Romney Up By 7?

That’s the case according to Public Policy Polling, which conducted the poll AFTER the Crist endorsement. Neither this poll or the Datamar poll is included in the RCP average. Are they disreputable companies? This isn’t a leading question. I just want to know. 

Hugh Hewitt, who, granted, is Mitt’s biggest cheerleader, cites both polls along with a Zogby poll that has McCain up by 3 – also pointing out that Zogby had Michigan tied the morning of the primary, and Romney ended up winning by 9 points. Hewitt points out that the endorsement is just one piece of news cluttering up the landscape, and not necessarily the biggest. McCain’s sleazy Iraq smear looks like it’s backfiring, and McCain is holding a press conference with bloggers to reassure them that Samuel Alito isn’t too conservative to be a Supreme Court justice. Romney’s staying on offense; McCain looks desperate. 
Then again, I could be totally wrong and probably am. Go McCain!
SurveyUSA has Romney up by 1, and Rassmussen has the race tied, but has Romney leading for the first time in the national numbers. 
I voted in early voting today here in Utah. My guy McCain got exactly what he deserved with my vote. 

Mitt up by 12?

Rush Limbaugh just mentioned a Datamar poll that shows Mitt Romney up by 12 in Florida. 

This poll is not included in the RealClearPolitics average, although previous Datamar polls have been. I’ve never heard of Datamar, and I have no idea how legit the poll is. I’m curious, though, why no one else is talking about this. 
Mitt’s InTrade numbers are below McCain’s again, but not by much: 50.5 for McCain, 45.5 for Romney. Remember, in Michigan, Mitt’s InTrade numbers were in the 30s up until the day of the primary. Florida is close enough that those numbers aren’t especially predictive in the race between McCain and Romney. The one thing they do illustrate, however, is that Giuliani is toast. He’s trading at 2.6. 

Remembering Gordon B. Hinckley

Gordon B. Hinckley has died.

Non-Mormons reading this blog will have no idea who he is or what that means, so by way of information, Gordon B. Hinckley has been the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for well over a decade, and he’s been at the center of church government for far longer than that. He has essentially been the administrative head of the church since the early ‘80s, when he was called as a “third counselor” when President Spencer W. Kimball and his other two counselors were incapacitated. After President Kimball’s passing, President Ezra Taft Benson did alright for a few years, but soon he was also too infirm to carry on day-to-day duties, and it was up to President Hinckley to pick up the slack.

No single individual in my lifetime has had a greater impact on the LDS Church than Gordon B. Hinckley, and, frankly, I can’t imagine what the Church will be like without him.

That’s not to say I will be leaving the Church, or that the Church will be unable to function. As my uncle is fond of saying, “It’s the Lord’s name over the door, so let Him worry about it.” President Monson will be an able and capable president, and I doubt much, if anything, will change in terms of doctrine or policy. I will simply miss President Hinckley’s singular wit, his no-nonsense straight talk, and his willingness to open up the Church to the world at large.

I have met President Hinckley on three occasions that I can remember. One was in 1992 at a large banquet honoring outgoing Utah governor Norm Bangerter. President Hinckley was sitting at the table next to me, and if I had leaned my chair back far enough, I could have hit him from behind. (I didn’t, but I was scared the entire night that I would have if I wasn’t careful.)

As a tribute to Governor Bangerter, whoever it was that sponsored the dinner gave the outgoing Governor two Delta Airlines plane tickets to anywhere in the world. As the gift was being presented, President Hinckley leaned over to our table and said “My nightmare is getting two plane tickets to anywhere in the world.” We all laughed. Considering the man’s age and exhausting travel schedule, we knew there was more than a ring of truth to what he said.

President Hinckley came to visit the USC Ward twice while I was a student there. On one occasion, he opened up the meeting to questions from the congregation. I took the opportunity to stand up and ask, “President Hinckley, I’m 23 years old and single. Am I going straight to hell?”

He laughed, and then said, “No, but you may be taking a detour.” He followed up the quip with counsel about the importance of marriage that I can’t remember. It’s the gentle-yet-piercing sense of humor that stayed with me – it was certainly his most endearing trait.

On the other occasion at USC, President Hinckley spoke to us about the evils of Hollywood sleaze. Being a theatre major at the time, I took umbridge at his remarks, and I sat there and seethed through most of the meeting. (I’ve since realized he was absolutely right and I was a punk kid, but that’s beside the point.) After the meeting, President Hinckley took the opportunity to shake our hands, and he made the mistake of asking me what my major was.

“I’m one of those evil theatre majors you were talking about,” I smirked with a hint of hostility.

President Hinckley just chuckled and said, without missing a beat, “Well, there’s always time to repent.”

And then he moved down the line. I was spoiling for a confrontation; he disarmed me completely. He was pretty good at that.

He will be missed. We shall not see his like again.

Well, Whaddya Know!

Romney’s back up in InTrade, but just barely – 53.7 for Mitt, 47 for Beavis. He’s also just barely ahead in the RCP poll average. The conventional wisdom seems to be that Crist’s endorsement was a death blow to Rudy, not Mitt – although if Beavis ends up getting more votes in the bargain, I don’t see how that’s helpful for Romney. 

It also seems that McCain’s ridiculous Romney smear – that Romney wants a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, which is not demonstrably untrue – is blowing up in his face. Will it be enough? Don’t know. I hate it when things are this close. 

Jeb Bush has been a behind-the-scenes Romney guy. It’s time for him to step up and stop the McCain Train – one which I am firmly onboard! Go McCain! (You know where.) 

InTrade now has Romney down

He’s at 40, and McCain is at 56, due, no doubt, to the endorsement of McCain by Florida’s popular sitting governor. Martinez didn’t move the numbers, but Governor Crist does. 

Isn’t that great? Go McCain! (At least, I’d like to tell McCain where to go…)

Florida Twists and Turns

Turns out the bigwig mentioned previously decided to endorse McCain after all. Now that the endorsement is public, I can say it’s U.S. Senator Mel Martinez, who could have a fairly significant impact in the Cuban-American community. Then again, Mitt’s hardline immigration stance may have alienated them already. It’s impossible to know how much of an effect this or any endorsement could have on the race, although I think this will be a bigger deal than the Sylvester Stallone endorsement. 

So far, the InTrade numbers are holding: 62 for Romney, 33.2 for McCain, and just 7 for Giuliani. (Huckabee is at 0.2. A great buy, if you think Huckabee could still win it all!) Not sure how, when, or if this endorsement will affect those numbers. 
Good news for my man McCain, no doubt. Dag nab it. 

Worm Man, Florida, and the New York Times

Alas, the bad news of the night is that Cornelius’ master opus, Worm Man II: Fox Man Returns, did not win the regional Reflections competition. However, Cornelius did manage to score four points in a basketball game, which constituted 40% of the total score. (His team won, 10-6.) Two of those points were free throws, which I found particularly impressive.

Some promising Romney news – talked to my Romney guy who gave me the scoop in Iowa, and he told me of some interesting doings in Florida. Apparently, a Florida bigwig was about to endorse McCain and then got cold feet when he saw how well Romney is doing. The same bigwig said that Florida historically makes up its mind fairly late, and usually goes with the candidate with the biggest ad buy, which is going to be Romney by a mile. Everyone behind the scenes has written off Giuliani altogether, and McCain is suffering from the fact that everyone likes him except Republicans. Thompson’s voters are peeling off primarily to Romney, and Huckabee is a non-factor, as he has essentially pulled out of the state and is making his appeal to Southern anti-Mormons for Super Tuesday.

If you doubt that Romney’s doing well, just check out his InTrade numbers. In Michigan, Romney didn’t pull ahead of McCain until the day of the primary. As of this writing, Romney is trading at 56, and McCain is at 35. (Giuliani is the only other candidate who’s registering – barely – with a 7.5.) This, obviously, can fluctuate considerably, but there aren’t really any opportunities left for McCain to shift the momentum in his direction. Tonight’s debate – which I did not see – was apparently a snoozer, with Romney performing well. McCain was also endorsed tonight by the New York Times, which is the political equivalent of a Stallion Cornell endorsement in kiss-of-death terms. If McCain is the NYT’s candidate, he sure ain’t the GOP’s.

A Romney victory in Florida may not sew up the nomination for him, but there’s no doubt it would be a big, big deal.

Go McCain!

Topical Debate Thoughts

With new and exciting presidential debates on the horizon, I thought I’d interject with a non-political memory.

I was a debater back in high school, but only for my freshman year. I won the Best Freshman Debater award, and then I neglected to go to a prestigious debate institute over the summer, and, consequently, my career as a debater was all but over.

Oh, well. No big loss.

The problem was that debates became an exercise in who could speak the fastest. You only had a few minutes for each speech, so you had to cram in all the info you could by speaking at six zillion miles per hour like that guy from the old FedEx commercials.

I was a pretty good fast speaker, but I never knew much of what I was saying. I would make an assigned point and then sift through a file of index cards to read a piece of “evidence” supporting my position. The cards had been prepared by senior debaters on the team, and most of the time I had never read them before. I couldn’t tell you what was on them even after I read them. But if I could make more points in my speech than the other team could respond to in theirs, I won by default.

It all seemed so futile.

The debate topic that year was “Resolved: That the United States should significantly curtail its arms sales to foreign countries.” Every freshman debater was given a copy of a case that maintained that the US should cut off its arms sales to Taiwan. Opposing teams often opposed us with a “topicality” argument, which asserted that our Taiwan case didn’t match the assigned topic because the topic said foreign countries, plural, and since Taiwan was only one foreign country, we were breaking the rules.

Seriously. We would argue about this for hours on end. Totally pointless.

So the most delightful experience I had that year did not involve a debate in which I was a debater. I was just the assigned timekeeper, watching as varsity debaters competed in the regional tournament. An odd friend of my brother named Alan and his partner were competing on behalf of our school, against a team that obviously was more concerned about maintaining the integrity of the process than Alan was.

Alan and partner were assigned the “affirmative” position. So they ran a case that asserted that the United States ought to provide more free health clinics to its citizens. The problem was that the topic was supposed to be arms sales to foreign countries. Not to worry, though – Alan offered a clear plan for how their case would be implemented, and it included a provision that one handgun would not be sold to Canada. So it was topical after all.

Or maybe not. After the first speech, the opposing team leader stood up for the assigned period of cross examination – “cross ex” in debatespeak – and asked a very simple question.

“Alan,” he said, “would you mind telling me why you are running a case about health clinics, which wasn’t even topical last year?”

Alan responded that he was fully prepared to respond to any topicality issues they may raise.

And prepared he was. He had over 137 different topicality arguments on file. Their sheer volume made up for their total incoherence. In his rebuttal, Alan launched into his topicality defense, giving each of them a number and reading an evidence card to support them.

Argument 1: President Ronald Reagan states that topicality is not relevant to the debate process.

Then he would read the card that supported the statement. It was a direct quote from President Reagan, saying the words “It’s not.”

Then Alan moved through the list. Apparently, a lot of public figures said the words “It’s not.” Alan used each of them to support his argument, giving each a number in his barrage of irrefutably stupid facts.

Not all of the facts had evidence to back them up, though. I remember “Topicality Argument #42: Big rock” and “Topicality Argument #73: Flouride is safe.” There were other assertions that included verbose evidence cards that had nothing to do with the preceding statement. So topicality argument 89 could have included a statement like “Topicality causes cancer among rats and should be avoided at all costs,” followed up with a paragraph talking about the rising cost of car washes.

Alan lost.

This is a story without a moral. It just makes me laugh.

Fred’s Out

No surprise, but surprisingly good news for Romney, particularly since Thompson didn’t endorse anyone. Huckabee has pulled out of Florida, which makes Florida a three-way between Mitt, Rudy, and Beavis. 

Go Beavis!
As one who enjoys prank calls, this made me laugh…