Romney and the Florida Primary: Live Blogging Arrogance and HubrisPosted: January 31, 2012
Romney’s disdain for the electorate is one of his more deeply rooted traits. During his father’s 1968 presidential campaign, Romney wrote, “how can the American public like such muttonheads?”
I find that contempt pretty well-founded, and it is a relief that Romney does not believe the nonsense he spouts during the campaign. But the persistent awkwardness of Romney’s campaign style reflects this basic tension. It’s easy to try to persuade somebody for whom you have basic respect. It’s persuading somebody whom you consider stupid — while you must conceal any trace of your disdain — that’s excruciatingly difficult. Romney’s awkward manner on the trail is the agony of suppressed contempt.
Romney appears to have the momentum and the early voting lead in the Florida Primary. Newt vows to go on. What will their speeches tonight reveal to us about their character or lack thereof?
It’s primary day in the Sunshine State, but more than 600,000 people have already voted in Florida’s Republican presidential contest. And a new public opinion poll indicates that the ballots already cast may help former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney take the 50 delegates up for grabs in Florida’s winner take all primary.
Early voting began statewide ten days ago, and according to figures released Monday afternoon by the Florida Department of State, which runs the division of elections, 293,760 people had already cast ballots. And according to the state, more than 531,000 people requested and were sent absentee ballots, and 338,753 were returned and received by Florida officials.
Add it all together and more than 632,000 votes were already cast before primary day. To put it in perspective, that’s more than the 601,577 who voted in the South Carolina primary, and far outpaces the combined 360,000 that took part in the New Hampshire primary and the Iowa caucuses.
And according to an American Research Group survey released Tuesday morning, 36% of people questioned said they already voted, and among those, Romney led former House Speaker Newt Gingrich 51% to 29%, with former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania at 12% and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas at 10%.
Things have been getting uglier. It’s hard to think that could be possible by the Romney campaign has been using its immense campaign chest to hammer at Newt. Could that start to backfire? Of course, Zombie Reagan figures prominantly.
“For as long as I’ve been in politics, 14 years, journalists call me and ask if this is the most negative election ad atmosphere I’ve ever seen,” says Kenneth Goldstein, president of Kantar Media CMAG, which tracks content and targeting of political advertising. “And every year I say, ‘Don’t be ridiculous.’”
“But this year it’s true. This primary season is the most negative it’s ever been,” asserts Goldstein. “I have absolutely never seen television advertising so negative in a Republican presidential primary.”
This tsunami of sleaze is being propelled by unprecedented advertising buys. The Romney campaign and its associated super PAC, Restore Our Future, have spent $15.3 million in Florida over the past month alone, according to Maggie Haberman of Politico. To put this in perspective, John McCain spent $11 million on ads during his entire 2008 primary campaign. Back on this side of Citizens United, Newt Gingrich and his billionaire-backed super PAC have spent “only” an estimated $3 million—giving Romney a 5–1 spending advantage in the Sunshine State.
Turn on the TV or radio in Florida these past few days and you’ll soon be subjected to the avalanche of negative ads, most of them purchased courtesy of Romney Co. The attacks come in a bewildering variety—from accusations that Newt worked with Nancy Pelosi “to support China’s brutal one-child policy” to Spanish-language ads that say Newt called Spanish “the language of the ghetto.” Fannie and Freddie have become household names. Both candidates are accusing the other of being insufficiently conservative and secretly pro-abortion. There has been public wrestling for a photo op with Ronald Reagan’s ghost, trying to claim closer association. Even Romney’s Get Out the Vote mailers are anti-Newt.
Axlerove must be doing jigs.
Guess we’ll see what comes out of the wash tonight.