Love him or hate him, Erick Erickson has captured the Republican zeitgeist of the season.
As you wake up this morning, the tea party has failed because it has surrendered itself into the hands of Romney, Santorum, or Gingrich — all of whom would use government to suit allegedly conservative ends, which is not conservative in and of itself. But by God Mitt Romney may now get the political beating everyone has been expecting him to get. Newt Gingrich has nothing left to lose. He can go Newtlear against the guy he sees as having destroyed him. Newt Gingrich can unleash unmitigated hell against MItt Romney and just like the attacks on Newt were true, they’ll all be true about MItt Romney too.
His analysis that Rick Perry’s policy people were good, while Santorum’s retail politics didn’t prove squat, reveals how mediocre a political analyst he is, but he’s still got the beat of the right’s pulse. His point about “Newtlear,” which I call Newtmageddon, however, is important, because it’s not just about Gingrich versus Mitt. Faith leaders are on the warpath, too, joining the Rush Limbaugh crowd, trying to prevent another McCain type nomination; that he will endorse Romney today is the kiss of death to conservatives.
Jonathan Martin has an interesting report that’s representative of the battle gone wild on the right:
A group of movement conservatives has called an emergency meeting in Texas next weekend to find a “consensus” Republican presidential hopeful, POLITICO has learned.
“You and your spouse are cordially invited to a private meeting with national conservative leaders of faith at the ranch of Paul and Nancy Pressler near Brenham, Texas, with the purpose of attempting to unite and to come to a consensus on which Republican presidential candidate or candidates to support, or which not to support,” read an invitation that is making its way into in-boxes Wednesday morning.
Call it the Huckabee hangover.
After having their dream candidate in 2008, conservative faith leaders in 2012 are faced with several candidates representing their interests. Question is how to attempt to winnow a field of social conservative candidates and push politicians out who just won’t quit.
Even Rick Perry, who basically delivered a concession speech last night, is now headed back to New Hampshire now that Bachmann has bowed out. But Perry performing so poorly in Iowa, even after going full tilt on his religiosity, proves not even some Republicans get evangelical voters. From the Wall Street Journal in early December:
Mr. Perry is making an aggressive pitch to unify the evangelical bloc, pouring his sizable financial war chest into TV ads that declare he is “not ashamed” to be a Christian, that criticize gays serving openly in the military, and that vow to end President Obama’s “war on religion.”
[...] Yet the flaw in this strategy is assuming that cultural conservatives have somehow missed the past three years of economic turmoil and Obama overreach, and intend to vote a religious line. What it misses is that social conservatives have seen a lot since 2008, and that this time they see the stakes as too high to take another Mike Huckabee flyer. They aren’t likely to be unified this time around.
By most estimates, evangelicals make up between 50% and 60% of the conservative primary electorate. Yet a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll found that some 70% of likely caucus-goers list the economy as their top issue; 14% listed social issues. Or how about this: A recent Public Policy Polling survey found more voters (42%) had “major concerns” with a candidate who supported an individual health mandate than they did (34%) a candidate who had cheated on a spouse.
The knee jerk analysis on evangelical voters revolves around Mr. Romney’s Mormonism, which matters to some, but it’s hardly that simple. Nothing is today, with the Democratic and Republican parties hemorrhaging members and politics on the grass roots level fracturing all monoliths.
Ralph Reed, yes the former mastermind that was taken down by his Abramoff and Tom Delay connections, is back and CNN’s rehabilitating him. From Reed today:
Here’s how the evangelical vote broke down: 32% for Santorum, 18% for Ron Paul, 13% each for Romney, Gingrich and Rick Perry, 6% for Michele Bachmann and 1% for Jon Huntsman.
…So when commentators prognosticate about the “evangelical vote,” we might want to ask them, “which one?” For there are there are many evangelical votes, many candidates who win their support, and a multitude of motivations for their engagement…
Many social conservatives likely don’t believe a true conservative would ever be elected governor of Massachusetts.
It’s a good point and also why, regardless of the lack of enthusiasm for Mitt Romney among the right, he remains the candidate Obama reelect is targeting.