A Rasmussen Reports (IVR) poll; conducted 10/10; surveyed 750 LVs; margin of error +/- 3.6% (release, 10/12). Tested: Gov. John Lynch (D) and ‘02/‘08 NH-01 candidate/ex-HHS Commis. John Stephen (R).
General Election Matchup- Now 9/15 8/5 5/26 4/7 3/8 J. Lynch 53% 48% 50% 47% 47% 50% J. Stephen 43 46 39 35 37 35 Other 1 1 5 4 5 2 Undec 3 4 6 14 11 14
COLUMBIA, S.C. — This has probably been the single craziest week of the 2012 campaign, as candidates rose and fell nearly every single day.
As the voters here head to the polls for an unusual Saturday Republican party primary, here’s what I am watching for.
1. Will Mitt Romney put it away?
It’s easy to forget that this state seemed a slam dunk for the former Massachusetts governor as recently as last week. He still has an edge in the final polling, but those same surveys have shown Newt Gingrich — considered political roadkill after losing badly in both Iowa and New Hampshire — closing in. But now with two trailing candidates off the stage, Gingrich is counting on a strong finish to convince voters down the line that this thing isn’t over — yet.
Thursday’s GOP Debate in Charleston, S.C. (CNN)
2. Is Gingrich’s surge real?
If the former House speaker thought he had everything but the kitchen sink thrown at him in Iowa, it now turns out he had only gotten a mere taste of what true scrutiny can be. Romney forces — including independent super PACs — poured millions of dollars into television advertising that painted Gingrich as unreliable and erratic. Surrogate spokespeople held daily conference calls to pound the point home. Then, at week’s end, the second of Gingrich’s three wives granted unflattering interviews to both ABC News and The Washington Post questioning his moral character. Gingrich’s response was akin to his Iowa approach. At first he took the high road — he would not dignify the inappropriate question, he assured me during an interview on his campaign bus. But hours later on the debate stage, he went ballistic on CNN’s John King during the latest candidate debate. How dare the media even ask such a question?
The high dudgeon worked. As when he took off after Fox News questioner Juan Williams earlier in the week, the audience jumped to its feet applauding.
3. Is the tea party still a force?
This state provides the first true test of 2012 tea party politics. With Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, and now Rick Perry out of the race, the naked grab for the socioeconomic conservative voter has been without a true home. Some have flocked to Ron Paul, whose small -government arguments hold tremendous appeal. But others — especially religious conservatives — have been drawn to Rick Santorum. For Romney — who is widely viewed as too moderate for this crowd — to win, the tea partiers will have to remain split. Since by some counts there are more than 100 tea party groups in South Carolina, this might not be so hard to do.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (right) endorsed Mitt Romney in December. (CNN)
4. Can Nikki Haley deliver?
See tea party above. Haley’s decision to endorse Romney was designed in part to signal to conservatives that he was OK. When she was elected governor here, Haley’s was one of the tea party’s biggest 2010 victories, and she won Sarah Palin’s blessing. But Haley’s popularity has waned somewhat at home, and it was Palin who announced this week that she would vote for Gingrich if she lived here, if only to keep the race going. That could easily happen.
5. When will we tire of debates?
Apparently not soon enough. It can certainly be argued that Gingrich owes his surprising resurgence to his star turn at the first of this week’s two South Carolina debates. But on closer scrutiny, it’s clear these candidate forums start off flashy and fade fast. Do you remember anything that happened after the Gingrich-King clash during the first minutes on Thursday night? But, prepare yourself. As Bill Clinton was fond of saying, everything’s been said but everyone hasn’t yet said it. There’s a Florida debate in St Petersburg. scheduled for next Monday.
What We're Following See More »
"An emerging government funding deal would see Democrats agree to $15 billion in additional military funding in exchange for the GOP agreeing to fund healthcare subsidies, according to two congressional officials briefed on the talks. Facing a Friday deadline to pass a spending bill and avert a shutdown, Democrats are willing to go halfway to President Trump’s initial request of $30 billion in supplemental military funding."
The Michael Flynn story is not going away for the White House as it tries to refocus its attention. The White House has denied requests from the House Oversight Committee for information and documents regarding payments that the former national security adviser received from Russian state television station RT and Russian firms. House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz and ranking member Elijah Cummings also said that Flynn failed to report these payments on his security clearance application. White House legislative director Marc Short argued that the documents requested are either not in the possession of the White House or contain sensitive information he believes is not applicable to the committee's stated investigation.
The Washington, D.C. area will undergo "a full-scale exercise" Wednesday morning "designed to prepare for the possibility of a complex coordinated terror attack in the National Capital Region." The drill will take place at six different sites throughout the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. The drill should not be taken as a sign that emergency services are expecting an attack, said Scott Boggs, Managing Director of Homeland Security and Public Safety at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
The Presidential Inaugural Committee "acknowledged late Monday that a final report it filed with the Federal Election Commission this month was riddled with errors, many of which were first identified through a crowdsourced data project at HuffPost." The committee raised about $100 million for the festivities, but the 500-page FEC report, which detailed where that money came from, was riddled with problems. The likely culprit: a system of access codes sent out by the GOP's ticketing system. Those codes were then often passed around on the secondary market.