January 09, 2008

the Silver (lining)

While real conservatives may be disappointed with a second place finish by Governor Romney in Tuesday's NH primary election, I would hasten to point out several items.

The state of New Hampshire, which allows independents to vote in either primary, is one well suited to a centrist like John McCain. Before the results were revealed last night, many pundits believed that there would be a heavy independent break towards Barack Obama resulting in the trouncing of Hillary Clinton. Needless to say, this analysis was woefully incorrect. Perhaps it was a case of the media shaping the results by leading independents to believe that since Obama was going to win resoundingly, independents could now vote for McCain in what may have been perceived by the public to have been the closer race. Whatever the case may be, McCain was able to garner the affections of moderate and even probably some left leaning voters and Romney did well amongst conservatives, as in, those of us you want the borders closed, want lower taxes and less government intrusion into our daily lives. The AP is reporting that, “In New Hampshire, McCain won among moderates and independents — despite his strong right-leaning Senate voting record — while Romney had an edge with hard-core conservatives.” If you also keep in mind the fact that McCain skipped Iowa to do several straight weeks of campaigning in the Granite State, I think it's fair to conclude that McCain had a kind of unnatural advantage. McCain may have been able to win over independents in New Hampshire using largely an emotional appeal, but it will be interesting to see how he does in states in which he cannot rely on voters who might usually vote for Democrats. Many anti-Romney pundits assert that since Romney has his own personal fortune to contribute to his campaign that there is no excuse as to why he did not win in NH. These same pundits never mention the fact that Romney out raised McCain in NH by nearly 2 to 1. So, the anti-Romney pundits can bash Romney for having the ability to contribute to his own campaign and spin it as a somehow a bad thing, but the fact remains that Romney is raising more money than all other Republican candidates. How you can construe either the ability to contribute to your own campaign or the ability to raise more money than your opponents, as a negative is certainly foreign to my way of thinking. How do these various right leaning, in some cases, pundits imagine that a Republican candidate would be better poised to defeat the now back on track Hillary Clinton coronation machine? The idea that raising or having more money for your campaign is a drawback is ludicrous.

Mike Huckabee proved in Iowa that in a presidential race, money isn’t everything. If you have a fairly mindless voting bloc that votes on the basis of identity politics and/or an ‘us vs. them’ message of economic populism, all the money in the world won’t stem a lemming-like tsunami of voters who vote more by mood than they do critical thinking. There are, luckily, objective criteria one can use for determining who is leading in a given presidential race. If you throw out all of the media noise, either the anti-Romney noise or the swooning media support for Huckabee and McCain, you can look at the actual scoreboard of the contest so far. On that scoreboard, otherwise known as the delegate count, Romney is way out in front of all other Republican candidates. The scoreboard is as follows, in terms of total delegates: Romney 30, Huckabee 21, McCain 10, Thompson 6, Ron Paul 2, Giuliani 1.

So, at this early phase of the race, Romney is leading all other candidates if you look at the most objective criterion, the delegate count. On top of that, Romney is raising more money than the other candidates and, as the anti-Romney press loves to point out, he has more money of his own to theoretically contribute to his campaign. The only evidence that I see that Romney is not doing well overall comes from the fact that the media keeps telling me to think so. As someone who is able to look at the facts of the situation rather than the media spin, it is clear to me that Romney is leading all other candidates at this point. Anyone who preaches that Romney is not doing well overall is either a closet liberal who wants the most articulate champion of conservative principles out of the race or they are a very confused conservative who is not familiar with the not-so-conservative records of Mike Huckabee and John McCain. To be fair, Fred Thompson and Giuliani haven’t started to really compete yet but certainly their supporters would not claim that their guy is beating Romney at this point.

I welcome any explanation of the position that Romney is not leading at this point in the race. Hopefully you would agree that, while it was disappointing for Romney voters to see another ‘silver’ in NH, there is still plenty of upside to his campaign's performance thus far overall. By looking at objective criteria such as the delegate count and money raised, Mitt Romney is beating all other Republican candidates at this point in the race.

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