22 Jan 2012

How Newt Won

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Byron York explains that this was a case of a nimbler, more effective campaign organization.

Gingrich’s defeat of Romney in South Carolina Saturday was absolutely dominating. Just a week ago, Romney had a solid lead over Gingrich in the polls. On Saturday night, he lost to Gingrich by 12 points — a huge and disastrous swing. Gingrich won 44 of South Carolina’s 46 counties.

How did it happen? For one thing, all the talk about Romney having a hugely superior ground organization turned out not to be true. “They did not do the retail politics that a Santorum and a Gingrich have done over time,” said Kevin Thomas, chairman of the Fairfield County Republican Party. (Thomas was neutral in the race.) “I think Newt’s people, they had more on-the-ground staff, and they worked.” There were a lot of them, too; after Gingrich’s strong showing in the debates, said Susan Meyers, Gingrich’s media coordinator for the Southeast, “We have so many volunteers, our phones are melting right now.”

Gingrich’s campaign was also faster and more nimble than the Romney battleship. “There is a very strong contrast between the two campaign organizations,” said Gingrich adviser (and former George W. Bush administration official) Kevin Kellems. “In military terms, it’s speed versus mass. Newt Gingrich’s operation, and Newt Gingrich as a man, has a great deal of speed — intellectual speed, decisiveness. The Romney campaign is much more about money and size, having hired half of Washington D.C. And sometimes, speed beats mass.”

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Ed Rollins says that Mitt Romney never was a conservative and he can’t persuade people now that he is.

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Karl Rove
thinks Newt Gingrich can thank CNN’s John King.

After Newt Gingrich was declared the winner of the South Carolina primary Saturday night, Karl Rove suggested that the candidate has CNN’s John King to thank for his victory in the Palmetto State.

“Taking on the media is always good in a Republican primary,” Rove said on Fox News. “John King couldn’t have set up the question in a more positive way for Gingrich to just nail it and haul it right out of the park.”

But, certainly, Juan Williams deserves credit for an assist.

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SDD

There are lots of examples of political figures throughout the world who incited to success by attacking a perceived common enemy. The problem here is that maybe only a third of voters see the media as an enemy. Republican primary voters are understandably an angry lot. But the nominee must eventually also win a lot of the so-called independent voters. Independents (more aptly The Unengaged) are just as likely to be frightened by anger as they are to side with it. (We all remember President Bryan). More people watched Jersey Shore than the GOP debate.



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