I Take It All Back. Florida Is Completely In Play.

In the wake of poll results released this morning showing Gingrich pulling ahead of Romney among likely Republican voters in Florida, the mail-in ballots Romney staff have been working for months to help people mail in are looking less like a firewall than a rope to cling to. Now in response to unrelenting demands that he release his tax returns, Mitt Romney finally has done so and it isn’t pretty. Despite making more money than his major opponents, including the President, he’s been paying a lower tax rate than many middle-class Americans, the Washington Post reports.

There will be those who attempt to defend this and call criticisms of it “class warfare” and “envy.” But even fairly well-to-do upper-middle-class lifelong Republicans are going to look at that and say it looks bad. The whole country’s suffering, Wall Street’s riddled with crooks, and middle-class taxpayers can look and see for themselves that they’re paying a higher tax rate than this guy who’s paying less than 16% on money he mostly made on Wall Street while businesses were closing, homes were being foreclosed on, and jobs were a scarce commodity.

It doesn’t look good, and even rock-ribbed Republicans will know it.

I now find myself wondering if we won’t see Romney essentially tie or even lose in Florida, do the same in Michigan and the other upcoming states, and winds up going into Super Tuesday hoping he’s just got enough money to blizzard his competition away with ads.

Oh my God. We may be seriously be talking about Newt Gingrich as the favorite to win the nomination. It’s not that I hate Gingrich, it’s just flat-out astonishing.

(This item cross-posted to The Moderate Voice.)

  • http://www.jaeddy.com John Eddy

    Might be forced to vote for Newt after all? Maybe, but I think his ability to self-destruct is a well-proven talent. I think it just as likely that a dark horse will pop up, or even a brokered convention.

    Besides, Aziz already went apoplectic once today. What are you trying to do, lay him out flat? ;)

  • http://www.deanesmay.com Dean Esmay

    No one was more surprised by those polls this morning than me, and these latest tax revelations just add fuel to the anti-Romney fire.

    As for a dark horse coming in: it’s getting a little late isn’t it? Gingrich appears to BE the dark horse. Certainly many are appending “…of the apocolypse” to that, but dark horse he is. No one thought we’d be looking at this, NO ONE.

    So who else could change things at this stage? Rick Perry changes his mind and jumps back in? Yeah that’ll play well. Santorum? Ha. Ron Paul? Pull the other one.

    I do not think that, short of the reanimated bones of Ronald Reagan arising from the grave, there is anyone who could parachute in this late in the game and change it. And could he even get on the ballots in time?

    A brokered convention wherein none of the above is nominated is possible. It would be interesting to see something like that happen in my lifetime, no doubt. Things have been so crazy the last two weeks who knows? Has anyone checked Reagan’s grave site recently?

  • roylofquist

    I do not find this in the least surprising. If you’ll hearken back to the 2008 election the nomination of Sarah Palin was electrifying. Not opinion, fact.

    http://themoderatevoice.com/22414/sarah-palin-gets-huge-tv-ratings-for-acceptance-speech/

    She was one of the main inspirations for the Tea Party. We saw the results in the 2010 election. The reaction to the two South Carolina debates vis a vis Gingrich was very similar to Palin’s reception. Many have observed that the Republican base seems desperate for the non-Romney. It was Newt’s turn in the barrel and he seems to have tapped into the mood just right.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/cityofbrass Aziz Poonawalla

    no way dude, Newt is cratering!

    http://jacksonville.com/opinion/blog/403455/mike-marino/2012-01-26/new-florida-q-poll-mitt-romney-tied-obama-gingrich-fares

    also, the knives are out. Theres no way that the establishment will let Newt get any further:

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0112/72000.html

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/cityofbrass Aziz Poonawalla

    I am not convinced however that the tax argument will really resonate. Mitt’s talking point is that he can create jobs (even though it’s a complete fabrication). Obama wont go negative but any superpac that tries to milk the tax issue will risk doing damage to the basic pro-Obama argument: let me finish the job. I don’t think theres as much mileage here as others do, but I could be wrong.

  • http://www.deanesmay.com Dean Esmay

    Aziz: That’s an interesting poll but it’s just a look at how national voters today view a hypothetical Gingrich-Obama matchup vs. a Romney-Obama matchup in November, some 9+ months away. There’s plenty of time for that to change. Most voters don’t even really start to pay attention until after the national conventions.

    At the moment the question is what happens in Florida on Tuesday. Gingrich is neck-and-neck with Romney in Florida right now, with most of the drag on Gingrich appearing to come from Santorum, who is likely to drop from the race if he comes in a distant third there.

    All Gingrich needs is a strong second-place showing in Florida to get him the resources and credibility he needs to continue. Were he to pull an upset and actually win the entire campaign would change, but he does not need that.

    A sober assessment would still put the odds most favorably on Romney to win Florida and win most of the primaries going into Super Tuesday. But Gingrich is a serious threat, and this is astonishing as nobody would have thought this very likely only a few weeks ago.

    Romney’s biggest argument is the one you cite: polls show him the most likely to defeat Obama in November. That said, most polls also show Obama still likely to beat Romney.

    Gingrich’s argument for Republicans is that an idea-focused candidate who can attack Obama effectively, such as himself, can more easily persuade voters to change their minds–that his negatives right now can be overcome once swing voters can really get to know him. So, the argument goes, Romney will make people comfortable but won’t win, but by nominating him conservatives will finally have what they’ve claimed they’ve wanted for 25+ years, someone who eloquently and clearly espouses their economic and policy ideas and defends them unapologetically.

    Gingrich is a magnetic and compelling speaker and has a proven ability to change people’s minds; were he the nominee a lot of people who view Gingrich negatively now might well change their minds after the convention.

    I frankly think the right-wing establishment is panicking right now because they think he’s a loose cannon, but they’ll line up behind him if he wins the nomination.

    There would be numerous benefits to Gingrich winning the nomination that I can see from various points of view:

    1) If you’re a Democrat, you should think “good, here’s our chance to finally slug it out for real with the right-wingers who’ve been begging for a fight and dominating the air waves since the 1990s. No more crying that you haven’t had a chance and the media and everybody else are keeping you down. You got your guy, here he is, everybody can hear what he says, and we’re going to debate him for real, on the ideas, just like you said you wanted.”

    2) If you’re a movement-oriented, ideological conservative, it does indeed give you that candidate you’ve claimed all along you wanted: the guy who forcefully, eloquently, and unapologetically expresses those ideas you said you wanted forcefully and unapologetically expressed, that you said Americans would vote for if only they were given a chance.

    3) If Gingrich wins in November, we get to find out if those ideas really do work as promised.

    4) If he loses in November, the moderate wing of the party can tell conservatives, “look, dammit, you finally got what you wanted, your ideas got center stage with everybody, and you STILL LOST. Now enough with the RINO shit, enough with saying if we just go back to 1980 we win.”

    A Gingrich-Obama matchup would be a defining moment for the country’s right wing and thus the country as a whole. For 20 plus years the right wing has been claiming that the whole problem is their ideas don’t get put in front of voters, that voters would support their ideas if they were only given a chance to, and the establishment is what’s keeping them down. That Americans really prefer their ideas but never get a chance to vote for them. This would be their chance to prove that, to themselves and everybody else.

    If you’re a conservative who believes your ideas are the best ideas, that your ideas are the winning ideas, then you should want Gingrich. If all you say is that Gingrich is imperfect and erratic, then you need to grow up: there is no perfect candidate. Sainted Reagan was old, somewhat airheaded and absent-minded, prone to making gaffes, was himself divorced and remarried, was not ideologically pure (he did raise taxes after all) and didn’t have a perfect personal life either.

    If it’s YOUR IDEAS that matter most then you want the candidate who expresses them well, and you’ll have them in Gingrich. Do you want the coward’s way out and oppose Gingrich because he isn’t perfect? So instead you’ll wait for your Republican Messiah to come along in another 4 or 8 or 12 or 16 or however many years? The paragon of virtue, the perfect person? Or do you want, as you have ALWAYS claimed, for the American people to have a chance to hear your ideas and have an opportunity to vote for them?

    In fact, the more I think about it, screw it. I’ve just talked myself into it. When the Michigan primary comes around, I’m voting for Gingrich. Let him finally prove once and for all whether the right-wing ideas are the winning ideas or not. We’ll have what people like Aziz and I have wanted forever, an actual policy wonk campaign, where ideas are the center stage. We won’t get that with Romney but we will with Gingrich. Let’s get it on.

  • ArnoldHarris

    All my predictions thus far in this campaign of campaigns have been knocked flat on their collective asses. Being what I hope is an honest man, I must admit that I find myself clueless about what nasty revelation will next hit our eyes and sensibilities on the Drudge Report about either or both of the leading Republican Party candidates for the presidency of the United States in November.

    Many of the leading conservative Republicans — office-holders as well as journalists — now are coalescing in strength against Gingrich. Probably with good reason. But Romney, with his financial cloak stripped off by the release of his tax returns, increasingly resembles Ebenezer Scrooge short-changing a few hundred million Bob Cratchits through the instrumentation of the legalized chicaneries of the voluminous income tax sections of the United States Code.

    So where do we go from here, folks? I’m getting too old for surprises.

    Arnold Harris
    Mount Horeb WI

  • http://www.deanesmay.com Dean Esmay

    Arnold: I say screw it. Raise hell. Vote Gingrich when things swing into Wisconsin. Let’s at least make the November race interesting for God’s sake. I am *not* voting for Romney in November–another milquetoast multimillionaire owned by Corporate America doesn’t interest me. Even though I lean to Obama, Gingrich could at least talk me into thinking about him. And we’ll at least for God’s sake be talking about ideas.