't Republicans controlled most of Washington for most of the past 12 years? Um...

9:29 pm - And "our Creator" gets big applause. Don't you wish Paul would come and show these idiots the truth about the universe, like he did for Kristen Wiig? 

9:30 pm - Always hilarious when Republicans paint Obama as some sort of totalitarian who wants to control people's lives. But I do like how he's going after Romney for health-care reform and the individual mandate -- and calling Romney out for lying. Not that I'm against Obamacare or Romneycare or the mandate, of course, but because I want Santorum to beat Romney, and one way to beat him is to hammer home the conservative positions on health care. 

9:34 pm - Good speech, even if I don't agree with, well, any of it. Reminds me of his speech the night of the Iowa caucuses, way back when. Again, he's very appealing when he's not pushing his theocracy. Even I can admit that. Over to Richard now for more: 

RKB: Santorum is finally playing the working class hero card. Finally.

Alright, introducing the 93-year-old mom. Nice touch.

Talking about the towns that have been left behind. Yes, his advisors have finally got to him. Finally made him listen. It's about the economy, asshole! I don't think we'll hear him talk about contraception tonight.

I think he just called his wife his mom. Some Freudian thing going on there?

Santorum is also playing the campaign poverty card, just like Gingrich did, implying that it's hard to compete with Romney's big money.

Okay, he's playing the elite card, too. The elites are trying to tell us what to do.

Talking about the debt. And who created most of that debt again? I still haven't heard one of these bozos talk about President George W. Bush.

And now he's talking about Obama's health-care program. Okay, churches and neighbors should be providing health care. Is that what he is really saying?

Ah, health care for everyone in America is the beginning of the end of freedom.

What an idiot.

So if our rights come to us from our creator, do those of who who don't believe in their creator have rights?

He still hasn't mentioned the other GOP candidates by name.

Oh, okay, now he's going after the whole individual mandate thing, and Romney by name.

9:38 pm - This is exhausting. Maybe we should just quit now and ignore Romney.

9:40 pm - Romney speaking soon. Looks like these two wanted to get out ahead of the Ohio results.

RKB: Santorum is still holding on in Ohio. Can't imagine the GOP pointy heads will be happy if this ends up that way. Talk about limping to the finish line. I have to say that as much as I despise Santorum, I love it when Romney gets beat.

Speaking of hating Santorum, the bastard is worried that the government is going to tell people what to do, but he doesn't mind telling the rest of us what kind of lives we should live and what values we should hold. We should all live his values and his life choices.

9:42 pm - Honestly, Ann, so what that Romney won where he's known best? It's like Newt winning in Georgia. You're supposed to win those races. The key is winning elsewhere, in states like, oh... oh... Ohio. We shall see.

9:43 pm - Prediction: Romney attacks Obama with an arsenal of dishonesty.

9:46 pm - Ann says Mitt's the only person who can turn around America? Really? Of 300 million-plus, he's the only one? Huh.

9:47 pm - Sorry, this isn't the most lofty analysis, but... what a smarmy piece of shit Romney is. I keep calling him a privileged rich douchebag, but I'm not sure that's strong enough.

9:48 pm - "Thanks, you guys," Mitt says to Newt, Rick, and Ron. "Nice races." The fact that he went brutally negative and outspent them into the ground? Oh, he didn't mention that.

9:50 pm - As someone who went to university in the Boston area (Tufts), and who loves that city, it makes me ill to see Romney there. The people of Massachusetts may have elected him, once, when he was something of a moderate, but there's no way they'd vote for this right-wing version, the new Mitt, the panderer to extremism. No. Fucking. Way. And Obama will crush him in Massachusetts.

9:54 pm - Yes, right, unemployment is Obama's fault. And the economy will be great again with Mitt in the White House. Need I remind you that Obama inherited a disaster, pulled the country back from the brink, and saved Wall Street and the auto industry? And that Romney was fine letting the car companies collapse?

9:56 pm - Maybe this isn't his worst speech, but there's just no focus to it. It's a patchwork of bullshit. It's like he an actor playing himself. Or an actor playing an actor playing himself. Something like that. Either way, he's about as genuine as Joan Rivers's face. Hence Santorum's appeal, all the more obvious when compared to Romney's lack thereof.

9:58 pm - Hmm, why do you think a guy worth $250 million would want to get rid of the estate ("death") tax? I wonder.

10:00 pm - And over to Richard again:

RKB: Did he say his son's name was Tag? Do these gazillionaires ever have normal names?

This guy is so dull. Really. It's so hard to care about anything he says. I think he might start singing "America the Beautiful." Yup, he's speaking as if the nomination process is over. He's thanking the other candidates for a hard fought campaign. Does anyone believe that Romney gives a damn about working-class and middle-class people? What a crock.

I think Romney almost said that in 2012 he was going to get Obama out of the outhouse. Must have been a teleprompter malfunction.

I'm not even annoyed by Romney. He's just so weak.

There is nothing likeable about this guy, and the polling numbers bear that out. Yeah, bring it on, Mitt. Can't wait till it's you vs. President Barack Obama. Can't wait.

10:06 pm - Long story short in Ohio: Santorum's up 38 to 36 with 61% reporting, but Romney should be able to pick up votes in some high-population areas that are slower in reporting. It'll be close. I still think Mitt wins it. Barely.

10:07 pm - Another win for Santorum: North Dakota. It's easy to dismiss these un-sexy states (according to media coverage, at least), but every win matters and every delegate counts. And it's not close: Santorum's up 40 to 27 over Paul, with Romney at 25, with 78% reporting.

10:09 pm - Tennessee's a clear win for Santorum, too: He's up 38 to 28 over Romney, with 69% reporting.

10:10 pm - But, of course, Mitt's wins count, too, and his wins in both Massachusetts and Vermont are also decisive. Once again, the point is this: Today all comes down to Ohio. It's pretty much a tie otherwise. And even after Ohio it'll still be a tie, more or less, though Romney will win the delegate count, particularly since Santorum wasn't on the ballot in some Ohio counties and not at all in Virginia.

10:13 pm - Taking a break. Be back soon.

10:30 pm - I suppose this is where John King is at his most useful, looking at county-by-county results in Ohio, though all it really means is reading the numbers and stating the obvious. He and Wolf are talking about Romney having to "thread the needle," and, yes, it'll be close. But most of the votes still to come are from the Romney-leaning counties in and around Cleveland (Cuyahoga), Columbus (Franklin), and Cincinnati (Hamilton, Butler, Warren), and Romney is fast closing the gap. It's now just 38 to 37 for Santorum, with a margin of just over 7,000 votes -- and there are still a lot (22%) left to report.

10:39 pm - And the narrowing continues. With 81% reporting in Ohio, Santorum's up by just over 6,000 votes.

10:43 pm - And even closer... It's now 37-37 in Ohio. Santorum's up by just about 2,500 votes with 84% in. Have I mentioned that Romney will win Ohio? Oh, right, I've been saying that from the start.

11:03 pm - CNN apparently has even more up-to-date numbers than the official count and is reporting that Romney has taken the lead in Ohio. And on that I'm off to watch The Daily Show. Be back in a bit.

11:50 pm - So, what did I miss? Romney up in Ohio, 38 to 37, with 92% reporting. I picked him to win by two, by the way. And we haven't mentioned Idaho yet, where Romney's up big, 75 to 13 over Paul, with Santorum at 9. And, you know, we haven't mentioned Newt in some time. Why? Because, as I mentioned, the good news came early for him, the win in Georgia, but since then he's been a distant also-ran. Remember that speech he gave earlier this evening, the one where he was pumping himself up? Yeah.

12:28 pm - Alright, we're done. Romney is solidly ahead in Ohio. It's only 38 to 37, but he's got a 12,000-vote lead with 96% reporting. I guess it really does pay to outspend and crush your opponent with negative advertising. Which, from what we can tell so far, is really the only way Romney can beat anyone in any big-time competitive race.

12:30 pm - Nothing's in from Alaska yet.

12:31 pm - So it's been a crazy evening. No time really to do anything fun, which was our intention. Oh well. With ten votes and speeches coming one after the other, it was all business. But we'll be back tomorrow (or, rather, later today) with more, including a fun "Santorum or Khamenei?" game and -- stop the presses!!! -- a new post by Kathryn Rogers, Dear Leader Rush's fourth wife!!! Really? Yes, really. She's back by popular demand, judging from our recent traffic. And who wouldn't want to hear from her? (Or someone pretending to be her, disclaimer included.)

12:36 pm - That's it for me tonight. Crazy long post already. No need for more, other than to say that it was a very good night for Romney in that he cements his position as frontrunner and likely nominee, a very good night for Santorum in that he won three states and can stay in the race as a credible alternative to Romney who speaks for much of the party, a very bad night for Gingrich in that he won his own state but lost badly everywhere else and has nowhere to go from here but down and out, and a very bad night for Paul in that we hardly paid him any attention at all, though his apparent alliance with Romney means that he wins whenever Mitt does.

12:44 pm - The media will continue to play up the tension, and, yes, it will still be Romney vs. Santorum coming out of Super Tuesday, but when you get past the largely media-manufactured drama and all the self-aggrandizing spin on all sides it's pretty clear that Romney, as I wrote at the outset, has more or less wrapped up the nomination. But he remains an incredibly weak frontrunner and likely nominee and, with Santorum still challenging him and still posing a bit of a threat, he'll have to spend wildly and pander to the right shamelessly in order to rack up the delegates. All of which will hurt him come November.

Go Santorum!

Good night, everyone.

Labels: , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

2 Comments:

  • Beyond Ohio, it will be interesting to see how Santorum performs in Georgia. The New York Times' Nate Silver projected he would earn 18.9 percent of the vote, but an analysis by Smart Politics found that in the first 11 races, Santorum out performed his poll rating by 4.7 percent.

    Only 3 percent of precincts are reporting from Georgia so far, but Santorum is at 25 percent to Mitt Romney's 23 percent (25.5 percent forecast in the polls) and Newt Gingrich's 46 percent (445.8 percent forecast).

    By Blogger Muddy Politics, at 8:00 PM  

  • It's really all Ohio for Santorum, though. If he were to come out today with wins in Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Ohio, he'd be able to make the credible claim that it's an even two-man race.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 9:17 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home