Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Conventional Circus

A couple of weeks ago, when Little Ricky began making a move up the polls, the conventional punditized opinion was that if Richie Richney even won Michigan by just a few points, it would be a huge deal, as good as a defeat.

But when Richney started climbing back up, it seemed a victory, no matter by how small a margin, would be a victory.

Richney definitely had the momentum until he subverted himself with his fiasco of a Ford Stadium speech and his attempt to curry favor with NASCAR blue collar fans by noting that he knew some NASCAR owners.

But Ricky Sanctimonious, poised to take advantage of these missteps,  has done himself no favors by becoming even more irrational and fanatical.  These guys are their own worst enemies.  The result is that Michigan is likely to be close and in the long run it will be about who loses it better, and therefore loses it.

At the moment, despite the latest polls showing a trend towards Little Ricky, Richie Richney (who probably has already won Arizona in early voting) is likely to win Michigan, if only because he has some organization in place to get out his vote, which helps especially with early voting.  But he managed to blunt his own momentum by turning people off again in the past few days by reminding them why they can't stand him. But unless there's a substantial if mischievous Dem crossover, it may not be enough to hand Sanctimonious the victory speech. 

What will interest me most about this Michigan primary if Richney doesn't win is the sense of confidence that the Richney campaign has that it will win.  I take this as confidence in their "ground game" and the money they can spread around.  After all, they won this state in 2008, easily. If their judgment is that faulty, then there is something wrong with the campaign organization as well as the candidate.  Which suggests that money can't buy everything.

 Lately Sanctimonious has been talking not like a candidate but like a Herman Cain--somebody trying to enhance his standing with a specific public that will buy his books and stuff, and pay him big bucks to speak, when this is all over.  The other reading of this is that he's been really talking to the larger evangelical base that will be voting in the South next week, on Super Tuesday.

  So after the carnival of ineptness of the past two weeks we're almost back to where conventional punditized opinion was when their mouths turned to Michigan: a Sanctimonious victory, however slight, will shake the entire process to its foundations.  A Richney victory--unless it's a really big one-- will be a bit of a reprieve for him and for the GOP and the process, but it won't be definitive.  He'll have to survive Super Tuesday more or less intact to get to more favorable primary states later in the spring.

Then there's Casino Newt, who got another infusion of big bucks from his Casino Man for Super Tuesday.  As Rachel pointed out, this one billionaire who likes Newt and also Richney but hates Santimonious, is keeping Newt in the race to siphon off Little Ricky's votes in the South, thus buying the GOPer presidential candidacy for Richney.  One billionaire strategically placed is all you need in 2012.  Heck, one multi-millionaire in the primaries.

All this is showing up in polls as strengthening President Obama.  The question is whether voters make up their mind now and ignore the campaign later, or whether this is a fairly fleeting impression.  That's something we won't know unfortunately until after the general election votes are counted in November.  But experience suggests that it's unfortunately wrong to underestimate the potential for irrationality in the American voting public.

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