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Thursday, February 02, 2012

Romney And Republican 'Establishment' Responsible For Destroying GOP Enthusiasm Gap

By Susan Duclos

Back in December USA TODAY/Gallup Swing States Poll showed a 61 to 47 percent enthusiasm gaps favoring Republicans over Democrats.

By the New Hampshire primary, after the Republican establishment attempted to push for the "Romney is inevitable meme," actual Republican turnout for the primaries had dropped 16 percent from the 2008 figures.

When you eliminate independents and Democrats from the 2008 equation, actual registered Republicans made up 61 percent of the roughly 239,000 votes cast in the GOP primary, putting the turnout among Republicans at around 145,790. But last night, actual Republicans only comprised 49 percent of the electorate, according to exits. Even if we round up the final 2012 turnout number to 250,000, which would be slightly higher than current projections, that would only leave actual Republican turnout at 122,500, which would represent a 16 percent drop.

Then Newt Gingrich ran right over Mitt Romney in the South Carolina primary, winning with a 12 percent lead and the Republican establishment started pushing harder and harder against Newt Gingrich and for Mitt Romney.

Pew Research on January 30, 2012, released a report that shows in less than a month, from early January to the end of January, GOP voters rating the field fair or poor rose by 8 percentage points to 52 percent from 44 percent.

Those giving a positive excellent or good ratings to the GOP field dropped from 51 percent to 46 percent.

Then came Florida where Mitt Romney beat Newt Gingrich by 14 percent, but crunching the numbers showed a 14 percent drop from the 2008 figures despite an increase of 25,000 registered Republicans in Florida from four years ago, according to Reuters.


"They are voting with their feet and simply not showing up," said Christopher Mann, a political science professor at the University of Miami.

Romney won 46 percent of the vote to closest rival Newt Gingrich's 32 percent in Tuesday's primary election.

But Florida Republicans were hardly swept off their feet by the former Massachusetts governor. In exit polls, four in 10 said they were not enthusiastic about their choice of candidates, according to exit polls.

Then we see that all the negative ads seem to be turning voters off as well.

As Southwest Florida heads to the polls, Many say they're frustrated with the barrage of attack ads.

They are direct and at times even back handed.

Romney spent $15 million on radio and TV spots in Florida. Gingrich over $3 million. Voters claim it's distracting them from what's important, hearing the candidates pitch for creating jobs and rejuvenating the economy.

So, lets take a look at where, when and who started with the negative ads.

Iowa, first caucus state, via New York Times:

A pro-Romney “super PAC” that has spent $2.85 million laying waste to Mr. Gingrich in Iowa plans close to $1 million worth of critical ads in Florida and South Carolina — the state Mr. Gingrich identifies as his “firewall,” where he still has a lead.

The concern surfaced in a recent conference call of South Carolina campaign leaders. “It’s something we’re concerned about,” said James Epley, the chairman for Beaufort County. “It’s made us more focused because we’ll have a real fight on our hands.”

The anti-Gingrich attack in Iowa is inescapable: 45 percent of political ads on television during December have been attacks on Mr. Gingrich, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group.

Many are the work of Restore Our Future, the super PAC supporting Mr. Romney, whose latest ad, “Whoops,” shows Mr. Gingrich admitting he erred in past positions he took on health care and global warming. Earlier attacks by the group hammered him for a consulting deal with Freddie Mac and accused him of “too much baggage.”

Jason Geary, the Gingrich campaign chairman in Woodbury County, said, “I’m on the phone trying to gain support” daily for Mr. Gingrich. He said people were telling him they wanted the candidate to fight fire with fire. “They wish for it,” he added.

The closest Mr. Gingrich has come to responding in kind on the airwaves has been an ad in which he referred to opponents in the mildest of terms, without naming anyone. “Others seem to be more focused on attacks rather than moving the country forward,” he said.

A super PAC that supports Mr. Gingrich, Winning Our Future, has an ad that takes a shot at Mr. Romney as the choice of the “liberal Republican establishment,” but it does not name him and mostly praises Mr. Gingrich as “a principled conservative.”

The group, run by former Gingrich aides, seems constrained by his vow to tell supporters not to contribute to any group that runs attack ads on his behalf.

That same article opines on how senior aides and grass-roots Gingrich supporters insisted that Gingrich had to fight fire with fire.

By the time the candidates hit South Carolina when Gingrich had started to punch back, Gingrich was still outspent by Romney and pro-Romney SuperPACS by 2 to 1, the majority of which were negative ads, but, Romney was trying to rewrite history by stating "I needed to make sure that instead of being outgunned in terms of attacks, that I responded aggressively — and hopefully that will have served me well here", then he added "You know, in South Carolina we were vastly outspent with negative ads attacking me and we stood back and spoke about President Obama and suffered the consequence of that."

But the truth is that Romney outspent Gingrich about 2-1 in South Carolina, and over 4-1 in here the Sunshine State. Romney has also deployed an army of surrogates to bombard Gingrich with negative soundbites and statements. And Gingrich unilaterally withheld from running negative ads in Iowa, and saw his poll numbers collapse in the state amid millions of dollars in attacks from a pro-Romney Super PAC.

One paragraph from LA Times shows a contrast that pro-Romney forces cannot spin.

Last month, Republican strategists pointed to small increases in turnout for the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary and the big jump in South Carolina as evidence that their voters were getting fired up about the campaign to come. Now, the big drop in Florida turnout has caused some to suggest that Romney has failed to excite voters.

Emphasis mine

(Note- The increase in Iowa was due to the participation of Independents and Democrats in the GOP caucus)

What was the difference between South Carolina and Florida? That is right, Gingrich won South Carolina and Romney won Florida.

Romney's over abundance of negativity and the Republican establishments interference because they want to choose who will be the Republican nominee instead of allowing voters to decide for themselves, has destroyed whatever enthusiasm Republicans had for the 2012 elections.

"I spent much of my academic career telling reporters, 'Relax, this is not the most negative campaign ever," said Ken Goldstein, president of the Campaign Media Analysis Group, in an interview with CNN. "Well, this IS the most negative campaign ever." (Source)

The Bottom Line

Republican turnout was down in the states which Romney won and Republican turnout was up in the state Gingrich won.

Romney does not excite conservatives. While many will coalesce behind him if he wins enough delegates to become the Republican nominee, there is another segment that think he is no better than Obama and will not bother voting at all, handing Obama a win for reelection.

*Golf Clap* to the Republican establishment and Mitt Romney for turning what should have been an easy win into a possible defeat.