Schoen: Super Tuesday Won't End Bitter GOP Race

Sunday, 04 Mar 2012 06:15 PM

By Paul Scicchitano and Kathleen Walter

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Political analyst and Democratic pollster Doug Schoen tells Newsmax.TV that Super Tuesday is not likely to bring an end to the GOP’s bitter and often vitriolic presidential nomination battle.

“I predict that there will be a divided result with Gov. Romney winning the bulk of the delegates. But I don’t think that the race will end on Super Tuesday,” Schoen declared in an exclusive interview on Friday.

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With so many delegates up for grabs — 419 in 10 states — Schoen will be looking to see if any of the four remaining candidates are dominant, but particularly former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is fresh off a narrow 3-point victory in his home state of Michigan as well as a much more decisive 20-point win in Arizona.

“That’s the key,” Schoen explained. “Will the momentum that Gov. Romney hopes he generated from the results in Arizona and Michigan translate into a big victory on Super Tuesday? That’s number one.”

Schoen predicts that Romney will gain momentum — but not a decisive mandate on Super Tuesday. “I don’t think it will seal the deal but my prediction is that it will be a step in the right direction for him but will not be a deal closer.”

As of Sunday night, Romney was lagging in the larger state contests on Tuesday. In RealClearPolitics' compendium of state polls, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum was leading by narrow margins in both Ohio and Tennesse. In Georgia, meanwhile, favorite son Newt Gingrich held a substantial lead over the rest of the field.

Romney has yet to convince conservative voters that he is the candidate that can ignite the Grand Old Party and defeat President Barack Obama in November. Michigan was a prime example.

“I think he lost the very conservative. I think he lost the evangelicals in Michigan,” said Schoen. “It’s hardly an overwhelming victory. So I think while he may well be consolidating his support, it’s anything but a done deal.”

Super Tuesday also brings an opportunity to see how well the candidates perform in various regions of the country — with primaries or caucuses scheduled to take place in Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, North Dakota, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oklahoma, Virginia, Tennessee, and Vermont all on the same day.

“Will we get a regional divide between the Northeast, the Midwest and the South on Super Tuesday,” said Schoen as a key question he’ll be looking to answer.

Each state has different factors that could affect the outcomes. “Will the same cleavages that we’ve been seeing between the very conservative, the evangelicals and the tea party on one hand, and those that are more moderate to conservative on the other hand be evident?” Schoen asked.

Santorum has been leading in the battleground state of Ohio. That lead may have been eroded by Romney’s double wins in Arizona and Michigan earlier this week, but Romney will have to demonstrate that he can sustain an economic message and blunt Santorum’s attacks on social issues.

“Everything I’ve seen about Ohio suggests that Rick Santorum holds the lead, but all the data that has been publicly available was collected before Arizona and Michigan, so I believe that’s going to be neck and neck,” he said.

Tennessee and Oklahoma, however, are likely to go for Santorum. “I see Tennessee and Oklahoma big Rick Santorum — A lot of social conservatives, more downscale voters and a lot of evangelicals. Rick Santorum my guess will prevail in both Oklahoma and Tennessee,” Schoen explained.

Former House Speaker Gingrich represented suburban Atlanta voters in Congress and went on to attain the powerful speaker’s position as a Georgia representative.

“I’d be surprised if newt Gingrich didn’t ultimately win Georgia his home state,” Schoen said, adding that Gingrich must win the Peach State to keep his candidacy viable. “I think he’ll hold on there.”

Massachusetts, on the other hand, is the state where Romney served as governor. “I’d be very surprised if Mitt Romney didn’t win an overwhelming victory in not only Massachusetts but also Vermont,” he explained.

Romney enjoys a huge advantage in Virginia by virtue of the fact that only he and Texas Rep. Ron Paul managed to overcome the confusing election rules to get their names on the ballot.

Consequently Gingrich and Santorum stand virtually no chance of winning there other than as write-in candidates.

“Right now Romney holds about a 30-35 point lead over Ron Paul there and my guess is that Gov. Romney will win a substantial victory in the state of Virginia,” according to Schoen.

Very little polling data has been available for Alaska, Idaho and North Dakota. “And I think at least two of three — or three of three — there are caucuses, very hard to poll, very hard to predict,” said Schoen. “Caucuses tend to favor Ron Paul but in those situations . . . where we don’t have poll data, small turnout caucus situations — very tough to predict.”

Santorum tried to attract Democrat voters in the final days leading up to the Michigan primary, which was open to voters of both parties, but that approach resulted in sharp criticism from fellow Republicans.

Even so, Schoen believes that Santorum may be willing to risk further criticism by employing a similar tactic in one or more of the five open contests on Super Tuesday.

“The problem is he got such blowback from doing it in Michigan I think he’s going to be reluctant to do it until perhaps the end of the day on Monday [March] 5,” according to Schoen. “The news impact of him trying to reach into Democratic ranks would be blunted. So he’ll probably try and it will probably have a limited impact, but I don’t think other than perhaps a very close race in the state of Ohio it could be determinative.”

While no candidate has managed to ignite the passion of rank and file Republican voters, Schoen does not believe that it is likely the nominee will be decided by a brokered convention.

“If my prediction holds true — and Gov. Romney comes out of Super Tuesday with a leg up both in terms of votes and delegates — it makes it much more unlikely for a brokered convention,” he insisted. “The only way we’ll get a brokered convention is if the race is effectively deadlocked going into the convention and there’s no way of resolving it. So at this point, I’d bet against it.”

It would take much the same scenario for an unannounced candidate — such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — to enter the race at this point.

“In the absence of a deadlocked process where no one candidate can get the 1,144 delegates necessary, I just don’t think that that’s going to happen,” Schoen declared.

“There is dissatisfaction on the Republican side with the candidates,” he added. “That dissatisfaction has been getting stronger, but as long as Gov. Romney and Rick Santorum are competing as aggressively as they are, I think it’s extremely unlikely that we’ll get another candidate entering the race.”













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