Last report from SC: a Romney collapse? (and Predictions Open Thread)

Columbia, SC —

I was out of the political loop for a spell yesterday and so missed Bob McDonnell’s arrival in the state to stump alongside Mitt Romney in what appears to be, and feels like, a spectacular collapse in support for the former Massachusetts Governor. Romney, who was leading by double figures just a week ago now admits he could lose today.

A thoroughly unscientific poll I took of a group of Columbia residents on McDonnell’s visit and endorsement drew a surprisingly uniform response: “Who is Bob McDonnell?”

Even after I explained who Bob was, and how Romney had once said he he would make a good vice presidential pick, I got shrugs in return.

Sorry Bob, South Carolina just isn’t that into you. Or at least not yet.

The real polls look grim — Rasmussen’s final survey further confirms the drastic swing in Romney’s fortunes. Even Gallup’s national survey of the race shows a huge drop in Romney’s base of support.

Does that necessarily mean Newt is going to win today? Going by the polls alone, he’s got a great opportunity to do so. And despite the reaction from outside the state, and here on BD, to Newt’s debate exchange with CNN’s John King, that moment may very well have sealed the deal for him. South Carolinians — who have had their share of political figures with secret families, extramarital affairs and closeted sexual orientations — saw King not just as a bully, but as a boor, too.


Columbia, like Charleston, is a Democratic town. But the Republicans I have spoken to here are Romney supporters. They aren’t thrilled by him, but they have settled for him. For them, Gingrich has too much baggage and the debate exchange only confirmed their suspicions that a Gingrich win here will be celebrated in the Obama White House.

And no one talks about Ron Paul. Sorry, Doctor. And Sen. Santorum? He’s a non-factor.

But no matter which candidate they support, the people I’ve spoken to here all want the same thing: for it all to be over.

That will bring an end to the robo-calls. They have been incessant, to the point where some folks have told me they have resorted to turning off their phones in order to get through dinner without interruption. The interesting side-effect of that? It might be skewing the poll results, at least at the margins.

But that’s all academic now. The real polls open in just a bit. And by the time I get back to Richmond, we’ll know if Newt’s rise has been real, and whether he should add John King to his Christmas card list, or whether Romney manages to hold on.

In the meantime, we welcome your thoughts and predictions. The betting window is open…

  • Good post, Norm.

    My hope is that cooler heads prevail in the Palmetto State. But when has that ever been the case (ie Fort Sumter)?

    To base ones selection on how one candidate behaves in front of the media is irrational at best. While Gingrich’s response is possibly refreshing, it will get stale real quick. I suppose Republicans have been listening to Rush and Hannity for so long that they’re ready for a candidate who acts like them too.

    Romney 35%
    Gringrich 31%
    Santorum 15%
    Paul 13%
    Cain 5% (for Colbert)
    Others 1%

  • Norm writes: “The real polls look grim — Rasmussen’s final survey further confirms the drastic swing in Romney’s fortunes. Even Gallup’s national survey of the race shows a huge drop in Romney’s base of support.”

    Norm, while you may call this news “grim” and are headed back to Richmond on this historic election day as our man on the ground (whine, me) I call this news ecstatic! I posted a prediction last night but will put my revised prediction here where it belongs:

    Gingrich, 38%
    Robme, 29% {not bad for a cardboard candidate}
    Paul, 17%
    Sanitorium, 13%
    None of the above, 3%

  • Fat Dave

    Lord, I hope 49% don’t vote for the triumvirate of the egomaniac, the crank, and the comedian. That is a disturbing statistic.

  • Fat Dave

    And it says a lot about the rest of the field.

  • Bob McDonnell jumping on the bandwagon as the instruments are falling off is kind of pathetic. It’s sad that McDonnell fails to understand that it was a rejection of establishment politics wave that put him the office he holds today.

  • MD Russ


    Creigh Deeds was “establishment politics” and Governor Bob wasn’t? Really?

    Craig Kilby,

    I’m still waiting for your evidence of how Marianne Gingrich is an alcoholic. Or, like Newt, do you just throw empty accusations out there and walk away?

  • Well, let’s be honest about this. I can understand why Norm if fleeing South Carolina because things are not turning out his way. This is going to be a huge black eye on Team Robme. Maybe things will get back “on track” in Florida, but I’m not seeing it that way. But it turns out Robme did not win Iowa (why they ever called that a “win” is just so much spin). His whole argument is falling apart.

    I’m revising my prediction into a larger lead for Newt. As in 47%. Robme has crashed.

    I will stand corrected.

  • Joshua Mayes

    My guess for the South Carolina primary:

    Newt Gingrich: 35%
    Mitt Romney: 30%
    Ron Paul: 17%
    Rick Santorum: 13%

    Basically, this primary has devolved into two mini-races. First (and most importantly), is the race between Gingrich and Romney. I think Gingrich, with all of the momentum behind him compared to the wind being taken out of Romney’s sails this week, takes this primary with a comfortable margin. Romney, of course, has the money to go all the way, and so continues on to Florida. However, he is still hurt by the lack of momentum in his campaign.

    Next is the “hidden” fight in this race: the fight for 3rd. Rick Santorum is trying desperately not to be the last-place finisher, as this race has seen every last-place finisher given a ticket out of the race. Unfortunately, his competition for 3rd is Ron Paul-whose coalition of highly dedicated younger-generation supporters should allow Paul to swing in front of Santorum, and by a reasonably comfortable margin.

    My hope is then that Santorum decides to reassess his campaign in the week and a half between now and Florida, realizes that he’s got just as small a shot of winning in Florida as he did of winning here, and gracefully exits the stage, endorsing Gingrich as he goes.

  • I should follow up here:

    (1) the perfect Trifecta argumument for Mitt has collapsed. Entirely

    (2) the race goes on. Next stop is Florida. Mitt definitely has the upper hand there in terms of sheer money

    (3) The pro Mitt cheerleaders who run this site will argue that Mitt will lock up the next run. I’d say, “Not so fast, those are caucus states where Team Paul is definitely in play, and in a serous way.”

  • Thinking on this further, I think the real show down will be in the caucus states. This is were Ayn Rand and George H. W. Bush (and Richard Nixon for that matter) finally have their show down on just how a Capitalist system really operate and function. This will be most interesting. It will go to the core of our philosophical beings. The results may not be pleasant. But it is worthwhile discussion, and long over due.

  • Darrell

    Mitt should do well in Florida. They like people who park their money in the Caribbean.

  • MDR, no doubt McD developed establishment ties on the way up but not so much that he didn’t understood how to play and ride on the wave. He can go either way. It seems that now he is getting towards the end of his term, he is trying on the brittle establishment mantle. I hope he discards it before getting too attached. McDonnell has been an effective empiricist who has graciously backed down from his mistakes and ultimately be fact and issue oriented. I hope he does so again.

  • @ MD RUSS

    “Craig Kilby,

    I’m still waiting for your evidence of how Marianne Gingrich is an alcoholic. Or, like Newt, do you just throw empty accusations out there and walk away?”

    I really didn’t want to bash Marianne. Just my own experience with her in 1992 over a weekend with Newt and her in Savannah, GA, when I was managing Jack Kingston’s campaign for his first term in Congress. Yeah, this goes back to the Olympics and deals cut and so on….don’t really want to go there. I can only say that Marianne is a nice person and I was sorry to see her going on TV with the latest tattle tale line. I can only surmise she needed some money. Yes, Newt should have kept her well provided. I don’t know the personal dirty details, and I don’t think they much matter.

  • @MD Russ

    Actually, I have been giving this some thought and looking over old emails and letters sent privately on this topic. I really think this is just not a good topic. Neither you nor I nor anyone else was a part to, nor a participant of, any of this. Much like Barry’s birth. I say we drop it.

  • MD Russ


    Sorry, bud, but you can’t unring that bell. You threw out a vicious accusation that is unsubstantiated in any responsible medium. Then, you claimed personal knowledge of behavior that encompassed a single weekend?

    You really creep me out. If you are representative of the Newt Gingrich supporters, then he has much bigger problems to deal with than Mitt Romney.

  • MD Russ

    BTW, Craig, for what it is worth, I think that any woman who is married to a lying, philandering asshole like Newt Gingrich should be excused for drinking too much. And since you know him personally, please tell him that for me.

  • I think you’ve shown you true colors, and I’ve already said too much. So mote it be.

  • Mike


  • MD Russ

    No, Craig. You and Newt have shown your true colors–unprincipled personal attacks against your political enemies without conscience or remorse. That might work fine when you are running for a backwater district seat in Congress, but the American people still have higher expectations for the Chief Executive. And that is why your guy will never be POTUS.

  • Why do Americans always seem to go for the person who seems to be able to speak the best but not care about the life lived? Americans choose Obama with his clever speech, and ignored the 15 years he was under Reverend Wright’s spiritual leadership and his connections to Bill Ayers.

    What does this say about us?

    SC is up for grabs and it’s going to take awhile before we see the GOP finalist. I hope intelligence prevails and we don’t end up with someone who can’t possibly win against Obama.

    I do think this would be a ticket that has a chance.

  • Gingrich 37%
    Romney 29%
    Paul 16%
    Santorum 13%
    Cain (for Colbert) 4%
    Other 1%

    After this, Gingrich will be the consensus anti-Romney candidate, and Paul will continue to draw his normal 15-20% (consisting mostly of people who would otherwise never vote in a Republican primary or vote for a Republican candidate). It’s hard to see what path Santorum takes from here.

  • Ken. The only path I see here is for Newt. And that is one row to how. But it is the only possibl path to unseat Obama. Romney is taking the wrong fork in the road. Frankly, I am satisfied with a real head-on collission via Newt vs Barrack but am otherwise satisfied with a revolution within. A good dose of party purification is sometimes the right medicine. Paul does matter here, by the way. As to the Dems, their day is coming, andn sooner than they may think.

  • “We’re going to hang him, uh, so to speak, metaphorically, with, uh, with, uh – you have to be careful these days, I’ve learned that – with an Obama Misery Index.” – Mitt Romney

    Democrats are lovin them some Mitt..

    Newt 37%
    Romney 27%
    Paul 20%
    Santorum 16%

  • MD Russ


    Good estimates, but Ron Paul will do better than 16% in South Carolina where they fear and loathe the Federal government even more than in Texas. Santorum will be lucky to rise above 10% because although he appeals to the fundamentalists, he is still a Catholic yankee. Cain will not do as well as you think because Colbert is much more popular on The Comedy Channel than he is in South Carolina. Romney and Gingrich will split the vote in the populated and prosperous areas of Horry County, Greenville-Spartanburg, and Columbia.

    After Gingrich wins South Carolina, he will self-destruct before Florida by making some outlandish proposal such as arresting and executing “activist” Federal judges or banning liberal media outlets. This is a guy who just can’t stand success.

  • “A lot of people do identify me with another generation, the younger generation who’s so enthusiastic about the things that we’ve been talking about in going back to the Constitution,” Paul said. “So this to me is very encouraging because the growth of the freedom movement is getting to be exponential. It was very, very slow for a long time.” -Ron Paul

    Paul has a strong following of younger people who know just how bad the status quo is and the woeful financially arrogant decisions that my generation is heaving in their lap. Lets see flyover country vote after fla punches the romney buttons…

  • Turbo, agree on your last place finishes. I think the Newt vote is going to shock everyone. But, we all just have to stay tuned.


  • What I am really curious to read tomorrow, after the votes are counted, is just what new spin is going to be spun with the old (and now discredited) “he won Iowa” (not) and New Hampshire (did) and South Carolina (not)

    Definitely not a good week for Romney.

  • MD Russ


    I am even older than you are and I can remember when “the young” were going to elect Gene McCarthy because of the immoral war that the older generation was heaving into their lap. I forget–how did that turn out?

  • Jonathan

    All of you are *WAY* over thinking this.

    What will matter in November is the timing of the release of QE3.

    That will be determined by the folk(s) in the corner office of Marriner Eccles.

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  • I think Jonathan has a good point here. Please develope this thread with price of gas and pipeline from Canada, which are sure to be major topics of debate this coming fall.

  • WilliamDGoose

    I am conservative and want a conservative president as the next guy, but the collapse of Romney would be the collapse of the Republican party for this election cycle. Newt is an @$$ hole. Though I think Romney is the best candidate to win in November, I admit he is not the most conservative and he is a tool, but ne is a tool in a nice guy sort of way. The first rule of this is that you cannot be an @$$ hole and Newt is. If I had my pick of it, it would have been Perry, but he did not make our ballot.

  • Goose: I don’t want another “nice guy” as the nominee. I want some to take the discussion to an adult level. Jonathan is on to something here. So are the Newt supporters. I want to see real CHANGE, and REAL DIALAOG. I want to see adult discussion and real brain cells. I do NOT want to see a cardboard candidate going through the motions on his way to defeat under the hands of MSM and Obamanation. Get it?

  • James Hewitt

    Here are the predictions for tonight in South Carolina:

    Romney – 32%

    Gingrich – 30%

    Santorum – 20%

    Paul – 16%

    Other – 2%

    Speaker Gingrich’s rise might seem picture perfect but South Carolina will not approve of the life story written around this picture. I believe values still mean a thing or two in the South…

  • Jamie Jacoby

    “What will matter in November is the timing of the release of QE3.

    That will be determined by the folk(s) in the corner office of Marriner Eccles.”

    Ding Ding Ding! Winner Winner! But let’s be clear about just what this means.

    First off, QE3 has already begun, it’s called operation twist.

    The can-kicking episodes are becoming closer and closer together, as the can of debt gets heavier and heavier with each iteration of debt-financed bailout. For anyone who’s been following the EU drama, the official hope/spin stories have moved from the sublime to the ridiculous. Countries in need of bailouts are being tasked to contribute to the bailout funds (ESFS). LTRO is a laughing stock.

    If the Fed chooses to bail out Europe, which is looking likely now (in fact it’s also already started), and/or if the IMF promises another $trillion to the EU for “loan guarantees” and Congress actually ponies up the money for the “U.S. assessment,” or if the Fed actually successfully pressures the US government to start buying up mortgages (, or if they just keep printing and buying debt ( there could very well be a political backlash.

    The Fed’s curtain has been pulled back, and people are watching.

  • Hewitt wrote: “I believe values still mean a thing or two in the South…”

    Darlin’….you obviously ain’t never lived in the South. These are things you do NOT run around talking about, if you have half a brain. I totally agree with the previous poster who who predicted a complete Santorum collapse as “Catholic Yankee.” Translation: “Goody two shoes blow hard from up North.”

  • Jonathan

    Jamie Jacoby –

    You’ve misunderstood, misused, and are mis-informing people on my thesis.

    What matters is the timing of the next round of QE. If it happens in February or March, its effects wear off into October and November – when people vote.

    Twist is NOT easing. No expansion of the balance sheet.

    The FED won’t need to bail out Europe. The ECB’s LTRO program is having more effects than people imagined when it was announced.

    It goes back to a very simple thesis – what matters is QE, and what REALLY matters is its timing.

  • Fat Dave

    First off, I hope McDonnell’s reception in South Carolina dispels all the favorite son crapola I’ve been hearing about McDonnell as Romney’s VP choice. No one knows who he is. Ask the same people in S.C. about Christie, and they’ll know who he is. The ticket will be Romney-Christie or Romney-Rubio.

    I agree with Mr. Goose. I’m probably to the right of Attila the Hun, but I’m lukewarmly supporting Romney (since Cain dropped out). Gingrich is a loose cannon who combines the flip-flopping of Romney with the hair-brained schemes of Paul, the ethics of LBJ, and the discipline of Wilbur Mills. I’ll admit that Romney isn’t as conservative as I would prefer, but Gingrich isn’t any more conservative than Romney.

  • Gingrich reminds me of the Pamplona Bull Run.. He is dangerous and people who tangle with him often require medical attention afterwards simply because they are so drunk they can’t react fast enough which brings up Mitt.. Mitt is too slow in a pinch and one of his biggest faults is that he keeps tripping in front of the bull. Mitt needs to learn to corner tight because Bulls corner wide..

  • Back in the Rules Are Rules spin room at BD,”No Republican has ever one the Presidency without winning the South Carolina GOP primary.”

    Yep. But then again, rules are made to be broken. Which is why I’m going to predict Ron Paul wins the VA primary on March 6th.

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  • +1 CK

  • Jamie Jacoby

    Jonathan said: “Twist is NOT easing. No expansion of the balance sheet.”

    A rose by any other name. If you define “easing” as “balance sheet expansion,” you’re right, but only technically. I don’t. Here’s why.

    First, here’s a brief but essentially accurate description of twist:

    “If the Fed trades in some of its shorter-dated bonds for more of the longer-dated alternatives, demand for the longer-dated variety will exceed supply. This in turn will drive up the price of those bonds, which depresses the “yield” – the effective rate of return the holder of the bond gets on their investment. The yield determines the interest rate. Lower long-term interest rates will lead to lower 25-year mortgage rates, car loans and other bank lending rates.”

    Remember, the Fed has previously promised to keep short term rates low for the next several years, so while it is “twisting” longer rates lower it has to maintain its credible threat to keep short term rates lower as well. How could it do that without the credible threat of balance sheet expansion? Of course, it couldn’t.

    “The Committee also decided to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and currently anticipates that economic conditions–including low rates of resource utilization and a subdued outlook for inflation over the medium run–are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate at least through mid-2013.”

    So by announcing twist, the Fed has driven down long term rates while promising to keep short term rates at essentially zero. It has made it possible for the federal government to borrow more money at lower rates, depressing interest expense and masking the impact of the higher borrowing levels on the federal budget. If this isn’t “easing,” I don’t know what is. It has all of the effects of QE, and was in fact made possible in part by the Fed’s already QE-expanded balance sheet (where else to get the short term stuff to sell?).

    Jonathan said: “The FED won’t need to bail out Europe.”

    “America’s central bank, the Federal Reserve, is engaged in a bailout of European banks. Surprisingly, its operation is largely unnoticed here.

    The Fed is using what is termed a “temporary U.S. dollar liquidity swap arrangement” with the European Central Bank (ECB).”

    Jonathan said: “The ECB’s LTRO program is having more effects than people imagined when it was announced.”

    If you mean because it is so transparently a joke, and thus has proven that ECB is a powerless laughingstock, ==> causing severe market turmoil, you are correct.

    “The ECB’s cheap, three-year LTRO (long-term refinancing operations) finance has created a juicy “carry trade” for the continental banking sector. Banks can borrow at 1pc from the ECB, posting near-meaningless collateral, then buy sovereign bonds with higher yields, the resulting profit helping them recapitalise, covertly, at the taxpayers’ expense. Why wouldn’t European banks pile in to newly issued bonds as fast as eurozone governments can issue them, when they’re effectively being bribed to do so?”

    “While well-known to most, what may be lost on all those calling for the ECB to commence outright printing, is that as today’s Bloodmberg chart of the day shows, the ECB’s balance sheet is not only far greater than the Fed, at $3.2 trillion compared to $2.9 trillion for Ben Bernanke, but at 30x leverage, has the same risk as Lehman did at its peak.”

    Thanks for playing.

  • Brett

    That’s the problem with unscientific polls, Norm–you can’t use them to draw informed conclusions. Go back to January 2008 and ask a random assortment of South Carolinians who the Governor of Alaska is, or the name of the Senator from Delaware running for president. Or, when you get back to VA, ask Joe Blow on the street who Nikki Haley is; my guess is an unscientific poll of that nature will yield similar results.

    Little national name recognition for potential VP’s before a nominee is selected is not necessarily a bad thing. In order for a politician to get recognition outside of his state, he would have had to do something extraordinarily good nationally or, more likely, stirred up a controversy. Fat Dave, Christie gets media attention because he’s brash; that also makes him polarizing, and therefore a gamble if selected for VP. Even so, ask random non-politicos who Christie is and see what result you get.

    McDonnell my not have name recognition now, but that in no way means he’s not a viable VP candidate. In fact, in some ways it can improve his chances.

  • Jamie Jacoby

    “The global economy faces a depression-era collapse in demand if Europe doesn’t quickly act to dramatically boost the size of its debt-crisis firewall, implement pro-growth policies and further integrate the euro zone, the head of the International Monetary Fund warned Monday.”

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