John Avlon: “Republicans are in a bruising primary struggle with no candidate close to the 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination, and leaving aside the advent of super PACS, they did it to themselves by adopting a proportional-delegate rule in 2010.”
Yes, we’ve heard this many times before, but the Republican presidential nomination could come down to a single night’s primary results.
Mike Allen: “If Newt Gingrich loses the primaries in both Mississippi and Alabama, after being tied for first in each, he could be effectively out of the race. If Gingrich wins both, he has a fresh rationale for going forward and denies Rick Santorum the chance for a one-on-one — ensuring that no non-Romney can accrue anywhere the delegates needed to deny Mitt Romney the nomination. If Santorum wins both, he has an argument to go on, despite little shot at the crown. If Romney wins both, he can say he has won in the deepest South, Michigan, Ohio and Florida – case closed.”
First Read: “By the way, there’s a reason why the Romney folks have concentrated more
on Alabama than Mississippi: Because third place in an Alabama
congressional district doesn’t net you a delegate, second place there
matters a lot.”
Polls close in both states at 8 pm ET.
A new WWL-TV poll in Louisiana finds Rick Santorum with a small lead in the GOP presidential race at 25%, followed by Mitt Romney at 21%, Newt Gingrich at 20% and Ron Paul at 6%.
The Louisiana primary is on March 24.
Sasha Issenberg: “Once-meaningful distinctions between early voting, voting-by-mail, and absentee ballots are being erased as 32 states now offer voters the chance to cast their ballot before Election Day without a justifying excuse… Romney’s canny and competent handling of these varied early-voting processes this year has helped him accumulate a seemingly insurmountable lead in delegates. He is running the only modern, professional campaign against a field of amateurs gasping to keep up, and nowhere is that advantage more evident than in his mastery of early voting. Capitalizing on early-voting procedures demands formidable investment up front in the service of later savings.”
“Romney has likely already reaped enough gains from mastering the system in earlier states to ensure he is the only Republican who could enter the Tampa convention in August with enough delegates to become the nominee.”
Former Vice President Dick Cheney has cancelled an April appearance in Toronto citing concerns Canada is too dangerous, the National Post reports.
Said the even organizer: “He felt that in Canada the risk of violent protest was simply too high.”
The distributor of Rush Limbaugh’s radio show has told its radio station affiliates that they are suspending national advertising for two weeks, Radio Info reports. And Think Progress notes more than 140 advertisers have now pulled their ads from Limbaugh’s show.
But David Frum points out that Limbaugh will face “a more-serious challenge” on April 2: “That’s when the new Mike Huckabee show launches on 100 stations in Limbaugh’s very own noon-to-3 time slot. Huckabee’s competition threatens Limbaugh not only because Huckabee has already proven himself an attractive and popular TV broadcaster, but also because Huckabee is arriving on the scene at a time when Limbaugh’s business model is crashing around him.”
Mitt Romney told Fox News that he would not pick Rick Santorum as his running mate because he’s not conservative enough.
Said Romney: “Well, that would preclude, of course, Rick Santorum. Because, I mean, look at his record. I find it interesting that he continues to describe himself as the real conservative. This is the guy who voted against right-to-work. This is the guy who voted to fund Planned Parenthood. This is the person who voted to raise the debt ceiling five times? … Rick Santorum is not a person who is an economic conservative to my right.”
Just published: The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt.
Boston Globe: “In recent years, Haidt has emerged as one of the country’s best-known psychology researchers, using a combination of psychology and anthropology to understand how we arrive at our moral attitudes. One of his key insights is that we are much less rational than we think we are. We tend to make moral judgments intuitively and immediately… When Haidt looks at American politics, he doesn’t see a free-flowing, open-minded exchange of ideas. Instead, he sees a conflict between two profoundly different moral mind-sets — a conservative mind-set and a liberal one — that dictate where people stand on issues, and are unlikely to change.”
“The problems also seem apparent in the other states that make up the Deep South — Georgia, Louisiana and South Carolina. Polls in those three states have missed by an average of 4.2 percentage points — or 4.4 percentage points if you also include Alabama and Mississippi in the total.”
The latest CBS News/New York Times poll shows President Obama’s approval rating has hit the lowest level ever and “may be partially attributable to rising gas prices.”
Key finding: Just 41% of Americans approve of the job Obama is doing as president, while 47% disapprove of his performance.
This follows a new Washington Post/ABC News poll that found President Obama’s approval rating dropping to 46%.
Mitt Romney told Fox News that dragging the Republican presidential nominating process through the summer would be a big problem.
Said Romney: “Look, if we go all the way to a convention, we would be signaling our doom in terms of replacing President Obama… We sure as heck are not going to go to a convention, all the way to the end of August, to select a nominee and have campaign working during a convention. Why, can you imagine anything that would be a bigger gift to Barack Obama than us not having a nominee until the end of August? That is just not going to happen.”
“It’s always a burden to run with ‘R’ for Republican after you name.”
— Mitt Romney, in an WBZ4 interview when he was running for Massachusetts governor in 2002.
The most interesting detail from a new survey by Public Policy Polling is that a majority of Republicans in Alabama and Mississippi — states with primary elections on Tuesday — believe President Obama is a Muslim.
Key findings: In Alabama, 45% of Republican voters in Alabama think Obama is a Muslim, while 41% are not sure. In Mississippi, 52% of Republicans think Obama is Muslim, while 36% are unsure.
“If I’m a weak frontrunner, what does that make Newt Gingrich? Because I’m well ahead of him.”
— Mitt Romney, quoted by Politico, responding to Newt Gingrich’s characterization of his campaign.
The New York Times learns of a lunch between New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and President Obama at the White House a few weeks ago:
“Over a long private lunch at the White House, President Obama posed a question to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg: what are you interested in doing next? Mr. Bloomberg’s precise response is unknown. But their meeting a few weeks ago, confirmed by aides to both leaders and previously undisclosed, was potentially significant for both men, as Mr. Obama seeks support for his presidential campaign and Mr. Bloomberg ponders his post-mayoral career.”
“Mr. Obama, facing a bruising re-election fight, is eager to attract the kind of centrist, independent voters drawn to Mr. Bloomberg’s brand of politics. Mr. Bloomberg, confronting the end of his career in elected office, is grappling with how to exert the kind of influence over public discourse that he has had as mayor of the nation’s largest city.”
Ezra Klein notes there’s a lot of evidence that presidential persuasion isn’t effective when applied to the public. In fact, it’s often counterproductive during times of divided government when a stirring presidential speech on a particular bill can make it harder, rather than easier, for the opposition party to support it.
The implications are fairly radical: The power of the presidential bully pulpit is wildly overrated in the Beltway, and overrated in a way that actually makes it harder for voters to hold legislators accountable and for politicians to get anything done.
Though he’s surprised many with his strong showing in recent polls, NBC News notes Newt Gingrich “has spent a combined 10 days in both states — six in Alabama and four in Mississippi.”
“By comparison, Rick Santorum has spent three days in each of those states, while Mitt Romney has spent two days in each. Ron Paul has not visited either state. And no candidate has campaigned in Hawaii, which also holds its contest on Tuesday.”