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Monday, October 08, 2012



Published January 3, 2012-Updated January 10, 2012

"Subconsciously, Mitt Romney may not be as concerned about winning the Iowa caucuses”

by Nathan’ette Burdine-Follow on Twitter@nbnylemagazine

Subconsciously, Mitt Romney may not be as concerned about winning the Iowa caucuses as the other candidates.  Iowa is a state that seems to curse almost every GOP candidate who wins the state’s caucuses.  Since 1980, there have been two out of five Republican presidential candidates to win the Iowa caucuses, their party’s nomination, and the presidency.  Those two candidates were former Presidents George H. Bush Sr. and George W. Bush Jr.  Romney knows he has an uphill battle and one of the things he learned from his failed 2008 campaign is not to concentrate his efforts in one state like Iowa.

According to the Los Angeles Times writer Seema Mehta’s article “Mitt Romney’s under-the-radar approach to Iowa,” it cost Romney over a million dollars to win the 2008 Iowa straw poll.  Yet, this didn’t translate into him winning the Iowa caucuses.  Mitt Romney came in second place to former Governor Mike Huckabee whose star quickly faded after he won the Iowa caucuses. Senator John McCain came in fourth place in Iowa, but he won his party’s nomination.  However, he lost the presidential election to then Senator Barack Obama.  And although Michele Bachmann won the Iowa straw poll last year, Mitt Romney wasn’t rattled.  He has seen everyone from Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, to Newt Gingrich reach the top of the polls only to fall down.  Romney has said that he has evolved since his 2008 experience.  He told Kathie Obradovich of the Des Moines Register that “running a campaign is like raising a teenager.”  He noted how a parent can’t control how his teenager turns out, but he can give him the right upbringing to lead him down the right road.  Hence, although Romney can’t control every aspect of his campaign, he can use certain strategies to ensure he has the outcome he wants.  Unlike his 2008 campaign, Romney is focusing more on important issues like the economy, as well as balancing his time throughout the country and not allowing the doubt about his Mormon religion to take his focus away from the primary issues.  So far, his strategy has been working.

Suffolk University released its poll numbers on January 2, 2011 showing Romney as the clear front-runner in New Hampshire with 43% of the vote.  In Florida, Romney’s numbers have improved.  The American Research Group released its poll numbers in November 2011 and Newt Gingrich was leading with 50% of the vote, while Mitt Romney had 19% of the vote.  According to an article in the Tampa Bay Times, TelOpinion conducted a poll from December 15-19, 2011 and it shows Romney with 27% of the vote and Newt Gingrich with 26% of the vote.  Also, USA Today/Gallup released a poll showing Obama and Romney in a statistical tie, with Obama having 50% of the vote and Romney having 48% of the vote.  The rising debt ceiling and fighting between Congress and the president is contributing to voters’ antipathy.  And Romney has been able to capitalize on the voters’ doubt by honing in on Obama’s misses with the economy.  For instance, Romney has called President Obama a “triple D president debt, deficit, and default,” and Romney put out an ad showing Obama’s hometown, Chicago, IL, in economic peril.  Romney’s basic message is a man whose house is in shambles will turn your house in to shambles.  As evidence, Romney points to how the president has added another trillion-dollar debt to the deficit that hasn’t produce the necessary results to bring the unemployment rate down below 9%.  Romney touts his work in the private and public sector as a way to convince voters that he will use the Republican principles in order to help both small businesses and the big business of government to work.  Whereas Obama has increased the debt, Romney wants to decrease the debt by cutting programs that are providing the greatest strain on the economy.  As evidence of his ability to bring the economy into the black, Romney points to his work as the CEO of Bain and Company and the 4.7% unemployment rate Massachusetts had during his tenure as the state’s governor.

Romney’s approach is allowing him to take his message to big states like Ohio, Florida, and California, which have a larger population and electoral college than Iowa.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Iowa has a little over 3 million people compared to over 11 million people in Ohio, over 18 million people in Florida, and over 55 million people in California.  As for the electoral college votes, Iowa has 6 electoral votes compared to 18 electoral votes for Ohio, 29 electoral votes for Florida, and 55 electoral votes for California.  And with the exception of former President Bill Clinton, every nominee since former President Jimmy Carter who wins Florida wins the presidency.  Thus, Ohio, Florida, and California provide the best avenue for Romney’s journey to the White House. And it is for this reason that Romney has not been distracted by those like Iowa’s governor, Terry Branstand, who stated that Romney has an “East Coast Mentality.”

The Boston Globe writer Alex Katz’s wrote in her article “Iowa governor:  Mitt Romney’s campaign has ‘East Coast Mentality’” that Governor Branstand was upset because Romney didn’t attend the Christian Conservative Forum or the governor’s birthday party.  The governor believes these events provided a chance for Romney to present himself to Iowa’s socially Conservative voting bloc and to raise money.  However, Iowa is a socially conservative Christian state that has held Romney’s Mormon religion against him.  Based on the December 6, 2011 poll released by CBS, 34% of white Evangelical voters will vote for Gingrich while 10% will vote for Romney.  According to The Daily Beast writer Kirsten Powers’ article “Mitt Romney’s Mormon Problem in the Iowa Caucuses Simply Won’t Die,” there is a skepticism about the Mormon religion that is directing the views of the Iowa voters.  In the article, Judd Saul said, “Evangelicals won’t vote for a Mormon.”  And despite the fact that Romney is leading in the Iowa polls with 24% of the vote, the discomfort with his religion cast doubts about his ability to win the state. However, Romney’s mental evolution in running a campaign has allowed him to not be rattled by social stereotypes and to remain focus with his eyes on the prize, becoming the President of the United States. 

Elections are about numbers and probability.  And if a candidate focuses his attention on one area or group, he decreases his chances of winning.  The candidates who are not too far left or too far right are those who have a better chance of winning.  Iowa is a far right state and it tends to constrict the political life out of the GOP winner so to the point that he cannot go on beyond the state.  There were only two candidates, Bush Sr. and Bush Jr., who found life after Iowa.  Romney knows this and has decided not to narrowly concentrate his time in one area and on one group.  Romney’s mental evolution in running a campaign has allowed him to focus on more important issues like the economy.  At the national level, this is catching voters’ attention more so than Romney explaining why he loves the Lord more than Rick Perry.  But like athletes, politicians are superstitious and will try any mind trick in the book to win.  And considering the fact that Romney is not a Bush, his chances of winning his party’s nomination as well as the presidency, if he wins the Iowa caucuses, are slim to none.  So the only hope Mitt Romney has in becoming his party’s nominee and the President of the United States is to lose Iowa.







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