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Romney, The Speech, and Social Conservatism

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It has been speculated by some political strategists (e.g. Dick Morris) that Mitt Romney's recent speech on religion and faith at Texas A&M University was delivered not so much to quell the 'issue' of his Mormonism, but rather to reassure cultural conservatives that he is, in fact, a reliable conservative.

The rise of Mike Huckabee in national and state (Iowa, South Carolina, Nevada) polls has come in large part at the expense of Fred Thompson—who was originally viewed as the conservative alternative to Rudy Giuliani. However, Huckabee's surge has been so large that he has no doubt also taken away some of the initial soft support for Romney and Giuliani. But Romney is touting his social conservative credentials—credentials seemed tarnished by some, not because he is a Mormon, but because he ran as a pro-choice candidate for Governor of Massachusetts.

A recent Associated Press / Pew Research Center poll of likely Republican voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina suggests Morris' reason for 'the speech' might hold true in Iowa, but less so in the other key primary states. The AP/Pew survey asked Republicans which candidate best reflected their "views on social issues like abortion and gay rights." In Iowa, 27 percent cited Huckabee, with Romney a distant second at 15 percent. But Huckabee did not reach double figures on this issue in either New Hampshire or South Carolina, cited by just 9 percent of Republicans in each state. In New Hampshire, 28 percent named Romney; in South Carolina, Romney, at 15 percent, was just 1 point behind Giuliani and Thompson.

However, Huckabee's social conservative issue numbers could easily rise in New Hampshire and especially South Carolina as he becomes more well known (most of his resources are poured into the Hawkeye State). Romney is therefore smart to stake his claim to the social conservative mantle.

Romney is already seen by Republican voters in all three states as the candidate best reflecting their views on dealing with taxes, and in Iowa and New Hampshire for making wise decisions about what to do in Iraq and dealing with immigration.

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Remains of the Data

Gender Equality in the US House: A State-by State Quarter-Century Report Card (1989-2014)

A study of 5,325 congressional elections finds the number of female U.S. Representatives has more than tripled over the last 25 years, but the rate at which women are elected to the chamber still varies greatly between the states.

Political Crumbs

Final Four Has Presidential Approval

By edging Michigan in the final seconds Sunday, the University of Kentucky guaranteed that one school in the Final Four this year would be located in a state that was not carried by President Barack Obama in 2012. (Connecticut, Florida, and Wisconsin had previously earned Final Four slots over the weekend). Across the 76 Final Fours since 1939, an average of 3.1 schools have been located in states won by the president's ticket during the previous election cycle. All four schools have come from states won by the president 29 times, with the most recent being the 2009 Final Four featuring Connecticut, Michigan State, North Carolina, and Villanova. On 30 occasions three Final Four schools have been located in states won by the president, with two schools 11 times and only one school six times (the most recent being 2012 with Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, and Ohio State). There has never been a Men's NCAA Division I Final Four in which no schools were located in states carried by the president's ticket.


Three for the Road

A new Rasmussen Poll shows Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in a dead heat with likely 2014 Democratic nominee Mary Burke. Walker is seeking to win his third consecutive election after prevailing in 2012's recall contest. Eight of his predecessors accomplished this feat: Republicans Lucius Fairchild (in 1869), Jeremiah Rusk (1886), Robert La Follette (1904), Emanuel Philipp (1918), John Blaine (1924), Walter Kohler (1954), Warren Knowles (1968), and Tommy Thompson (1994). Three others Badger State governors lost on their third campaign: Democrat George Peck (1894), Progressive Philip La Follette (1938), and Republican Julius Heil (1942). One died in office before having the opportunity to win a third contest (GOPer Walter Goodland in 1947) while another resigned beforehand (Democrat Patrick Lucey in 1977 to become Ambassador to Mexico). Overall Wisconsin gubernatorial incumbents have won 35 of 47 general election contests, or 74.5 percent of the time.


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