Horserace for September 29, 2011

Herman Cain has finally found that path to victory while Michele Bachmann appears to have stumbled right off it. This past week, the horserace really went through a shakeup. Even Jon Huntsman has a pulse, at least in one state.Rick Perry fell over. Mitt Romney is holding steady, and the primary calendar is reshuffling throwing in some greater complications for candidates. And everyone and everything from this week is about to be overshadowed by one event happening Saturday.Florida has decided to move up to January 31, 2012, which will force Iowa and New Hampshire to move up to the first of the month. This complicates things for most of the candidates because it will cut off one full month of campaign contributions before the elections start. Not only that, but it puts the heat of campaign giving season into the holiday season without a recovery month before elections.Consequently, some people are going to be forced between buying Christmas presents and giving campaign dollars. The average voter will get shut out because of Florida, which helps Huntsman, Perry, and Romney, the three candidates who have never really had to worry about relying on low dollar donations.Speaking of money, keep this in mind about this week’s horserace. Everyone and everything will be overshadowed by Saturday. The whole race could be shaken up between Saturday and two weeks after Saturday. What am I talking about? Quarter 3 fundraising numbers for the FEC. The books on the quarter close out on September 30, 2011, at 11:59 p.m. The candidates who raised major coin will start leaking out their numbers to change the media narrative (look to Perry) and all numbers must be available for public inspect no later than October 15th.This is going to be interesting. To help you out and your respective candidate, this week and from here on out the names of the candidates will link directly to their campaign websites so you can given them what you can and maybe help them change the story by this Saturday night.Oh, stay tuned at the bottom of the horserace for a very special announcement.


Michele Bachmann

A book could probably be written about the rise and fall of Michele Bachmann. She went from being a force to be reckoned with to polling less than Newt Gingrich. Her campaign has collapsed. Her support has gone elsewhere. And a lot of it is because of her overplayed hand on Gardasil and making that such a big issue. That issue resonates with a key segment of the population, but most people don’t care about it and that she made it such a focal point hurt her.Compounding that are her staffing issues, the departure of Ed Rollins, and her inability to capitalize on her rise. She raised over a million dollars in one day in the last quarter, but that only got her two million. She does not have a lot of money.The ARG poll in Iowa still shows Bachmann in a strong place, but in both 2008 and 2010, ARG seemed to be one of the least reliable polls. I have stopped considering ARG when I vet polls.Bachmann’s rise hurt Herman Cain. Both ran as insurgent campaigns and in any cycle there can only be one viable insurgent. The reason is insurgent campaigns rely on grassroots, not donors. Two campaigns sucking up all the grassroots hurts both campaigns as they fight over limited resources. Bachmann stole the grassroots from Cain. I predicted that when Perry got in, Cain could capitalize on the grassroots casting their gaze from Bachmann to Perry. It took longer than I thought it would and the Perry debate collapse contributed to the grassroots wanting to look around.They’ve now found Michele Bachmann wanting and are going back to looking at Herman Cain.

Herman Cain

Michele Bachmann falling off the path to victory has helped Herman Cain get back on it. He has had a meteoric rise in polling with Rick Perry’s flame out. Looking at the Fox News poll, Sarah Palin’s supporters have largely all gone to Herman Cain despite Palin derisively calling Cain just “the flavor of the month,” which says more about Palin than Cain.Cain’s stellar debate performance and an easy to sell economic message have helped him run for something, not against someone. That’s the key to winning. He is also the most optimistic candidate in the field. The other candidates will have to bend his way as he becomes the center of gravity in this race.There are a few hurdles Cain supporters will have to keep in mind. First, the media is now going to thoroughly vet Herman Cain in a way he has never experienced. His past support for TARP and opposition to auditing the Fed will come back up. His health issues are going to be raised. Internal staffing and family matters are going to get aired. How do I know? I’m already getting calls from prying reporters. In my mind, there is little if any there, there, but it won’t stop the media from prying.Second, Cain’s rise has come at the end of Q3 fundraising numbers. He is now going to be cut short a month because of Florida moving up its primary to January, forcing Iowa and New Hampshire to move up to the beginning of January. Next week, we won’t be talking about Herman Cain’s rise so much as we will his fundraising. And if it has not been significant compared to others, that will affect the media coverage of him.Third, Cain is actually going to have to translate this meteoric rise into fundraising. By multiple accounts it seems Bachmann was not able to do that. Cain, a businessman, probably can. He had one of his best fundraising days ever after winning the Fox debate. He’s going to need to compound that effort so if his overall Q3 numbers aren’t good, he can stilll claim momentum.Fourth, as we saw with Perry, the media spotlight is going to be on him and every perceived flub and flop. Saying on CNN yesterday that he could not support Rick Perry today has raised hackles already and not just among Perry supporters, but among a patch of undecideds who just want to know the GOP is going to go all in to defeat Barack Obama. He’s going to have to be more guarded in what he says from here on out.Finally, with the calendar moved up and the fundraising cut short a month, Cain is going to have to do all of this under the withering spotlight on a time table escalated not just by one month, but by Christmas and Thanksgiving too. He still has to do well in Iowa, but like Bachmann, cannot afford to just focus on Iowa. With limited time, he must use his resources very, very wisely.


Chris Christie

He’s not running. No means no. Get over it. And now if he does run, he’ll be hounded by his repeated “no’s”.

Newt Gingrich

In addition to helping Cain, Michele Bachmann’s fall and Newt’s own stellar debate performances have helped him. In my mind, however, he still has done nothing to show he has a path to victory. About the only thing that could persuade me otherwise right now is not his polling, but his financial results. He had horrible, horrible fundraising in the last quarter. He needs to rebuild that fundraising base. Until I see his Q3 numbers, I’m continuing to leave Gingrich off a path to victory.

Jon Huntsman

Suddenly the man who makes the Kurt Cobain jokes has a pulse. Polling in New Hampshire is consistently showing a rise for him, though nationally no one is getting a rise out of or for Jon Huntsman. His Q3 fundraising numbers will be interesting to see.Right now I do not see Jon Huntsman having a viable path to victory, but an upset in New Hampshire not only hurts MItt Romney, it would also help Huntsman vault over South Carolina into Florida. And don’t forget Nevada. It neighbors Utah, Huntsman’s home state, and comes before South Carolina. Huntsman also is less restricted by the escalated time table because of his personal wealth, though I’m guessing he’d like to not contribute so much of his own capital in Barack Obama’s economy.Note to Team Huntsman: get him to knock off the yellow ties. It makes him look orange on TV even though in person the ties are very sharp.

Sarah Palin

She is not running. She will not be the nominee. And even if she did run, she and her team have so bungled her popularity with a sizable portion of the base that she would not be the nominee. Herman Cain is the “flavor of the month”? Really? The Presidency might “shackle” her? That sounds more and more like someone craving attention than serious about a presidential bid. And please save me the “Palin is bigger than the Presidency” nonsense as spin in this “shackled” comment. Game over for Palin.And the Facebook changes probably aren’t helping her get her message out either.


Ron Paul

Finally we have hit the moment that Ron Paul’s support begins to fade. He is going nowhere and outside the merry band of Paul supporters who will always support him, those who have flirted with him are starting to look elsewhere. It seems Cain and Gingrich are being helped.Ron Paul should have pretty good Q3 numbers, but he will not be the nominee.

Rick Perry

That sound you hear is Rick Perry’s campaign descending to reality. He has not crashed. Neil Stevens pointed out to me that the Perry debate flub has not been as fatal to him as the Pawlenty debate flub was to him.But it was still terrible.Perry needs to not lose the next debate. That does not mean he has to win, he just can’t lose. He is going to be hampered in fundraising it seems by the Securities and Exchange Commission preventing financial services company employees from donating to sitting Governors. Uh-oh. I’ll see you that rule and raise you a super PAC though. We’ll see. Interesting that the Obama Administration imposed this rule after the financial services industry gave so much to the GOP in 2008. Were they expecting a Governor to run against them? Probably so, just not Perry.In any event, Perry needs to get out his economic plan ASAP. Every debate until he does is going to feature a question demanding to see his plan. He needs to deal with this immigration issue too and show the base that he does not think the Texas solution is a solution for the country — or at least make them hear it that way. The best thing that could happen for Perry right now is a very strong Q3 fundraising number to show the base loves him and he can compete with Romney through the holiday season straight into Iowa and New Hampshire.But a good debate performance will do more than anything for him right now.

Mitt Romney

Rick Perry’s loss is Mitt Romney’s gain. In fact, I’m rapidly concluding that I should have never bought into the rest of the media’s declaration that Perry was the front runner. His shiny entry distracted from a few things working to Mitt’s advantage and this is more and more, it would seem, still Mitt’s race to lose.First, the majority of the base does not like Mitt Romney. Consider in just this Fox News poll that 23% of people vote for Romney and that is only up one point in a month. Consider in the same poll that more people say they connect with Rick Perry than with Romney. Consider the Gallup poll that shows no real positive intensity for Romney.The base wants someone else. But the base is so fractured and unwilling to consolidate behind someone else, that Romney benefits. He is duplicating the John McCain strategy of 2008 pretty flawlessly. The base loathed McCain, but McCain still was the nominee.Second, Romney has a huge fundraising base. He can handle playing across the map without struggling.Third, Romney remains the most polished candidate in the field.Fourth, Herman Cain now helps Mitt Romney. Cain endorsed Romney in 2008 and said on CNN yesterday that he’d gladly support Romney again if Romney committed to repeal of Obamacare. Duh. So now you have Cain out aggressively going after Rick Perry on immigration so Romney does not have to and Romney can focus on jobs while keeping the heat on Perry. It is neither intentional nor coordinated, but it still helps Romney.I think we all jumped the gun on the polling and this race has never left being Mitt Romney’s to lose. But will the media now vet him and will the other candidates finally start an aggressive push against Romneycare? Not likely.


Rick Santorum

Let’s see how many people felt compassionate enough to give him money in Q3. If he raised a serious amount I would be surprised. Only at the end, like with Cain, did Santorum get a rise out of anybody in that Fox debate. He will not be the nominee and cannot even win his home state of Pennsylvania.


On behalf of L. Brent Bozell of For America, Ned Ryun of American Majority, Drew Ryun of American Majority Action, and me, I would like to invite each of the candidates to Atlanta, Georgia for a real conversation on their background, vision for America, and record.We will work with the candidates on appropriate dates to have the conversations between mid-October and mid-December. These will be conversations with just one candidate at a time for two hours each, which will include several breaks to accommodate radio and television broadcast needs. The conversations will be live streamed on the internet and broadcast live with a television and audio feed made available to major media outlets and the campaigns without restriction.The candidate will sit between Brent Bozell and me and have a conversation. Think “Inside the Actors Studio” in format. American Majority and American Majority Action will help steer the conversation by vetting questioned offered over the internet by video from conservative activists across the country targeted to the specific candidate instead of general questions for the whole field. These conversations will not be opportunities to go on offense against other Republican candidates, but rather to explain in a conversation led by conservatives for conservatives what the candidate’s own vision for America is.We’ll be reaching out shortly to each of the above candidates to finalize arrangements and get their commitment to participate.


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