Patterico's Pontifications


Is there a “Romney effect”?

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 8:47 am

[Posted by Karl]

Contrary to Supernarrative Wednesday (which spilled over to Thursday), Mitt Romney is likely not as weak as much of the media claims.  Political scientist Seth Masket notes that Romney has about 43% of the delegates to date, less than McCain racked up by this point in 2008 — but under the 2008 delegate allocation rules, Romney would have roughly 60%, just as McCain did.  National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar notes Romney has won a larger share of the vote than McCain in 14 of the 22 states that have held binding primaries or caucuses so far — and some of the primaries where McCain did better were held after McCain locked up the nomination.  Nate Silver looked at the likely result if Newt Gingrich dropped out, concluding that even after receiving most of Gingrich vote, Rick Santorum would still have trailed Romney in the overall popular vote — about 45 percent to 38 percent.  Indeed, if Romney stays on his current track in the different regions of the country (including pulling only 25% in the South), he will likely amass the 1,144 delegates needed for the GOP nomination.  Tim Cavanaugh argues Obama would be a lock to beat Romney, mostly based on low turnout in the GOP primaries; however, high primary turnout has not consistently predicted general election success in the past.

Nevertheless, as Sean Trende notes, it remains possible that Romney will fall short of winning 1,144 delegates and may need the GOP equivalent of superdelegates to put him over the top.

Romney’s underlying problems are demographic.  The Romney/Santorum narrative is built on Mitt’s weakness with the working class.  However, Karl Rove notes that on Super Tuesday, Romney nearly erased the gap with non-college graduates.  If Romney is nominated, he may yet carry a “wealth problem,” but he would be running against someone unloved by the bitter clinger demographic.

The demo Romney has yet to crack is white evangelicals (assuming African-Americans again vote overwhelmingly for Democrats).  As Harry Enten and Sean Trende were among the first to note, states with large evangelical populations tend to vote more heavily against Romney (although Trende also notes that this may be a proxy for the difference between Northern and Southern conservatism; that black Republicans prefer other candidates to Romney also suggests this, but the sample is small).  Pew notes Romney has fared significantly better among non-evangelical voters than among evangelicals in every state for which data are available (ironically, Santorum has not won the Catholic vote in any state for which data are available, which suggests Romney’s weakness with evangelicals is not pure anti-Mormon bias).  Considering the percentages of white evangelicals and Catholics by state, it should surprise no one that Romney lost states like Oklahoma and Tennessee on Super Tuesday (although the delegate allocation ultimately mutes this effect).

The remaining questions are whether Romney can make inroads with white evangelicals during the primaries and if not, what it means should Romney win the GOP nomination.  Mitt gets a number of opportunities to try to win evangelical votes this month: Kansas, Alabama, Mississippi and Missouri all tilt significantly more evangelical than Catholic.  Louisiana and Illinois tilt Catholic, but not by the sort of margin these other states lean evangelical.  The sparse polling to date suggests competitive races, but the topline results tell us nothing about the evangelical vote.

What happens if Romney becomes the GOP nominee?  A November 2011 Pew poll showed Republicans who say Mormonism is not a Christian religion were less likely to support Romney for the GOP nomination, but seemingly would overwhelmingly back him in a run against Obama in the general election.  Might evangelicals stay home?  A January YouGov poll found 31% of Southern evangelicals say they would not vote for a qualified Mormon for president, yet only 12% said they whould stay home if Romney is the nominee — a similar result as that given for Gingrich and Rick Perry.  Moreover, Romney did as well against Obama as Gingrich or Perry in this poll.

That 12% number may be comforting, but the 31% number may give some pause to consider whether an anti-Mormon “Bradley effect” might lurk for a Mitt Romney candidacy.  Obviously, the answer to that question is unknown at this time.  However, the states in which a “Romney effect” would be most likely also tend to be the reddest of the Red States, won heavily by McCain in the face of a political perfect storm favoring Barack Obama.  Any Romney effect would have to be shockingly large to matter in most of the South.  A Romney effect could conceivably make North Carolina and Virginia more difficult to win.  But even in that unlikely scenario, it is unclear that Santorum or Gingrich would be a better candidate in either state.


52 Responses to “Is there a “Romney effect”?”

  1. Ding!

    Karl (6f7ecd)

  2. The R’s could nominate a bag of worms and I would vote for it vs Obama. Romney is far from my first choice, but if it’s Romney so be it.

    Ipso Fatso (7434b9)

  3. Bag o’ Worms ’12!

    Sadly, Bag has missed most of the filing deadlines.

    Karl (6f7ecd)

  4. Hey Karl, forgive me but, what is the significance of Ding!? Is it a newer version of First! Just wondering.

    Ipso Fatso (7434b9)

  5. I agree, Ipso Fatso.

    I would think the “Mormon Effect” won’t be all the different from the “third wife” effect or Santorum’s stances on social matters being inflated.

    The left will make a great deal of hay freaking out about it and attacking whoever we nominate, but I have a hard time seeing it as relevant.

    It delights me to think Romney won’t amass enough delegates, but the likelihood of the GOP taking this golden opportunity and picking a much better candidate is nearly zero. Romney got where he is with good connections in the party, after all.

    As someone who is not at all enthusiastic about the remaining primary, I think the enthusiasm to beat Obama is still there. I think we just have a particularly awful primary. I think this was entirely preventable, but it is what it is now.

    Dustin (401f3a)

  6. Ipso,

    During my tenure here, it was suggested that immediately commenting would alert people in other threads of a new post (via the Recent Comments sidebar). I picked “Ding!” in part because it’s a basic alert sound, but also because it makes me feel a bit like a short order cook.

    Karl (6f7ecd)

  7. “…a short order cook…” who posts multi-course meals that take (sometimes) days to digest.

    AD-RtR/OS! (ced41f)

  8. hmmm.

    looks like the takeaway is that a not-insignificant percentage of Southern evangelicals are bigots

    who knew?

    they’ll most likely vote for santorum I guess

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  9. Or, is it just the view of “enlightened Northeners” re Southern evangelicals that is bigoted?

    AD-RtR/OS! (ced41f)

  10. evangelical christians who won’t vote for people just because they’re mormon are nasty nasty bigots, simple as that

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  11. Yes, anyone who votes pro or anti Romney on the basis of his faith is no better than those who reject Santorum for his private religious views he has explained he won’t make government policy.

    Dustin (401f3a)

  12. santorum’s religious views are private sorta like sandra fluke’s sex life is private

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  13. “states with large evangelical populations tend to vote more heavily against Romney (although Trende also notes that this may be a proxy for the difference between Northern and Southern conservatism”

    Except that ND, MN and in a few WI give the lie to this narrative. Trende assumes WI will follow the MI and OH model.

    The Upper MI model, indeed.

    Midwesterners are not copacetic with lying SOS, who cares about Lutheran or Catholic or NonDenom.

    WI has a surfeit of 5,000 Republican voting mouthbreathers, MN is shy 10,000. Romney gives these states away regardless of the hue and cry.

    gary gulrud (d88477)

  14. WI for example is in a serious fight for a Governor of character who has fought for real change and already obtained results.

    Having some pervert from one of the coasts question our morality is effin’ horsesh*t. ESAD.

    gary gulrud (d88477)

  15. If Romney were truly staunch, on economic and foreign policy, and he continued to be outvoted
    then there might be more of a point, but then it’s
    hard to see anyone who really is that way, that we could use as a contrast.

    narciso (87e966)

  16. granted, Pew is a propaganda obamawhore front group, but what their poll says is that a full 53% of white evangelicals don’t even think mormons are christians

    Like their own bigoted brand of white trash christianity was some kind of special club or something.


    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  17. gary,

    Actually, MN is pretty balanced in terms of evangelical vs Catholic. ND is quite socially conservative, which is what I think Trende was really getting at. Someone from New Hampshire who self-IDs as very conservative simply may not mean the same thing as someone from Alabama or even ND. There aren’t exit polls in either ND or MN from which we can determine the impact of the evangelical vote. In any event, Trende is simply noting the danger is conflating correlation with causation.

    Karl (6f7ecd)

  18. Well there was a truly cringeworthy piece in the Times about a month ago, trying to read Mormonism
    out of society, ‘unexpectedly’ these same folks had no quarrel with either Obama’s ideosyncracies, or
    that of the Religion of Piece, I know, shockah.

    narciso (87e966)

  19. yes anti-mormon bigotry can come from any quarter

    National Soros Radio especially likes to dabble in the mormon hate I’ve noticed

    we must be vigilant

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  20. What the ‘Minnesota Marauder’ didn’t carry the day,
    it strikes me he is always saying what he wouldn’t say, about ‘death panels’ or the ‘two minute hate’ after Tucson. The common element seems Romney wins the higher income cohort in every contest, some places by an outside margin,

    narciso (87e966)

  21. I really I don’t think it’s the Mormonism, anway. It’s that he’s Obama-lite in their eyes, and there is some truth in that.

    SarahW (b0e533)

  22. Real Clear Politics has Romney with 56% of the available delegates. Let’s face it: it’s all over but the shouting of “brokered convention” from the usual suspects.

    Icy (e8e97a)

  23. Templates need to be filled in. Sarah.

    narciso (87e966)

  24. Those numbers in the first line are already quite stale. The RCP tally has lagged behind other tallies and has also changed dramatically since the Masket analysis was written. RCP now has Romney with 421 delegates, way more than the 381 counted on Thursday, but still less than WSJ’s 437 or NPR’s 431. Both of these, I believe, don’t count the 18 Romney won in the pacific island territories of Guam & Northern Marianis overnight.

    By most tallies, Romney has captured well over 50% of the delegates awarded to date. The number has generally been 56% looking at various sources all week, not 43% as claimed by Masket above.

    If Romney has 437 + 18 overnight, that’s 455 which puts him at just a fraction less than 40% of the 1,144 needed for the nomination. (Santorum with 181 has just under 16% of the goal; Gingrich has 9%.)

    koam @wittier (88a9fd)

  25. santorum’s religious views are private sorta like sandra fluke’s sex life is private
    Comment by happyfeet — 3/10/2012 @ 10:00 am

    — 1) I think Dustin meant “personal,” not private. 2) The only thing you KNOW about Sandra Fluke’s sex life is what you imagine, you dirty dirty boy.

    Icy (e8e97a)

  26. yes Romney is an appeaser he loves to appease progressives on the odd occasion he derives a perverse joy from it

    but he’s more McCain-lite than Obama-lite I think… Romney for example isn’t so cowardly as to oppose drilling in ANWR while gas prices were literally killing Americans and sapping their jobs and freedoms

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  27. bow chika fluke fluke

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  28. I’d add that in a 2-man race, the guy with 56% of the delegates to date would be considered well ahead.

    In a 4-man race, capturing 58.9% of the delegates to date (Romney has 455 out of 734) is a monumental lead, especially when the 2nd-place competitor, with 181 delegates, has amassed only 23.4%.

    koam @wittier (88a9fd)

  29. His chief economic advisor wants a $2.00 gallon tax on gasoline, he was also W’s head of the CEA.

    narciso (87e966)

  30. Greg Mankiw is an economist sorta like Sandra Fluke is chaste I think

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  31. Well I wouldn’t go that far, but it does suggest
    a certain ivory tower, unconcern about inelasticity,

    narciso (87e966)

  32. Mankiw mostly shows just how clubby Romney is with his fellow Harvard trash I think

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  33. an economist who doesn’t know the relationship between cheap energy and freedom and prosperity is not a for reals economist he’s a slimy Harvard trash social engineer who Knows Better

    Romney loves these types.

    He’ll learn.

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  34. No matter who is the nominee, I still think we are going to lose the White House (I hope I am wrong). It is important to concentrate on the Senate and House and take and keep these branches of govt respectively. The thought of BO getting to fill any more SC vacancies is just revolting, but the damage can be lessened if the good guys have the Senate.

    Ipso Fatso (7434b9)


    WSJ now has Romney 441, Santorum 183 not counting the 18 that Romney won overnight in the South Pacific territories.

    Romney’s at 441 + 18 = 459 out of 797 delegates awarded to date or 57.6%.

    koam @wittier (88a9fd)

  36. A post on Insty says that while Steven Chu brags that he doesn’t even have a car– new information found that his wife does. And she owns and drives a 21 MPG BMW, not a Chevy Volt. That might be surprising if one did not automatically expect hypocrisy from that crew. What really did surprise me, though, was that somebody married that very strange little guy.

    elissa (b47460)

  37. Ipso Fatso getting his George Will on. Bor-ing.

    Icy (e8e97a)

  38. we have to believe we can win in 2012 everyone knows Obama is a phony socialist turd now

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  39. Nobody says you have to read the comment, Icy

    Ipso Fatso (7434b9)

  40. I think we can win, Ipso. I think Santorum and Romney have a decent shot. It’s too early to really know what the economy will be like, but my guess is it will drag Obama down.

    I think it’s pretty damn likely Romney has this won. That’s a shame, but I’m not sure what the point of fighting over it is. I agree with Sarah that the objection many have to him is the Obama-lite thing.

    Happyfeet, I agree Mormons are Christians. I’ve heard many Christians say otherwise and I don’t think most of them intend any kind of bigotry there. They just think there is a categorical difference to the faiths. Anyone who rejects Romney over his faith is an idiot, and I think evangelicals can be convinced Obama is far worse than Romney. Even if I disagree with Mormonism, I disagree with Rev Wright so much more.

    Also, I think a general election that places a spotlight on a mainstream Mormon will disabuse whatever idiotic notions there are about these people.

    But I don’t think asserting evangelicals are mostly bigots is a very sound strategy, especially from those who actually are harshly critical of evangelicals..

    Dustin (401f3a)

  41. I think it’s pretty damn likely Romney has this won.

    Meaning the primary. Cheerleader for Romney I am not, but it’s the truth.

    Dustin (401f3a)

  42. there’s a huge and discernible difference between the way the personal and/or private religious views of Santorum and Romney find expression

    Santorum is just so garish and tacky. Romney is circumspect and dignified.

    It’s a striking contrast.

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  43. Newt’s in it to win.

    He says Alabama and Mississippi aren’t “must wins” for him:

    Colonel Haiku (e787c8)

  44. It’s a striking contrast.

    Comment by happyfeet

    I admire that Santorum is very upfront about what he believes. It’s a rare thing.

    I don’t blame Romney for keeping it private. It’s sad, but he probably is reacting to the Huckabee type crap. Which I might add Santorum has never attempted. If he did, I wouldn’t support him.

    There is prejudice out there, but I don’t think it’s why most folks who don’t support Romney came to their decision. In fact, I suspect their vote wouldn’t change if everyone swapped religions. If I’m wrong, that’s a huge shame.

    Dustin (401f3a)

  45. A note about delegate counts:

    No one has “the” delegate count. Actual delegate selection in many cases goes on for a long time after a primary or caucus. All of the numbers you’re seeing are estimates.

    Karl (6f7ecd)

  46. The “Mormon” thing might be more tricky for the Dems to demonize. Any attempt by them to try and make it a “cult” should backfire on them for several reasons. First, conservatives and people that want Obama GONE will find it easy to vote for the “Mormon”. Secondly it opens Obama up for scrutiny of Black Theology and the Reverend Wright on a daily basis. Third, fair minded people still undecided might feel that Romney is being persecuted for his religious beliefs, especially such a peaceful religion, and flock to his side in the final analysis.

    Dave B (982f20)

  47. 2012 – Rasmussen National Poll:

    Romney 48%, Obama 43%
    Santorum 46%, Obama 45%

    Colonel Haiku (a61ccf)

  48. You didn’t read the Times a month ago, did you Dave,

    narciso (87e966)

  49. Will it play in Haun’s Mill, Missouri, Dave B?

    Colonel Haiku (a61ccf)

  50. 46. I saw in the Brainerd paper this AM that 24 or the 117 RNC delegates have endorsed Romney, Honey Badger has a few.

    Most are playing coy. Kinda think its not because they’re closet bigots even by our half-wit’s standards.

    gary gulrud (d88477)

  51. 41. In terms of bound delegates McBain’s count stood at 389 before today, which I take doesn’t count the Pacific.

    I see he’s up by 16 in Hawaii with 24% support. Seems the Pacific isn’t engaged.

    gary gulrud (d88477)

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