Update on me: Eye on 08 shutting down

Sorry for stopping posting.

I have joined John McCain’s campaign in the Political Department. Since I have joined the campaign, I have not blogged, except for noting a couple of stories in my twitter and del.icio.us feeds. I will also blog at Redstate after we win the nomination and it is clear what my role in the campaign will be.

My email and other methods of contacting me are all on this page. I hope my readers stay in touch.

McCain town hall in Reagan Democrat country

(Cross-post from Redstate)

Macomb County, Michigan, is one of the homes of the Reagan Democrat. Today, I saw John McCain give a town hall in the closing stretch of the Michigan primary. I don’t have pictures because my video camera was stolen, but I have impressions.

Michigan is in an a single-state recession. Unemployment is above 7%. Many of the current jobs are in manufacturing which, the Detroit News, the conservative paper in the state, has noted won’t come back. How to handle this is the fundamental debate. Mitt Romney is saying that he, personally, can turn the state around and that the future of Michigan is bright. McCain has argued that more realism and effort is needed, and has focused on retraining programs. My gut is that McCain wins this fight by recognizing the challenges. In New Hampshire exit polls McCain received substantially more support from people with economic anxiety, and Romney won only one economic subgroup, those making between $150k and $200k.

McCain’s answer is a retraining program. In March, I was in New Hampshire (before my camera was stolen), and asked him a similar question. This was his answer:

This is the backdrop of the town hall and the current debate in Michigan. Between 600-700 people attended (contrast with around 150 at Romney’s the previous day. In the Romney campaign’s defense, they have had some scheduling snafus that have forced them to cancel a number of events) The questions were primarily about national security, veterans, Iraq, etc., and economic issues like pharmaceuticals and healthcare, and the subprime crisis.

McCain was asked about the subprime crisis, and he passed the microphone to Carli Fiorina, the CEO of HP (formerly Hewlett Packard). She said that she had never campaigned before and was supporting McCain because he is "a unique and inspiring leader." She turned to answering the question and focused on the need for transparency and accountability. She said that there were many things "off balance sheet" so that risks couldn’t be properly accounted for. She then invoked Enron and said "if you can’t see it, you can’t understand it." One person in the audience liked the answer enough to say "Thank you Madame Vice President."

Off to an event at the Americans for Prosperity Forum.

Fred for real or a stalking horse?

Jen Rubin captures the most important dynamic leading into South Carolina:

Thompson gave himself an opening in South Carolina and gave conservatives a place to jump from the Romney leaking ship. He may have scuffed up Huckabee sufficiently to allow either himself or McCain to win SC. If the latter he ironically would have done his old friend the greatest of favors. (Perhaps one he might remember when it comes to filling VP slots should he get that far.)

Fred Thompson could be in a place to split the South Carolina conservative vote, especially with this nasty anti-Mike Huckabee ad running.

A John McCain win in Michigan, followed by Thompson knee-capping Huckabee in South Carolina could lead to a pretty positive place for McCain.

McCain campaign claiming momentum and seeking more endorsements

The John McCain campaign is trying to score some endorsements out of the ranks of other campaigns. They are  looking for a press boost and more momentum to add to what they already have. Note that with Rudy Giuliani’s complete pull-out of MIchigan those activists, voters, and endorsers may help with that boost.

Dear McCain Supporter,

Over the past 48 hours since John McCain’s comeback win in the New Hampshire primary, the McCain campaign has received many endorsements of people who were previously neutral, or in some cases had endorsed other campaigns. This list includes a former Governor, a high-ranking statewide official, State Representatives, County Chairs, and many more.  Senator McCain clearly has the momentum in this campaign and people want to be a part of it.  They know that he is the only candidate prepared to be Commander-in-Chief.

We will be releasing a new list of people in the next few days who have endorsed Senator McCain since his New Hampshire victory over Governor Mitt Romney.  If you would like to endorse, or have any family or friends whom you believe would like to join Sen. McCain’s campaign, please let me know at jyob@mccain08hq.com.  As we mentioned in a previous email, we request that any person who intends to run as a McCain delegate to the Republican National Convention emails us an official endorsement prior to the Primary.

Finally, here is a link to a list of people thought to support Mitt Romney in Michigan:  http://www.johnmccain.com/downloads/romneymisupporters.xls.

Based on what has happened the last few days, we have every reason to believe that many of these folks are ready to join Senator McCain’s campaign.  Several already have endorsed.  Please contact anyone you know on this list and encourage them to join the team and let them know their support would be appreciated.  We accept all late comers and would be grateful for the support of anyone who would like to climb aboard the Straight Talk Express as Senator McCain travels Michigan over the weekend!

Thank you for your help and strong support.

Sincerely,

John Patrick Yob

Deputy Political Director

John McCain 2008

PS:  Here is a link to the most recent Michigan poll – taken prior to the New Hampshire primary.  http://www.strategicvision.biz/political/michigan_poll_011008.htm

PSS: Here is link to the McCain Michigan Momentum video from the post-New Hampshire stops in Michigan.  Some of you are in the video! http://www.johnmccain.com/video/mi.htm

What high turnout means: Organization doesn’t matter much

New Hampshire had the potential to be another passion versus organization fight. John McCain has had amazing events overflowing with people. Mitt Romney not so much, with some evidence of Massachusetts astroturf.

The polls seemed to settle on a 3-5 margin for McCain. Normally, I would have added another point or two to Romney’s numbers because Romney’s campaign is almost certainly doing better GOTV. But not today. Not with this turnout. Listening to one of the cable stations, one analyst said that the leading campaigns don’t really think that they need to do their own turnout. It is happening for them.

Returning to the numbers, Secretary of State Bill Gardner predicted 500k votes, substantially more than the 2006 general election numbers. The 2006 general election numbers, at least nationwide, suggested that hard GOP voters, which polls suggest Romney and McCain are splitting with, in some polls, a slight advantage to Romney. I remember the RNC’s spin that if they turnout 80% of the 2004 base in 2006, they would win the election. They achieved their goals, but the Dems did so much better. Left-leaning independents and Democrats turned out at record numbers.

I am trying to figure out where the rest of the turnout is coming from. One option is right-leaning independents, which would be a good sign for McCain. Are hard Republicans really expanding the universe? Are there really Democrats and lefty-independents who want to vote now who didn’t want to vote in 2006? I have trouble seeing how this isn’t good for McCain. The passion seen in his events may be replicated at the polls today. Check out this coverage from the Boston Globe:

"It has been steady heavy all day," said Herb Pence, a church volunteer who has worked on election day at least a dozen times. "It wasn’t intense like this before — on both sides, Republican and Democrat." …

The turnout in Manchester’s First Ward appeared to be especially high for those who have not participated before: while there was a significant line for "registered voters" in the church basement, the line for "new voters" was far longer, snaking around the stairs.

The only other theory than a boom for McCain is a boom for Ron Paul or Mike Huckabee. Many state party officials except Paul and Huckabee to place above Giuliani tonight.

WSJ’s knife in the heart of Romney’s base

Mitt Romney’s voters are upper-middle class. The kinds of people who read the Wall Street Journal. Today the Journal attempted an assist. On the top of the page was a piece entitled "McCain’s promise" with the pull-quote:

It is cruel to compare the senator to most of his Republican competitors.

The next story on the page was "The New New Mitt" with the pull-quote:

New Hampshire voters know Romney’s record better than most. That could spell trouble.

That’s a clear message from the news source of the management and business class that Mitt Romney is not their guy, and John McCain is.

That’s gotta hurt.

McCain’s Peterborogh Townhall: “The Mac is Back”

(Crossposted from Redstate)

From 2008-01, NH

I just got to a computer after John McCain’s most recent townhall in Peterborough in western New Hampshire. Peterborough was the location of McCain’s famous 2000 town hall meeting that become a cover-story in Time Magazine.

This year, it was McCain’s 100th town hall in New Hampshire. Apparently 750 showed up to standing-room only. 150 more were turned away by the fire marshall. Ramesh was there. So was Phil.

Read on.

So was CBN’s David Brody, who should have some great video. But here’s what he blogged:

I’m on the ground here at a John McCain town hall meeting in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Folks, he may be 71 years old but here in New Hampshire, he has the energy of a 21 year old. I have covered John McCain throughout 2007 and I must say, he’s never been so on fire and red hot as now. The crowd here is overflowing out the door. The McCain bus had a hard time getting up the street because of all the people flowing in. …

John McCain has always been at his best when he’s unplugged. Well, let me just confirm that he is not only unplugged, he is on fire. Romney needs to watch out. Huckabee needs to watch out. John McCain just may take this enthusiasm in New Hampshire and become the ultimate “Comeback Kid”.

There were questions (Iraq, global warming, health care, AIDS in Africa, etc.) But the real story was the energy. A lot of it.

It appears that something may be happening. The Concord Monitor has a new poll out with McCain up 6. If this energy continues the Mac may well be back.

With that, I go to NRO’s event and then the debate. Details will follow.

Brooks on the future of the GOP, Huckabee, and McCain

Yesterday, we saw Mitt Romney, the candidate of the establishment, the lobbyist class, the interest group class, etc., get rejected by the people of Iowa.  David Brooks understands the broader implications, which I have also talked about:

On the Republican side, my message is: Be not afraid. Some people are going to tell you that Mike Huckabee’s victory last night in Iowa represents a triumph for the creationist crusaders. Wrong. Huckabee won because he tapped into realities that other Republicans have been slow to recognize.

Meaning:

In that sense, Huckabee’s victory is not a step into the past. It opens up the way for a new coalition.

A conservatism that recognizes stable families as the foundation of economic growth is not hard to imagine. A conservatism that loves capitalism but distrusts capitalists is not hard to imagine either. Adam Smith felt this way. A conservatism that pays attention to people making less than $50,000 a year is the only conservatism worth defending.

What does the establishment do now?

So the race will move on to New Hampshire. Mitt Romney is now grievously wounded. Romney represents what’s left of Republicanism 1.0. Huckabee and McCain represent half-formed iterations of Republicanism 2.0. My guess is Republicans will now swing behind McCain in order to stop Mike.

McCain has touted his newspaper endorsements. Romney’s campaign have attributed this to liberal media bias. But when I see conservative papers like the Boston Herald, Union Leader, and Detroit News go one way, I wonder if the establishment is getting ready to go with a new horse. The Victor Davis Hanson piece made me think this again.

A view on Iowa from New Hampshire

Cross-post from Redstate. I am posting there primarily, but I will try to cross-post here more.

Mike Huckabee’s stunning victory in Iowa will have a number of consequences in New Hampshire, where I am now. Last night John McCain flew from Iowa to New Hampshire for his caucus-watching party. At the same time, Rudy Giuliani left New Hampshire before the caucuses even began. It is not clear to me that he is coming back to New Hampshire.

Until a poll shows otherwise, this is still a John McCain versus Mitt Romney fight at the top, just like Iowa was a Romney versus Huckabee fight. Iowa’s results seem to help McCain and hurt Romney in NH. At the same time, it endangers Rudy.

Mitt Romney took a hit. Look at the opening paragraph of the AP story:

Republican Mitt Romney failed Thursday to pick up the first of two back-to-back wins he hoped would propel him toward his party’s presidential nomination, losing the Iowa caucuses five days before what is now for him a pivotal New Hampshire primary.

(That’s actually significantly toned down from the first story that hit the wire) The Romney campaign, already down, can expect much more negative coverage from the media, which already dislikes him. It is certainly possible that there will be falling turnout at his events and fewer volunteers. Already down 6-9 points to McCain, this just makes his life harder.

McCain is trying to turn this environment tactically against Romney. Excerpts from his statement:

Negative campaigns don’t work in IA and they don’t work here in NH. … 100th townhall tomorrow in NH. … We put the old lightening back in the bottle. … We will continue our positive campaigning…. Very confident of victory.

McCain is trying to remind the people of New Hampshire of his special relationship with them. The press is not reporting McCain’s placement, and in 2000 he placed even lower. Local reporters and pundits expect no negative impact of McCain’s showing.

The conclusion for the top-line race is this: McCain keeps his momentum, while Romney, his most likely challenger, will likely take a significant hit. Advantage McCain.

For the rest of the candidates, read on.

Huckabee faces a uniquely awkward environment, even if he has 9.5% in the RCP average. In Iowa, he posted 14% of non-evangelical vote, versus 50%-ish of the evangelical vote. But there are very, very few evangelicals in New Hampshire. His message here is about his record on taxes. It will be interesting to see where this climbs to and who it comes from. Any Huckabee succcess will be interpreted as proof that he can perform outside of evangelical voters.

Rudy Giuliani. Rudy has a problem here. He is gone, and people will notice. He got 1/3rd of the vote of Ron Paul in Iowa. If he repeats that, the fundamental logic of his candidacy disappears. (Incidentally, recent polling suggests that he has a similar problem in Michigan)

Fred Thompson. Fred’s game is not in New Hampshire. It is South Carolina. He has virtually no organization, and has only been here … twice? He might do a drive-by, but no one expects him to succeed here, and he is currently at the bottom of the big-5 here. It does not look like Fred’s 3d place Iowa showing is really being reported, so he is unlikely to get a real bounce here.

Ron Paul. He could do well here. There is a natural crusty libertarian base here that he appeals to. And there is plenty of evidence of a good grassroots organization. But his message appears limited here.

Today I am off to Romney, Huckabee, and McCain events to see what is going on here. If you have ideas for questions or observations, email me at soren.dayton-at-gmail.com.