Saturday, January 06, 2007

Momentum

The battle for a party's primary nomination largely involves what sort of momentum a candidate can build during the primary campaigns. More than any other Republican candidates, Mitt Romney and John McCain have strategically announced the support of new prominent fundraisers, boosters, and staff each week to, in my mind, give the appearance of surging momentum for their respective candidacies. Creating this appearance is a tricky political calculation though, because each state can differ so markedly in its politics and its allegiances. Romney has seemed to focus more on Iowa and New Hampshire this past year while McCain has paid special attention to South Carolina (where his political fortunes crumbled in the 2000 primaries). It makes sense considering these are all key states in a very front-loaded 2008 Republican primary calender:
Front End of the Republican 2008 Primary Calender
January 21
: Iowa
January 28: New Hampshire
February 5: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and West Virginia.
It's difficult to say who this calender benefits most at this point. Despite McCain's 2000 victory there, Romney would appear to have a leg up in New Hampshire because of its proximity to Massachusetts. Romney also looks to have an advantage in Iowa. He has landed key Republican support in Iowa and will benefit from McCain's past anti-ethanol stance (one of the reasons that, in 2000, he chose to skip the Iowa caucus altogether). But McCain has built a seemingly insurmountable organizational lead in South Carolina. Romney probably has Utah locked up with McCain pocketing Arizona and New Mexico. But how will the rest of the front end primaries play out? Out of Romney and McCain, who is more likely to come out of this very crowded two week schedule with the momentum?

5 Comments:

Blogger David Kennedy said...

Welcome aboard Marc!

Momentum in the primaries is so interesting because it can build and build for over a number of years then crumble in a matter of days, as it did with Howard Dean in '04. He had been the frontrunner for at least the year before Iowa in January '04 and it all came crashing down within a matter of days before the Iowa caucus, and Edwards and Kerry picked it up from there. That said, the rest of the front end primaries will be hard to even make a guess about until after we know how Iowa and New Hampshire shake out and how they are perceived (Edwards came in second in Iowa, I believe, but got incredible momentum from it because expectations were low for him.) The Edwards example can show how even a win for Romney in New Hampshire may not do much for him if he's expected to do well.

3:36 PM  
Blogger jason said...

I don't know if I would be so quick to rule out A for Romney. I heard a "whispered statistic" that AZ GOP primariy is 60% LDS. If that is the case, McCain has some problems.

5:14 PM  
Blogger Marc said...

DAK - Very true. The same could be said about Clinton, who in in 1992 propelled his second place showing in New Hampshire into a winning candidacy.

Jason - I'd be interested in seeing statistics on that. My gut reaction is that it can't be right, but I've certainly been wrong before. I'm curious to see just how loyal the LDS GOP'ers are to Romney. The fact that Utah Governor Jon Huntsman and Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff both having thrown their support toward McCain, it's made me second guess just what LDS GOP support will look like. Certainly, the majority of Mormon Republicans will likely support Romney, but will it be 90%, 80%, 70%? It could end up making a difference in a place like Arizona.

6:11 PM  
Blogger BA said...

Well I don't think most Mormons are expecting a quid pro quo for their vote like Gov Huntsman is; consequently, my guess is Romney will get about 80%+ of the Mormons...

8:24 PM  
Blogger Marc said...

Self-interested motives are never to be discounted in politics ;) 80% sounds like a reasonable figure. Part of me thinks his support among Mormons is likely to be higher in Utah than Arizona though. It seems to me that some of that 80% or so might like their Senator McCain which could translate into support over Romney.

12:40 AM  

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