And so the Presidential race turns to New Hampshire. The only real question is whether a unifying candidate can emerge from the religious conservative wing of the party. Newt Gingrich? Rick Santorum? Neither?
The Republican party today is broadly split in three: there is the establishment represented by Mitt Romney. There are libertarians and constitutionalists represented by Ron Paul. And there are religious conservatives — a large chunk of the electorate, but without a consistent or fiscally conservative figurehead. And that’s unsurprising. Religious conservatives believe in the government legislating morality and redistributing wealth. Certainly, they believe in a different morality, and a different pattern of redistribution than Obama. But it is still tax-and-spend redistribution. Gingrich’s and Santorum’s records speak very clearly on that. And in the current economic climate, big spending is unpalatable. Each religious or social conservative that has surged to the top tier — Bachmann, Perry, Gingrich, Cain, Trump, Palin and Santorum — has crumbled under the spotlight. The Santorum candidacy does not have legs outside of Iowa — he has no money, no organisation, and has a record of voting for various big-spending initatives.
Religious and social conservatives are running out of time, and out of candidates. They may be forced to pin their colours to either Romney or Paul’s mast.
If no religious conservative emerges clearly from New Hampshire or South Carolina it shapes for a very interesting race.
Paul and Romney will maintain their bases. They are in it for the long haul. The winner will be the one who pulls in more of the social conservatives. Romney is confident that this will be him. After all, Paul is not a foreign policy interventionist, and most social and religious conservatives are.
Yet we should not discount economic and fiscal policy. Paul is the staunchest fiscal conservative in the race, and the only candidate with a serious program of cuts. Narrow Romney victories in South Carolina and Florida might not “sew the race up”, so much as drive social conservatives to Ron Paul as the only serious challenger to a Romney candidacy that differs from Obama only in details, not substance.
The other prospect is that social conservatives unite behind one candidate. But who is it to be? Gingrich? Perry? Santorum? None can be described as a consistent fiscal conservative, and that is a problem in this election cycle.
Most likely Romney will win New Hampshire and South Carolina. To many observers that would be game over after just three states. But Romney is an unsettling prospect to many Republicans — too liberal, too Wall Street, too establishment. Ron Paul — the only candidate other than Romney with a firm base — stands a fine chance of establishing himself as the anti-Romney and winning a lot of delegates.
Romney wants to treat this recession, which is going on five years, as a normal part of the business cycle. If we could solve the problem by cutting taxes and loosening regulations, then we would have economic growth by now. There are some pretty fundamental problems, about which only Ron Paul is talking. The GOP can nominate Romney and get four more years of Obama, or they can nominate Paul and have a shot at the White House.
There is no doubt the media will say the race is over after South Carolina. It will then be up to Paul and his supporters to patiently prove them wrong by the grass roots movement of support he has been building. It will be painful for his supporters to hear the total media bias that will trumpet out a foregone conclusion. But hopefully, the last laugh will be reserved for Paul.
Paul is sparing his fire for Romney ’til after South Carolina when the race is “over”.
What suprises me is the negative media Ron Paul gets in the Australian media.
Too Old. A freak. Racist.
I am Australian, and RP seems like the best choice for the USA. But I supported Ross Perot, and look what support he got. The rest is history.
Someone is paying off the Editors/Owners.
Aziz have you considered that Romney may be preparing Tim Pawlenty as his VP pick to pick up the evangelical and religious conservative vote?
Was on the ground in New Hampshire and the dedication of the grass roots effort was very inspiring. We are used to the media – CBS not even listing Paul as a candidate on a news program showing the latest polling before the cuacuses. The more subtle propaganda is the most troubling. It has been masterfully crafted; yet still Ron comes in second. This is a very powerful movement, having resisted incredible media bias from the Left and the Right. I have also noticed foreign press is on the “stop Paul” bandwagon. I cannot conceive how the establishment hopes to keep the ship afloat without taking the necessary steps to curtail spending. Please donate what you can to the campaign. I am working to educate local religious conservatives but the television media is very difficult to overcome. On the bright side, I have seen this group readily jump from candidate to candidate. We are working to hammer home the economic situation the country faces but so many are oblivious to the nature of the national debt and the stealth tax of inflation. It is a slow process of educating while not offending them or causing them to become defensive. I simply nod my head as they switch candidates yet again. We can only hope that as the other candidates drop out, we will have the critical mass necessary to overcome a stunning media effort to elect another pro-FED, “promise the moon”, establishment candidate. I recall reading that Dr. Paul believed the tipping point for his campaign would be 12% support nationally. At those numbers, he believes there will be enough supporters on the ground to educate the electorate on his core issues. He has been pretty good at predicting things, like the housing crash. However, educating voters on the evils of 5 government departments, the machinations of the FED, the constitution, the failed drug war, states rights….. it is a daunting task. But I see the movement growing quite well since his early showings in IA and NH. I know this is an economic blog. I certainly do not believe Ron Paul is the answer to all that ails us. However, I cannot see a way the financial system continues to function with 33 to 45% of our taxes going to service the debt. It cannot end well.
Correction: The tipping point is 15-18% in the following theory (11 min mark):
The 15% tipping point concept follows the Law of Diffusion of Innovations;
2 1/2% = innovators
13 1/2 % = early adopters
34% = early majority
34% = late majority
16% = laggards
Take it for what it’s worth.