With Mitt Romney poised on Tuesday to take over as the putative leader of the Republican Party until Election Day and perhaps beyond, right now would be a good time for Romney to apply his ballyhooed venture-capital turnaround savoir-faire to his party.
New polling shows the primary season has dinged the GOP, like a hockey team losing its legs heading into the playoffs. Fifty-six percent of Republican respondents in the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll out today chose negative words to describe the GOP primary. President Obama is leading Romney in a hypothetical matchup among independents, 46 percent to 39 percent, and suburban women, 46 percent to 44 percent.
“This is a terrible time to be a Republican,” bemoaned Joe Scarborough on his MSNBC show this morning, agonizing over the GOP’s self-sabotage on the contraception issue.
If Romney sustains his momentum and Tuesday breaks his way, he’ll be getting a party with a stock price lower than it was a month ago, and far below what it was last year. That’s the way to make money, but not always the best method for winning elections.
-- Jim O’Sullivan
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT
The Cost of Romney’s Success
[National Journal, 3/5/12] The new NBC/Wall Street Journal national survey released on Monday quantifies the sense that Romney's slog toward the GOP nomination has come at a palpable price for November, National Journal’s Ron Brownstein writes. What's especially striking is that the new survey shows Obama has made his biggest gains among the group that has consistently resisted him the most: white voters without a college education.
Super PACs Keep Candidates in the Game Despite Growing Odds
[Fox News, 3/5/12] Super PACs have been central to preventing Romney from running away with the nomination despite a 111-delegate lead above his closest rival, Santorum. But as Super Tuesday looms, key Republicans are circling the wagons around Romney in hopes that victories on March 6 will create an air of inevitability around the candidate.
Romney: Economy is Best Issue For Me
[National Journal, 3/5/12] As he made his final pre-Super Tuesday pitch to voters, Romney on Monday stressed that in the face of improving U.S. economic numbers, he remains convinced the issue gives him the best chance in a potential general-election matchup with President Obama. “I think as long as we're talking about the economy and jobs, and, by the way, shrinking the deficit, we're winning,” Romney said on CNBC’s Kudlow Report.
Santorum Lays Down an Ohio Marker
[Chicago Tribune, 3/5/12] Rejecting the notion that Ohio is do-or-die for him on Super Tuesday, Rick Santorum recognized Monday that’s it’s nonetheless “a huge deal.”
Super Tuesday: State By State
[New York Times, 3/5/12] The Times’ Michael Shear offers a state-by-state look at the closest that Americans get to a national presidential primary: Super Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Times' Nate Silver finds that Romney, even with relatively safe predictions, could win the delegate fight Tuesday night.
Santorum Tells Ohians He Understands Them
[National Journal, 3/5/12] In a last-ditch attempt to discredit his rivals, Santorum threw everything but the kitchen sink at Romney and Obama Monday as he made his closing argument to voters across Ohio. He played up his Western Pennsylvania roots, and even joked that he used to cross the border into Ohio to buy beer when their drinking age was 18.
Romney’s Super Tuesday Message: Big Issue Is Jobs
[Wall Street Journal, 3/5/12] A day ahead of Super Tuesday, Romney has refocused his campaign platform on the nation’s economic woes after weeks of debates on social issues. Romney on Monday accused his GOP opponents of losing sight of the most important issue in the race: jobs.
Romney Dominates Ad Wars in Ohio
[Wall Street Journal, 3/5/12] Ohio voters will show the real results Tuesday, but Romney is winning the air war in the Buckeye State. A running tally of ad spending in Ohio shows Romney and his super PAC spending a total of just over $4 million on TV and radio ads in the state, compared to $968,000 by Santorum and his Super PAC.
On the Ground in Georgia
[Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 3/5/12] Ground game supersedes manipulation of the airwaves on Tuesday, Georgia’s largest newspaper writes. Who’s doing what on the ground in the Peach State.
On Eve of Super Tuesday, Santorum Blasts Romney on Health Care
[National Journal, 3/5/12] Santorum on Monday attacked Romney regarding recent revelations that the former Massachusetts governor suggested that state’s health care law could be used as a model for the nation. The website BuzzFeed has dug up a series of television clips in which Romney praised President Obama for looking to the Bay State during the health care debate in 2009.
Barbara Bush Calls 2012 Race ‘Worst Campaign I’ve Ever Seen’
[Politico, 3/5/12] The former first lady, who recorded a robocall for Romney praising him, made clear her feelings about the 2012 race in the Dallas Morning News Monday: “I think it’s the worst campaign I’ve ever seen in my life.”
CNN Poll: Catholic Support For Romney Crucial in Ohio
[CNN, 3/5/12] Strong support by Catholic voters in Ohio appears to be one reason why Romney is now deadlocked with Santorum in that state, according to a new survey released one day before the Buckeye State holds its Super Tuesday Republican presidential primary.
Poll: Romney Moves to the Front in Ohio
[National Journal, 3/5/12] Romney leads Santorum, 34 percent to 31 percent, in one of the hottest battlefield states to vote on Tuesday. Gingrich is in third place with 15 percent and Ron Paul is in fourth with 12 percent. Romney also leads a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal nationwide poll for the first time since November.
Ohio GOP Likes Santorum But Loves Romney's Electability
[National Journal, 3/5/12] Romney and Rick Santorum are neck-and-neck in Ohio, one of Super Tuesday's biggest prizes. While Santorum has the support of social conservatives and blue-collar workers in the state, Romney's appeal lies in his electability come November – both strong advantages, making it difficult to handicap the race ahead of time.
Obama Press Conference to Cut Into GOP Headlines
[National Journal, 3/5/12] Administration officials deny that they scheduled an Obama press conference for Tuesday to insert the White House into a busy news day that otherwise was guaranteed to be dominated by Republicans fighting for delegates in ten states. But the timing of the conference does serve the purpose of pushing the Republicans aside, if only for an hour, as National Journal’s George Condon writes.
Ohio Primary Echoes ’76 Race
[Cincinnati Enquirer, 3/5/12] There are similarities between the dramatic 1976 showdown between President Ford and former California Gov. Ronald Reagan and this year’s GOP primary – the Republican presidential battle featured an early favorite with considerable fundraising and organizational advantages trying to hold off a late, hard-charging challenger from the right. A prominent Super Tuesday newspaper asks: Will history repeat itself?
Green Donors Bet on Romney Flip-Flop
[Politico, 3/5/12] Romney and his super PAC have taken millions from funders with strong green streaks, despite the fact that the candidate has run to the right in the primary on green issues like global-warming. Donors might be banking on the fact that, if he secures the nomination, Romney may backtrack.
Foreign Policy: The Wild Card in 2012 Campaign
[The Daily Beast, 3/5/12] Things are looking up for the Democrats, but foreign policy could upend everything in the fall. Between now and the election a lot can happen – and a lot can go wrong in the world. Democratic strategist Paul Begala weighs in with a few wild-card scenarios.
Gingrich Touts Tennessee Surge, Predicts Georgia Win
[Washington Post, 3/5/12] Gingrich, touting new polls showing that he is closing the gap in Tennessee, launched a final, two-day swing across the South today in advance of the biggest voting day so far this year. He plans to campaign in Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia over the next two days, and vowed to exceed expectations in all the Southern states.
Paul: Santorum Should Emphasize Liberty, Not Religion
[National Journal, 3/5/12] Paul suggested Monday that personal religion is too large a part of Santorum’s presidential campaign message, and said his own message appeals to people of all faiths. He also indicated that the former Pennsylvania senator’s moment in the sun could be almost up.
Tennessee Viewed as a Southern Bellwether
[Wall Street Journal, 3/4/12] The way Tennessee votes on Tuesday may be indicative of trends across the wider South. As Romney gains on Santorum there, the race is heating up in a largely overlooked Super Tuesday battleground. Polls are showing that Romney's formerly huge lead in that state is dwindling, and the race is now a toss-up.