Election 2012

Today is the Southern Strategy’s Day

Final polling released ahead of today's primary vote in South Carolina shows Newt Gingrich leading Mitt Romney 40 to 26. Two weeks ago those numbers were nearly reversed, with Romney ahead 37 to 24, and the conventional wisdom was that Romney was poised to wrap up the nomination early.

That was before Newt Gingrich went full-on racist, and the traditional campaign model of presenting your plans for the country has now almost entirely evaporated from the Gingrich campaign and has been replaced by an insufferable reinforcement of existing voter prejudices.

What began with vague statements that poor children should work as janitors, followed by comments Gingrich made about blacks demanding paychecks instead of food stamps, culminated in putting Fox News contributor Juan Williams "in his place," as one Gingrich supporter put it. The following day, Newt said work is a "strange" and "distant" concept to Juan Williams. Ya' know, because he's black. Wink. Nod.

Ever since Gingrich's petulance during the past week's GOP debates, his rise in the polls has been irreversible. Even an accusation from Newt's former wife, Marianne Gingrich, that he requested an open marriage and cheated on her in her own bed was not enough to stop Newt's racist momentum, and this momentum could carry him to victory in other southern states.

It seems likely Mitt Romney will still end up as the Republican nominee for president, however Gingrich could isolate the southern vote if other states in the region prove to be as receptive to Newt's dog-whistling as South Carolina has been. And if that is the case, Mitt Romney could be the weakest nominee for president we've seen in decades.

Then again, if Team Romney doesn't produce a better explanation for his shady financial record, off-shored wealth, and pathological flip-flopping in the very near future, he may not be the nominee. Newt's success today on the back of the southern strategy may give the impression to future primary voters that there is an alternative.

  • MrDHalen

    I want a Gingrich victory today. Romney appears to be approaching this election with a Palinesc strategy of not answering questions directly and just lying to people’s faces. At least with Newt, you know what you’re getting and he will happily show the GOP’s true cards to the electorate. This will excite the racist republican base, but offend the moderates and rally progressives.

  • http://twitter.com/bubblegenius Bubble Genius

    I think the thing here is that everyone knows that it’s going to be near impossible to beat President Obama, so the GOP can’t get a serious candidate. I feel they prefer their 2012 loser to be Romney, because he’s not loved and easily disposable. He’s basically the guy with the red shirt in Star Trek. I reckon most of them would be just as comfortable with Newt winning the nomination, because he’s not much loved either.

    I think they’re waiting to get out the big guns in 2016.

    • muselet

      I’d turn that around a bit. Conventional wisdom a year or two ago was that Barack Obama would at the very least be very difficult to beat, so the big guns decided to sit out 2012 rather than suffer ignominious defeat at the hands of the KenyanIslamofascistblahblahblah. Somehow they managed to overlook the obstructionism of the Rs in Congress. What we’re seeing is the dregs of the Republican Party.

      But yeah, Mitt Romney is the Republicans’ redshirt for 2012.


    • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

      “the guy with the red shirt in Star Trek”

      Excellent metaphor….and you may very well be right…IMHO Mitt is a shmuck for even thinking he could win the primary much less the general. The irony is, what helps him in the general, his moderation, kills him in the nomination process.

  • missliberties

    This from Josh Marshall at TPM.

    There is little enthusiasm for any of these candidates on the GOP side.

    The comparison to the 08 cycle where democrats were jazzed about their choices.

    “The hunger to beat Obama is overwhelming. But the polls — especially by their inconstancy — have shown little strong affection for any of the folks on offer. And that suggests an outcome like the old saw about academic politics where the politics are so bitter precisely because the stakes are so small. That portends growing damage rather than mounting enthusiasm in a drawn out battle.”

    Isn’t there some fear of backlash by minorities for Newt’s constantly invoking grudges against minorities to gain popularity?

    I hope the GOP trashes itself into oblivion.

    • incredulous72

      I gotta tell ya’, that’s music to my ears.

      And there should be NO enthusiasm for these republican candidates. They have no plan, they have no really case for switching parties in the White House at a time when this country needs stability (which the current President has provided no less), and to top it all off, ALL of the problems we are currently enduring were brought to us by THEIR party. As we speak there are a bunch of “do not a damn thing” republicans in both houses of Congress with an horrendous plan to move this country even further backwards.

      Little enthusiasm indeed.

      • missliberties

        There inspiration comes from their hatred for Obama. Which to me is quite frightening, because it is based on a myth that portrays the PResident as evil.

        Plus what is with this 24/7 coverage of primaries in SC. Lord I can’t wait until this is over. All day prognosticating about the exact same thing. Newt/Mitt/Newt/ Mitt.

        My only joy is that the GOP establishment elite despise Newt. With all the seething hatred they have cultured the GOP loves Newt’s hate, and the GOP establishment is totally freaked out that Newt might win.

  • missliberties

    How sad is it that this garbage pays off.