Sunday, January 13, 2008

Big Losers: Romney and Giuliani

I think the most under reported thing happening in the U.S. presidential election is just how big of losers Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani have been.

Certainly, a lot has been made of Mitt Romney's losses in Iowa and New Hampshire after out-working and out-spending his competitors. However, it is worse than that. Despite starting earlier than most rivals and spending WAY more than them, Romney has never held a lead in national polls and has rarely placed second - he's often, even when his campaign was running without several stumbles, run 4th or 5th. His whole campaign was founded, very publicly, on the notion that he would win BOTH Iowa and New Hampshire and that that would give him the momentum to over take the four rivals which most Americans prefer to him. Now he hasn't even won one of the two "must wins". Worst yet, of the many Massachusettes politicians who have sought the presidency Romney becomes the first of either party to lose the New Hampshire primary when not running against an incumbent president.

JFK won it in 1960, Cabot Lodge won it in 1964, Dukakis in 1988, Tsongas in 1992 and Kerry in 2004. New Hampshirites are like New Brunswickers watching ATV News from Halifax - they hear more about Boston politics than their own. For a guy who was governor of Mass until Jan 2007 to lose the New Hampshire primary is totally unprecedented and ought to be reported.


I've already made reference to Giuliani in my post-mortems on Iowa and New Hampsire but it is worth underlining.

Giuliani has been given a free ride because he was never expected to win the early states but there is a difference between "not winning" and "being totally obliterated".

In virtually every poll of Iowa until the second week of December. Giuliani polled in the double digits and in third place or better. Three weeks later he placed sixth with 4% of the vote, Ron Paul having beaten him by a two-to-one margin.

In New Hampshire he invested heavily both in terms of time and money and was, again until mid-December, doing well in polls. Even better than in Iowa. He got second or third in all polls and was in the high teens. A few weeks later, he barely eked out fourth place beating Ron Paul 9% to 8%.

Now the campaign moves on to Michigan, where Giuliani until recently often led polls. Now he has abandoned the state as hopeless and would be lucky to get 4th. In Nevada, the story is similar. In South Carolina, he used to be competitive and will now, almost certainly, get 5th at best.

Giuliani always had a focus on later states and was never expected to compete for the win in the early ones. BUT he was also not expected to be competing with Ron Paul for last place. To this, more attention ought to be paid.


Anonymous said...

Romney still leads in delegate count and Michigan is the state of his birth -- when I heard him talking about the auto industry decline there, for the first time he actually sounded sincere.

Plus, Dems disqualified from delegates in Michigan meaning Dems could be voting in the Michigan Republican primary -- that will be an interesting wildcard.

The liberal blog, Daily Kos, is calling on Dems in Michigan to vote Romney so as to drag out the nomination process longer, Huckabee has union endorsements in the state (rare for a Republican) and McCain appeals to soft-Democrats. There's also Ron Paul and his anti-war message to account for as well.

nbpolitico said...

I don't think that a the calls of Kos will move that many voters. The "netroots" might consist of, at most, 10% of Democrats, likely less, especially in a state like Michigan.

If anything, I suspect the Dems will join Indies in voting for McCain in the Republican primary.