Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Romney's Sleeper Cell

With all the mania over the Huckaboom, one could be forgiven for concluding the Republican presidential race is all over in Iowa but for the counting and writing the "Huckabee Wins" headline.

It is still two weeks before Iowans tell the country who should be the nominees for the 2008 presidential campaign. Despite all the Huckahype, I think Patrick Ruffini got it right in his "Romney’s Race to Lose:"

1. The surging candidates (Huckabee and McCain) are flaky and/or can’t win. This empowers the institutional frontrunners, Rudy and Romney. And Rudy is in trouble.

1a. Huckabee has solved Romney’s expectations game in Iowa. A win for Romney out of the Hawkeye State translates to a big win and momentum. A narrow loss is within expectations. Only a double digit loss or third would significantly damage Romney.

1b. Huckabee’s momentum out of Iowa isn’t actionable in New Hampshire, so some other external force would need to rise to kill Romney’s lead in NH.
Today both the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times report on how Mormons could turn out to be a sleeper cell of support for Romney.

My esteemed RedState colleague Soren Dayton, analyzes the Wall Street Journal article and concludes,
Romney is doing better in Iowa than you think:
In politics, affinity groups are affinity groups and great things. Barack Obama will do better among African-Americans than other candidates. Joe Lieberman got huge electoral and financial turnout from Jews. And the Wall Street Journal talks about Mitt Romney’s support from Mormons:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says it has more than 22,500 members in Iowa in 68 congregations. Joseph Cheney, the president of one of seven "stakes," or geographical groups within the church, estimates that as many as 7,000 Mormons are likely to show up on caucus night, and that nearly three-quarters of the Mormons in the state support Mr. Romney.

[. . .]

The bottom line is that Mitt Romney will win a caucus that looks close. Romney starts with 5-7% of the vote. Any attempt to play down Romney’s chances in Iowa is just a game, the expectations game.

The Los Angeles Times article focuses on the impact California's Mormon population might have on the California primary, but it contains a couple of points that bear on Iowa as well:
Though hard to boil down into campaign dollars or potential votes, the impact of the Mormon support for Romney is significant.

[. . .]

Gillam and other church members are careful to say that they don't support Romney just because of his religion. That may have caught their eye at first, they say, but ultimately they were won over by his accomplishments as governor of Massachusetts and as a business leader, and by his role in rescuing the bribery-tainted 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

"I'm not voting for him because he is Mormon. I think he's the best-qualified person for the job," said Jack Wheatley, a former Palo Alto mayor and longtime Republican donor who is Mormon. "Our country needs a turnaround. With Massachusetts, he did a good job there. With the Olympics, he did a good job there. With his business, helping improve companies, he did a great job. Who else has come close to that?
Regarding the current Huckahype, we should keep in mind that it is not easy to accurately predict the results of the Iowa caucuses:

The New York Times also reports that when it comes to Iowa predictions, caution is important:
All of the eccentricities of the Iowa caucuses make polling Iowa something most pollsters would rather not do. That night, it will be hard enough to depend on those entrance polls, taken moments before Iowans cast their votes. But in these last weeks ahead of the vote, to try and define the electorate and come up with a framework for polling is to rely as much on luck as savvy.

[. . .]

The biggest obstacle to polling in Iowa is drawing the sample in the first place. Some polls use lists of past caucus goers, but they risk missing first-time caucus goers, who accounted for more than half of the Democratic caucus goers in 2004, according to the network entrance poll. Other polls use lists of registered voters provided by the state, but they risk missing those who haven’t yet registered to vote but who plan to participate in the caucuses.
We will talk, read and write a lot about Iowa in the next couple of weeks. None of all that punditry will matter much. All that counts is what those headlines say on January 4, 2008.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are also omitting another IMPORTANT sleeper cell...those of us who are registered Democrats and who can't stand ANY of the Democrats running for office!!! Sorry, but Romney is a hands-down in every category that makes for the best all-around candidate to represent our great nation! He brings America back where "America" used to be -- where it deserves to be. He's getting my vote! DEMOCRAT FOR ROMNEY...in Missouri, with family and LOTS of friends in IOWA.