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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

Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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