POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/27

Santorum’s National Lead Collapses

The latest Gallup daily tracking poll shows Mitt Romney overtaking Rick Santorum nationally, 31% to 29%, after he once trailed his rival by double-digits.

 

The Delegate Count Isn’t What’s Important

Nate Silver notes that while the Republican presidential primary has come down to collecting delegates on the way to the convention, “the G.O.P.’s delegate-selection rules are exceptionally complicated and ambiguous. Many delegates could go to the convention in Tampa either loosely pledged or entirely unbound to any of the candidates.”

“That means there will be some wiggle room in the math. Doing things like winning key states, leading in the aggregate popular vote, leading in national polls and appearing to have the momentum at the end of the process may influence the behavior of these unbound delegates. If a candidate can make a credible claim to having a mandate from the voters, they might line up behind him. If his claim is poor, they could block his nomination.”

 

Is Arizona Out of Reach for Democrats?

The Hotline: “The White House continues to talk about its ability to contest Arizona, but polling data suggest otherwise — and underscores the fact that immigration right now is a losing issue for President Obama and Democrats… While the Hispanic growth in the state is significant, the percentage of those who are registered is relatively low – and there have been few signs of any significant uptick in political participation. The numbers also provide a cautionary tale to the party’s likely Senate nominee, Richard Carmona, who is an attractive recruit because of his Hispanic heritage, but could lose support from white voters over his opposition to SB 1070… There was a good reason why Janet Napolitano didn’t run for Senate — her involvement in the White House’s lawsuit against the state immigration law would have handicapped her campaign from the start.”

 

Wyoming Advances Doomsday Bill

Wyoming state representatives “advanced legislation to launch a study into what Wyoming should do in the event of a complete economic or political collapse in the United States,” the Casper Star Tribune reports.

The bill “would create a state-run government continuity task force, which would study and prepare Wyoming for potential catastrophes, from disruptions in food and energy supplies to a complete meltdown of the federal government.”

 

Santorum Way Ahead in Tennessee

A new Vanderbilt University poll in Tennessee finds Rick Santorum leading the GOP presidential primary with 33%, followed by Mitt Romney at 17%, Ron Paul at 13% and Newt Gingrich at 10%.

That said, an additional 27% “either said they wouldn’t vote for any of the four major remaining candidates, didn’t know how they would vote or refused to answer.”

The Tennessee primary is on March 6.

 

Quote of the Day

“Republicans being against sex is not good. Sex is popular.”

— GOP strategist Alex Castellanos, quoted by Maureen Dowd.

 

Romney Preps for Long Primary

“Whether Mitt Romney wins or loses the Michigan and Arizona primaries on Tuesday, his advisers are warning donors and other supporters to prepare for a longer, more bruising and more expensive fight for the Republican presidential nomination that may not be settled until at least May,” the New York Times reports.

“That is prompting a new round of intensified fund-raising by his financial team, which had hoped by this point to be collecting money for a general election match with President Obama. The campaign is increasingly trying to quell anxiety among Republican leaders, while intently focusing on the mechanics of accumulating delegates needed to secure the nomination.”

 

GOP Establishment Worries About Santorum

The Kansas City Star editorial page asked economist Art Laffer — “yes, he of the famous Laffer curve” — whether Rick Santorum would be the Republican presidential nominee.

“Laffer’s answer was non-verbal. His hands went up on each side of his head. He leaned forward, bug-eyed at the imagined horror of Santorum as the GOP nominee — a response that reflects the fears of many on the Republican side.”

 

The Republican Break Up

John Heilemann notes many Republicans “are already looking past 2012. If either Romney or Santorum gains the nomination and then falls before Obama, flubbing an election that just months ago seemed eminently winnable, it will unleash a GOP apocalypse on November 7 — followed by an epic struggle between the regulars and red-hots to refashion the party. And make no mistake: A loss is what the GOP’s political class now expects.”

Said GOP strategist Ed Rollins: “Six months before this thing got going, every Republican I know was saying, ‘We’re gonna win, we’re gonna beat Obama.’ Now even those who’ve endorsed Romney say, “My God, what [an effing] mess.”‘

 

More Divided Than Ever

The latest National Journal congressional voting ratings finds polarization “remains endemic. Lawmakers march in lockstep with their party. Heretics are purged.”

“For the second year in a row but only the third time in the 30 years that National Journal has published these ratings, no Senate Democrat compiled a voting record to the right of any Senate Republican, and no Republican came down on the left of any Senate Democrat. (The first time this happened was 1999.)”

“The 435 members of the House are as polarized as their Senate colleagues. Only six Republicans — Chris Smith of New Jersey, Tim Johnson of Illinois, Justin Amash of Michigan, Ron Paul of Texas, Steven LaTourette of Ohio, and Walter Jones of North Carolina — compiled a slightly more “liberal” voting record than the most conservative Democrat, Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma.”

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