Who’s the Republican Nominee?

Well, it looks like Newt is enjoying a well-timed surge in the polls. Steve and I are debating who's going to win the nomination. 

I think Newt is going to grab it. He may be an asshole, but he has appeared very confident and knowledgable in the debates. People think he'll be able to keep up with Obama in a debate. Romney is too smarmy, as Steve points out. 

But Steve still thinks that Romney will win it. When it comes time to actually pull the voting lever, they won't want to go with Newt. They will be turned off by his arrogance and his gerth. I think if voters aren't swarming around smarmy Romney now, they really don't like him.  I think that Newt is going to win it.

Question of the Day: Newt or Mitt? 

47 thoughts on “Who’s the Republican Nominee?

  1. I’ve always thought it was Romney’s to lose and I don’t think he’s made a big enough error to lose it. I keep reading that Newt has money, but Newt’s tape recorder keeps calling my house making me think that maybe his money is all being used to raise more money.

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  2. Co-blogger Doug M., back on June2, 2011, “Mitt Romney, barring catastrophe.”
    Every four years, I write that God does not love Democrats enough for Newt Gingrich to be the Republican nominee for president. It’s still true.

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  3. It will be Mitt; of that I’m practically certain. He inspires no passion amongst the most committed of the Republican primary electorate, but history–George H.W. Bush, Dole, McCain–proves time and time again that that small portion of voters isn’t enough to outweigh the rest of the “we-want-to-beat-the-Democrat” GOP crowd.

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  4. O RLY, La? I assume then you’re going to put your money where you mouth is on intrade, right? Newt is still trading 30 cents on the dollar.

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  5. My money is on Mit. Gingrich will implode now that the spotlight is on him. He already had some major gaffes. Watch Morning Joe from this morning and the part about how he explained his lobbying job.
    I’m also watching Huntsman as a long shot. He’s up to double-digits in NH. The base may decide at the last minute to go with a more electable alternative to Romney. If he wins there suddenly he is the talk of the town and that builds momentum for SC.

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  6. Maybe this is just wishful thinking on my part. Obama has it sewn up no matter who runs, but I think that a Newt-Obama race would have some excellent, random moments. Newt is, at least, entertaining.

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  7. Not Newt. He has always struck me as not reliable. The Republican Party is not a unified structure. His status as a long-time Washington insider disqualifies him. Oh, and his lobbying, his marital adventures, and his propensity for trying to be the smartest guy in the room.
    I think the media would love Newt to be the nominee, because he’s guaranteed to crash and burn.

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  8. “Obama has it sewn up no matter who runs.” Now THAT’s wishful thinking on your part. A “well-timed” European financial crash, and you can get used to the sound of “President Romney.”

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  9. Even in my wildest dreams do I ever think I can predict who the republicans will choose. What I’d like to know is who someone I know will vote for in the Republican primary (i.e. someone who votes in the Republican primary). But I don’t think I know anyone who is going to vote in the Republican primary, except for people on the web.
    (Laura, that is wishful thinking 🙂

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  10. That should probably read: “Even in my wildest dreams I never think I can predict who the republicans will choose.”

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  11. Worded differently, can I answer if the Republican was going to win (in the off chance, in my darkest nightmares), who would I want to be the Republican nominee? I think Huntsman, then Romney. I really hate Newt, and I think he would bring the worst of all Republican worlds, the cosy relationship with the 1%’s & business acting at its worst, the lobbying/inside the beltway world + the hypocritical social engineering (and add to this his own personal sliminess, which I largely see as being independent of party allegiance).

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  12. The European financial crash will not be confined to Europe.
    Obama does not have it sewn up. Hillary would be a much stronger candidate.

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  13. Wow, Laura, can you flesh out your theory that Obama has it “sewn up”? With 9% unemployment? Ok, so it’s down from 10%, but that doesn’t sound like a slam-dunk, more like he might eke out a victory with a very negative campaign.
    For the record, I predict Romney, basically for the reasons Prof. Fox gave.

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  14. Why do I think Obama has it sewn up? Well, Republican voters clearly aren’t in love with Romney. They keep flirting with the other candidates hoping for something better. Maybe Perry. Maybe Cain. Maybe Newt. They don’t love Romney.
    Also, I think that Obama’s mid-40s popularity rating isn’t bad considering the state of the economy. Once he starts campaigning, he’ll bring those numbers up a few more points.
    The other Republican candidates are doing a great job of shredding Romney right now, too. The flip-flop label is going to stick.

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  15. And, JT, I’ll take any wager than involves beer. We can decide on the terms of the wager when you and your gang come home from Doug-land.

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  16. Since Carter, when a new president has been elected, the presidency seems to have gone to the candidate who was at the time perceived to be less of a Washington insider.
    Ford/Carter
    Carter/Reagan
    Mondale/Bush
    Dole/Clinton
    Gore/Bush
    McCain/Obama
    So, it would be a disaster for the Republicans to nominate Newt.

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  17. Hold out for wine from Over Here, Laura!
    Anecdatally, I haven’t been able to get any of my Republican or otherwise right-ish FB friends to put money down on Obama losing.

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  18. This discussion always sounds like astrology to me. But, I’ll point out that Cranberry left out Bush/Dukakis (I’m guessing the veep is less of on DC outsider than the governor of MA, though who knows).
    And, until Obama won (with two Senators running against each other, so it had to happen), weren’t senators supposed to loose?
    I think these predictions based on what’s happened before in previous elections always include far too few variables to have much meaning at all, especially when they’re not models, but someone doing analysis on the factors that strike their interest.
    I do think some of the models are becoming more sophisticated and might have some more predictive value, but am guessing that if the future was really predictable, the person doing the modelling would be betting on ways of making money, not scoring points by predicting the next president (though you political scientists are a weird lot — perhaps scoring the points on your fellow academics is worth more than a couple of million dollars).

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  19. And, in defense of Newt, though he is clearly a washington insider, I think the sitting president out-qualifies him on that score, and that would be the relevant comparison, if you wanted to make one.
    (I feel a prediction coming on, and that goes against my policy, so I have to stop typing.)

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  20. I’m thinking I do not want to see the economy get bad enough that Obama loses to Romney. I’m sure “a Republican” could win, but not any currently playing the game. You need someone who can project a positive agenda without looking like he is a light weight or a governor of Texas. That person doesn’t exist.

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  21. I predict an Obama victory through one of two possible vectors: (a) Republicans nominate Newt or one of the other salamanders, and Obama beats him; or (b) Republicans nominate Romney, leading to a third party run from someone running to his right who splits the Conservative vote, leading to an Obama plurality.

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  22. I think Obama beats Romney without a third party. Incumbency is a huge advantage and Obama is good on the campaign trail.

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  23. All right, La, it is on! However, I feel like I need to be a bit charitable here–giving you 1:1 odds would be unfair to you. So, given the rough barometer if how Newt and Mitt are doing today, I’ll put two six packs of so-so lager on Mitt against your one six pack of good lager on Newt. If it’s someone else, Steve drinks them all (in one sitting).

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  24. I think Obama beats Romney without a third party. Incumbency is a huge advantage and Obama is good on the campaign trail.
    Maybe I’m misreading the right-wing Christians, but I’m feeling like there’s a sizable chunk who don’t think Romney is a “Christian,” and won’t pull the lever for a Mormon — irrespective of whether or not they think the opponent is a secret Muslim or not, and irrespective of whether their pastors tell them that sufficiently conservative Mormons count as Christians now.
    Throw in the flip flops on healthcare, abortion, etc. and I feel like a third party candidate will just sort of materialize, like the Angel Maroni, over the great expanse of red states.

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  25. Deal! Virtual spit of the hand and shake.
    And the Steve/3 6-packs clause? Dude! No way. You’ll leave and I’ll have to clean him up.

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  26. Theologically speaking, LDS isn’t Christian. That isn’t right wing, though I suppose people from the states where it is socially awkward to point out that LDS isn’t Christian are more likely to be right wing.
    I’m not saying there won’t be a 3rd party candidate. Such a thing is common. I will say that in my experience, when people from the coast starts pontificating about “Red States” as if they were both culturally uniform and particularly backward, I start to remember how the Democrats seem to be trying to lose elections at various times. It really is just a big popularity contest.

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  27. I’m a little wary of asking this question, but, ok, clue me in. On what basis can one confidentially state “theologically speaking LDS isn’t Christian.”?
    It’s a debate I don’t care about and will probably not understand, but I don’t really know how one would go about making the distinction.

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  28. Most Protestants would agree with the Pope, that Mormons are not Christians. They recognize other Scriptures (the Book of Mormon), for one thing.
    Nonetheless, the majority of white Protestants will vote for Romney, as they would for any Republican. Sola scriptura and TULIP aren’t political platforms. I would be surprised if there were a right-wing third party candidate, but if there is, it will be a Tea Party or libertarian candidate, not a Religious Right candidate.

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  29. I was being churlish. The reasoning is based on the Nicean Creed*, which is taken as authoritative by Catholics, Orthodox, and most Protestant churches. The Protestant churches who don’t worry about the Creed are likely to be the kind that Ragtime thinks won’t vote for an LDS candidate regardless. That is, those are the sola scriptura churches who usually have narrow definitions of “Christian” and, as scriptural literalists, are most annoyed at the attempt to add a book to the Bible.
    *I had to look it up, but it seems to be the difference between “one God in three Persons” and “Three Persons in one Godhead.” Also, baptizing dead people.

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  30. “Also, I think that Obama’s mid-40s popularity rating isn’t bad considering the state of the economy. Once he starts campaigning, he’ll bring those numbers up a few more points.”
    Once he starts campaigning? Laura, you’re killing me. Obama has very obviously already launched his campaign.
    “I’m thinking I do not want to see the economy get bad enough that Obama loses to Romney.”
    Indeed. But it only has to stay bad for a year at the same level. We have a pretty good chance of two or three Southern European countries imploding economically in that time.
    By the way, don’t forget that Pat Buchanan won the NH primary back in 1996. I wouldn’t bet the rent on the NH results.
    Here’s my rundown (you could have quite the candidate if it were possible to slice off the positive features of each guy and combine them):
    Mitt Romney–very disciplined, but regrettably Ken doll-like. As architect of Romneycare, not positioned well to unplug Obamacare.
    Newt–smart, but erratic. Has lots of ideas, half of them very bad. Unfortunately, he can’t tell the difference. Looks like a troll. Due to have some sort of weird meltdown within a month or two.
    Perry–Unfortunate debate performances. Probably hampered quite a bit by being one of few candidates with real day job. I suspect he’d be a very tolerable president.
    Huntsman–This may be totally unfair and off base, but I feel like he’s the most likely Republican candidate to get caught propositioning a vice squad cop in the men’s room. That may be totally wrong, but that’s the vibe he gives off, and I can’t be the only person who reads him that way. Also, his main claim to fame (allegedly being fluent in Chinese) is apparently bogus. See here:
    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2011/10/is_jon_huntsman_fluent_in_chinese_.html

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  31. The Slate article is a really brilliant piece of journalism, I think, because they take a bit of conventional wisdom (Huntsman’s Chinese)that’s been repeated in dozens of places and take the trouble to figure out how true it is. Bravo, Slate.
    “Media reports on the Republican candidates simply assert as a fact that Huntsman is “fluent in Mandarin”—a statement repeated by NPR, the New York Times, CNN, the Boston Herald, the Economist, Esquire, and New Hampshire’s ABC station, among many others. Huntsman’s ads emphasize that he is “Fluent in Mandarin Chinese,” and his website declares (in its Interactive Timeline) that he became “fluent in Mandarin Chinese and Taiwanese Hokkien” in 1980. Even the Obama White House declared that “Huntsman speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese.””

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  32. As architect of Romneycare, not positioned well to unplug Obamacare.
    I don’t know what either party is going to do with that. The Republican position is very clearly “No government health care for anybody under 65 and no one 65 and over should pay a cent.” That position is not something you can make explicit and win an election with.
    I think Romney could have possibly won a general election pushing for something like Romneycare on a national level, but he had to stab that to get past the primary. This is why I expect Obama will win and what I meant by “you need someone who can project a positive agenda.”

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  33. “The Republican position is very clearly “No government health care for anybody under 65 and no one 65 and over should pay a cent.” That position is not something you can make explicit and win an election with.”
    So there’s no Republican laying out a catastrophic/HSA health care solution? Bummer.
    “This is why I expect Obama will win and what I meant by “you need someone who can project a positive agenda.””
    Indeed.

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  34. So there’s no Republican laying out a catastrophic/HSA health care solution? Bummer.
    That actually sounds like it might be Ron Paul’s position. I’m not going to look it up because it won’t work in our current set-up. Too many of the good risks (i.e. basically healthy people) have employment-based coverage. Unless you want to take steps to end that*, you need a mandate and a large subsidy before even catastrophic insurance could be affordable. You need the mandate to force the healthy young to pay into the system and you need to subsidy because some people are really sick and because some people are really poor.
    * That is, unless you want to roil the middle class during a period of already high levels of fear.

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  35. I’m not Christian, and I don’t understand it very well. I spent most of high school European history staring at the blackboard trying to figure out the difference between “consubstantiation” and “transubstantiation,” and wondering how anyone was ever sure enough about the difference to launch of 100 year or 30 year war over it. My working assumption is that you base your religious genus on your most recent prophet. That’s why Christians are Jewish and Muslims aren’t Christian or Jewish. The same should hold for Mormons. As a non-Christian, I don’t perceive “non-Christian” to be an insult, but I take it that some Mormons do, otherwise there wouldn’t be a debate about it. I can also see why Christians wouldn’t want Mormons to call themselves Christian — just like Jews don’t like Jews for Jesus calling themselves Jewish.
    I know that many Christian leaders have, historically, described Mormonism as a “cult,” and that gets reported every few weeks. I don’t know when “Christian” and “cult” are permitted to overlap, or whether it is worse to be a non-Christian or a cultist.

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  36. Christianity is the most successful of a diverse multitude of 1st century Judaisms, but for convenience, it makes sense to use different words for the two groups. Although it is a commonplace to talk about Christianity as being a daughter religion of Judaism, I think it makes more sense to think of them as being sister religions with a common ancestor.
    With regard to Mormons, their traditional use of the term “gentile” to refer to non-Mormons does point toward their having a fairly distinct identity. In recent years, I believe there’s been movement back toward the Protestant fold.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gentile
    I’d personally avoid the word “cult.” As somebody once said, a cult is a religion without political power.

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  37. So, I can’t stop thinking about the Republican primaries. I’m obsessed with state-by-state polls. And my conclusion is:
    Republican primaries are really, really weird things.
    I mean, there are two things: (1) States that vote for Republicans a lot, and (2) states with a lot of Republican voters, and they are really not the same thing at all.
    I mean, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina are going to give the Republicans a lot more electoral votes than New York and California are, but there are lots more Republicans in New York and California, just because they are much bigger states.
    So, what is the party supposed to do if the Republican states want Gingrich, but the Republican people (in Democratic states) want Romney? I mean, the answer is obviously that Romney would win, but its a weird sort of problem for the party that so much of his support comes from states he’s going to lose.

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  38. “I mean, the answer is obviously that Romney would win, but its a weird sort of problem for the party that so much of his support comes from states he’s going to lose.”
    Correct. Was McCain more or less the same deal?
    It may just be that it’s Romney’s turn to get the nomination.

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  39. Maybe. I’m imagining a more drawn out Obama/Clinton style primary that the Republicans haven’t had in modern elections. I think in the past the Republican primary was more “winner take all,” so you never really had to weigh the relative strengths in different states, and also meant that four second place finishes put you at “0” instead of a close second, so you had to drop out.
    I remember someone saying at some point in 2008 that if Democrats did did more “winner take all” like Republicans, that Clinton would have won, and if Republicans did more “proportional allocation” like the Democrats, than Huckabee would have won. I don’t know if that is entirely true, or was true at one point, but the Republican primary system is more like the Democrats’ this year, which should give more weight to bigger bluer states.

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