Tag Archives: evangelicals

Romney Goes on the Offensive in Ohio

Although the economy has been and will continue to be THE issue in this campaign, Mitt Romney is making certain every wing of the Republican party knows he is there for them as he bounces around the Battlegrounds.  The Washington Post catches up with him in Ohio:

A feisty Mitt Romney returned to the campaign trail here Monday with sharp new attacks against President Obama over cuts to the defense budget and the stubborn unemployment rate in a deliberate effort to win over moderate voters.

With Obama opening a lead over Romney in the final two months of the long — and long-deadlocked — presidential race, Romney is trying at once to appeal to the nation’s moderate middle and to stir the passions of his more strident conservative base. On Friday, Romney campaigned alongside one of Washington’s most conservative firebrands, Rep. Steve King, in King’s staunchly evangelical Iowa district. The next day, Romney addressed a Virginia Beach rally just moments after Pat Robertson, the venerable and sometimes inflammatory televangelist, took a turn onstage. The Obama campaign said Romney was “pandering to the most extreme voices in his party.”

Yet there Romney was Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” praising Democratic former president Bill Clinton and sounding a softer, more conciliatory tone on the issue of health care. Although he said he would work to repeal “Obamacare,” Romney said there were aspects of Obama’s health-care overhaul that he would keep, such as ensuring that people with preexisting conditions have access to health insurance coverage.

And here in Ohio on Monday, Romney seized on the looming cuts to the nation’s defense budget — which he said would cost hundreds of thousands of jobs and endanger national security — and on poor economic indicators, such as the unemployment rate and the rising number of Americans on food stamps, to sow doubts about Obama among undecided voters. Romney said Obama, who spoke extensively in his convention speech about what he has done to help middle-class families struggling through the economic recession, did not talk specifically about the unemployment rate, which stands at 8.1 percent, or the 47 million Americans now on food stamps.

Later, addressing an overflow crowd in Mansfield, Romney asked supporters, “You remember at his convention four years ago that [Obama] was going to slow the rise of the oceans and he was going to also heal the planet? Well, I’m here to heal the American people, to help the American people, to help them to get good jobs. . . . I want to help more people to fulfill their dreams and build great enterprises and put people to work. And I want to heal our economy.” Campaign advisers said Romney talked about defense cuts and economic data specifically to appeal to amenable voters.

The Battle for Iowa: Battleground Counties — Today’s Must Read

Normally in any given state we like to focus on a handful of the key populous counties that will swing this year’s election.  The Des Moines Register lays out all 12 counties in Iowa that are Battlegrounds this year including this super-cool interactive map with voting results of every county in Iowa:

 The Des Moines Register examined a dozen swing counties that have seesawed from Republican to Democratic, home to ticket-splitting voters that both presidential campaigns desperately want to win over this fall. Polling data for Iowa is scarce, but a rolling average shows a stubborn tie between President Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney. Such a tight race means a cache of votes here or there will save or kill a campaign. Both sides see opportunity in Iowa’s rural counties this cycle — Democrats in independent female voters and Republicans in white men without college degrees. The unemployment rate in Iowa’s 12 hottest swing counties ranges from 3.7 percent (Carroll) to 7.5 percent (Hamilton). Across the board, county leaders agree, the shaky state of the national economy is Obama’s biggest vulnerability.

And as Iowa looks at a stunted crop this fall, if not crop failure, voters will be focused on the drought’s impact on their local economies, and the government’s response.
This cycle, the GOP feels confident Mitt Romney will win many 2008 Obama counties — such as those he won by 1 point or less, including Warren, Hamilton, Iowa, Hardin and Franklin. Democratic strategists see gold in Muscatine, Wapello, Clinton and Des Moines counties — all fervently Democratic. The Democrats have opened offices there this cycle, as well as in all the bigger urban counties, where Obama will need to pile up huge surpluses to offset less favorable counties. Not every county in purple Iowa is competitive. Some could be called right now: Johnson, Des Moines and Lee will be safely in Obama’s column on Nov. 6, and Sioux, Lyon and Osceola will be safely in Romney’s. But some, like the dozen key “swingers” featured here, shift from D to R depending on the candidate, pet issues, hot local races and attention from the campaigns.

Although each county listed is hotly contested, not everyone would be considered a Battleground county under the auspices by which I refer to them.  Battleground counties, for our purposes, are both hotly contested counties and are heavily populated enough to swing the electoral balance in the state. For example, Scott County alone had nearly the same aggregate vote total in 2008 (85,292 votes cast for both Obama and McCain) as the bottom 9 counties combined (84,904 votes cast). So Scott County is clearly a Battleground County for our purposes while Greene County (4,720 votes cast) would not be. But even though not every county fits my definition, in this closely contested election, each is clearly a 2012 battleground as Jennifer Jacobs tremendously demonstrates. Here is the county by county breakdown reordered by aggregate vote total:

Scott — 85,292 total votes for Obama/McCain in 2008

  • Trend in last four presidential races: Dem by 9 points, Dem by 4 points, Dem by 3 points, Dem by 15 points.
  • Scott is a Democratic county and a big union county. But Branstad has never lost here, and Romney beat his GOP rivals here in the caucuses.
  • Iowa’s east coast counties — Scott, Muscatine, Clinton and Jackson among them — figured prominently in the Bush-Gore contest. Scott is an expensive battleground, where campaigns are forced by the border-state TV market to spend money advertising to already-decided Illinois.
  • Obama is amassing a battalion here, made up of neighborhood team leaders and support volunteers, who are called “core team members.”
  • Scott is more competitive than Democratic strategists might like to admit. The county government has a GOP lean. Four of the five countywide supervisors are Republicans, and so are two of the three state senators.
  • Scott is also GOP congressional challenger John Archer’s best bet for a strong showing. And Romney’s state chairman lives in Scott, where he’s leading a strong organization.

Woodbury — 44, 202 total votes for Obama/McCain in 2008

  • Trend in last four presidential races: Dem by 2 points, GOP by 3 points, GOP by 2 points, GOP by 1 point.
  • This is an urban river county where three states come together, and voters worry about competing with neighbors for jobs. Both Nebraska and South Dakota have lower income taxes, but Iowa has a more favorable sales tax.
  • It’s in the heart of Iowa’s red west, but unlike Pottawattamie to the south, it’s an outpost of urban Democrats.
  • Democrats recently opened a campaign headquarters here — in a Hispanic neighborhood in Sioux City. Woodbury Republicans opened theirs with Sam Clovis, a popular conservative radio host, officiating.
  • If congressional challenger Christie Vilsack can make a run of it here, her influence will energize the Democrats, politics watchers said.
  • Independent voters — a third of the electorate — will be the deciders this year, said Linda Holub, co-chair of the Woodbury GOP. Health care and federal debt top the issues list.

Continue reading

Iowa and Economics

TheStreet.com takes a look at the economic situation on the ground in Iowa and its impact on the Presidential election:

It’s a state that found resilience and growth during the Great Recession, and now enjoys an unemployment rate well below the national average along with a surging agricultural and manufacturing sector.  So why does President Barack Obama, who won the state by almost 10 percentage points in 2008, barely lead Mitt Romney in most major polls there? “The economy nationally still isn’t where it needs to get, so I think that’s a little bit different than when you’re running as a first-time candidate with a fresh approach,” says Tom Henderson, Polk County, Iowa Democratic Party chairman. “You can be doing well as a state but you also want the nation to be doing well, because that gives you a feeling of security that it’s not going to come visit you.”

National versus local economy

The latest U.S. economic data is mixed at best. Gross domestic product grew in the most recent quarter at a sluggish 1.9%; the June jobs report revealed that the country is adding jobs, but slowly, and activity in the manufacturing sector dipped last month into slight contraction for the first time since July 2009. But if you simply narrowed in on Iowa’s economy since 2008, you would have weathered Lehman Brothers, bailouts, the European debt crisis pretty nicely. The jobless rate in Iowa is 5.1%, good enough for 7th in the country; unemployment claims are down 16.8% year over year; personal income was up 6.4% in 2011 from 2010; home sales are up 14.4% (based on general Midwest sales) and farmland values are up 27% against a year ago.

Agriculture drives Iowa

Corn production reached 2.42 billion bushels in 2009, dipped to 2.15 billion bushels in 2010, and jumped to 2.36 billion by 2011. Iowa remains the no. 1 producer of U.S. corn as it beats Illinois production by 409.6 million bushels, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. If it seems odd to single out corn, consider the fact that Iowa creates about 30% of all ethanol in the United States — an industry that iowacorn.com says accounts for some $13 billion of Iowa’s GDP. The state is also the U.S. king of soybeans, producing 466.1 million bushels in 2011. The production of Iowa manufacturers has soared during the four years of Obama’s term thanks to a boom in exports.

Continue reading

Iowa Evangelicals on Board with Romney

As if her 1300+ words in USA Today wasn’t enough, Jennifer Jacobs filed another 1100+ words on the evangelical vote and Romney’s appeal to this most-important voter bloc in Iowa. Included in this great piece is a nugget where of 12 evangelicals who viewed Romney “very unfavorable” in February, 11 are now voting for him.  Such is the unpopularity of Obama:

Romney’s strength in the 2012 Iowa caucuses was with economic voters, especially those in the Des Moines suburbs. But the same evangelical conservatives who sidestepped Romney twice in the Iowa caucuses could be his best friends in the
general election.

Local surrogate importance of Rep. Steve King

As the general election approaches, Romney is running as strongly as conservative icon U.S. Rep. Steve King with voters in Iowa’s GOP-dominant western coast, according to internal polling obtained by The Des Moines Register. That’s a good sign for Romney — there’s no such thing as a King/Obama voter. If Iowa’s evangelicals put a GOP presidential candidate over the top, it wouldn’t be the first time. Everyone — including the Register’s Iowa Poll — thought Democrat John Kerry would win Iowa in 2004. But a larger than expected evangelical voter turnout in the western part of the state secured the Iowa trophy for George W. Bush.  The guy with the spatula who flipped Iowa for Bush that year? King, said Chuck Laudner, the congressman’s former district director.

Repeat of 2004 or maybe not

Romney isn’t repeating Karl Rove’s 2004 appeal-to-the-base strategy in Iowa, his campaign strategists say. The Rove-directed George W. Bush re-election campaign targeted mainly northwest Iowa and a ring of Des Moines suburbs. Romney’s campaign intends to hold those coalitions in place, while pursuing voters in purple counties in eastern Iowa, southeast Iowa and central Iowa. President Barack Obama’s perceived liberal agenda alone is a bloody shirt that revs up the right, so Romney can invest his dollars in reeling in independents and conservative Democrats, numbers that could put him over the top in what is expected to be a close race here. And his message will focus on the economy, an issue that plays to his background as a businessman and the emotions of listeners pummeled by the recession and its aftermath.

Continue reading

The Battle for Virginia

In today’s must read, the LA Times takes an in-depth look at one of the “ground zero” states in this year’s election: Virginia. If one candidate wins both Ohio and Virginia they almost certainly win the election.

A key fact in the piece about the state that cannot be overstated: “Northern Virginia is much wealthier than the rest of the state. It has much more of a connection to Washington, and so it’s unlike any other part of the country.” This is immeasurably important because when much of the country complains of stimulus spending and the incredible expansion of government, it is this geographic area that is THE beneficiary of the spending and expansion. Basically this is where all your money goes. They love Obama and can’t understand why the rest of the country isn’t doing as well as they are. This is the crux of the increasing difficulty for Republicans in the densely populated areas of Northern Virginia.

Nearly the entire article is fantastic so I encourage you to read the whole thing (as a wise man often says). Other than a brief foray into the “demography is destiny” reason for future Democrat dominance (that has been debunked many times) this article is chock full of most everything you want to know about possibly the key state in this election:

President Obama’s reelection depends heavily on young and minority voters. Candidate Obama capitalized on demographic shifts four years ago, mobilizing an army of newly registered voters and becoming the first Democratic presidential nominee to carry the Old Dominion since 1964. If Obama took Virginia again, he could afford to lose Ohio and Florida, larger swing states he also won last time. Romney, on the other hand, will find it very hard to get to 270 electoral votes if he can’t claim Virginia. “Virginia holds the keys to the kingdom,” said Rick Wiley, the Republican National Committee political director, who is working closely with the Romney campaign. Obama has a small lead in recent statewide polling, but Democrats and Republicans expect a close finish. Both sides say Virginia will ultimately be won or lost in the far suburbs of the state’s population centers, where women are a prized demographic — and the biggest worry for Republican strategists.

Serve and volley:

Romney made a campaign stop in northern Virginia last month for an event with female business owners. The Obama campaign responded when First Lady Michelle Obama gave a pep talk last week to campaign workers in Prince William County, an outer suburb that is a bellwether this year. The event revolved heavily around women’s issues and touched on a controversial Republican proposal in the Virginia Legislature that would have required women to obtain a transvaginal ultrasound before getting an abortion.

Control what you can control:

The unknown in 2012: the course of the economy. Virginia’s unemployment rate, at 5.6%, is the lowest of the 20 most-populous states. Yet parts of Virginia that had been booming and trending Democratic — including the Washington exurbs — are still hurting from the recession, which could reduce enthusiasm for Obama.

Continue reading

Romney Unleashes Diverse Surrogates in Battleground States

A candidate cannot be in all places at all times and it is important to have a stable of articulate supporters to amplify the campaign’s message to various audiences. Considering the narrow Battleground state focus and an even more narrow swath of persuadable voters in those states, it is increasingly important to inspire and employ surrogates who can bring a unique appeal to those targeted voters. Mitt Romney is wasting no time rolling out a line-up of heavy-hitters to carry his message:

Mitt Romney is mobilizing a fast-growing network of surrogates to help make his case with voters as his campaign begins to exert greater control over the GOP messaging operation. He is relying on a diverse cast of politicians, business leaders, athletes and celebrities to court key groups of voters, including social conservatives, Hispanics and suburban women.

National names include:

  • Sen. John Thune (S.D.)
  • Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty
  • Former ambassador John Bolton
  • Former New Hampshire governor John Sununu.

[A]ides are trying to build a more disciplined surrogate operation, distributing talking points to politicians and pundits whom they call upon to spread his message. Romney aides are now picking guests to appear on the Sunday political talk shows and holding Saturday conference calls to rehearse answers to likely questions, according to a campaign adviser. Other surrogates are booked for targeted television, radio and newspaper interviews to help build support among demographic groups with which Romney has struggled.

Women:
[T]he candidate’s wife, Ann, [looks] to be his most powerful surrogate and [aides] are developing a robust schedule of solo visits for her to help close the gender gap with Obama. they are considering having her campaign in nursing homes, schools and medical research facilities in suburban areas outside Philadelphia, Denver, Milwaukee and Charlotte, as well as in Northern Virginia and along Florida’s I-4 corridor. Other female surrogates are making similar pitches, including:

  • Sen. Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire)
  • South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley
  • Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.)

Continue reading