Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Game Change?

Well, that Tuesday is finally over. As it turns out, my initial assessment was closer to the results than the pollsters and pundits predicted. I thought Newt Gingrich would do much better and would win one of the two Southern states (he didn't), but I didn't think Romney would do well at all (he didn't). Santorum took both Alabama and Mississippi and while they weren't overwhelming victories, they were victories.

Recent polls and yesterday's exit polls seemed to be indicating that Romney was surging and might very well take both states. Wrong. Either the voters simply punked the pollsters or the "Bradley Effect" has resurfaced. Either/or, the evangelical base turned out for Santorum. And voter turnout, which was light (continuing that trend for this election cycle), was key.

Now the pundits are casting the nomination chase as a two-man race between Romney and Santorum (the strongest not-Romney to date). That gives the whole process the drama news outlets prefer. Voters, eh ... not so much at this point. It's clear by the low turnout figures that Republicans are not all that thrilled by either man: Romney comes across as a wealthy robot and Santorum as a likeable but goofy guy. It's hard to find any presidential attributes in either.

The Republican establishment has to be very nervous and a little embarrassed at this point. People like Haley Barbour endorsed Mitt Romney, but he got creamed in the governor's state. Santorum is a bit of a loose cannon with his social views which, given all the other weirdness from social conservatives in the party, at this point seems to be driving moderates and independents away from the party. This doesn't bode well for down-ticket Republican candidates.

David Horsey, in his review of the Sarah Palin movie made a very perceptive comment that I think applies here:

Sarah Palin had political smarts but no knowledge. She did not know how much she didn’t know. When asked to join the Republican ticket, she immediately said yes with the utter confidence of the clueless. And who can blame her?

The blame for this reckless choice lies with the smart guys, like Steve Schmidt, who thought they were clever enough to transform the presidential campaign. The biggest lesson of “Game Change” is not that Sarah Palin is dumb, it is that all the wise guys who manipulate the chutes and ladders of the American political system only flatter themselves when they think they are so much smarter than everyone else.

The wise guys still haven't learned, at least not yet.



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