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Late last week, I took a look back at polls since Rick Perry entered the race and noticed that the combined support of the four Not Romneys—Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Perry—has been surprisingly stable, even though the there's been huge ups and down for the individual candidates.

Mitt Romney
I then looked at hypothetical head-to-head matchups between Mitt Romney and whoever his chief "Not Romney" rival happened to be at the time of the poll (in August and September it was Perry, October it was Cain, and November it was Gingrich). The results told the same story:
Not Mitt of the month
Both of these charts show that there are consistently more Republicans eager to nominate a Not Romney than to nominate Mitt Romney. Obviously, that's not good news for Romney, but because Republicans have failed to coalesce behind a single alternative, Romney has consistently been one of the top two candidates in national polling, seemingly validating his divide-and-conquer strategy.

The problem with his plan, however, is that it falls apart if Not Romney supporters begin to coalesce around a single candidate. Yesterday's endorsement of Newt Gingrich by the New Hampshire Union Leader suggests that  is exactly what's happening.

According to Nate Silver's research, the candidate who gets the Union Leader's endorsement tends to rise by about 11 points in the polls after getting the endorsement. One of Nate's key points is that this isn't necessarily a cause-and-effect thing: it could be the endorsement merely reflects a broader trend—that it's a "leading indicator" as Nate puts it. And if the endorsement reflects a move by the Republican base to coalesce around Newt Gingrich, then Mitt Romney is in a ton of trouble. His path to the nomination depends on the weakness of his opposition. He cannot win against tough rivals. And if he can't beat Newt Gingrich or the rest of the field, then he can't even beat weak rivals.

Originally posted to The Jed Report on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 06:53 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  My sister has been telling us for months that Newt (13+ / 0-)

    would be the nominee even after the Tiffany's flap she was still betting on him, the rest of the family laughed at her, and some still do

    But I'm starting to wonder if Newt can actually win now with NH Union endorsing him

    "Rick Perry talks a lot and he's not very bright. And that's a combination I like in Republicans." --- James Carville

    by LaurenMonica on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 06:55:58 AM PST

  •  OT Barney Frank won't run for reelection via NBC (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aquarius40, G2geek, bythesea

    "Rick Perry talks a lot and he's not very bright. And that's a combination I like in Republicans." --- James Carville

    by LaurenMonica on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 07:00:51 AM PST

    •  He's put in more than enough time (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, annieli

      One can quibble with some of his votes and attempts to reach compromise, but he's been one of the better Critters.

      I hope this is simply time for him to pursue some other interests and passions while he can devote energy and effort to them and not some dire health issue.

      Occupy Wall Street AND K Street!!!!

      by Egalitare on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 07:24:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Romney looks sturdier than his (6+ / 0-)

    competition, but his competition is a pack of crazy people.

    So that's not saying much for Romney.  

    It's possible that Gingrich, as repellent as he is to us, could win over a lot of current Romney supporters in the GOP primaries and just drive Romney out.  

    Romney keeps getting considered the likely nominee, but at the moment, the arithmetic just isn't quite there for him.  

    •  Gingrich is the perfect Anti-Romney (15+ / 0-)

      While Perry, Bachmann, and Cain lacked intelligence, Gingrich oozes his know-it-all attitude. While Bachmann, Perry, and Cain seem unbalanced and unprepared under the bright lights of center stage, Gingrich relishes the lime-light. The GOP wants an outsider, and Gingrich has been out of politics for sufficently long enough for the voters to have whitewashed his fall from grace. You hardly ever hear Gingrich talk about his time in Congress or as Speaker, all part of his plan to redefine himself as a political outsider, even though he is the biggest career politician on the stage. He knows how politics works in ways that Bachmann and Cain cannot begin to understand. And he isn't afraid to hit where it hurts.

      •  Good analysis. Gingrich is a meanie. (7+ / 0-)

        He's reasonably smart, but IMO not particularly bright.  He looks better than the other nonRomneys, anyway.  

        And at the moment, the cameras are turned on him and not on Willard.  

        •  He never met a camera he didn't like (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Remediator, TomP, Fury, G2geek, bythesea

          Gingrich loves hearing himself talk, because he thinks he is the smartest man alive. But what he may have in book smarts he lacks in social skills. Luckily, the GOP primary electorate is made up of racists, sociopaths, and the willfully uninformed, so they won't even begin to notice any of this until it is too late.

          •  Probably right -- although I'm guessing Romney's (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TomP, Fury, bythesea

            team has noticed it and is rightly worried.  

            Each development in the race for the Pukes' nom this cycle has underscored what a majority of Republicans don't like about Romney.

            •  True (3+ / 0-)

              I would imagine that his one has to have them rattled though. They knew that a Bachmann or a Cain could never actually beat Romney. Perry could, but he's too stupid to figure out how. Gingrich is the scariest of the bunch to them. if Gingrich keeps getting closer to Romney in poll and poll in lots of places, they will have to start attacking, which is what they have avoided from the beginning. They want Romney running a general campaign now and staying above the fray of the primary fights. But once they hit Gingrich, he isn't going to just take it laying down or flail like the others have.

          •  narcissistic personality disorder. (4+ / 0-)

            And the characteristics you just described, plus his serial adultery, add up to a diagnosis.  

            "Minus one vote for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

            by G2geek on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 07:52:51 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  A question for the ages: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Can a meanie win the prize of President of the United States?  During the worst recession in fifty years.  When millions are depending on government assistance?  If so, we've become a dog eat dog nation whose christian values are nothing but a farce.

          Got Social Security? Thank a Democrat!

          by Fury on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 07:53:31 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's definitely a winner (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            for the nomination -- they think he's a "real fighter", especially against those liberal media moderators!

            •  Oh, I have no doubt the hearless sociopaths (0+ / 0-)

              who are the GOP base would nominate him.  But how does this all play in the general election? He's mean, he's obnoxious, he's, dare I say, rotund, his wife is a plastic barbie who was having an affair with him for six years when he was married to a woman who was his mistress before that, and the affair was in it's climax when he was impeaching Clinton for having sex with an intern.  But the talkradiogods will spin it..."that was the old Newt, now meet the new Newt!".  Not even his public statements about health care reform and the individual mandate will do him in. But in the end, his empathy for the children of illegal immigrants will be his downfall, mark my words.

              Got Social Security? Thank a Democrat!

              by Fury on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 09:04:02 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Nixon (0+ / 0-)

            Nixon did.

            Hush! Hush! see how the Child is sleeping; Hush! Hush! see how he smiles in dreams!

            by Zornorph on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 09:10:49 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  uh, I think he tried to look moderate, while this (0+ / 0-)

              bunch celebrates heartlessness.   How will that play with the (suffering) multitudes?

              Got Social Security? Thank a Democrat!

              by Fury on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 09:13:48 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Gingrich (0+ / 0-)

                Have you followed Gingrich's latest campaign? He's turning on the 'nice' as well. What do you think that comment on immigration was about? And he's been very respectful of his competitors for the GOP nomination.
                Other than that 'Kenyan' comment, most of what he's directed at Obama (particularly lately) has been teleprompter jokes. He wants to beat Obama on ideas and thinks he can.

                Hush! Hush! see how the Child is sleeping; Hush! Hush! see how he smiles in dreams!

                by Zornorph on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 09:17:15 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  You just said the secret word. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  Gingrich thinks he can beat Obama.

                  But he won't. Because people with an average intelligence or above will see through his blustering, sociopathic behavior and go with four more years of Obama.

                  Then, after throwing the mother of all temper tantrums, the right will concentrate its efforts on impeaching Obama for the flimsiest of excuses.

          •  Good point. Obama could return as (0+ / 0-)

            the community organizer, leaving Newt and Calista in the rain just outside Tiffany's.  

        •  "not particularly bright"?? Huh? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I guess you haven't watched any of the GOP debates.  He comes off like the old professor.

          - which he was, BTW, for years.. and his lectures were even broadcast on PBS:
          Newt Gingrich - Renewing American Civilization

          This was simply a series of political propaganda that Newt got PSB to sponsor!

  •  Romney has tens of millions $ more, though. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LaurenMonica, blue aardvark, bythesea

    I don't know. Newt? I just don't think that God loves me enough.

    "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

    by GussieFN on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 07:17:10 AM PST

    •  Perry donors are running to Newt not to Romney (9+ / 0-)

      according to someone from Politico. Newt's aides who left him for Perry months ago are going back to the mother ship

      "Rick Perry talks a lot and he's not very bright. And that's a combination I like in Republicans." --- James Carville

      by LaurenMonica on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 07:30:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Romney's always had the problem that... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TomP, GussieFN, jct takes much more money for him to compete in the GOP Primaries than any of his competitors. So while his fundraising and potential fundraising seems overwhelming, actual Primary and Caucus participants - especially in Iowa and South Carolina - aren't likely to be impressed enough to vote counter to their feeling that Romney is not of an "approved religion."

      If Newt is indeed the last "Not Romney" standing, he could essential deal Romney a campaign-ending blow on GOP Super Tuesday (caution: even though it includes MA, OK or TN may have more Delegates based on their apportioning rules) raising and spending as little as 1/4 the cash that Romney does.

      Occupy Wall Street AND K Street!!!!

      by Egalitare on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 07:39:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Last Nonrom Standing (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jct, milton333

        I kinda suspect there's enough time for another Fall and Rise, and whomever peaks at the right time will be the the Official Non-Romney.

        My money's on Bachmann, but probably Perry.

        "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

        by GussieFN on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 08:08:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Super Tuesday May Not Be Decisive (0+ / 0-)

        Up until the April 1 primaries the delegates are apportioned based on vote count for each candidate.  However, starting with the April 1 states, it is winner take all.  And the April 1 states are all liberal eastern states, where Romney should do well.  Of course the MSM will be declaring the winner much sooner than that, even though the delegate counts are almost certain to be very close.

  •  Romney (8+ / 0-)

    should fear Gingrich because he trails him in Iowa, and now that he is playing in Iowa he has to win it, or Gingrich will take out everyone to his right.

    As I wrote in the last cycle, winning Iowa is worth about 14 points in New Hampshire, and the loser in New Hampshire often takes a big hit.  

    If Newt wins Iowa and gets within 5 of Romney in New Hampshire, he wins the nomination.l

    The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

    by fladem on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 07:19:38 AM PST

    •  If Newt wins Florida (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      with its winner-take-all haul, along with all or most of the SC delegates, how is Romney a "front runner" exactly?

    •  But Gingrich has no organization in Iowa - (0+ / 0-)

      at least the last I heard..

      Iowa is not just go to the polls and vote.. they are caucuses where each candidate must have a representative present to corral voters.. and multiple ballots happen during the night as well.

      I don't know how predictive polls are in a situation such as that.

      If Newt has put together a strong organization since last time I looked at this, then there's a whole new ball game.. otherwise, I won't pay too much attention to the polls.

      Remember how Obama grabbed the momentum away from Hillary in Iowa by putting together an unbeatable organization...

    •  There's much to that -- agreed -- and (0+ / 0-)

      I am guessing Romney's strategists are wetting their britches over that scenario.  Gingrich takes Iowa.  Paul places second.  Romney an unimpressive third.  

      Romney does better in New Hampshire but Gingrich slices his double-digit lead down to a single digit "moral" win in second place.  All the buzz is on Gingrich before and after New Hampshire in that scenario, and despite his rich-boy bucks, Romney will be crushed in South Carolina.

      Florida would be his last chance for viability and the momentum at that point would favor Gingrich.  

  •  What does Romney do in the South? (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LaurenMonica, TomP, Fury, bythesea, jct

    What does he do in all these states that have closed primaries? Every state isn't going to be like New Hampshire.

    If conservatives rally around Newt (and that is a big, big if) then how is Romney going to win them over?

    The only thing I can see is that in the end the money boys and the establishment just come together and lay down the law.

  •  The sooner Romney goes down low road w other (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LaurenMonica, bythesea, jct

    Republicans and the fight gets downright viscous the better for Obama.

    Go Newt!

    Gasoline made from the tar sands gives a Toyota Prius the same impact on climate as a Hummer using gasoline made from oil. ~ Al Gore

    by Lefty Coaster on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 07:50:21 AM PST

  •  The trick is to be not-Romney in (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Egalitare, bythesea, jct

    late January. Newt may pull it off.

    If Bachmann does not do well in Iowa I think she'll be forced to fold her tent due to lack of money.

    Paul and his 10% are in it for the long haul.

    Perry has the money to hang on.

    Not sure what happens to Cain if he finishes 3rd in Iowa and New Hampshire, but I suspect he goes home.

    In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra

    by blue aardvark on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 07:51:00 AM PST

  •  If you thought that I'd mercilessly browbeat wing (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gary Norton, Mr MadAsHell, bythesea

    nuts for voting for Romney, just wait and see what I do if they dare to cast a vote for Newt the Sophomoric.

    GingrichCare - if you get sick, you'll get served with divorce papers.

    'You want a job, don't you?' - Herman "Koch" Cain, "The Audacity of Grope"

    by thenekkidtruth on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 08:02:04 AM PST

  •  Newt has higher negatives than other Republicans (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gary Norton, Dr Colossus, bythesea, jct

    that's why I want to see Newt win the nomination.

    Gasoline made from the tar sands gives a Toyota Prius the same impact on climate as a Hummer using gasoline made from oil. ~ Al Gore

    by Lefty Coaster on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 08:06:06 AM PST

  •  It will be about electability (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Gingrich will fade as the most recent flavor of the month.  

    When they get into their primaries and caucuses, Republicans will hold their nose and put Romney on top.  He's less seriously flawed as a general election candidate than any of the others and GOP voters know it.

  •  Newt is very dangerous for America (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dylanfan, Fury, DianeNYS, orange dog, DrPlacebo

    I agree that Newt could very well win the nomination. Good news is that against President Obama he polls lower than Romney. But would it stay that way? Could he win independants with his demagoguery? Assuming the guy wants the presidency and didn't enter the race simply to sell books , we have to be worried about him. He's totally amoral, completely corrupt, and is very good at peddling hate and lies. Looking at his record as a congressman and as Speaker of the House, we can just imagine how disastrous a Gingrich presidency would be. Absolutely no respect for the rules. Manipulation, lies, no decency, authoritarianism at his worst. My goodness, he would make the Bush presidency look good in comparison.

    Folks, have you ever read the book "The Authoritarians" by Bob Altemeyer? Serious research by a university professor. Frightening conclusion. I re-read certain parts yesterday,especially the last chapter and the conclusion. I strongly suggest you take a look. The book is on-line for free. Sorry I can't provide the link because I'm computer illiterate and haven't learned yet to copy and paste with a Ipad lol. But the link is very easy to find with a simple google search.

    Mr. Altemeyer is very concerned about the state of the GOP and the devastating effects for America if GOP has control of both the executive and the legislative branches. He said that as soon as 1996, his findings about authoritarianism were already pretty concerning and he was a bit uncomfortable to publish them because he thought it would be seen as hyperbole. But his subsequent research reinforced those early findings. The Bush presidency was also a confirmation of what he had found in his long term researches.

    Folks, this is a MUST read for everyone who is interested in politics and in maintaining democracy in America. And remember: this is not just opinion, this is serious academia research. Years of it.

    PLEASE take a look. And pass the word.

    (Other must reads: "Conservatives Without Conscience" and "Broken Government" by John W. Dean)

    •  i lived in Newt's district - twice (0+ / 0-)

      in the 80's Newt was my rep, then through redistricting after 1990, i was in - switcheroo!! - Cynthia McKinney's district, so she was my rep for a while. What a weird juxtaposition. i was on a sliver of a gerrymandered district between S Atlanta & somewhere down towards Macon.
      ..then later i moved to the N side of ATL & it was Newt again. was glad to see him gone, but now he's resurrected like the zombie from hell's swamp. creepy. G-d help us if he manages to get the helm of this ship of state, it's going down and taking civilization with it if that ever happens.

  •  Newt will take it (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    r2did2, Fury, orange dog

    and while Obama can beat him, I think, still it will be bruising.  Don't underestimate the amphibian.  Baggage or no baggage, he's plenty smart and plenty mean -- and unlike Romney, he has never given anyone cause to question his absolute right-wingery.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 09:00:00 AM PST

  •  I heard on CNN yesterday..... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dylanfan, Fury, orange dog

    A political pundit guest on CNN yesterday (wish I could remember who it was dammit) said that the Obama campaign team is hoping that Newt will be the candidate that is ultimately pitted against Obama because he'd be the easiest to defeat.

    Uh, huh.  Me?  I wish it was Romney because he's just such a fake and not really someone that could get the republican/conservative independent base fired up.  I think Newt is fully capable of rallying the troops simply because he's far more "politically intelligent" than any of the others.

    If he's the eventual GOP nominee, I sure hope the Obama campaign mechanism takes him seriously.  Otherwise, we're facing an uphill battle.  

    - If you don't like gay marriage, blame straight people. They're the ones who keep having gay babies.

    by r2did2 on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 09:00:03 AM PST

  •  Good stuff. n/t (0+ / 0-)

    The victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.

    by Pacifist on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 09:04:17 AM PST

  •  the problem is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DSPS owl

    Pres. Obama is not faring too well against the not-Obamas. Even with the churn in the GOP race, his lead is single digits at best (and in some polls a deficit).

    A recent Marist poll asking if people plan to vote for Pres. Obama or against him resulted in 38% for, 48% against and 14% unsure.

    •  On the other hand... (0+ / 0-)

      That's his polling vs. Generic Republican. The GOP, however, is hard-pressed to find an actual Republican who will do as well as Generic Republican.

      The difference between that poll and the Romney head-to-head polls is that Romney was going head-to-head against specific not-Romneys.

  •  But you have to double all estimates (0+ / 0-)

    of Mitt's support, because there are two Mitts


    Follow me on Twitter @PeterFlom

    by plf515 on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 09:24:50 AM PST

  •  Pretty soon Romney will be the Not Romney, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the repubs will get tired of being fickle and give the electability argument a look-see.

    "We believe that the people are the source of all governmental power; that the authority of the people is to be extended, not restricted."-Barbara Jordan

    by sancerre2001 on Mon Nov 28, 2011 at 09:27:18 AM PST

  •  3rd Party / we come (0+ / 0-)

    Newt is unelectable. Obama will be running the "I'm not so bad" campaign. This field is ripe for a third party or independant run. I hope it doesn't happen, but if you're a Bloomberg or a Huntsman or even a Romney whose party is clearly rejecting have to look around and wonder how many votes you could swipe out of the middle of the political spectrum from the two main candidates.

    And honestly, this is how we end up with a Gingrich victory. If a guy like Bloomberg runs and sucks up all the socially moderate fiscal conservatives that went Democrat in 2008 and picks up some of that Romney vote from the GOP we could see an even three way split. Then it's anyone's game.

    This is the nightmare scenario and anyone suggesting a third party Presidential run from the left can suck it. The lesser of two evils may still be evil...but it's also less evil. Presidential politics is the last place to start a progressive third party movement.

  •  Bottom Line Here... (0+ / 0-)

    Obama will be re-elected next year. The GOP base have screwed themselves over far too often that they can have create a winner.

  •  Look carefully at the trends for Romney (0+ / 0-)

    Look carefully at the trends for Romney in the second graph. For each of the periods where he had a given leading GOP rival, Romney trended upward while his rival moved downward. Romney has moved downward, by a lesser amount, only when a new rival captures the excitement of the marks. Even with the new-candidate bump, each new rival has come in at a smaller lead--Perry by 16 points, Cain by 12, and the Grinch by only 10.

    Of course, past performance is no guarantee of future results, but if these trends continue and continues to be his rival, Romney could well attain the lead within a couple of months.

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