Two for two: Can Mitt Romney be stopped for the nomination?

From USA Today:

NASHUA, N.H. – Iowa: Won by a whisker. New Hampshire: Won in a walk.

Can Mitt Romney be stopped for the Republican presidential nomination? There is time, his opponents say, although perhaps not much. To be precise, another 10 days to unleash a barrage against the front-runner and persuade conservatives to coalesce around an alternative who then could carry the South Carolina primary.

On Tuesday night, though, the confetti cannons were being fired at Romney’s victory party. He achieved what no non-incumbent Republican has ever done: win both the Iowa caucuses, dominated by evangelical Christians, and the New Hampshire primary, with its live-free-or-die independents.

“Thank you, New Hampshire,” Romney told an exuberant victory party. “You know, tonight we celebrate. Tomorrow, we go back to work.”

After watching one rival after another soar and then crash, the slow and steady candidate prevailed in this year’s opening contests — and succeeded in the state where his presidential ambitions crumbled four years ago as Arizona Sen. John McCain surged from behind to defeat him.

If he also manages to win the Palmetto State on Jan. 21 — scoring what South Carolina GOP strategist Chip Felkel admiringly calls “the trifecta” — supporters and opponents say the former Massachusetts governor credibly could claim to be the presumptive Republican presidential nomination.

. . . .

The Romney camp is braced for what one top strategist called “a war” in South Carolina, a state known for its bruising primary politics. The TV ads and two debates are likely to be the harshest to date

A majority of voters in New Hampshire said Romney would be the strongest general-election candidate, and he was seen as broadly acceptable.

. . . .

Nationally, he is showing growing strength. In the daily Gallup Poll, he has ticked up to 30% for the first time; Gingrich is second at 18%. That puts history on Romney’s side: Since 1976, the candidate who led nationally after the New Hampshire primary has won the nomination.

What’s more, Romney is the only candidate whom a majority of both conservative and moderate Republicans see as an “acceptable” nominee, according to a Gallup Poll taken Thursday through Sunday.

. . . .

The next goal for Team Romney: a Trifecta.

Romney’s Moment

Alan Greenspan once coined the phrase “irrational exuberance” to describe the feeling some investors get when witnessing rapidly rising stock market values and the “bubbles” they inevitably create. Today marks the end of “irrational exuberance” for Newt Gingrich. According to the RCP polling average, the Gingrich bubble has burst. Poll numbers on all fronts show Gingrich trending downward, including nationally where he has dropped 6 points since his height. 

The Republican presidential race has certainly resembled the turbulent stock market by having, in the short span of just 6 months, six different front-runners for the Republican nomination. At one point we had Donald Trump rise to the top by stirring the “birther” controversy. Then we had Bachmann, Perry, Cain, and now Gingrich each take their turn at the top of the standings. Romney is the only candidate who has been steadily and consistently polling at or near the top of the pack throughout this entire tumultuous year.

Interestingly, despite Gingrich’s surge in the polls, Romney continues to do substantially better in a head-to-head matchup against President Obama than Gingrich. 

However, Romney now refers to Newt as the “front-runner” and said that he expects a long drawn-out primary. Romney has said that he “never expected to win every state” so it looks as though Gingrich will be his primary competition. The prospects of long primary struggle between Romney and Gingrich delighted Obama’s re-election team in the hopes that whoever emerges from the GOP struggle will either have their reputation badly damaged or simply not have enough time to establish a strong campaign against Obama. 

With the vote in Iowa just three weeks away, more Americans are now getting interested in the race. The last debate in Iowa had a total of 7.6 million viewers, that’s 38% more viewers than the previous debate! The upcoming debate this Thursday looks as if it will draw an even bigger crowd.

Romney’s timing for his interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News this Sunday couldn’t come at a better or more crucial moment for his campaign. The Wallace interview will likely be the most watched interview of the season, and I believe Romney is going to impress a lot of conservatives and independents with his command of the issues. With so many people watching the interview, it will be a great time for Romney to make the case that his business career of turning around troubled companies and the Olympics is just the kind of skill set America needs right now. 

The most recent polls show that 73% Americans feel that the country is headed in the wrong direction. For the first time since America’s founding, kids no longer expect to exceed their parents’ financial situation. America appears to be in decline and poised to take its place as just another fallen superpower.

We believe that Romney is the only candidate who has the skills necessary to turn around the American economy. After all, Romney’s successful career in business was built on his ability to turn around troubled enterprises and to make them profitable again. That is what he has been doing his whole life. It’s what he is good at. Let’s put a businessman in the White House, a business man who knows how to turn things around, cut out the waste, and get things done. As Romney says, lets make America a place where “it is good to be middle class again.”  

Romney Still Frontrunner Per Pundits; Other Big Names Far Behind

Two “Power Rankings” of the 2012 GOP hopeful nominees have come our way in the last 24 hours.  The Washington Post‘s “The Fix” has had Romney at the top of the line for a long time running.  I’m predicting he stays there until Mitt actually wins the nomination!  The top 7 are listed below:

  1. Romney
  2. Pawlenty
  3. Palin
  4. Gingrich
  5. Huckabee
  6. Daniels
  7. Barbour

Seperately, The Economist provided their, admittedly, rough rankings in the graphic below:

Two things initially stick out when reviewing these rankings: 

  1. Romney and Pawlenty are #1 and #2 in both (and I like Mitt’s chances against a charisma-challenged candidate who still does not break above 5% in any national or early state poll).
  2. The other “big name” candidates, namely, Palin, Huckabee, and Gingrich have relatively low rankings at an average of 3.5, 5, and 5 respectively. 

Although there’s a certain target that comes with being the front-runner, Mitt’s been leading the pack and wearing that target for some time now.  He’s shown that he can handle the attention and fire that comes with holding the “Pole Position.”

Washington Post: Top 10 rankings of potential Republican Presidential contenders for 2012

The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza of The Fix ranks the top 10 potential Republican candidates for President in 2012 as of Today. We’ll just post the juicy details of the top three finishers here; be sure to head over to read Cillizza’s full analysis of all ten contenders at WaPo:

10. Jim DeMint:
9. Mike Pence:
8. Mitch Daniels:
7. John Thune:
6. Haley Barbour:
5. Mike Huckabee:
4. Tim Pawlenty:

3. Newt Gingrich: One well-connected Iowa operative was recently detailing the massive amounts of time — and money — that the former House Speaker had spent in the Hawkeye State over the last two years. That got us to thinking about the possibility that we have been underestimating Gingrich in our 2012 calculations. What he has: name identification, the ability to raise money and more policy proposals than Antoine Dodson has You Tube hits. (And you said we couldn’t get an Antoine Dodson reference into the Fix!) What he doesn’t: a demonstrated ability to stay on message day after day in the cauldron of a presidential race. Still, if Gingrich runs, and he sounds like he is going to, he is a major force. (Previous ranking: 6)

2. Sarah Palin: Palin has begun to break out of her Twitter/Facebook cocoon to interact with the mainstream media of late. Basic political analysis would suggest that Palin’s newfound love — ok, that may be too strong a word — for the press means that she is trying to re-shape her public image in advance of a run for president. But, as we have written many times, basic political analysis doesn’t often apply to Palin. it’s just as likely that this media tour is the result of a snap decision made by Palin and her top/only political adviser (aka First Dude Todd Palin). Who knows? What we do know is that Palin is the only person on the Line who could get 10,000 people to show up and see her next weekend in Iowa. And that’s worth something. (Previous ranking: 2)

1. Mitt Romney: Romney’s op-ed in opposition to the tax compromise proved that the former Massachusetts governor is deserving of our top spot. He effectively positioned himself in opposition to not just Obama but also congressional Republicans — a very good place to be given the anti-establishment sentiment among the GOP electorate these days. Romney has, by far, the most advanced political organization of anyone in the field and his ability to self-fund gives him a leg up financially over his potential competitors. Romney’s weaknesses — his difficulty in connecting on the stump, his Mormonism, his flip-flops on social issues — are well known and real. But, Romney seems a more measured and mature candidate than he was in 2008. Whether that resonates with primary and caucus voters remains to be seen. (Previous ranking: 1)

Is this a fair assessment? Let’s hear your thoughts.

TPM: Mitt Romney the only Republican Topping Obama In Head-To-Head Matchups

TPMDC confirmed today what many of us already know: Mitt Romney can beat President Obama, and is the best candidate to do so. More importantly, they just have some of the best interactive graphics available that shows the WHY, WHERE and HOW.

The only Republican presidential contender consistently leading President Obama in 2012 polling is former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

The failed 2008 presidential candidate is showing some early signs of Mitt-Mentum, currently leading President Obama 45.6% to 44.3% in the TPM Poll Average of national polls. The latest boost to Romney’s numbers came over the weekend in a McClathcy-Marist poll that gave Romney a 46%-44% edge over President Obama in a head-to-head matchup.

Read the rest of the TPM article HERE.

The charts below are interactive. Drag your mouse over the DOTS on the line graphs to find specifics on a particular match-up.

One thing is CLEAR. Mitt Romney’s graph has already passed Obama and is turning upward in the right direction.

Enjoy the graphs below. I sure did! If you are having problems viewing the graphs, you can view them by clicking the TPC icon below as well:

Mitt Romney:

Mike Huckabee:

Newt Gingrich:

Sarah Palin:

GOP Presidential Power Rankings – December Edition

Welcome to the first edition of the Gundy Power Rankings for the GOP Presidential Race – compiled by myself (Nate) along with my brothers Luke and Aaron. Yes, this is mostly for fun as we don’t consider ourselves as expert pundits. We’re just average Joes with an opinion and we’re going to lay it out for you. You can agree or disagree with us all you want – just remember we’re entitled to our own opinions. Here goes…

December GOP Presidential Power Rankings

Mitt Romney Power Ranking Photo1. Mitt Romney – To the casual observer it may seem that Romney had disappeared for portions of 2009 and 2010, but to political junkies, it seems like Mitt never stopped running since dropping out of the race in early February of 2008. He has remained extremely loyal to the Republican party purposefully avoiding any opportunity to speak critically of fellow GOPers. Despite the bitter 2008 race and bad blood between he and McCain, Romney quickly and forcefully backed his previous opponent, showing he can put the past behind him for the good of the party. His team intact, he will hit the ground running with his expanded network and increased fundraising prowess.
Strengths: Fundraising, network, 2008 experience, favorability among independents and moderates. More than any other candidate Romney will be able to compete in nearly every state due to an extremely organized ground game and sheer fundraising power. Unlike 2008 Romney won’t have to launch an early monstrously enormous campaign to get his 2% name recognition raised. And as is the case with any good businessman you learn from past failures; Team Romney already seems keen on avoiding some missteps of the last run around.
Weaknesses: RomneyCare. The passing of ObamaCare has been the single greatest detriment to Romney’s potential to win the 2012 nomination. Team Romney must have a comprehensive plan to respond to critics on this issue. As of yet Romney has only defended his plan when specifically asked about it in interviews – perhaps to avoid speculation of him running in 2012. Our guess is when he announces they will have a battle plan ready to attempt to squelch concerns. Critical opinion of RomneyCare is a hurdle for Romney right now, but not an insurmountable one. As a note we’d like to add that the “Mormon issue” did not make Romney lose in 2008 (though it had moderate effect); it will not have “game-changing” effect this time around either.

Previous Rank: n/a
Momentum: edging downward
Odds of running: 99% – Only thing stopping Romney from running is if the health of his wife deteriorates, or his own for that matter.
Probable announcement date: Early April


Power Ranking Sarah Palin2. Sarah Palin – Until recently we would have Palin in 3rd behind Huckabee, but currently her national polling has improved, as well as the fundraising for her PAC. Palin’s unconventional methods of “running” make her difficult to place in the power rankings; she has been all over the board on other lists. She has the following and energy necessary to mount a serious primary campaign, but often neglects those things that typical candidates-in-waiting do – ie. ground-game formation in early primary states, though there has been an uptick of this activity recently. She is on her way to various foreign destinations, a move that is likely to burnish her foreign policy credentials. Palin also just finished a promotional tour for her second book since running on the national GOP ticket: America by Heart. All these recent moves (book, travel, fundraising, polls) force us to believe she will certainly run, whereas a few months ago we were doubtful.
Strengths: Star power. Palin dominates the airwaves, headlines, and google searches. Her message gets out there loud and clear at any time of her choosing, employing her Facebook and Twitter accounts to great advantage. She also has very energetic, loyal, and vocal fans. They could push any close race to her advantage simply by overwhelming the turnout.
Weaknesses: Over-exposure. Some folks won’t react well to the all-Palin-all-the-time atmosphere that currently pervades the national news cycle. There is already evidence of push-back within both the liberal and conservative communities. Extended all-out exposure will force everyone to either really like her, or seriously dislike her. This divisiveness amongst voters does not bode well for a national campaign, should she advance to that stage. Naysayers will certainly bring up the fact she left office early as Governor of Alaska. As with Romney’s weaknesses, these are not insurmountable. We suggest she avoid over-exposure by simply not responding to negative comments directed at her. Media, and the consumers of gossip, feed off of such drama.

Previous Rank: n/a
Momentum: ticking upward
Odds of running: 95% – Who can resist the prodding of millions of fans?
Probable announcement date: Early July


Power Ranking Mike Huckabee3. Mike Huckabee – A strong showing in 2008, coupled with a popular weekend talk show on FOX keeps Mike Huckabee in the public eye. Huckabee maintains a spot in the top-tier mainly due to his positive national polling amongst GOP, as well as versus Obama. Huck has great speaking skills that that keep give him an advantageous likability factor, proven also by his favorability ratings. With a good ol’ southern demeanor and high-standing amongst evangelicals he is sure to be a force reckoned with in 2012. In 2008, Huckabee had to climb onto the national stage of nowhere just as Romney had done several months earlier. But, again like Romney, he will not have the same name ID struggles that he had in 2008. This time it’s a whole different game plan. Look for a very late entry as Huck continues to benefit financially, politically, and legally from his FOX contract.
Strengths: Huckabee is the SoCon man. Anyone with religious and social conservative leanings will naturally gravitate to Huckabee, and these types of voters exist en masse in practically every state, but particularly in the South. They’ve shown in Iowa that they can organize and show up at the polls in numbers. Plus, as Huckabee has highlighted recently, he consistently polls well against Obama.
Weaknesses: Fundraising. We view this as a must for Huckabee and he still hasn’t learned quite how to do it. It will be of vital importance if there is not a clear leader in the race after the initial primary contests. Team Huck will be out of gas if it goes into extra-innings. Huck will need to sew up the nomination quickly, or learn to do some serious fundraising if he wants to avoid this danger. The problem is that if he does sew it up early, he’ll face the same problem in the general election.

Previous Rank: n/a
Momentum: edging upward
Odds of running: 90% – Can he afford to run and pay the mortgage on his new $3 million house?
Probable announcement date: Mid July


Power Ranking Newt Gingrich4. Newt Gingrich – The man of ideas has constantly toyed with the idea of running for the GOP nomination. We believe him when he says he’ll only run if he feels the support is there and if we has a good shot of winning – but we are inclined to believe that that full support is not there. Gingrich may realize this as he weighs his options, but even so may continue to flirt with a run because its good business – it helps him sell books and make more media appearances. We aren’t the only ones to note that his tweets and other public comments typically contain some form of self promotion; ie, “come visit me at this book signing” or “watch me on this program at this time”. This behavior makes us think that an actual run may not be 1st priority on Newt’s list.
Strengths: Widely known as the guy with the best new ideas – the GOP policy man. He’s an eloquent speaker and has years of experience and plenty of star power to boot.
Weaknesses: Baggage. There are number items in the closet that aren’t often discussed, but will certainly come out if Newt makes the leap into candidacy. Also, Newt has never run a national campaign and currently has no organization from which to mount a run. He’d have to rely on his star power to get a successful campaign launched.

Previous Rank: n/a
Momentum: neutral
Odds of running: 40%
Probable announcement date: late March (he has stated he would make the decision about this time)


Power Ranking Tim Pawlenty5. Tim Pawlenty – T-Paw has taken all the steps to indicate he is most definitely running for President: not seeking another term in MN, formed a PAC and continues aggressive fundraising, multiple trips to Iowa, new book, etc, and etc. One will note that his recently announced book tour has 11 stops which includes 2 stops in Iowa and 2 stops in New Hampshire. Though Pawlenty lacks national name ID, he is practically in the same position Mitt Romney was in 4 years ago. Pawlenty has been a formidable fundraiser, but still falls behind Romney and Palin. It will be vital for Pawlenty to have extremely successful appearances at debates or his campaign will simply not gain the traction needed to win some primaries.
Strengths: Ability to raise funds with little national notoriety. Charismatic and likable.
Weaknesses: Doesn’t seem to instill excitement in a large following. He needs to find some way to give his campaign serious traction.

Previous Rank: n/a
Momentum: neutral
Odds of running: 99%
Probable announcement date: Late January (needs to announce early to his name out there)


The Dark Horses:
Mike Pence: Says all the right things and appeals to many types of voters. Given successful appearances in the debates, he is our top pick to most likely break into the ranks of the top tier. All signs point to a run unless he chooses to run for Governor of Indiana instead.
John Thune: Seems to have a lot going for him, but will he get traction given the competition? We’re not confident he is running.
Haley Barbour: A very powerful and respected force in the GOP. We think the fact that he was a lobbyist for the tobacco industry may put dampers on voter support should he run. Also not sure he is in the race.
Ron Paul: Still has no chance of winning, but he will run to get his agenda out on the national stage. He stayed in the race last time until the last moment, far beyond the point where it was known he had no chance of a comeback. He will have the same 10% of support he had last time, but not much more.
Mitch Daniels: Recent comments regarding a “truce on social issues” make him a non-starter for many SoCons, which in great likelihood makes his campaign a non-starter as well, despite his excellent record as IN Governor.

Rick Santorum: Will need to do a lot of work, build a lot of support, and have a lot of luck to come close to winning. He is a strong candidate to pick up momentum from SoCons after the debates start.

There it is. Let us know where we’re wrong, and be sure to give us your list as well. Until next time…

~The Gunderson Bros., Nate, Luke and Aaron.