The Fix: Morning Fix: Campaign 2012

For Mitt Romney, it’s the economy or bust

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s path to victory over President Obama this fall is remarkably simple: Turn the election in a straight referendum on the incumbent’s handling of the economy.

While that sentiment has been kicking around the political world for months, new polling numbers from the Pew Research Center paint that electoral reality for Romney (and Obama) in stark relief.

On eight different character traits, Obama leads Romney by margins as large as 31 points (“connects with ordinary Americans”) to two points (“can get things done”).

Obama has double-digit leads over Romney on six of the eight character traits, including “willing to take an unpopular stand” (+19), “honest and truthful” (+14) and “good judgment in a crisis” (+13).

But, on the question of which candidate would do the best job of “improving economic conditions,” 49 percent of people choose Romney, while 41 percent opt for Obama.

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The eight states where Latinos could sink the GOP

Republicans’ emerging problem with Latino voters looks even worse when you factor in the electoral college.

A look at Latino population trends in swing and key red states shows just how ominous the GOP’s future could be if it doesn’t do something about its current struggles with Latino voters.

We noted yesterday that nationwide population and minority voting trends paint a haunting picture for the GOP. But the problem is particularly acute because of the states where Latino growth has been strongest — particularly several key swing states and red states that Democrats are hoping to put in play in the coming elections.

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The end of unions?

The only political entity that might have had a worse week than President Obama last week was the public sector union.

For the third time in 14 months, a full-throated attempt from labor to exact retribution on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) for curtailing collective bargaining rights for public sector unions fell flat.
FILE - In this Jan 25, 2012 file photo, protestors show off signs in the rotunda of the State Capitol Wisconsin prior to Gov. Scott Walker's (R) state of the state address in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)

And it’s got some writing the obituary of the public sector union, arguing that it will soon join the private sector union in the realm of the politically irrelevant.

Which makes sense in some ways, and doesn’t in others.

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Do Republicans hate government? Kind of.

New polling from the Pew Research Center reveals that the number of Republicans who believe the government should “take care of people who can’t take care of themselves” has dropped precipitously over the past two decades, a decline that speaks to a broader — and growing — skepticism from within the GOP regarding the role for government in people’s lives.


House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, holds a news conference following a Republican Conference meeting at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, May 31, 2012. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)
Back in 1987, 62 percent of self-identified Republicans in the Pew poll said they the government should take care of those who can’t do it themselves. That number has declined to 40 percent in the latest Pew survey, which was released earlier this week.

Support among independents for that view of government has declined over that time period as well, though far less deeply than it has among GOPers. Support among Democrats has stayed static.

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Hillary Clinton for vice president: The rumor that just won’t die

On Wednesday night, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sat down with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer to talk about the various threats that face the United States across the globe .. and whether she is going to replace Vice President Joe Biden on the national ticket in 2012.

Here’s the exchange:

BLITZER: “If the president of the United States says, ‘Madame Secretary I need you on the ticket this year in order to beat Romney,’ are you ready to run as his vice presidential running mate?”
CLINTON: “That is not going to happen. That’s like saying if the Olympic Committee called you up and said, ‘Are you ready to run the marathon would you accept.’ Well, it is not going to happen.”

So, you’re telling me there’s a chance?!

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Why Obama (probably) won’t endorse gay marriage this year

The at-times-uneasy relationship between President Obama and the gay community hit another bump in the road this week when the White House declined to push through an executive order banning government contractors from discriminating against employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

And while that move raised eyebrows, it’s not the major sticking point between the GLBT community and Obama. That, of course, is gay marriage.
Cadets walk across campus at Norwich University in Northfield, the nation's oldest private military academy and the first private military academy to host a gay pride week, March 28, 2012. (REUTERS/ Herb Swanson)

Salon’s Steve Kornacki this week points out that, while most of the Democratic Party’s class of potential 2016 presidential contenders supports gay marriage, Obama has still, despite indications that he may change his position at some point, declined to jump on board. Such a move that would make him first major-party presidential nominee to do so but would hardly make him a trailblazer in Democratic politics.

But gay marriage advocates shouldn’t hold their breath.

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Romney finally puts it all together

For the first time in a competitive primary, Mitt Romney won some elusive demographics.

Exit polls from the Wisconsin primary Tuesday showed Romney expanding his appeal to groups that have consistently voted against him this year, including evangelical Christians, voters who describe themselves as “very conservative,” strong supporters of the tea party movement and voters making less than $50,000 per year.

The result was Romney’s most complete performance of the 2012 campaign. And it strongly suggests that the Republican Party is dropping its long-standing resistance to embracing Romney.

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Rick Santorum’s ‘Win or go home’ states

This blog compared Rick Santorum to the “Walking Dead” the other day. But at least he’s still walking.

The question, then, is when the “Walking Dead” becomes simply the “Dead.” When does Santorum quite simply not have the ability to keep the pirate ship afloat? Where can Mitt Romney deliver the knockout blow?
Presidential candidate and former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) attends a prayer service at the Path of the Cross Evangelical Church on March 14, 2012, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Christopher Gregory/Getty Images)

Below, The Fix boils the GOP presidential race down to five “Win or go home” states for Santorum:

1. Wisconsin (April 3): Romney is a strong favorite in Maryland and the District of Columbia on Tuesday, so the real question is whether Santorum can pull a victory in Wisconsin’s primary. The Pennsylvania senator has yet to win a contested primary in the Midwest and doesn’t sound optimistic about Wisconsin, but it might be hard for him to continue if he loses.

And given the three-week layoff between these three contests and the next ones, Santorum needs something to hang his hat on (and keep donors interested enough to keep the lights on).

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On health care, Supreme Court loss could be electoral win

President Obama’s biggest legislative victory in 2010 was his health care bill, which in turn wound up being his party’s biggest electoral liability.

History could repeat itself in 2012, except in reverse.
The Supreme Court (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

As Republicans and Democrats alike commemorate the two-year anniversary of the signing of the health care bill today, a more significant battle awaits in the U.S. Supreme Court next week.

And some Republicans are worried that their big challenge to Obama’s health care law could backfire come election time.

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Is Occupy Wall Street late to the game?

Occupy Wall Street protesters across the country are giving big business a hard time, but a new poll suggests they might have missed their window.

With Wall Street’s foibles in the latter part of last decade starting to fade a bit from memory, Americans are increasingly likely to attribute the country’s problems to big government rather than big business, according to a new Gallup poll.
Occupy Wall Street activists march during a tour of foreclosed homes in the East New York neighborhood of the Brooklyn borough of New York last week. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The poll shows 64 percent of Americans say “big government” is the biggest threat to the country, while just 26 percent say it’s “big business” and 8 percent say it’s “big labor.”

That figure for big business is about as low as it was before the economy collapsed in 2008, and those who say big government is the biggest threat is near a historic high.

Which suggests that the tea party might well have beaten Occupy Wall Street to the punch after the economic collapse, and that Occupy Wall Street might have missed its best chance to really catch fire.

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Mitt Romney’s $10,000 mistake

Mitt Romney’s $10,000 mistake

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s baffling decision to propose a $10,000 bet with Texas Gov. Rick Perry over a disagreement on health care policy during Saturday night’s Republican presidential debate dominated the after-action analysis of the event.

Perry insisted — as he has done at other debates — that Romney advocated for an individual mandate as governor of Massachusetts. Romney argued that he had not done so then laid down the $10,000 bet to settle things once and for all.

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For Romney, Mormon question rears its ugly head in Iowa

Religion just got re-injected into the presidential race thanks to new ads from Rick Perry and Mitt Romney. But really, it never left.

New polls in Iowa suggest Romney’s Mormon religion continues to be a sticking point among all-important evangelical Christians there. And that’s bad news for a Romney campaign that is trying desperately to prevent Newt Gingrich from scoring a big victory in the state’s caucuses.

A new CNN/Time poll out Wednesday showed Romney trailing Gingrich 33 percent to 20 percent in the Hawkeye State. A look at the crosstabs suggests religion is a big reason why.

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The GOP’s Jimmy Carter fixation

Don’t look now, but all of a sudden, Republicans are running against Jimmy Carter again. Or at least trying to.

To wit:

* The GOP gleefully pointed to a Gallup poll earlier this week that showed President Obama’s numbers dipping below Carter’s at the same point in their respective terms.

* The National Republican Senatorial Committee released a web video Wednesday titled “Malazy” – a hybrid of Carter’s “malaise” and Obama’s “lazy” quotes.

* And Thursday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential campaign released a new TV ad comparing Obama’s and Carter’s statements on energy independence.

While Carter certainly isn’t a popular figure in the GOP these days, it’s also not clear that using him as a stand-in for Obama more than 30 years after his presidency ended has much effect.

But Republicans insist it can’t hurt — particularly among the base — even as just a fun sideshow.

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Newt Gingrich’s marriages: Should they matter?

Newt Gingrich’s marriages: Should they matter?

The (re)rise of former House speaker Newt Gingrich in the 2012 Republican presidential race has re-started a debate over his at-times-tumultuous personal life and how much it could — or should — impact his chances of winning the nomination.

The facts are these: Gingrich has been married three times.

He and his first wife, Jackie, divorced in 1981. (The circumstances surrounding the split up — including a debate about whether Gingrich informed his wife of his plans during a time when she was hospitalized — remain a point of debate.)

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Despite popularity among GOP candidates, American Exceptionalism on the decline

American Exceptionalism may be experiencing a renaissance when it comes to the GOP presidential race.

When it comes to the American public, though, the concept is more and more a thing of the past.
An American flag flies in Zuccotti Park on Wednesday, a day after it was cleared of Occupy Wall Street protesters. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

A new poll from the Pew Research Center shows that fewer than half of Americans now believe that American culture is superior to the rest of the world.

Just 49 percent of Americans agree with the statement that, while Americans themselves “aren’t perfect, our culture is superior.”

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The limits of Newt Gingrich’s staying power

The limits of Newt Gingrich’s staying power

BETTENDORF, Iowa – Is Newt Gingrich the next Republican to rise and fall as the chief alternative to Mitt Romney?

Despite the former House speaker’s sudden return to prominence in the GOP presidential field, reservations about his long record in public life — and the baggage that comes with it — will continue to call into question just what kind of staying power he has.

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Five big questions on Election Day

Five big questions on Election Day

Believe it or not, it’s Election Day.

No, today’s elections aren’t a huge deal nationwide; in fact, this is the lesser of the two off-year elections that occur during every presidential term. Only four states are holding regular state legislative elections, and only two states are holding governor’s races — both of them snoozers.

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Why Herman Cain is lucky he’s Herman Cain

Say what you want about how Herman Cain and his campaign have handled the response to the growing controversy consuming his campaign.

It hasn’t hurt him in the Republican primary. Not yet, at least.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that seven in 10 Republicans say the controversy has no effect on whether they would vote for him, and he remains in a statistical tie atop the GOP field with Mitt Romney.
Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain arrives to speak on Capitol Hill in Washington this week. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

And a lot of is because, on paper, Cain is about the perfect vessel for surviving just such a pickle.

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The Herman Cain harassment story: How bad is it for him?

The Herman Cain harassment story: How bad is it for him?

Allegations that businessman Herman Cain was accused of inappropriate behavior toward co-workers on two occasions in the 1990s threaten to derail a presidential campaign that had propelled the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza from afterthought to frontrunner.

The allegations, which were first reported by Politico, involve Cain’s time as head of the National Restaurant Association. In both instances, the women accused the now-presidential candidate of behaving toward them in a sexually suggestive way, according to Politico.

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Can Mitt Romney afford to skip Iowa?

Mitt Romney holds a small lead in Iowa in a new poll.

Which begs the question: At what point is he simply required to put his best foot forward in the Hawkeye State?
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney speaks in Redmond, Wash., earlier this month. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

The CNN/TIME Magazine poll shows Romney with a statistically insignificant lead on businessman Herman Cain, 24 percent to 21 percent, and is one of two major polls this month to show Romney with a small lead in Iowa. (The other being an NBC/Marist College poll from early in the month, before Cain really picked up steam.)

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How the Occupy Wall Street movement could help Democrats

The Occupy Wall Street movement is very much in its infancy, and many Americans still don’t know what to think of it. But there is also growing evidence that it could become a boon to Democrats.

A new CBS News-New York Times poll shows 43 percent of people agree with the aims of the movement, while just 27 percent say they disagree.
Occupy Wall Street demonstrator Dan Bulleti holds a sign in Zuccotti Park along with members of the Occupy Wall Street movement before they marched to the Brooklyn Bridge early this month. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

That’s a good start, and if the movement can help turn the 2012 election into a populist uprising against the moneyed classes, it could play right into Democratic hands — particularly at a time when the Democrats need more enthusiasm.

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Rick Perry tries to hit the ‘reset’ button

Rick Perry tries to hit the ‘reset’ button

Rick Perry’s unveiling of a flat tax plan today in South Carolina is the latest piece of evidence that the Texas governor is trying to push the “reset” button on a presidential campaign that has faltered badly after a strong start.

Perry’s economic speech comes on the same day his campaign is reportedly set to launch its first ads in Iowa and just 24 hours after news broke that he was expanding his political team to include a trio of veterans of Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s (R) 2010 campaign, as well as George W. Bush loyalist Joe Allbaugh.

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Mitt Romney no longer the Teflon candidate

It was Fight Night in Las Vegas on Tuesday, and for arguably the first time this year, Mitt Romney took some body blows.

Romney generally acquitted himself well and even got in some jabs of his own at Tuesday’s CNN debate in Nevada, but the totality of the attacks left their mark on a candidate who has been more the Teflon candidate than a punching bag early in the 2012 campaign.

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North Carolina and Virginia loom large for Obama’s reelection campaign

North Carolina and Virginia loom large for Obama’s reelection campaign

President Obama’s problems in the Rust Belt are well-documented, but starting today, he ventures into territory that could be just  as important to his reelection campaign.

North Carolina and Virginia, which emerged as two of the more surprising victories for Obama in 2008, have like most states turned against the president over the last year. But like those Rust Belt states, they remain winnable, and the president’s three-day bus tour to the Southeastern states is seen as acknowledgement that he won’t be conceding them any time soon.

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Perry’s next last chance to recover?

Perry’s next last chance to recover?

Rick Perry will blanket the airwaves today with a series of media appearances and a speech on energy policy in Pittsburgh.

To call it a chance to recover what his campaign has lost would be fair. But it’s also fair to ask just how many chances he has left.

The media blitz is a rare thing in Perryworld, where the candidate has mostly been off-limits to the media and has avoided submitting to questions in general (even Fox News’ Sean Hannity has had a tough time landing an interview).

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Obama campaign goes on attack

Obama campaign goes on attack

President Obama’s re-election campaign argues in a memo set to be released this morning that Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney — the two frontrunners for the Republican nomination — have “embraced policies that the American people oppose” on Social Security and immigration.

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Five big questions for the third quarter fundraising reports

Five big questions for the third quarter fundraising reports

The third quarter fundraising period comes to an end this weekend, and candidates everywhere are scrambling to pad their totals in hopes of demonstrating momentum.

Shortly after the deadline at midnight Saturday, we should begin hearing piecemeal reports of who has raised how much — and indeed, we’re already hearing reports that Mitt Romney raised between $11 and $13 million — with all reports due by Oct. 15.

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