Now time for a quick summary of the action this afternoon. Then Richard Adams will be back for the blow-by-blow of tonight’s contests.
• A large number of voters in Mississippi and Alabama rate “electability” or the ability to beat President Obama as the issue most important to them, according to exit polls. That’s a good sign for Mitt Romney. Both states also are seeing high turnouts of evangelical and “very conservative” voters. That’s not such a good sign for Romney.
• Newt Gingrich faces a moment of truth. It will be extremely difficult for the former speaker to continue to speak of a winning strategy involving southern states if he cannot win southern states.
• Rick Santorum is hoping for at least one outright win, to combat Romney’s increasingly aggressive argument that Santorum ought to step aside. As of this writing the Intrade market has Santorum the 49-25 favorite to win in Alabama. Stay tuned.
It turns out that, popular perception notwithstanding, Mitt Romney has not been running for president or planning on running for president for what might as well be his whole life. At least by his telling.
Romney in Kansas City, MO, on running for president: “Somehow I backed into this.”
— Ashley Parker(@AshleyRParker) March 13, 2012
ABC News exit polls from Mississippi and Alabama seems to hold copious bad news for Mitt Romney – a high evangelical turnout, a high proportion saying it matters that a candidate shares their religion, and a high turnout of “very conservative” voters – until you get to this last datum:A first wave of
Nonetheless, Romney leads his opponents in perceptions of electability – the sense he’s best able to defeat Barack Obama in November – and that’s the most-desired candidate attribute among voters in both states. Romney pushes back against his ideological and religion-based deficits in another way as well: Voters in both states cite the economy as the top issue in their vote choice, an area in which Romney has done consistently well this cycle.
Santorum wants Gingrich out. Now Romney is on CNN saying Santorum’s finished. If only Gingrich would call on Romney to get out this all would wrap up nicely.
Mitt Romney on CNN: “Senator Santorum is at the desperate end of his campaign, trying to boost his prospects” w/untruthful attacks.
— Molly Ball (@mollyesque) March 13, 2012
Our first exit poll results now. The turnout of voters who identify as evangelical Christians appears to up in Mississippi and down slightly in Alabama compared with 2008, according to CNN:
CNN exit: 81% in Mississippi are evangelical. 73% in Alabama are evangelical.
— Christian Heinze (@GOP12) March 13, 2012
The comparable 2008 numbers are 69% in Mississippi and 77% in Alabama.
Inside the Hawaii Caucuses: We wish. Instead we’re covering the race from Manhattan. Here’s what you need to know: It’s the state’s first Republican primary caucus ever. They’re calling it a caucus, at least, but as far as voting process it appears to be more of a primary, with 41 polling stations and a secret ballot.
The money here is on Romney, who has won the backing of the state’s Republican dons. Hawaii will award its 17 delegates proportionally, and then in November it will vote for Barack Obama.
The Hawaii Reporter has video of Elizabeth Santorum in Hawaii making the pitch for her father. Candidate offspring Ronnie Paul and Matt Romney also are reportedly in Hawaii. Which, fine.
Good question Ethan! So readers which is it for you tonight – March Madness or election madness? Or would that be c) None of the above.?
Tonight, are you a) Watching the first four; or b) Watching southern primary election returns?
— Ethan Klapper (@ethanklapper) March 13, 2012
told radio host Glenn Beck this afternoon:And… Rick Santorum STILL thinks Newt Gingrich should get out of the race. Here’s what he
Congressman Gingrich has really shown no ability to get votes outside of the State of Georgia and, you know, those primaries are all over. All the states that border Georgia are now, as of today, will have had their primaries.
Gingrich supporters might point out that Santorum is conveniently forgetting Gingrich’s 40-28 shellacking of Mitt Romney (and Rick Santorum) in South Carolina.
Why is Santorum so eager for Gingrich to exit? Two words: Michigan and Ohio. Santorum lost to Romney by 32,378 votes in Michigan, a race in which Gingrich got 65,016 votes. Santorum lost to Romney by 10,288 votes in Ohio, where 175,554 voters went Gingrich.
new Moveon.org ad builds on the perception that women voters are turning their backs on the Republican Party. “Judging from their comments, the GOP must have a serious problem with women,” the ad asserts.A
Women voters actually gravitated toward Republican candidates in 2010. And that much-talked-about NYT/CBS poll from this morning had one doozie of a number: President Obama’s approval rating tanked among women over the last month, falling 12 points from 53 to 41 percent, according to the poll. A Washington Post/ABC News poll out yesterday reached a substantially different result, however, finding Obama’s approval among women holding steady from a month prior.
(h/t: Taegan Goddard)
Never take candy from a stranger, and don’t believe early afternoon exit polls.
I love these fake exit polls that leak on twitter this early… Exit poll data isn’t released until 5 p.m. est. Others are worthless.
— Harry Enten (@ForecasterEnten) March 13, 2012
And even that early exit poll data should be taken with a great grain of salt… See Ohio.
— Harry Enten (@ForecasterEnten) March 13, 2012
For Democrats hoping to retain control of the Senate, former Sen. Bob Kerrey’s decision to run for his old Nebraska seat is on par with Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe’s decision to retire. (Kerrey, also a former governor of Nebraska, would replace retiring Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson in a state that otherwise likes to vote Republican.)
Now Kerrey’s out with his first ad: “America needs to step up its game.”
The Google Politics and Elections team has put together charts tracking searches for the GOP candidates’ names in Alabama and Mississippi. Santorum’s clearly out front in Google searches despite running neck-and-neck in the polls. Strange. Why would “Santorum” attract disproportionate search engine interest?
Did you see “Game Change,” the HBO movie based on the book by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin about Sarah Palin and the McCain candidacy?
BTW, best line in “Game Change?” “Thanks for cutting off the mullet, Levi.” EMMY NOW.
— Peter Sagal (@petersagal) March 13, 2012
Wonder which narrative from the 2012 race will be turned into a movie.
reports on a campaign stop in Kirkwood, Mo.:And now, the fable of Barack Obama, magical petrol fairy. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has attacked President Obama over rising gas prices. The New York Times
Mr. Romney first offered up some suggestions for why gas prices are skyrocketing, including Mr. Obama’s objection to drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. “Maybe it’s related to the fact that you said we couldn’t get a pipeline in from Canada known as Keystone,” he continued. “Those things affect gasoline prices, long term.”
Rising gasoline prices across the country are thought to be a primary cause of the president’s falling approval rating. A Times/CBS News poll out today found that 54 percent of respondents believed that a president can do “a lot” to control gas prices, as opposed to 36 percent who believe they are beyond a president’s control.
Jamie Haber, 39, “an independent voter of Orlando,” told the Times: “I think just being the president of the United States of America, you would have some type of control over gas pricing.”
Let us recklessly spend a moment thinking about this. Is it true? Does the president control gas prices? What would it take for Barack Obama to be able to control gas prices?
He would have to be able to control the price of crude oil, meaning he would have to be able to control the conduct of states like Iran and China as well as the psychology of oil futures traders. He would have to be able to control the capacity and behavior of U.S. oil refiners. He would have to be able to control the marketing and distribution strategies of those fine companies with the big logos that sell gas to station owners. He would have to be able to control station owners and how much markup they tack on to each gallon. He would have to be able to control US drivers and how frequently and far they decide to drive. He would have to be able to control the weather, preventing atmospheric events such as Hurricane Katrina that send crude prices soaring. Alternatively (and least plausibly of all), he would have to be able to control the US Congress, which might be persuaded to pass a Gas for America Subsidy.
A tall order, it seems.
A note on Mississippi:
• Exit polls from the 2008 GOP primaries show a slightly smaller proportion of evangelical Christian voters in Mississippi than in Alabama. Sixty-nine percent of GOP primary voters in Mississippi in 2008 identified as Born Again or Evangelical. Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee had withdrawn from the presidential race a week earlier, leaving the field open for Sen. John McCain to romp to a 79 percent win. Ron Paul grabbed 4 percent.
Why tally evangelical voters? As our pollster Harry J Enten first pointed out some time ago, “Mitt Romney’s vote in each state is linear to the percentage of evangelicals that make up each state’s electorate.” Meaning that evangelicals are a good inverse predictor of Romney’s chances.
Some notes on Alabama:
• Rick Santorum may not pick up as many delegates as he might have here because his campaign failed to qualify in four Alabama districts. The campaign similarly botched the Virginia and Michigan qualifying tests.
• Exit polls from the 2008 GOP primaries show the influence of evangelical Christian voters in Alabama. Seventy-seven percent of GOP primary voters in that race identified as Born Again and Evangelical. Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee beat eventual nominee John McCain 41-37. Romney grabbed 18 percent of the vote.
By the way: Why is Mitt Romney having such a tough time with evangelical voters? It’s not his Mormonism, according to Michael Tesler:
My analysis of seven surveys conducted by YouGov from late January to early March 2012 … suggests that Romney’s religion is not the main reason why he has not won over these voters. … The answer most likely resides in moral issues like abortion and gay marriage. For, unlike attitudes about Mormons, Evangelical Republicans are much more conservative on these issues than their fellow partisans.
(Tesler h/t: Daily Dish)
So who’s going to win tonight? It depends which poll you believe.
Amy Walter of ABC News observes:
PPP, ARG and Rassmussen have almost as much at stake 2night in AL/MS as the GOP candidates. #pollingshowdown
— amy walter (@amyewalter) March 13, 2012
We like this idea a lot. Covering the GOP primaries without having to come into direct contact with the candidates, but instead focusing on the horse race among pollsters.
Here’s a table created by HuffPollster of Alabama and Mississippi polling:
• A big disagreement in MS: ARG sees a slim 2-point lead for Romney in Mississippi, while Rasmussen sees a whopping 8-point lead.
• A big disagreement in AL: ARG sees a 3-point lead for Gingrich in Alabama, while Rasmussen sees Gingrich-Santorum-Romney all within 2 points of one another.
Ryan Lizza sees potential hidden strength for Santorum and Gingrich:
Note that polls in TN & SC underestimated Newt/Santo support. SC RCP avg: Newt +5; final: Newt +13. TN RCP avg: Santo +3; final: Santo +9.
— Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza) March 13, 2012
Titters spread across the Twittersphere awhile ago over a Santorum campaign typo.
— daveweigel (@daveweigel) March 13, 2012
Hello there – Tom McCarthy in New York here, pitching in on the live blog this afternoon. Richard Adams will be back this evening as the returns from Alabama and Mississippi (and Hawaii and Samoa) start rolling in.
Some fightin’ words moments ago from Axelrod:
We know he has plenty of Cadillacs, but can Mitt buy himself Alabama or Mississippi? He outspent rivals by at least three-to-one there.
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) March 13, 2012
A spokesman for Governor Bentley, Jeremy King, confirmed the vote, saying that Mr Bentley viewed Mr. Santorum “as the most conservative candidate” in the field.
But Mr Bentley chose not to issue a public endorsement or make a statement himself, Mr King said, because “he believes a vote is a personal decision that should be based on a voter’s values and principles, not on someone else’s opinion.”
gone down well with advertisers or the general public, it would appear.Rush Limbaugh‘s apology to Sandra Fluke hasn’t
Rasmussen polls potential voters:
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Voters shows that only 29% believe Limbaugh’s apology for his recent comments was sincere. Fifty-three percent (53%) do not think his apology was sincere, and another 18% are undecided.
It’s redneck-and-neck” on the southern primaries today, in a piece that includes another bout of Mitt Romney shooting himself in the silver spoon:The New York Post wins the battle of the headlines today with its effort “
While Romney tried to press his down-home credentials, he couldn’t help another bout of embarrassing name-dropping when he was asked about quarterback Peyton Manning during an Alabama radio interview.
“I’ve got a lot of good friends – the owner of the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets – both owners are friends of mine,” Romney said.
The gaffe is similar to when Romney earlier said he didn’t follow Nascar closely but knew team owners.
Does Mitt Romney have any friends who don’t own a Nascar team or NFL franchise? George Bush was an owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team but he managed not to make a big deal of it.
When we get the results tonight from Mississippi and Alabama we may have a better idea of how long and how far the Rwpublican presidential race has got left to run.
But it may yet be a long slog, which is the the mildly depressing calculation made by Sean Trende, the senior elections analyst for RealClearPolitics. He argues that the race so far has been remarkably stable in terms of who has what what:
So we don’t see much evidence of momentum in the primaries thus far. This, of course, could change in the future, and perhaps once Romney passes a certain threshold, it will. Certainly if he were to win Mississippi or Alabama, we would expect it to be a declared a very good night for him. The model suggests that he should pull in about 32% of the three-way vote in Alabama, and about 31% in Mississippi. But with Santorum and Gingrich now splitting the non-Romney vote in the Deep South, Romney might actually pull off the upset in Alabama (assuming the model underestimates him a touch there).
So until Romney shows signs of going on a roll, this thing could run and run.
The White House declined to comment for this article or to make available Daniel Shanks, the usher who has managed wine selection since the Clinton administration, or social secretary Jeremy Bernard. First Lady Michelle Obama’s office referred questions to the White House press office.
White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest declined to disclose which wines were served at the German or Korean state dinners, identify wines from non-state dinners, make menus of past meals available for inspection or answer questions about the shift in practice.
Earnest also declined to say whether the White House would release the names of wines at the Cameron dinner.
Apparently the White House doesn’t want to be embarrassed about the serving of fancy, expensive wines at state dinners.
Dick Cheney won’t visit Canada because it is …. too dangerous?It’s true:
And as is usually the case when Dick Cheney thinks a place is too dangerous – Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan – he gets younger men to go. In this case it is noted Canadian Mark Steyn.
discreet wit of Mitt Romney, via the Atlantic’s excellent Molly Ball:This is slightly old but finally an appreciation of the
There are plenty of legitimate reasons to question or distrust Mitt Romney. But the fact that he went to Mississippi and said “y’all” doesn’t make him a phony – it makes him that rare thing in politics, a guy with a sense of humor.
The problem with Romney’s humour, I’d suggest, is in his delivery. A Mitt Romney speech is where jokes go to die.
Obama now moves on to the trade case the administration is taking against China over rare earth materials used in electronics manufacturing such as advanced batteries used in hybrid cars and Blackberrys.
“If China would simply let the market work on its own, we would have no objections,” says Obama, outlining the case the US is taking alongside Japan and others through the WTO.
China produces more than 90% of the world’s output of such materials but has recently squeezed exports, hurting manufacturers elsewhere. Last year the price of rare earth materials rose sharply after Chinese traders started stockpiling rare earth reserves.
Chinese exports restrictions are said to force manufacturers to pay double the price of their Chinese competitors for rare earth materials.
Beijing on Tuesday rejected the claims by the US, EU and Japan, saying China would “continue to implement effective management of rare earths exports in accordance with WTO regulations”. The foreign ministry said China hoped that “other countries with rare earths will also actively develop their rare earths resources to share the burden of global rare earths supply”.
In more pointed comments, Xinhua, the state press agency, said the move was “rash and unfair”, adding that it “may hurt economic relations between the world’s largest and second-largest economies”.
“A better choice for the United States would be sitting down with China face to face and solve the problem through negotiations instead of making it an internationalised issue,” Xinhua said in an opinion piece.
Slightly late, President Obama appears in the Rose Garden.
Although the announcement is meant to be about prosecuting a trade case via the World Trade Organisation against China, Obama begins by discussing the recent killings in Afghanistan and vowing to hold a full investigation.
“America takes this as seriously as if it were our own citizens and our own children who were murdered,” Obama says, in reference to the 16 Afghan civilians killed in a shooting spree by a US soldier on Sunday.
Kat Keene Hogue travels to Alabama to ask them, the latest in our Primary Voices series.What are the Republican voters of Alabama thinking before today’s primary in the Yellowhammer State? Film-maker
One event that really was taking place was to be Newt Gingrich‘s visit to the Birmingham Zoo in Alabama. But it has been cancelled. (Apparently the animals objected because they didn’t want to be cast in a bad light.)
Here’s a brief timeline of events* that are happening today.
11.10am: President Obama declares war on China. Trade war, that is. Well, officially the president “delivers a statement announcing ‘new efforts to enforce our trade rights with China and level the playing field for America’s businesses and workers’.”
11.11am: Mitt Romney denounces whatever President Obama does regarding trade with China as inadequate.
11.50am: Mitt Romney meets voters in Missouri, which holds caucuses on Saturday. At 11.56am Romney will say something silly about eating a regional speciality and mis-pronounce the name of the city as “St Louie”.
12.45pm: Newt Gingrich addresses the Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce. in Birmingham, Alabama. No one cares.
6.30pm: President Obama and British premier David Cameron attend a NCAA basketball game in Dayton, Ohio.
6.39pm: President Obama suddenly realises that David Cameron has never watched a basketball game before and is sick of explaining what a three pointer is.
8pm: Polls close in Alabama and Mississippi.
10pm: Both Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum gracefully withdraw from the GOP primaries and endorse Mitt Romney in a stirring call for party unity. Romney appears and hugs both men, saying “I love you guys.” Then, a unicorn appears on stage.
*Note: events listed here may not match reality as currently understood.
Well here’s some good news. Despite some rumbling to the contrary, it appears there will not be yet another Republican presidential debate next week.
I think I speak on behalf of a grateful nation and possibly the GOP when I say: awesome.
The Oregonian reports that Mitt Romney has turned down his invitation to the debate scheduled for next Monday – hardly a surprise but likely to be the death knell for any hopes of recycling some Portlandia jokes.
Another Tuesday, another set of primaries, and this time the focus is on the Deep South – Mississippi and Alabama, to be precise – where Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are running neck-and-neck in the polls.
Polls are open in both states and will close tonight at 7pm EST – when we will be live blogging the results. Much later are caucuses in Hawaii and American Samoa but because of the time differences we’ll be covering them tomorrow.
Here’s all you need to know from our reporter Ryan Devereaux:
• Mitt Romney is hoping to clinch the nomination with wins in Mississippi and Alabama, where primary voters are heading to the polls today. Accomplishing the goal is easier said than done, however, as the candidates are locked in an exceedingly tight race. While Romney is regularly viewed as the candidate with the greatest potential to beat President Obama, the former Massachusetts governor has had a difficult time winning the hearts of southern conservatives. He is challenged by Rick Santorum, who is locked in a struggle to appear as socially conservative as possible, and Newt Gingrich, who was born in Georgia and has focused nearly all of his campaign energy on the region.
• Today’s contests come as new polls show President Obama’s approval rating has dropped substantially. According to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, 41% of respondents approve of the job the president is doing, while 47% disapprove. The latest figures come just one month after the president managed a critical 50% approval rating. Rising gas prices, escalating tensions regarding war with Iran and major security setbacks in Afghanistan are believed to have contributed to the president’s sudden drop in popularity.
• Meanwhile, a new poll from Public Policy Polling adds a whole new dimension to the question of how some Americans view the president. According to PPP, 45% of Republican respondents in Alabama think President Obama is a Muslim, while in Mississippi that number is 52%. In Alabama, 60% of respondents don’t believe in evolution, and in Mississippi 66% don’t. It turns out Rick Santorum is the most popular candidate among evolution-deniers, while Newt Gingrich has the majority of the support from those who believe interracial marriage should be illegal.
• In his never-ending quest to seem like a regular guy, Mitt Romney toured Alabama with Southern comedian Jeff Foxworthy. Famous for his “You might be a redneck if …” jokes, Foxworthy tried to help Romney make light of himself. At one point on Monday, Romney quipped that he hoped to set out with an Alabama friend who “can actually show me which end of the rifle to point.” Ever his own worst enemy in efforts to seem normal, however, Romney managed to tell a radio show host that “good friends” of his own NFL teams. Last month the former governor caught flak for saying some of his friends own Nascar teams.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010