Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Florida notebook: Romney’s $ makes a difference over Gingrich

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Florida may be a Southern state, even a neighbor of Georgia, but as Newt Gingrich is finding out, Florida is part Jewish, part Latino, and part “protect Social Security and Medicare.”

Money is also king in the Sunshine State and Mitt Romney is severely outspending Gingrich, and Florida is a state where you need a lot of money. Even as Romney was losing South Carolina, the campaign and the Super PAC were running ads against Gingrich in Florida before the votes were counted in South Carolina.

While liberals may enjoy what Romney is doing against Gingrich, Romney will still have plenty of money to go after President Barack Obama.

Since Florida is a winner take all state and will lose some delegates, Gingrich will win as many delegates as Ron Paul and Stephen Colbert: zero.

Florida has 50 delegates, down from 99 because the state moved up in the primary process. Remember the MI and FL fiascoes in 2008? The noise came from the Democratic side, because they generally care more about lost votes. Republicans didn’t scream about it in 2008 or aren’t screaming now.

Does this mean Gingrich is done after Florida? The road for Gingrich doesn’t look good, especially in February, but he doesn’t seem to care. February brings more caucuses (not Gingrich’s strength) and the former House speaker isn’t even on the ballot in Virginia. While that doesn’t give Gingrich any more delegates, his desire to keep going no matter what will make Romney squirm a bit.

If Newt Gingrich doesn’t win Florida, he can blame his lack of success with women. Gingrich didn’t help himself by giving a vague answer on which of the potential first ladies would make the best first lady. “Stand by your woman” would be a logical choice, even if the question is a little odd.

If the 2012 election came down to the female vote, Obama would destroy Gingrich. Obama would still beat Romney in the female vote, but the contrast would be larger if Gingrich gets the nomination.

Intense headlines are seen as a way to draw more traffic on the Web to a story, but the truth is that crazy headlines are a part of the journalism landscape for as long as journalism has been around. Though it helps if the headline is true or could be proven.

The Washington Post — you know, that liberal bastion — went with this actual headline: “Obama: The most polarizing president. Ever.”

This headline appeared above a story from Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake based on Gallup tracking polls. The polls “prove” that President Barack Obama has the highest gap between the parties over whether they approved of the job he was doing. This mark surpasses George W. Bush in 2007.

Polls don’t prove a lot, especially if you don’t know what the questions are. If anything, the 80% mark that Democratic voters give the president seems a little high.

The Gallup polls go back to 1953. So the concept of “ever” isn’t even remotely close. “Most polarizing president”?

Rutherford B. Hayes wasn’t so much polarizing himself, but the circumstances in which he was elected would have scored higher. Grover Cleveland would be upset if he were alive, especially during his first term as president, that he didn’t win that title. John Adams, after signing the Alien and Sedition Acts into law, would have scored pretty high. Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, Richard M. Nixon in 1973, and James Buchanan in 1860 all want a recount on the most polarizing president. Ever. This doesn’t even count virtually every second of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency.

We overall like Chris Cillizza though we are frustrated that he literally limits himself to treating politics as if it were sports. Endearing but frustrating. To write a story such as this and not stretch beyond the self-imposed bubble to include one word on why Obama might be seen so harshly, so polarizing: race. Not one single word about the possibility, the consideration that perhaps maybe being the first black president is an element to being “polarizing.”

The MSM ignored the blatant racism coming from the teabaggers. This is not to say all teabaggers are racists; they did nothing to confront the racism. And they ignore that racism can account for being “polarizing.”

The other factor is that the MSM gave teabaggers undeserved credibility. The MSM will go out of its way to not broadcast or show any 9/11 inside job conspiracies, (and we’re not saying they’re true), but those conspiracies had more facts that the “birthers” had. The theory that Bristol Palin is the mother of Trig has more facts behind it than the “birthers.” And yet, the birthers got MSM cred.

Starting an unnecessary war is a polarizing act. Running a milquetoast centrist administration while the country and world crumbles around them is as polarizing as vanilla ice cream or ranch dressing.

Chris Cillizza runs a feature called Worst Week in Washington. Looks like we already have a winner this week.


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