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1  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Which state is more likely to flip in a Hillary Clinton vs Jeb Bush election? on: March 28, 2014, 11:56:09 am
McCain got 46% of the vote because the country has become politically polarized.  Even Michael Dukakis got 45% and his campaign was a train wreck.  There's a floor under each national party these days so the age of 60-40 blowouts is probably gone for some time to come.

I'm not suggesting, that because Obama's approval might be in the low 40's, Clinton will only get in the low 40's.  I'm just saying Obama's approval, the likely stagnant economy, and the ACA will have an effect on Hillary and the Democrat's numbers that simply aren't being factored into the current polling.

And let's be honest, the polls we're seeing today mostly measure name ID.
2  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Which state is more likely to flip in a Hillary Clinton vs Jeb Bush election? on: March 27, 2014, 06:17:20 pm
Well, if Clinton rolls to an electoral college and popular vote win in 2016 with Obama's approval ratings in the low 40's, then I will genuinely be surprised.  If the American voting public has lost confidence in Obama, it's hard to see that not transferring, at least in part, to the heir apparent of the party.  We'll just have to see.
3  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Which state is more likely to flip in a Hillary Clinton vs Jeb Bush election? on: March 27, 2014, 04:19:19 pm
Well, I guess I would respond this way.  As far as Hillary goes, it's not surprising she performs relatively well right now.  She's very well known.  She was first lady, a Senator from New York, a high profile candidate for the Democrat nomination in 2008, and just completed a term as Secretary of State.  Having said that, Clinton's job at State was, essentially, non-political and that has definitely boosted the image most have of her.

At about the same time in the 2008 process though, a well known Senator named John McCain also led the vast majority of presidential polls and by a lot in some of them.  Yet as time wore on, Bush fatigue caught up with McCain and Republicans.  Bush's approval numbers and the war in Iraq became a huge drag.  Both of those issues were hot early in 2006, yet he looked in good shape then just as Clinton does today.

As we saw in 2008 though, Democrats tarred and feathered Republicans all over the country with Bush's problems.  Even though Bush and McCain rarely saw eye to eye, Democrats made the case McCain was running for Bush's third term and it worked.  McCain just couldn't shake the unpopular president and all that came with him.

Given that, why would Clinton or any Democrat be immune from Obama's problems?  Why wouldn't Republicans be able to tar and feather her with all of Obama's problems like a stagnant economy and an unpopular healthcare plan?  After all, Clinton has to be considered closely associated with Obama's tenure since she served as his Secretary of State.  They may not see eye to eye on some issues, but neither did Bush and McCain.

If the situation in 2016 is as toxic for Obama as it is today, I just don't see how the country decides to go with his heir apparent when they never have in the past.  Now, of course, that could all change if Republicans nominate an unelectable candidate like Cruz or Paul or the economy improves, but history suggests no national candidate of the same party can overcome the low numbers of the current occupant.
4  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Which state is more likely to flip in a Hillary Clinton vs Jeb Bush election? on: March 27, 2014, 02:18:47 pm
So much of this discussion about 2016 seems off base to me.  In 1988, GHB won Reagan's "third term" essentially because the economy had done and continued to do so well.  If Reagan's approval ratings were in the low 40's and the economy was lackluster, Dukakis would have been elected president.  As James Carville once said, "It's the economy, stupid!"

Third terms are a real rarity.  And, at least since the turn of the last century, they have all been the result of well regarded economic conditions.  That was essentially the case in 1908, in 1928, in 1940, and especially in 1988.  Now to be fair, the first two examples were unique cases because three different presidents filled each term.  And in 1940, FDR became the first man to run for a third term and win, but he wouldn't have been able to do so had the country not believed the worst of the depression was behind them and things were improving.

Given that, I just don't see how anything at this stage points to a clear Clinton victory in 2016.  I'm not saying she can't/won't win, but I think it's going to be very difficult for any Democrat to win if Obama's approval numbers remain mired in the low 40's, his signature legislative achievement remains unpopular, and, most of all, the economy remains stagnant at best.  And to that point, it would be a rarity for Obama to go a full eight years without suffering his own economic recession.

If anything, I think the current conditions suggest an electoral map realignment might be in the offing just as happened in 1968 and 1992.  Just as the 1946 and 1948 elections served as a very good template for the 2010 and 2012 elections, the current economic conditions and general unhappiness of the country may point to 1918 and 1920 serving as a good template for 2014 and 2016.  That might even be truer if Republicans nominate someone in 2016 who can't be easily portrayed as anti-immigrant or anti-minority.

Things can turn on a dime and everything might look far rosier for Democrats in 2016 (economically), but the worst thing we can do is put too much weight in general election polls taken 30 months in advance.  We won't know how the electorate really feels about the candidates and the economy at least until late 2015 and early 2016.  Even then, it might be too soon.
5  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: How do you guys feel about Chris Matthew's thoughts on the 2016 GOP Run on: March 26, 2014, 10:01:11 am
Unless the bigger establishment names choose not to run (Bush, Christie), I just don't see Paul being the nominee.  The media isn't focusing on his eccentricities right now and they certainly haven't attempted to tie him to any of his father's more "unique" views.  And make no mistake, they will do that by late 2015 and early 2016.

I go back to a story recently written about the four factions of the Republican party.  The author, Henry Olsen, suggests the four groups are moderates/liberals (25-30%), somewhat conservative, very conservative evangelicals (20%), and conservative secular voters (5-10%).  The somewhat conservative group is the largest faction at 35-40% of the vote.

While Paul may start with the vast majority of the very conservative secular voters, that only gives him a base of 5-10% so he'll obviously have to branch out into other groups.  He's making a serious play to do that now, but other candidates will likely fill those slots and make it difficult for him to piece together the 40% or so he'll need to win in a contested field.  And the best evidence of that is the current RCP average.  Paul sits at 13%, or just above the 10% threshold for very conservative secular voters.

These numbers also show why "establishment" choices have dominated since 1988.  For instance, while Paul must significantly branch out, someone like Bush wouldn't need to do nearly as much.  He'd likely occupy a major portion of the somewhat conservative faction and he'd almost certainly do well with the moderate/liberal portion.  Just in raw numbers, that's as much as 70% of the primary vote.  And even if Paul were to get every secular vote and evangelical vote, he'd still have to snag some from the two groups an "establishment" choice would dominate.  And if Cruz is in the race, well he and Paul occupy the same sphere.

If Bush and Christie both decide to pass (that won't happen), then it's easier to see a path for Paul or Cruz, but the somewhat conservative and moderate/liberal factions dominate the primary.  I'd put the number at 65%.  It's why Romney survived and it's why neither Paul or Cruz is likely to win.  And in my opinion, that especially true if Bush runs, because I think he'll clear a good part of the field that would've competed for the somewhat conservative and moderate/liberal votes.

I just don't see Paul or Cruz unless a whole bunch of people say no (Bush, Christie, Rubio, Walker, Kasich).

http://nationalinterest.org/article/the-four-faces-the-republican-party-9930
6  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: If Mike Huckabee doesn't run (as I don't think he will) on: March 21, 2014, 04:52:08 pm
I don't think the Huckster will run either, but it will be interesting to see how he handles any endorsement.  His base of support is evangelicals and social conservatives.  In all honesty, there's just not much overlap between him and the Tea Party.  That doesn't mean some of those who might prefer him won't sign on for Cruz, but it's likely most of his support would meander its way towards Santorum, if he runs.

The real monkey wrench for Huckabee and his supporters is Bush.  Again, the prevailing wisdom is he will not run.  Having said that, he's making all the moves one might expect a potential candidate to make.  I bring this up because Huckabee said in late 2010 he would not run in 2012 if Bush decided to run.  It was a tacit endorsement.  So the question would be this.  If Huckabee doesn't run and endorses Bush, would that sway any of his supporters?  I would suspect there's more overlap with Huckabee and Bush voters than there is with Huckabee and Cruz voters.
7  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: If Jeb is nominated, do you see a conservative third party emerging? on: March 20, 2014, 05:00:49 pm
This article speaks to why I think Common Core won't be a problem for Bush.  His likely base in the primary will come from the largest group who are somewhat conservative.  They're aren't going to be into the idea Common Core is some sinister plan to brainwash students.

http://www.aei-ideas.org/2014/03/cpac-jeb-bush-and-the-common-core/
8  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: New Sabato ranking for GOP primary. on: March 20, 2014, 04:38:05 pm
As much as I am in favor of a Jeb Bush candidacy, I'm surprised Larry Sabato's operation lists him as the leader of the pack.  I think Bush out classes all of those names, but the DC consensus is there's no way Bush runs.  Having said that, there has certainly been a lot of buzz about him recently.

As for the other choices, I think Scott Walker's decision is totally dependent on Bush because Paul Ryan is not running.  He has no base of support (except for the WSJ editorial page), he was a losing VP nominee, he comes from the House, and he showed no ability to drag his state along in 2012.  On top of that, he's let it be known, at least according to articles I've read, he wants Ways and Means.

Walker also ranks as a top tier choice over Cruz because Walker would almost certainly become the "establishment" choice if Bush chooses not to run.  There's no overlap between Bush or Walker voters and Cruz voters.  And just to further that point, a recent study suggested that about 40% of the Republican base is "somewhat" conservative.  The base from which Cruz or Paul would start with wouldn't be nearly as large.  That's why the "establishment" has controlled the nominating process since 1988.
9  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: If Jeb is nominated, do you see a conservative third party emerging? on: March 20, 2014, 02:25:53 pm
It's been close to two years since I last commented in this forum, but back then I was a big proponent of Jeb Bush running in 2012.  As my comment history shows, I even hoped for some sort of deadlocked convention that might bring him into the race because I never had any faith in Romney.  My comment history also shows that as early as late 2010, I advocated for Bush/Sandoval in 2012.

I only bring this up to show where my bias is.  So given that, it should come as no surprise that I think Bush is the best candidate the Republicans can field in 2016.  He has a record of conservative governance in Florida, he brings with him a key electoral swing state, and he can't easily be painted as anti-immigrant.

I know the very vocal minority believes Bush is some sort of RINO, but everything about his record says conservative.  Instead of speaking in hyperbole, he speaks with more measure.  That may not sit well with the Tea Party groups, but, as the polling in 2014 Senate primary races shows, their influence is fading.

I'm not sure if Bush will run (50-50 at best), but I think he'd be much stronger in the primary than CW suggests.  More than likely, he'd clear a good part of the potential field.  Rubio and Ryan wouldn't run.  Huckabee, if he's really considering it, would likely pass because he said in 2011 he definitely wouldn't run in 2012 if Bush ran.  It would also be tough to see what space there would be for Walker if Bush were to run.  I also think Christie would be less likely to run because his donor base would almost certainly be with Bush.  That would make it Bush vs. the Paul/Cruz crowd and the certifiably crazy crowd like Perry and Santorum.
10  Election Archive / 2012 Elections / Re: Mr. 47% on: July 23, 2012, 02:11:46 pm
The suggestion was that if anyone had room to fall further in the polls, it was Romney from his current 45% perch.  If that were to be the case, it would signal Obama winning by 10 points or so.  That's not going to happen.

As for 1936, the situations are similar, but not so much.  FDR won a decisive victory because there was a widespread belief things were improving.  After all, unemployment had gone from 25% to 15%.  In terms of 1984, once again there was a widespread belief things were improving.  It was morning in America.

Obama can't run on a view that things are improving so comparing 2012 to 1936 is a stretch.  Unemployment has gone from 8% to 10% back to 8%.  It's probably even rising again.  And I would also say Obama's failure to convince most Americans to believe in his programs suggests his political skills aren't as good as Reagan's.
11  Election Archive / 2012 Elections / Re: Mr. 47% on: July 23, 2012, 12:29:32 pm
If polling is any indiction, Mitt's 45% is likely to fall.

The more people learn about him, the less they like.

So Romney's likely to do worse in 2012 than the 47% McCain got in 2008?  I find that very hard to believe.

No record of military heroism (or martyrdom). McCain didn't have business dealings to defend.

So you think it's possible Obama beats Romney 55-45 or 56-44?  Sorry, but that's just fantasy.  Not that Obama will win, but that he can win a significant victory with the current economic conditions.  Nominal Republicans are not going to abandon Romney to vote for Obama.

Anyone who thinks McCain was a popular nominee for the Republican party is smoking some really good stuff.  He was anything but.  Romney may not be popular either, but the desire to beat Obama is over the top and the economy stinks.
12  Election Archive / 2012 Elections / Re: Mr. 47% on: July 23, 2012, 12:25:21 pm
If history serves as a guide once again on these two issues, Obama is probably in more serious trouble than the polls generally indicate.  Now before people say I'm drawing too many conclusions, just review the RCP charts and you'll see how often 47% appears in the horserace and job approval.  It's hard to miss.

I don't disagree that he's at around 47%. But where I think you're drawing too many conclusions is the premise that history serves as a guide. We do not have anywhere near a statistically useful sample of elections (with polling data) in which the incumbent was below 50%, much less those in which he was below 50% but very near it.

Fair enough.
13  Election Archive / 2012 Elections / Re: Mr. 47% on: July 23, 2012, 11:02:42 am
The national polls are irrelevant. Romney will run up the score in solid red states, but he has virtually no path to 270.



Obama - 253
Romney - 191

I don't see Romney denies Obama 17 EVs from that lot, given what current polling looks like. Barring major economic downtown, Obama should win re-election.

That's just crazy to say.  I'm not predicting Romney will win, but to say he has no path is wrong.  The internal data of most recent polls has been very bad for Obama.  Top line numbers are almost always the last to change.  The economic fatigue is just now starting to filter into the headline numbers and we're seeing Romney creep up on Obama.

I suppose you could have written the same thing about Reagan in 1980.  His path to victory didn't look so good in July, yet he won 43 states.  Things can change and the polls will follow, not lead.
14  Election Archive / 2012 Elections / Re: Mr. 47% on: July 22, 2012, 07:01:40 pm
If polling is any indiction, Mitt's 45% is likely to fall.

The more people learn about him, the less they like.

So Romney's likely to do worse in 2012 than the 47% McCain got in 2008?  I find that very hard to believe.
15  Election Archive / 2012 Elections / Re: Summary of Mitt Romney's big problem in the Electoral College on: July 22, 2012, 06:58:48 pm
I'm not about to predict a Romney win, but I think the talk Romney is constrained by the map is overstated right now.  I realize the polls still generally favor Obama in the battleground states, but he's still below 50% in most state polls.  That puts him in a weak position against a rather weak opponent.

Obama would have to defy electoral history to win in this political and economic environment.  Most feel the economy never escaped recession, unemployment remains above 8%, the right/wrong track is 30-65, and Obama's remains stuck at 47% or so.  None of that argues for a re-election win.

Most on this site, including me, have been very dour about Romney's abilities as a candidate and his chances to win, but here he is basically tied nationally.  Even after $100 in negative campaigning, Romney's still right there and edging up if anything.  That shows just how tough the environment is for Obama.

Although I've only posted once or twice since March, I've felt for two months or so this race would end one of two ways.  First, Obama would win a narrow victory thanks to unease about Romney and Romney's own ineptness.  Second, Romney would win a rather convincing victory as undecided voters broke towards him late thanks to the terrible economy.  I still feel that way.

People may want to poo poo unemployment, right/wrong track, and other factors, but they were the undoing of Carter as well.  At this point in the 1980 race, Reagan trailed.  I know the composite of the electorate is far different today, but the state polls can change rather easily (for good or bad) as people come to know Romney better.
16  Election Archive / 2012 Elections / Re: Mr. 47% on: July 22, 2012, 06:36:49 pm
Job approval is very critical for incumbent presidents.  Carter ran ahead of his job approval in 1980, but his vote percentage all but matched his job approval on election day.  Almost certainly, if Obama's job approval was over 50%, supporters would be using it as proof the election was all but over.

I also agree 47% for Obama is better than 45% for Romney, but Obama is 100% known to the public.  His 47% number is not the same as Romney's 45% number is.  Obama's number has been forged over three and a half years as president and essentially corresponds with his job approval.  Romney's number has room to grow (or fall) since he's not as well known to the uninformed dopes who make up the vast majority of the voting public.

I'm not saying Obama is doomed because of this job approval number, but I think it's more important than most think.  If history holds form and his vote share doesn't exceed his job approval on election day, he could face trouble.  That's especially true if the economy continues to slow.  It's hard to see Obama becoming more popular if we're teetering on the edge of recession.
17  Election Archive / 2012 Elections / Mr. 47% on: July 22, 2012, 04:25:55 pm
As someone who vehemently opposed Romney in the primaries, it's taken me some time to warm to him.  I suppose I've reconciled myself to him now and I suspect that's the case with many other conservatives as well.  Reconciled support is never the greatest thing for a candidate, but they've got to do the best they can with what they have.

Having said that, I've noticed a recurring number in the multitude of polls that have been released over the last four months.  Whether it's the horserace or job approval, Obama seems to be the 47% man.  To be sure, a poll every now and then puts Obama above the 47% mark, but they're rare on the national scene and never confirmed.

I bring this number up because history has taught us two general things about presidential races involving incumbents.  First, an incumbent's vote total rarely exceeds his job approval rating.  Second, incumbents are definitely in the danger zone when they poll below 50% this close to an election.

If history serves as a guide once again on these two issues, Obama is probably in more serious trouble than the polls generally indicate.  Now before people say I'm drawing too many conclusions, just review the RCP charts and you'll see how often 47% appears in the horserace and job approval.  It's hard to miss.

I also realize GWB polled around 47% for a time in 2004, but that was his nadir that year and he steadily rebounded as election day moved closer.  In fact, his approval in the exit polls on election day was 53% according to Sean Trende at RCP.  Without a doubt, the economy was in far better shape an improving.

Regardless, it's hard not to notice how consistently Obama polls at or below the 47% mark.  That number doesn't guarantee a defeat because he's just a few points from 50%.  But Obama is also just a few points away from 44% as well.  And if the economy continues to slow into the Fall, it will be tougher and tougher for him to nudge above the 47% line.
18  Election Archive / 2012 Elections / Re: Team Romney is grasping at straws....... on: July 19, 2012, 12:47:44 pm
The electorate is different and not heavily favoring the Democrats.

You honestly think people are going to care about BO's past now after he has been president for four years?

It didn't work then, and it won't work now.

This just reeks of desperation.


McCain never made some of the more unpleasant parts of Obama's past an issue.  I don't see the upside of calling Obama a coke user, but if Romney's campaign did reek of desperation, why is the race essentially tied to +1 for Obama?
19  Election Archive / 2012 Elections / Re: The Battle Continues, But The Numbers Have Been Crunched... on: March 14, 2012, 02:57:04 pm
The Romney campaign is turning into the gang that can't shoot straight.  Last night, they were giddy they might win Mississippi and suggested the race would effectively end if that happened.  Unfortunately, they lost and then Eric Fernstrom went on CNN and said winning AL and MS weren't important.  He then pointed to Samoa.

I understand the Romney gang is doing their best to spin a bad night, but the delegate math argument is a loser for them.  It gives the impression Mitt doesn't actually need to win any of these competitive states to win the nomination.  Maybe I'm old fashioned, but winning ought to matter.

Romney needs to excite the base and some sort of convoluted discussion about delegates is not going to do it.  Still, that's the best case Romney has right now because he knows the conservative base is opposed to him in the primary.  Newt was not a real candidate, yet he got more than 30% in both states and beat Romney.

Romney does not have this race sealed up at all.  He may still win it, but his path to 1144 grows more difficult with each race.  Romney's own numbers say he must win 47% of the remaining delegates, but he's shown no signs of being able to do that.  If Newt and Santorum hold Romney to 1000 delegates or less, the unpledged delegates probably won't put him over the top.

Romney pushing this delegate math argument because he is aware that if he can't win on the first ballot, he probably won't win at all.  When delegates are allowed to vote for whomever they choose, it's hard to envision Santorum and Newt voters abandoning their men in order to save Romney's flagging chances.  Same for the Pail delegates.  It's far more likely Romney's delegates begin to peel off in attempts to find a consensus choice, possibly someone not even in the race.

I will stand by my prediction of more than a month ago.  The nominee will either be Romney or someone not in the race.
20  Election Archive / 2012 Elections / Re: The Battle Continues, But The Numbers Have Been Crunched... on: March 14, 2012, 02:40:12 pm
Folks, Romney won more delegates yesterday than anybody else thanks to big wins in Hawaii and American Samoa. Like Obama (and unlike Hillary) four years ago, Team Romney knows that this is about delegates. And the Romney lead in delegates is insurmountable unless Santorum wins most everywhere from here on out, including New Jersey and Utah. Not just that, Santorum would need to crush, not just beat, Romney in places like Connecticut and Rhode Island (Home of the Winfield).

Folks, this game is over. Santorum is like a team trying to comeback from a 48-24 deficit in the third quarter of a football game. Yeah, you got off to a 3-0 start, but you're down 48-24 now. A comeback is not going to happen...

So Romney can lose all the way to the nomination?  Wow, that's exciting.  He'll be on quite a roll, won't he.
21  Election Archive / 2012 Elections / Re: The Battle Continues, But The Numbers Have Been Crunched... on: March 14, 2012, 02:37:18 pm
Why do Romney supporters pretend to not understand that the threshold that needs to be crossed for them to claim victory is not that no other candidate can get a first round majority, but that Romney can get a first round majority?  That is not yet certain.  If Romney arrives in Tampa with a plurality but not a majority, then he probably will not be the nominee.

I completely agree with this.  Newt and Santorum are now in this to block Romney from 1144.  If Romney doesn't get that number on the first ballot, he will not win on future ballots.
22  Election Archive / 2012 Elections / Re: The Battle Continues, But The Numbers Have Been Crunched... on: March 14, 2012, 02:34:46 pm
...and there is virtually no way to deny Romney the nomination short of upsets in winner-take-all California, New Jersey and *drum roll* Utah. Good luck with that!

If Romney wins Mississippi, the polar opposite of Romney's home state of Massachusetts, it is time for Santorum and Gingrich to endorse Romney. If they continue this circus, they are only helping the cause of Barack Obama and Co...

Congratulations Winfield!



Care to revise and extend these remarks?

It's becoming more and more possible each day Willard will need extra help, a deal unpledged delegates, to push him over the 1144 mark.

Romney is starting to get nervous as well.  He's begun to speak about the ills of a convention because he wants scare everyone into voting for him now.  He knows if he doesn't win it on the first ballot, he'll likely not win the nomination.
23  Election Archive / 2012 Elections / Re: FL's Resign to Run Law in regards Rubio's VP prospects on: March 12, 2012, 11:03:39 am
I don't think Rubio will be the VP nominee.  Polls indicate he won't make a difference in Florida and he's said a hundred times he will not be the VP choice.  He's only been in office for two years and I don't think Romney wants to run the risk of another Palin.  I'm not comparing the the two, but better to find someone with a longer track record and more known knowns to quote Rumsfled.

I think Romney is already in bad enough shape he must pick someone who guarantees him a state.  Obama already has the Kerry 2004 states locked up and that gives him 246 votes.  If Obama campaigns to be the governor of Florida and wins, he'll win the presidency.  Romney has to win Florida before he does anything else.

I think Jeb Bush is the only person who can guarantee Romney a win in Florida.  Romney might win it with other choices, but he would have to spend time and money to do it.  With Jeb, that money can be spent more effectively in his other must win state, Ohio.
24  Election Archive / 2012 Elections / Re: FL's Resign to Run Law in regards Rubio's VP prospects on: March 12, 2012, 10:55:33 am
Call me crazy, but I think Kay Bailey Hutchinson would be the best pick to complement Romney.

You're crazy.

The last thing Mitt Romney needs to do is burnish his moderate credentials with base voters by choosing KBH.  At some point, Mitt must win over the base, or he will not unify the party.  KBH is not in step with the majority of the party anymore.

I understand you're making a general election case, but Romney's concern is a base that's weary about his authenticity on conservatism.
25  Election Archive / 2012 Elections / Re: Republican Primary headed for a deal? on: March 09, 2012, 10:44:58 am
Both Nate Silver of NYT and Sean Trende of RCP have stories today suggesting the same thing.  Romney could end up 70-100 delegates short of 1144 and would need to rely on unpledged RNC delegates.  That would put him over the top.

This can all change quickly though.  If Romney wins Alabama or Mississippi, the race is over.  If Newt gets out and gives Santorum a one on one shot, Romney has some concerns.  Right now, I think it's more likely Romney wins in either Alabama or Mississippi.
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