Let Me Repeat: Vote for Mitt; a Vote for Santorum is a Vote for Obama

Mitt Romney is uniquely qualified to lead our nation.

As I’ve said before, he has turned around many an enterprise, and that’s what we need now. A US government turnaround.

Economic problems will come over the next four years. We already have one junior Senator with no executive experience occupying the Oval Office. Electing a second just seems silly. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney was a successful Massachusetts governor and leader of the Olympics. He led businesses in trouble and got them on the right path. He makes organizations more efficient, and he knows how the economy works. He’s criticized by Santorum as not being conservative enough. Ironically he was plenty conservative for Santorum four years ago when Santorum whole-heartedly endorsed Mitt (post-Romneycare). Romney is plenty conservative, and Ann Coulter, who is very conservative, says Romney is the only true conservative in the race.

We need someone who’s fiscally responsible. Mitt balanced budgets. Santorum busted budgets, voting to raise the debt ceiling without accompanying cuts. He voted for more earmarks than you can shake a stick at, including the bridge to nowhere. While Mitt was working in the private sector, Santorum was taking more money from lobbyists than his Senate cohorts and doling out favors in the K Street Project. He’s no Washington outsider, unless you count the fact his own state rejected his re-election bid by 18 points and made him leave. And I’ve come to the conclusion you just can’t trust him. Witness his latest calls to democrats to come and vote for him in the GOP primary, his special treatment while in the Senate, his seeking reimbursement from Pennsylvania for his kids’ education while they lived in Virginia. It’s all about putting Rick first.

We’re starting to hear about the possibility of $10 a gallon gas. What will that do to the economy? Does Rick Santorum know how to fix it? Mitt does. What would happen if Greece defaulted on its loans? Does Rick know? Mitt does. Can we trust Rick to cut into a $15 trillion national debt? Not if past is prologue. And we know it is. This may be the biggest security issue to face our country in the next few years, and Rick has shown a special propensity to spend, not cut, even when in violation of his principles. Yes, he “takes one for the team,” but right now we need true courage, not people who will go along with the crowd. Meanwhile I know Mitt’s family. I’ve spent plenty of time with them and have had a chance to hang out with him on occasion. They’re very good people. Mitt cares about people. He pays 16% of his sizable income to charity, 60% more than a traditional tithe. He’s honest. He’s funny. He wants to help. He doesn’t need to be president, but he’s willing to serve. He’s the kind of leader we need, not someone who needs the job to maintain their position of being able to suck off the government.

Obama is at serious risk of losing in his re-election bid. But not to Santorum. There have been many articles just on this site listing the many reasons Santorum will not win independents in the general election. Meanwhile, if Michigan votes for him because it doesn’t know or chooses to ignore Rick’s faults, it will extend the GOP race and cost our nominee millions in unnecessary dollars that could have been used to fight Obama, whose war chest will be full. Debating also matters. He proved in the many debates he can’t play defense and he can’t beat Obama in a debate one on one.

Our nation is mostly center-right. The far left will vote for the democrat. The far right will vote for the republican. The people in the middle will select our next president, and they’ll lean to the right, but not if Santorum is the nominee. He keeps attacking separation of church and state and saying things like pre-natal testing of babies is immoral (because it might lead to an abortion) and wanting people to attend college is snobbery. These are not middle-right positions. These are positions most Americans don’t support. That’s why the politicians who really want to defeat Obama support Mitt, and nearly none support Rick.

We’re getting to where this race is critical. The polls give me confidence Arizona will do the right thing Tuesday. Michigan must as well. Make the calls. Tell your friends in Arizona and Michigan: get out and vote for Mitt Romney, the only qualified candidate in the race. Put Rick Santorum away for good, so we can put Obama away for good. We need to get this done, now. If you don’t know if Mitt’s the right choice, trust me. I can tell you from first-hand experience he is.

UPDATE from Ross:

Last full day campaigning in New Hampshire (Monday)

Paul Meets Governor Sununu

Wow! While every day before it was fantastic, Monday really took the cake.

Nashua Chamber of Commerce

We started the day at the Chamber of Commerce meeting in Nashua. Perhaps I’m not as attuned to how words can be taken out of context (perhaps I’m just a fair person), but I wasn’t struck by the words the press and the GOP rivals pounced on after Mitt’s presentation. Perhaps it was because I was just having a ball. We walked in early and were seated at a table up front where Craig and Mary Romney were to be. But after I sat down, Governor John Sununu walked up and sat in the chair next to me! Here’s us before the event started:

He wisely and adeptly turned the conversation when I asked about more sensitive topics, like what life was like in the White House during Desert Storm, but he was fascinating to talk to. (more…)

Why Evangelicals Can Support Mitt Romney

Dave P with Mitt Romney

Dave P with Governor Romney: an evangelical for Mitt

An open letter to evangelicals, from an evangelical

After months of campaigning, the Iowa caucuses are finally just a week away. The Hawkeye State’s caucus is the first of several GOP primaries where evangelicals will make up a substantial portion of the voting bloc. Since Mitt Romney first ran for the presidency in 2008, there has been the question of whether evangelicals can and/or will support him. I would like to make an appeal to my evangelical brothers and sisters across Iowa and the rest of the nation to not use Mormonism as the reason to oppose Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination.

Why do I have the authority to make this appeal? Well, let me take just a brief moment to list my credentials. I was raised in a small Protestant denomination whose first word is “Evangelical”. I attended a Christian college where renowned evangelist Billy Graham was once president. I have even worked for three different denominations of Protestant churches. So, not to infringe upon the now infamous Christine O’Donnell commercial, but “I am you”.

As Governor Romney embarks upon his final campaign swing through Iowa, why does this evangelical feel completely comfortable supporting him to become the leader of this great nation?

Morals and Values

While there may be some theological issues dividing evangelicals and Mormons, we still share morals and values in common. I believe that this is more important in selecting a President than simply having a candidate whose denomination or religion corresponds with my own. The question we ought to ask is, “how will this person’s faith influence his or her decisions once they are in the Oval Office?” And whether someone is Southern Baptist, Assembly of God, Evangelical Free, or Mormon, we all share a common moral code which subscribes to the same Ten Commandments, the institution of marriage, and a strong belief in the sanctity of life to cite a few examples. That is what will give a very good indication as to how a President addresses an issue when it arises. Yes, theological differences do exist, but these shared morals and values transcend the differences in doctrine when it comes to trusting someone with the Presidency of the United States.

For example, if a bill dealing with the sanctity of life comes to President Romney’s desk, it won’t matter if he believes in speaking in tongues or continuing revelation. What matters is that he agrees with us that the lives of unborn children should be protected, which indeed he does. Will a different opinion on theosis come into play when addressing our budget deficit or getting a balanced budget amendment passed? Absolutely not. The differences in theological doctrine between evangelical Protestants and Mormons will not result in a differing viewpoint on the tough issues facing our nation today.

Governor Romney’s 42-year marriage to his wife Ann and devotion to his family is a perfect example of the values and morals he possesses. Recent statistics show that almost half of marriages now end in divorce. What a great example it would be to have someone in the White House who has not only talked about family values, but lived it as well. That is something we as evangelicals would be proud of in a President and aspire to in our own lives.

When I attended a campaign rally in 2008, Governor Romney spoke about the importance of marriage before having children so that the child could have the stability and advantage of having both a mother and father present in their life (and also why marriage should be between a man and a woman). Again, something that we as evangelicals can rally behind. A difference in religion does not mean that a difference in morals and values exists. As I have discovered by closely watching Mitt Romney over the past four years, there is certainly not a difference between his values and my own.


Once the connection of shared morals and beliefs with a candidate has been established, it makes sense to look at his or her actual qualifications to become President of the United States. I happen to believe that based on his accomplishments and life experiences in the private sector and as Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney is the most qualified candidate in the race.

If you are an evangelical and a business owner, here is something to consider: when you are looking to hire somebody for your business, do you look to hire the person most qualified to complete the task at hand, or do you narrow your search to only other evangelicals? I’m guessing most would say that they desire to have the most qualified person for the job regardless of religion, because ministry jobs aside, when does simply being an evangelical Christian make you more qualified for a job? It doesn’t (just look at Jimmy Carter’s presidency). The Lord has gifted each one of us uniquely and differently. And just as being an evangelical does not make somebody more qualified to be a sales associate, truck driver, or attorney, neither does it make someone more qualified to be President of the United States.

There’s no question that it’s comforting and exciting to have someone of the exact same religious beliefs running for office, but that by itself doesn’t mean he or she is the best fit for the job. I’m an evangelical, but I can honestly tell you that if I jumped into the presidential race right now I would not be the most qualified person. Far from it! It is equally nonsensical to support someone by looking only at their religious affiliation and not take qualifications into account. If those evangelical business owners we talked about previously hired without considering an applicant’s qualifications, their businesses would likely be in serious trouble.

We as evangelicals shouldn’t be afraid to support someone for President who shares the same morals and values we do and is best qualified to lead this nation, even if he doesn’t subscribe to the exact same faith that we do. Evangelicals have voted for and elected Latter-Day Saints before, without bringing about ruinous results.

It would be a shame to miss out on the opportunity to put Mitt Romney in the White House, who in my opinion has within him the ability to be a tremendous President of the United States, simply because of theological doctrine. There is much more that unites us than divides us.

~Dave P

Mitt Romney Gets Some Tea Party Love in New Hampshire

Jack Kimball

Jack Kimball

New Hampshire Republican Party Chairman and Tea Party activist, Jack Kimball, had some nice things to say about Governor Romney. Chairman Kimball gives The Gov due credit for finding a state-based solution to a state problem:

From the PoliticalTicker:

It really was an innovative experiment, he’s a very smart man and what he did was he came up with this program geared for the state of Massachusetts, it was never meant to be some model for a national health care program,” Jack Kimball said on CNN’s “John King, USA” Monday.

“And Mitt Romney’s made it very clear and as recently as a few weeks ago to me that he’s in favor of complete repeal of ‘Obamacare’ and that each state should come up with their own plan.”

“It shouldn’t be as big an issue as folks are making it.”

Keep in mind, this is the same tea party-backed Chairman that was voted in by Republican officials at convention back in January. At that same gathering, (very conservative) attendees were invited to participate in a presidential straw poll; the results were very astoundingly in Mitt’s favor: Romney 35.1%, Ron Paul 10.5%, Tim Pawlenty 7.6%, and Sarah Palin at 6.9%.

HT: Revolution 2010

-Luke Gunderson

MUST READ: Evangelical Leader Makes the Case for Mitt Romney 2012

Mark DeMoss makes the case for MR12

Mark DeMoss is no small name in the evangelical and political world. In Mitt Romney’s 2008 run for the presidency DeMoss was a very public, prominent supporter and volunteer for the campaign. DeMoss gives one of the first full-blown endorsements (for Romney) of the 2012 season with a 5-page letter addressed to “Conservative and Evangelical Leaders.” Politico broke the news of the letter yesterday saying the memo was sent to “about 200 top pastors, donors, intellectuals and leaders on the Christian right.”

We contacted the DeMoss Group for permission to post the letter in it’s entirety on our website, to which they did not object. But before I post the letter I want to include a very nice DeMoss intro I found in a 2007 interview posted on the Article 6 Blog:

Mark founded The DeMoss Group, an Atlanta-based public relations firm, in 1991. The firm describes itself as specializing in serving Christian organizations and causes and as the largest such agency in the country. Their clients include:The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; Samaritan’s Purse & Franklin Graham; Prison Fellowship and Chuck Colson; Campus Crusade for Christ; Focus on the Family; Bishop TD Jakes; American Center for Law & Justice; and Teen Mania.

Prior to starting the firm Mark served as chief-of-staff and spokesperson for Jerry Falwell in Lynchburg, Virginia for 8 years, a period which included the height of popularity of the Moral Majority. The DeMoss Group has worked closely with more than 100 faith-based organizations in the past 16 years and Mark has provided strategic communications counsel to dozens of religious leaders during that time. In March 2007, Thomas Nelson publishers released Mark’s first book, The Little Red Book of Wisdom. Mark describes the book, already in its third printing, as “presenting wisdom for your professional life and wisdom for your personal life.”

Mark Demoss’ letter:


Demoss Group Logo

To: Conservative and Evangelical Leaders
From: Mark DeMoss
Date: January 18, 2022
Subject: A New Litmus Test for 2012


Happy New Year! One of the things I like about the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is the time it gives me to think—think about my family, my business, and yes, politics. Perhaps like you, I have spent considerable time recently thinking about the 2012 presidential election and decided to share some thoughts with conservative and evangelical leaders and friends.

I supported Mitt Romney in 2008. Having had two more years to consider that decision I will be supporting him again, should he decide to run. Here’s how I arrived at that decision—see if this makes sense for you.

First, I’ve arrived at four conclusions:


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

1. 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


2. 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


3. 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


4. 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)


5. 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.

Romney Wins Virginia “Primary Race”

The first “primary” race in Virginia just took place today! And Romney won.

At 1:30 today, Mitt Romney filed 15,000 signatures to meet the requirements for Virginia presidential primary.

Every campaign in the race will tell you that Virginia has the most difficult process to get on the ballot. You have to submit 10,000 signatures with at least 400 signatures from each 11 congressional districts. Each county or city entity has to have its own petition page for signatures and you need the voter address and in some cases the last four digits of the social security number for it to be valid. People who collect signatures have to be registered voters in Virginia (in other words you can’t farm this out to high schoolers).

The VA ballot submissions opened up yesterday and as far as we know Romney is the first candidate to file.

Other candidates like Huckabee are paying 50 cents per signature. Thompson and Edwards are just getting started.

It will be interesting to see on December 14th who the actual candidates will be on the ballot.

As background, there are only a handful of paid staffers for Romney in Virginia but dozens (if not hundreds) of volunteers chipped in during the elections in November to help get the signatures required. Whole Saturdays were dedicated to rounding up the needed votes. Unlike other campaign Romney did this with a grassroots flare and did not outsource it.

Kudos to Team Romney, Lt. Gov. Bolling, and the VA team for making this happen.

This is one more example of why Romney is the best candidate to face the formidable forces of the DEMS in the general election.

Primaries, and Rumors of Primaries

By now you may have heard the latest in the primary arms race, with the Wolverine State weaseling its way into what might have otherwise been a stabilized calendar. Previously:

1/5 – IA caucuses
1/12 – NH primary, WY caucuses
1/19 – SC primary, Nevada caucuses
1/29 – FL primary

According to inside sources, the two state parties in Michigan have agreed to move the state’s primary legislatively (so as to avoid national party sanctions for pre-empting Feb 5) to Jan. 15.

Making things even more interesting, indications are that this will be a closed primary, requiring voters to request their registered party’s ballot.

“It ensures maximum participation by Republican activists and supporters. Although going on Jan. 15 is not our first choice, we will join with the Democrats and hold our primary on that day.” — MI GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis

It’s estimated that a primary could draw a million votes for each party. A statewide primary would cost $10 million.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson won an open primary in 1988, an outcome not viewed favorably by Democratic Party leaders who said Jackson was the beneficiary of crossover voters who wanted only to tamper with the Democratic presidential nomination process.
Republicans feel they got burned in an open primary in 2000, when Arizona Sen. John McCain was an upset winner over party establishment favorite George W. Bush. GOP leaders said independents and Democrats tilted the vote to McCain.

So, who wins and who loses with a closed MI primary on Jan 15? While Governor Romney has yet to decisively take the lead in MI polls (as he has done in IA and NH), he has several strengths there over the more liberal Rudy Giuliani. And while McCain won the state in 2000, any stumble in Michigan’s closed, early, and expensive primary will serve to remind the public that not only has McCain lost his comparatively spry 64 year old mojo, but he has trouble wooing the Republican base.

Mathematical Formula Predicts Romney Win?

In our continuing quest to predict the outcome of the 2008 race I submit the second in a series of posts examining how the academic world perceives primary elections.

Last week I examined recent computer models predicting that the GOP nominee will be known earlier than the Democratic nominee because of the type of primaries utilized by each party. I surmised that this phenomenon currently bodes well for Mitt Romney who is leading in New Hampshire and Iowa.

This week we examine momentum in more specific terms

Momentum is a powerful thing. Will the traditional model of front-loading wins in primary states, the so-called New Hampshire effect, hold true for 2008?

In his 1983 study, M. Malbin reported that George Bush and Ronald Reagan allocated ¾ of their respective total 1980 campaign budgets to early primary states. A 1987 study reported that the New Hampshire election grabbed 20% of the 1984 season’s news coverage. You might also recall Howard Dean’s burnout because he spent so much money up front.

This pattern has been well established for over two decades. In short, early primary states have historically garnered a disproportionate amount of attention. But for good reason.

Tilman Klumpp and Mattius Polbor in their 2005 paper “Primaries and the New Hampshire Effect” (pdf file) describe this interesting phenomenon: “The outcome of the very first primary election creates an asymmetry between ex-ante symmetric candidates which endogenously facilitates momentum in later districts.”

Endogenous is a great Scrabble word meaning: “no apparent external cause.” In other words, the momentum factor of early primary wins is a very real and hard rule of elections.

They go on to note:

Although our analysis compares mainly two extreme cases—completely sequential elections versus completely simultaneous elections—, the distinct results of the sequential case basically apply to a mixed temporal structure as well, as long as it involves some sequential elements at the early stages. One can argue that such an intermediate system is closer to the modern primary races, in which there are dates (such as “Super Tuesday”) when several states vote simultaneously.

Nevertheless, even in this case, some primary states vote in sequence at the very beginning of the nomination process. We show that this is enough to generate (and sometimes even amplify) the momentum effect and the spending pattern that arise in a completely sequential system.

Put a babel fish in your ear and read that paragraph out loud: “Regardless of the adjective you use to describe that infamous Tuesday, as long as New Hampshire and Iowa come up first, a candidate has a better than even chance to build some serious kick-butt momentum.”

Another 1005 study by L. Keele was more explicit:

We find that, while front-loading has significantly shortened the primary season, it has not altered the effect of finishing strong in Iowa and New Hampshire.

But for Klumpp and Polbor this is not just fun theoretical musing. The goal of their paper is to recommend campaign expenditure models. At one point they examine the comparison to sporting tournaments:

[I]n sporting tournaments it is often desirable to induce contestants to spend a maximal amount of effort, or to induce an effort allocation that increases the chance of a close contest, as this enhances the excitement level the tournament generates. For primary elections, on the other hand, we are interested in finding a design that minimizes wasteful campaign expenditures and avoids long, close battles as these will be very costly.

Channeling the Powell doctrine this adds up to: “use overwhelming force to win before it even gets close.”

OK… now this might seem absurd (it is academia after all) but Klumpp and Polbor go on to identify an actually mathematical formula to predict how much money and effort must be expended in early primaries to win outright. Here’s part of their equation:

I know. That’s sick and wrong. Calling John Derbyshire!

They bring the model back to earth with a pretty straight forward table showing who won New Hampshire and what percentage of primaries they won in Feb/Mar and Apr/May.

They conclude from this table:

One implication of our model is that winning the first primary makes it more likely to win the nomination. Out of the ten races in Table 4, six were such that the winner of the New Hampshire primary was the eventual nominee. Although this seems hardly indicative of the existence of momentum effects described in this paper, one needs to keep in mind that in most of these races there were more than two candidates in the New Hampshire primary.

Their overall conclusion is also striking:

The winners of early districts is endogenously more likely to win later districts than the loser, not because voters react to performance in previous elections, but rather because of equilibrium candidate spending behavior. In addition to reproducing these stylized facts from primary races, our model also provides a rationale for why political parties have chosen a sequential organization of primary elections: First, it induces lower expected expenditures and higher expected rents than a simultaneous structure. Moreover, if one candidate has an ex-ante advantage over the other, either in terms of campaign effectiveness or in the number of assured districts, a sequential organization selects the stronger candidate with probability close to one, provided there are sufficiently many districts.

Now, I think you know what conclusion I’ll draw from this. Let’s just say, the guy currently spending tons of dough in NH and IA and earning double-digit margins in return will likely win the nomination: Mitt Romney.

(Please note, lest you think me outright biased, there are a few of characteristics coming up that favor candidates other than Mitt)

More to follow…