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    Romney going all out in Iowa

    Romney going all out in Iowa

    As reported by The NY Times, Romney Shifts in Iowa, Playing to Win Quickly:

    Mr. Romney, who has been cautiously calibrating expectations about his chances in a state full of social conservatives, is now playing to win the Iowa caucuses. Television commercials are on the way, volunteers are arriving and a stealth operation is ready to burst into view in the weeks leading up to the caucuses, the first Republican nominating contest, on Jan. 3.

    The escalation of his effort in Iowa, along with a more aggressive schedule in New Hampshire and an expanding presence in South Carolina, is the strongest indication yet that Mr. Romney is shifting from a defensive, make-no-mistakes crouch to an assertive offensive strategy. If he can take command in the three early-voting states, he could make the nominating battle a swift one.

    Makes sense for a campaign which cannot gain traction beyond its 25%.  Get that 25% to the caucuses and let everyone else split the rest, declare victory, and move on.

    But it’s risky, because if Romney cannot break through 25% (which was his 2008 Iowa result) by a large margin, it simply will feed the narrative that he is the 25%.

    This last point seems to sum up what is wrong with the Romney campaign:

    He declined to appear at a forum on Saturday organized by a prominent social conservative activist, Bob Vander Plaats. Mr. Romney’s advisers say he is not trying to persuade his critics to support him, but rather to find voters who like his economic message and believe that he is the party’s strongest nominee.

    Persuade.  Persuade.  Persuade.  Fight to win people over.  If you can’t do in now, or at least will not try, why should we believe you can do it in the fall general election?

    I can’t predict that his strategy will not work.  It might since the not-Romney crowd still is crowded.  But it’s an admission that Romney is trying to win as the default candidate.  It is, to paraphrase George Will, something we would expect of Michael Dukakis.


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    Estragon | November 20, 2011 at 6:57 am

    Hmmm. One of the constant raps on Romney has been his unwillingness to engage and take risks to promote his candidacy. “Romney playing it safe” is a phrase which must occur frequently in reports on the campaign. So the news he is getting down to brass tacks, hitting the hustings, playing for keeps and going for it should meet with some approval, right?

    Of course not. Most of the critics have made their decision – they just want something to hang their hat on for it.

    “…it’s an admission that Romney is trying to win as the default candidate.”

    Um, well, sure it is. Do not all those in the top tier hope to win the early contests and wrap it up early? But all the early contests are proportional representation in delegates, there cannot be any winner-take-all contests until after March 6 (I think that’s the cut-off date), so all those candidates who win enough votes to earn delegates will have some – and the early states are now under a 50% penalty, they only get half their votes on the first ballot.

    So a candidate who wins Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina will have only a handful of actual delegates to show for it. That’s IF one guy wins them all. Other candidates will only be driven out by their own poor performances and lack of donations.

    kobayashi | November 20, 2011 at 8:14 am

    Hmmm – I’m pondering the Romney – Ted Kennedy situation in 1994 –

    25 percent in an eight-way race is not chopped liver.

    While every race and every year is different, it still is instructive to recall that John McCain got a not very impressive 13 percent in the 2008 Iowa caucuses, coming in a dismal fourth place — a hair behind third-place Fred Thomson, second-place Romney at 25 percent and winner Huckabee at 34 percent. McCain did run a few points ahead of Ron Paul! And Rudy Giuliani brought up the rear.

    Anyway, I think Romney can do better in Iowa than his 25 percent in 2008. Polls of Iowa Republicans can never capture the sentiment of actual caucus goers, because so much of who shows up is a function of organization. What’s more, it’s misleading to assume that those who do show up to caucus are necessarily skewed so conservative that a moderate candidate can’t get a good deal higher than 25 percent. The combined 2008 votes of McCain, Romney and Giuliani in Iowa was 42 percent. In a field with five candidates who have positioned themselves to Romney’s right (plus Paul pulling around 10 percent), who can say that Romney might not only come in first but also score a higher percentage than Huckabee did!?

    That said, it is not yet all that clear that Gingrich will appeal only to the not-Romney right, now that he is a contender.

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