Thursday Reads: Is It Really Down To Either Mitt or Newt?

It’s been obvious from the polls that Mitt Romney is not very popular with Republicans. As Donald Trump, Michele Bachman, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, and have risen and fallen, Romney has stayed near 25%. But now PPP Polling says that as voters get to know Mitt, they like him even less than before.

There are 13 places PPP has polled the Republican race in October or November where it also did a poll sometime between January and March. In those places Romney’s net favorability has dropped by an average of 15 points over the course of the year.

On average Romney’s favorability with primary voters was 54/25 in these 13 places at the begininng of the year. Now it’s only 50/35. His problem is partially that his positives have gone down but more than that it’s that as his name recognition has increased, most folks moving off the fence have gone into the negative column.

What’s most remarkable about the decline in Romney’s popularity is how uniform it’s been- he’s less popular now than he was at the start of the year in all 13 places where there are polls to compare. And in 11 out of the 13 places that decline in his net favorability has been at least 14 points- the only places with more modest declines are Maine and North Carolina.

As someone who lives in the state that Romney governed for four long, unproductive years, I’m not at all surprised. This man is more wooden than Al Gore, more up-tight than Callista Gingrich, and more awkward and a far worse flip-flopper than John Kerry. Mitt was for it before he was against it, then for it again, and against it again. He is also more amoral and value-free than Barack Obama. On top of that, he’s been endorsed by Ann Coulter.

Frankly, I rather watch Newt Gingrich run against Obama. At least it would be entertaining. Obama vs. Romney would be sleep-inducing.

Now let’s take a look at Romney’s economic record in Massachusetts. This 2007 op-ed from The Boston Globe sums up Romney’s governorship very well (emphasis added).

Our analysis reveals a weak comparative economic performance of the state over the Romney years, one of the worst in the country.

On all key labor market measures, the state not only lagged behind the country as a whole, but often ranked at or near the bottom of the state distribution. Formal payroll employment in the state in 2006 was still 16,000 or 0.5 percent below its average level in 2002, the year immediately prior to the start of the Romney administration. Massachusetts ranked third lowest on this key job generation measure and would have ranked second lowest if Hurricane Katrina had not devastated the Louisiana economy. Manufacturing payroll employment throughout the nation declined by nearly 1.1 million or 7 percent between 2002 and 2006, but in Massachusetts it declined by more than 14 percent, the third worst record in the country.

While the number of employed people over age 16 in the United States rose by nearly 8 million, or close to 6 percent, between 2002 and 2006, the number of employed residents in the Commonwealth is estimated to have modestly declined by 8,500. Massachusetts was the only state to have failed to post any gain in its pool of employed residents. The aggregate number of people 16 and older either working or looking for work in Massachusetts fell over the Romney years.

We were one of only two states to have experienced no growth in its resident labor force. Again, without the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina on the dispersal of the Louisiana population, Massachusetts would have ranked last on this measure. The decline in the state’s labor force, which was influenced in large part by high levels of out-migration of working-age adults, helped hold down the official unemployment rate of the state. Between July 2002 and July 2006, the US Census Bureau estimated that 222,000 more residents left Massachusetts for other states than came here to live. This high level of net domestic out-migration was equivalent to 3.5 percent of the state’s population, the third highest rate of population loss in the country. Excluding the population displacement effects of Hurricane Katrina on Louisiana, Massachusetts would have ranked second highest on this measure. We were a national leader in exporting our population.

That’s what we’ll get with a Romney presidency. He’d be far worse than Obama has been. Hard to believe, I know, but it’s true.

I know the Republicans started out disliking Romney because they don’t believe he’s a conservative. But once they see him perform on TV or in person, they realize he’s actually a robot pretending to be a man. The media won’t tell them about Romney’s economic failure in Massachusetts, but if he wins they’ll find out he’s dumb as a post and has no clue how to create jobs or improve the economy.

Dakinikat sent me this fascinating article from the NYT Magazine yesterday: Building a Better Mitt Romney-Bot. The article is about the efforts of Romney’s campaign advisers to make him look more like a regular guy. They’re keeping him away from opportunities for the press to ask open-ended questions, because Romney did that in 2008 and it didn’t go well.

“You can’t control the message,” one of Romney’s senior advisers later explained to me. “But at a business round table, it’s much more easily controlled because you’re having a group of businessmen, and you’re talking about the economy and the challenges that they may be facing, and Mitt is very conversant on those points.”


Mitt Romney’s campaign has decided upon a rather novel approach to winning the presidency. It has taken a smart and highly qualified but largely colorless candidate and made him exquisitely one-dimensional: All-Business Man, the world’s most boring superhero.

Excuse me? “smart and highly qualified?” Then why did he run Massachusetts practically into the ground in four short years? Romney’s closest campaign strategist, Stuart Stevens compares Romney as candidate to Michael Vick as quarterback.

Among Stevens’s colorful analogies, the unlikeliest is one in which he compares Romney to Michael Vick, the dynamic quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles. “Michael Vick’s not a real good pocket guy,” Stevens told me. “So don’t tell him he can’t roll out. Try to make him the best rollout guy that’s ever played.” And indeed, Romney’s staff has endeavored to focus the campaign on his strengths, which are decidedly the opposite of Vick’s. So instead of letting their quarterback roam and improvise, they’re keeping him tightly contained in the business-centric pocket, hoping to God that he does not stray from it.

That’s a pretty unfortunate comparison, considering Romney’s history of cruelty his family dog.

Draper does suggest that Mitt’s biggest problem, as I indicated above, is that he has very poor social skills. He comes off as embarrassingly awkward when he tries to act like a normal human being.

The chief vulnerability of the Romney campaign resides with the understandable decision to keep their anti-Michael Vick in the pocket, thereby limiting our view of the man. Those who at close range watched Romney’s failure to close the deal in 2008 did not witness a rejection per se. Instead, it appeared that Republican voters could not quite envision this decent, clever and socially uneasy fellow governing their country — as opposed to, say, managing their stock portfolios. Stories of Romney’s wooden people skills are legion. “The Mormon’s never going to win the who-do-you-want-to-have-a-beer-with contest,” concedes one adviser, while another acknowledges, “He’s never had the experience of sitting in a bar, and like, talking.”

I never bought the idea that the best president is someone you can talk with over a beer, but seriously, Romney is so divorced from real American culture that he couldn’t begin to identify with working- and middle-class people. He should never, ever be President. And since he could possibly beat Obama, I don’t want him to be nominated anyway.

So that leaves Newt Gingrich. According to a PPP poll taken on Monday night, Gingrich’s numbers are “still rising.”

Last night we went into the field in Florida and Montana- we’ll have the results of those polls out tomorrow after another night of calls but the early indications are that Newt Gingrich will have a double digit lead in both states- he has not peaked yet and is still on an upward curve.

If Herman Cain really ends up dropping out of the race Gingrich’s surge should continue in the next few weeks, unless/until something starts happening to erode his popularity. Why? Because Cain’s supporters absolutely love Gingrich. And they absolutely hate Mitt Romney.

Our last national survey found that Gingrich’s favorability with Cain voters was 73/21. Meanwhile Romney’s was 33/55. That’s the same basic trend we’ve seen in every Republican primary poll we’ve done in the month of November.

So as voters desert Cain, they’re going to Gingrich. Once Cain drops out, Gingrich’s poll numbers will continue to improve. Will Romney even be able to maintain his 25% base?

Also from PPP: Gingrich up big in Florida and Montana

Newt Gingrich’s momentum is continuing to build, and he now leads Mitt Romney by over 25 points in both Florida and Montana.

In Florida Gingrich is at 47% to 17% for Romney, 15% for Herman Cain, 5% for Ron Paul, 4% for Michele Bachmann, 3% for Jon Huntsman, 2% for Rick Perry, 1% for Rick Santorum, and 0% for Gary Johnson.

In Montana Gingrich is at 37% to 12% for Paul, 11% for Romney, 10% for Bachmann and Cain, 5% for Perry, 3% for Huntsman, and 1% for Johnson and Santorum.

These two states really exemplify one of the key emerging trends in the Republican race- Gingrich isn’t just rising, Romney’s also falling. His 17% in Florida is down 13 points from 30% when we polled the state in late September. His 11% in Montana is down 11 points from 22% when we polled the state in June.

I know the election is nearly a year away, but can Romney turn it around? Of course it’s always a good possibility that Gingrich will do or say something so outrageous that he turns even Republican voters off. But to show how serious Gingrich is taking this, his campaign has finally opened an office in Iowa.

Yesterday, the Christian Science Monitor asked: Is Mitt Romney nomination really inevitable anymore? Time will tell, I guess.

That’s all I have for today except for a shameless plug. Today is a special day for me. Here’s a hint:

66 Comments on “Thursday Reads: Is It Really Down To Either Mitt or Newt?”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    Newt may have just left some of his followers with hanging jaws.

    “Morning Joe” just supplied a clip of Newt being interviewed by Sean Hannity where he takes credit for ending communisim! For heaven’s sake we all know that St. Ronnie Reagan did that all by himself! Joe is falling all over himself with this one and there is no doubt from his comments that he hates and despises Newt.

    What an arrogant, insufferable windbag!

    Happy Birthday, bb! Enjoy the day!

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thanks, Pat. I think Romney’s best hope is that Gingrich is so obnoxious that he’s likely to turn off even ultra conservatives voters eventually.

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    What’s different about the 2012 race?

    Last time out the MSM created a picture of Obama as the Second Coming, a wonder to behold, a combination of FDR, JFK, and old Abe Lincoln.

    This time out we have Newt essentially making these outrageous claims all on his own.

    Oh, if only I had that much confidence I may have led a different life.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    At the Plum Line, Jonathan Bernstein says: Forget Newt’s surge. Romney is still the favorite.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      Not sure if I am buying into that premise.

      The GOP wants what they perceive as a “fighter”, one who will “wipe the floor” with Obama and so far Mitt does not fit the bill. His “robot” appearance and his willingness to do and say anything is what keeps his poll ratings at 25%.

      On the other hand, Newt is willing to go the distance even if it requires outright, shamefaced lying to gain traction. And he does have the appearance of that elusive pitbull which is playing into his poll numbers.

      I think many in the GOP see Mitt as unelectable in the general but Newt – as bad as he is – may have a shot based on nothing more than his ability to “take on” Obama. With the GOP it’s a case of how the message can be “delivered” and Mitt lacks that quality of a dirty fighter even when he is playing dirty.

      My instincts – be what they may – tell me that it’s Newt who will emerge the victor. His “dirty linen” has been put out there and there can’t be many more scandals he needs to overcome since we already concede that he has been a serial cheater, overpaid lobbyist, two faced lying hypocrite and it has only increased his poll standings.

      Unless it’s revealed that perhaps Calista is a boy, none of the baggage attached to him seems to be doing that much damage with GOP voters.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I agree. I’ve never thought Romney could be the nominee in this Republican Party. The vast majority of voters don’t matter. Primary voters tend to activists and in the Repub party, that means wingnuts.

    • dakinikat says:

      Glenn beck endorsed bachmann.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        And the rest of the world is breathlessly awaiting to see who Quitterella will endorse. Bets are that she is going for Newt.

        Since she has been applauded for speaking out against “cronysim” this will provide us with another laugh attack as there is no other candidate running who has more to do with playing in that arena than Newt.

      • Peggy Sue says:

        I heard last night that there’s still a Tea Party group pushing Palin to get back in. They’ve been running ads in Iowa.

        The Gingrich phenom makes my head spin. I cannot stand listening to the ego-maniac. In that way, he’d be a good match to Obama. But seriously, the man’s such an utter liar and hypocrite–what are Republicans thinking??? Are they thinking may be the question.

        Romney and Vick? What a riot. Well, they do share animal abuse records. Great information on Romney. His claim that ‘he understands the economy and how to fix it’ certainly pales with those statistics.

        Did you catch the clip of the Brett Baier interview? Romney didn’t look good. Not sure whether it’s stress or lack of sleep but his behavior was absolutely bizarre.

        A contest of clowns. Which leaves a window for Huntsman. Maybe a cracked window.

        Happy B-day, BB. And many more!

  4. quixote says:

    Happy B-day, BB!

    Honestly, what is it about Romney? I could see St. Ron’s appeal. I couldn’t understand it, he set my teeth on edge, but I could see how he’d pull people in. The Shrub? Dubious beyond words, but if you like that sort of thing, then maybe that keeps a solid 25% base no matter what you do. And so on. But Mitt I just don’t get. Man looks like a Greek statue, but he gives everyone the creeps. Me, conservatives, everyone. Why?

    It’s not his policies or anything he’s done. If such things were a factor, people would have been creeped out by Ronzo. So what is it? Have any marketing psychologists looked at that? Do you have any insights, BB?

    I’m really fascinated by this issue. Ever since television, there’s been the “good hair” index of political winners, but with Romney it’s almost like he went too far. ?? Are the voters saying, “We said ‘good hair,’ not ‘perfect hair'”?

    • bostonboomer says:

      All I know is that ever since the first time I laid eyes on Romney, he gave me the creeps. That was when he ran for the Senate against Ted Kennedy and lost. He’s so awkward and geeky and yet plastic and robot-like at the same time. After reading that article in the NYT mag, I think it’s because he has spend his entire life insulated from the real world and normal people.

      Romney’s dad George Romney was a politician, and probably fairly wealthy. George’s father was a polygamist who moved to Mexico in order to have more than one wife. How can an adult have never sat in a bar or coffee house and talked to people? It seems Mitt Romney has lived his whole life in the upper class bubble.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Thanks for the good wishes, Quixote!

      • quixote says:

        Exactly. I’m wondering about that “instant creepiness” factor that cuts across all kinds of people. Everybody seems to feel it. Our lizard brains are trying to tell us something. But what? Just being insulated isn’t it, I think. I mean, the Queen of England is super-insulated and very stilted, but she’s not at all creepy. /*puzzled*/

        As for the coffee shops and bars, practicing Mormons can’t drink tea, coffee, alcohol, or take any drugs or stimulants. So maybe it’s something to do with that?

        (Funny story that goes with that, if you’ve heard of Mormon tea. When they took up living in Utah, and being unable to use any of the pick-me-ups, they made herbal tea out of a desert plant. Except the plant is Ephedra, which, as you might imagine, is packed with ephedrine, and is a form of plant speed with a very noticeable stimulant effect, even as a mere tea. Never say humans aren’t an inventive lot.)

  5. purplefinn says:

    Hi, bb, Happy Birthday!

    Somehow the thought of having either one of these candidates as president saddens me.

    Viva OWS and its positive effects in re-balancing our corporatocracy.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thanks purplefinn! It’s good to see you. I hope OWS will find a way to stay in the forefront despite the nationwide police state tactics against them.

  6. mjames says:

    Happy Happy Birthday, fellow Sagittarian! And here I thought you were only 60! Eh. 64 is the new 40, don’t you know?

    Meanwhile, Newt would demolish O in any debate. Newt can think and can speak without a black box or teleprompter. I can’t stand him or his policies, but he is far more experienced and confident than O-man. I might actually tune in for that, sick mother that I am.

    However, I still think the plan may be for little Jebbie to come running to the rescue.

    P.S. What is the female for “fellow?”

    • Pat Johnson says:

      Newt won’t debate as much as he will “lecture”.

      He’ll make it known from the outset that he resents the press, the public, the president, and the pundits.

      He’ll fume, fuss and frame the questions to fit his purpose.

      He’ll dodge, distort, and defame.

      He’ll brag, boast, and bend the truth.

      Newt in a nutshell.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thanks MJames! I don’t think New can defeat O in a debate. Obama has gotten better at speaking in the past three years, and he’s pretty unflappable. Gingrich will get nasty and petty and will turn people off.

      • mjames says:

        You and Pat could very well be right. I haven’t been able to watch Newt for a long long time. Obama either. So I was going on memory. It’s a sad day when an opponent can’t beat O in a debate.

      • quixote says:

        People don’t actually *listen* to debates, do they? Newtie comes across as a talk radio host, and those do have followings, sadly enough. O comes across as arrogant with that it-smells-bad-in-here look which is neither simpatico nor does it give people the feeling that he’s on their side of their resentments. And when he meets with less than adulation he’s rather capable of getting petty and petulant himself.

        So I’m really not sure you can call the atmospherics for O. Maybe yes. Maybe no. And both of those alternatives make me want to run screaming for the hills.

    • dakinikat says:

      I dunno about that. Newt’s talking points seem straight from 20 years ago. He also has a huge record of flip flops that eclipse even obama’s policy reverses. I think it would be fascinating from the standpoint that you wouldn’t know which newt or which o would show up.

  7. Susan says:

    Happy 64th, bostonboomer!

    I sat through a sixteen minute interview of Mitt by Brett Baier of Fox News. It was painful. Mitt was snippy and superior and bristled at the kind of questions he’s going to be inundated with if he’s actually nominated. For a guy who’s been running for this job for the last four years, he’s really bad at it.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I was just reading about that interview.

      And I just realized it is only about 5 weeks till the Iowa caucuses. I still think Romney will go down.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Iowa: Team Romney announced that it would play in Iowa two weeks ago,
        aiming for a knockout, one-two punch in the early states. It was a gutsy call that overrode rational hesitation born of his 2008 loss to Mike Huckabee. But the plan appears to be backfiring—a new Insider Advantage poll shows Gingrich leading Iowa with 28 percent, followed by Ron Paul at 13 percent, followed by Romney at 12 percent.

      • bostonboomer says:

        New Hampshire: Newt’s Union Leader endorsement can’t entirely erase Romney’s commanding lead as an adopted hometown candidate. But the same poll now shows Newt within striking distance, 27 percent to Romney’s 31 percent, with Paul bringing in the bronze.

        South Carolina: This social-conservative bulwark was always going to be a tough nut to crack for Team Mitt, but an American Research Group poll shows Newt at 33 percent with Romney trailing at 22 percent.

        Florida: This is the traditional tie breaker in the Republican primary, and that’s where a new Insider Advantage poll shows Newt with a huge 41 to 15 percent lead.

    • dakinikat says:

      Wow. You are one determined woman. How many cups of coffee did that take? Romney’s like watching a badly drawn and scripted cartoon.

  8. Fannie says:

    Yo, Happy Birthday BB

  9. grayslady says:

    Happy Birthday BB! You’re a few months ahead of me and, like you, I’m just hoping there will still be an affordable Medicare program when I reach 65.

    Here’s some good news (IMO) for your birthday: Rocky Anderson, former mayor of Salt Lake City–and the only public figure to call for Bush’s impeachment over the Iraq war–is planning to start a new political party and run for President against Obama and whoever the Repubs nominate from their pathetic field of contenders. Rocky is the real deal–a strong supporter of rights for women (he sat on the board of Planned Parenthood), LGBT community (extended rights to partners while mayor of SLC), immigrants, the rule of law, and middle class workers. He is also named as one of the 20 most internationally prominent environmental activists. Has also stated what we all know, that both parties have been corrupted by corporate interests, even though he was formerly a Dem.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thanks Grayslady! That sounds good. I hope Rocky does it.

      • thewizardofroz says:

        Happy Birthday, B.B.!

        Rocky Anderson has, indeed, done it. It’s called the Justice Party, and he has filled out the paperwork for a presidential exploratory committee. I was feeling depressed about having to sit out a presidential election for the first time in my voting lifetime. Now, I’m thrilled that there may actually be someone I can vote for. Of course, he has to go through the process of getting the Justice Party on the ballot in every state, which is no small task. But if that happens, and all 18 million of us who voted for Hillary vote for him, he could win.

        Roz in NJ/NYC

      • bostonboomer says:

        Thanks for the link. If he’s on the ballot in MA, I’ll consider voting for him.

        And thanks for the good wishes!

  10. janicen says:

    Happy Birthday BB! I hope you get all of your birthday wishes. Especially that one about Hillary! 😉

    I can’t guess who the Republicans will pick. I think the only real threat to Obama would be Chris Christy, but he seems to be biding his time, waiting for the slam dunk. Newt would do better than Mitt, but I don’t think either one of them will beat Obama. What awful choices for my daughter’s first presidential election. I’m still holding out for a viable third party candidate.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thanks, Janicen. I actually think Romney could beat Obama, depending on how bad the economy is on election day. I don’t think Gingrich would have a chance in hell, so I hope he gets nominated. I never thought I’d see the day when Obama would be the lesser of two evils.

  11. Sweet Sue says:

    Happy Birthday, BB, and many happy returns of the day.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thank you, Sweet Sue! I felt kind of guilty putting that in my post, but now I’m glad I did. You guys are the greatest!

  12. dakinikat says:

    I have no idea what I have to do to wordpress to get them to stop dumping ads on us. I paid for that to stop a month ago. I just don’t get it at all.

    • bostonboomer says:

      WordPress sucks!

    • quixote says:

      Well, just as a workaround… If you run Firefox, use Adblock. End of problem on the web generally. (For instance, I didn’t even know pushes ads at readers.)

      Flash-based ads are a nastier problem, but for that there’s Noscript. Too keep it from getting in your way too much, it’s best to set, under Options, General tab, “Temporarily allow top-level sites by default” to on, and under that set “Base 2nd level domains” to on.

      I believe Chrome, which is based on (or ripped off from) Firefox also has an Adblock extension. I’m pretty sure neither IE nor Safari has a way to block ads.

  13. Minkoff Minx says:

    This was a great post BB, and getting to read those older articles really makes a difference for those of us who did not have Mittens as a Gov.

    Weekly Jobless Claims Jump Back Over 400,000 Mark – CNBC

    Weekly applications for unemployment benefits rose 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 402,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. Applications had been below 400,000 for three straight weeks.

    The four-week average, a less volatile measure, was mostly unchanged at slightly below 400,000.

    The average fell to a seven-month low two weeks ago. Weekly applications had been declining for two months.

    Applications would need to stay below 375,000 consistently to push down the unemployment rate [explain this] significantly. They haven’t been at that level since February.

  14. dakinikat says:

    Matt Flegenheimer / City Room:
    Occupy Protesters Mobilize for Obama’s Visit — Updated More than 100 Occupy Wall Street protesters marched to a Midtown hotel on Wednesday night to protest a fund-raising event for President Obama. — Escorted by police vehicles as they helped snarl traffic across the Times Square area …

    for all those meatheads that think Occupy is an Obama front …

  15. The Rock says:

    Happy Birthday BB!!! A word of advice. When you go out tonite, don’t go overboard now that you are just old enough to drink. You young chicks have what they call ‘an elevated libido’ when you go out partying….. 😉

    Happy birthday!!!!!!

    Hillary 2012

    • bostonboomer says:

      LOL! Too late, Rock. I drank my fill by the time I was 34. I had to quit in 1982. But I can still get a very good contact high.

  16. Minkoff Minx says:

    Newt Zingrich: Unlike Fox News Analysts, ‘I Have To Know What I’m Talking About’ | Mediaite

    Current Republican presidential primary frontrunner Newt Gingrich took an odd swipe at his former employer at a town hall meeting in South Carolina on Tuesday. In answering a question about HIV/AIDS policy, Gingrich zinged Fox News, saying “One of the real changes that comes when you start running for President — as opposed to being an analyst on Fox — is I have to actually know what I’m talking about.”

    After basking in several seconds of laughter, Gingrich added, “It’s a severe limitation.”

    It’s an odd barb for several reasons, not the least of which is that he was answering a question that he did not know the answer to. The macro message, then, is that he still doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but now, it matters.

    • The Rock says:

      It’s going to be funny to watch if Newt keeps rising in the polls how Fox reacts. I’m not sure if retribution is the word of the day, but they can’t be to happy about that!

      Hillaary 2012

  17. foxyladi14 says:

    well looks like I,m late to the party.
    Happy Birthday BB! hope it is the best one ever. 🙂

  18. jawbone says:

    The greatest thing, were Newt to be the Repub candidate, would be watching the evangelical right try to justify a serial adulterer as their choice to be president….

  19. jawbone says:

    Happy B’Day, BB!