Sunday, February 26, 2012

From Truth-Out:
How Pop Culture Influences Political Expectations
Saturday 25 February 2012
by: Bill Moyers, Moyers & Co. | Interview and Video
Film historian and culture critic Neal Gabler joins Bill Moyers to discuss how representations of heroism in movies shape our expectations of a U.S. president, and how our real-world candidates are packaged into superficial, two-dimensional personas designed to appeal to both the electorate and the media. As a result, says Gabler, we never get to the true pressing questions and issues of America.

“We love candidates who speak their mind in movies,” Gabler tells Moyers, adding that the same is not true for real life. “Movies are clean; democracy is a mess.”

Neil Gabler on How Pop Culture Influences Political Culture from on Vimeo.

BILL MOYERS: For all its many qualities, including some fine acting, “Contagion” was frozen out of the Oscars—not a single nomination. In fact, none of my favorites were nominated. Nonetheless, let’s go to the movies for some insights on our politics today, because when it comes to storytelling, Hollywood and Washington are co-dependents. Political conspiracies, skullduggery, and infighting have long provided solid plotlines for moviemakers. In turn, politicians try to embrace the values that movies depict as the noblest virtues of the American character: selfless courage, patriotism, sincerity and compassion. Both know that movie entertainment informs our image of what leaders should be but at the very same time capably and handily distracts us from certain grim truths.

So we’ve chosen this moment to talk with Neal Gabler, the historian of culture and film who expertly interprets how movies reflect our society and politics. Here in New York, Neal Gabler is an indispensable Saturday night guide to the movies on our flagship public station WNET/Thirteen.

NEAL GABLER on Reel 13: Welcome to Reel 13. I’m Neal Gabler.

BILL MOYERS: His books include biographies of Walt Disney and the powerful gossip columnist Walter Winchell, this one An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood and my favorite, Life the Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality. He’s back in town after a semester as a fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Welcome home, Neal.

NEAL GABLER: Thank you very much.

BILL MOYERS: When you say life's a movie what are you saying?

NEAL GABLER: What I'm saying is that life itself has become an entertainment medium, that we are all actors in, and audience for, an ongoing show, that we have so steeped ourselves in the theatrical arts by watching them and ultimately by assimilating them that we have turned our own lives, and life outside of us, into a movie which we can watch and which we can perform in simultaneously.

I'll give you one example, you know, if you were to ask a farmer in the 19th century, or even in the 20th century for that matter, 'Why are you wearing overalls?' He would have looked at you in complete befuddlement. 'What do you mean why am I wearing overalls?'

But now we have people who walk down the street wearing cowboy hats from Ralph Lauren or wearing safari outfits from Ralph Lauren. You can, your clothing becomes a costume and you become a role player in some sort of fantasy.

And of course we see this in politics, you know, in spades where politics is a movie. And we're now, you know, in a campaign season where what we're really watching is not so much political debate, though it's called that, as we are watching a movie in which candidates are contending to be our protagonist-in-chief, as I would put it.

BILL MOYERS: Protagonist-in-chief--



NEAL GABLER: Meaning that they, themselves, see the country as a kind of movie and they want to be the hero of the movie because they understand that's what the American people really are looking for. They want a Clint Eastwood, they want a John Wayne. They want an Arnold Schwarzenegger to be the head of state.

BILL MOYERS: But we wanted heroes in the White House before there were movies. George Washington, hero; Andrew Jackson, hero; Ulysses S. Grant, hero. That was some-- that seems to be something inherent in human nature, not in the movies, per se.

NEAL GABLER: I mean, there’s a distinction between real heroes and celebrities who are people on whom we impute a kind of heroism who haven't really earned it. John Wayne is a perfect example. John Wayne never whenever to war, and yet almost everybody in America regards in as heroic because he played a hero.

So the lust for heroism I don't think is anything new. That's a product of human nature possibly, and it's certainly a tradition in America. But the difference is the nature of heroism, what we define as heroism and the way in which heroism gets framed. We have expectations now of our political leaders.

And the expectations are that our political leaders are going to operate the same way that movie heroes operate, not the traditional war heroes or whatever operate, but that movie heroes operate, and that they'll essentially slash their way through problems and vanquish them at the end of the presidency, which in this case is the end of the national movie.

BILL MOYERS: It used to be that the first reel contained a villain and the last reel contained a hero. But in politics it's just the opposite. Very often the hero, who gets elected is a villain by the time he takes office, right?

NEAL GABLER: Well, you know, the election is the greatest movie of all. And when the lights come up on election day and we leave the theater and we say as we did in 2008, as many people said, 'Boy, this is, what a great day for America that we could actually elect an African American to the presidency and that the slogans of hope and change that you can believe in, all these things are really operative.' But there's a sequel. And the sequel is governance. Now, as much as the movie of the election may be powerful and entertaining and even in some cases uplifting, governance is a whole different thing.

BILL MOYERS: So in the end are movies contributing to the paralysis and the frustrations of democracy? Because as you say, the movie is glamorous, governing is not.

NEAL GABLER: Absolutely. In fact I think the-- I would even go farther than that. I mean, governance is a very bad movie, it's a really lousy movie. Elections are a better movie because look at, elections fit into a clean framework of there's going to be a winner and there's going to be a loser. It's essentially a sporting event.

But then, that contest ends and after that we have a whole different set of problems and situations, but there aren't clear winners and losers. There isn't the clear framework. There's not the clear sense of hero and villain as there was during the election as we impute those things onto our candidates. So governance is as I say, is a lousy movie. And we don't know how to deal with that.

BILL MOYERS: One of my favorite moments in one of the best political movies ever made, The Candidate, Robert Redford--

NEAL GABLER: Ah, wonderful movie.

BILL MOYERS: Remember he runs this race for the-- and he's elected.

NEAL GABLER: He’s selected, tapped as the Democratic candidate in California partly because he's the son of a former governor, but also because he looks like Robert Redford.


NEAL GABLER: You know, he's handsome and he's articulate and he gives the impression of sincerity, all the things that one needs to be elected. But there's no substance to the campaign whatsoever. And indeed, as the campaign goes on it becomes more and more about aesthetics.

About how one looks, how one appears, where one shows up. I mean, there's one scene in the movie where he walks down the beach just so he can be photographed for a television commercial and people come up to him and he looks like, boy, he's so relaxed, he's in his element. And then we get to the end of the movie. Now, he's elected and he goes to his political advisor-

MARVIN LUCAS in The Candidate: Okay, we have about 60 seconds of privacy before they find out we’re here now, so what’s on your mind, Senator?

BILL MCKAY in The Candidate: I don’t know.

MARVIN LUCAS in The Candidate: Okay, we got to get out there. See I told you they’d be here.

BILL MCKAY in The Candidate: Marvin, what do we do now?

MARVIN LUCAS in The Candidate: Wait a minute, wait a minute, what?

NEAL GABLER: Election's easy. Governance is hard.

BILL MOYERS: The hero of the campaign becomes a pretty weak figure at the moment of governance, right?

NEAL GABLER: If the campaign is about aesthetics. And that's what has happened in American politics.

BILL MOYERS: Earlier this week on CNN there was a headline that said, "Will the debate reveal a new Romney?" I mean, a new Romney is the-

NEAL GABLER: A new Romney? Well, here we have another debate and what's Romney's role going to be in this debate? How does he project himself? This is all about the narrative that the candidates are presenting to the public. And it's all about how well they can seduce the public. Now, the public's wise to this. It's not like the public is sitting back and they're stupid. The public gets this. They understand that this is-

BILL MOYERS: So why do we go along? Why do we go along with it?

NEAL GABLER: Well, I think--

BILL MOYERS: Because we-- after the election we are so frustrated, democracy's not working, nothing gets solved. And yet we were party to the movie, we were in the audience applauding when the new Romney emerged.

NEAL GABLER: You know, there's, I think, a kind of American schizophrenia about our politics. On the one hand we love to sit back and see these people be compelled to seduce us because elections are basically about seduction. And we understand, there's no fooling us that that's what the process is. So we sit there and we say, 'How well are they going to seduce us?'

But that also gives way to an incredible cynicism about the process. Americans are deeply cynical about politics generally. And one of the reasons we're cynical is because we get it. We get how it works. On the other hand we would have theoretically at our disposal the ability to change American politics, to say, you want to know something? I don't want to buy the new Romney, or the old Romney, or the new Gingrich, or the old Gingrich, or the new Santorum, or the old Santorum.

I want to know who a candidate really is. I want him to speak honestly and forcefully to me. And I also want to understand policy-wise what choices is he going to make? What interests are we going to-- is he going to serve? You know, these are questions that are almost never addressed in a political campaign and yet they're the fundamental questions of a political campaign.

BILL MOYERS: But let's go to The Candidate because there is another scene that I remember so well when Robert Redford, the candidate, tries to get his opponent and the media to take the issues seriously.

NEAL GABLER: This is the moment during the debate, if I'm not mistaken--


NEAL GABLER: Where he's debating his Republican rival, a three-term Republican senator. And he's saying, 'Look it, we've got to address the issues here. We're not addressing the issues.'

DEBATE MODERATOR in The Candidate: Mr. McKay, you now have one minute to sum up. Mr. McKay?

BILL McKAY in The Candidate: In the begin-- I don’t, I think it’s important to note what subjects we haven’t discussed. We completely ignored the fact that this is society divided by fear, hatred, and violence. And until we talk about just what this society really is than I don’t know how we’re going to change it. For example, we haven’t discussed the rot that destroys our cities. We have all the resources we need to check it and we don’t use them. And we haven’t discussed why not. We haven’t discussed race in this country, we haven’t discussed poverty, in short, we haven’t discussed any of the sicknesses that may yet send this country up in flames. And we’d better do it. We’d better get it out in the open and confront it. Before it’s too late.

NEAL GABLER: And his handlers absolutely feel that he's done the absolutely wrong thing in trying to compel the press to address issues in an aesthetic campaign.

But the difference today would be that there would be a headline that the candidate says, Redford says, 'America is rotten,' or, 'America is sick.' And everyone would jump on it and then he would be compelled to come before the camera and say, 'I didn't say that America was rotten and I didn't way that America was sick.'

Now, interestingly, we've seen Newt Gingrich do a variation on this, and I think it's fascinating, it's kind of post-modernist. Because Gingrich is going around saying, that, you know, we don't talk enough about policy. We really ought to talk about policy. We're talking about personal things, but we really ought to talk about policy. But in talking about talking about policy, he never talks about policy. He's simply talking about talking about policy. Now, this is a wonderful trick. It makes him sound as if he really wants to address policy without ever having to do so.

To see more articles and videos from Moyers & Co., click here.

BILL MOYERS: So would Mitt Romney get the role of playing Mitt Romney if there were a movie about which Mitt Romney is going to win?

NEAL GABLER: Well, it depends on which Mitt Romney you want in the movie. I mean, I think what Mitt Romney has done is he's created the narrative that he is the strong businessman. And he looks the part, and that's one of the reasons why he can play this role.

On the other hand, that narrative has not played well with the Republican constituency. Because they don't care whether he's a strong businessman. What they want to know is, does he have the courage of his convictions which is essentially the courage of their convictions, their conservative convictions.

So Romney's problem in this campaign is his narrative is the wrong narrative. He's playing the wrong role. They want to see if he has courage. They don't want to see that he has the financial acumen to run the economy, they don't care. And this is a very difficult thing to do. He's miscast. What makes a great actor? What makes a great actor is the authenticity. You believe in that performance. That's great acting.

And, what we do is we get a candidate, Gingrich, you know, coming along and saying, 'Well, I'm authentic because I'm going to-- I say what I want to say. I don't pull my punches.' And then he gets taken down. Now Santorum is cast in the same way. Why is Santorum being boosted? Because he's sincere.

BILL MOYERS: You say in here that we escape from life by escaping into a neat narrative formula. Isn't that true of politics, as well? Movies give us a neat story, a neat drama with a beginning, a middle and an end and we like that even though politics isn't really like that?

NEAL GABLER: Politics is antithetical really to the values of movies even though the values of movies as I said earlier permeate politics, and that's a problem. You know, Americans love democracy, but they hate politics. And politics is one of the things that gives us democracy.

BILL MOYERS: I would have thought just the opposite. They love politics, witness the audiences for the debates, witness the enthusiasm of the crowd. But it's the working of democracy they don't like.

NEAL GABLER: Well they love the theatricality of politics. But when I say politics I don't mean the horse race aspect of it. I mean the bargaining, the negotiations, the policy, all of those things which are the essence of real politics and political decision making, Americans hate that and they are cynical about that. They feel it doesn't work.

And that is not a healthy situation for democracy. What we have to do is embrace the fact that democracy's a mess. Movies are not, movies are clean. Democracy is a mess. That's what makes it democracy.

It's about finding out how interests get resolved, that's what democracy's about. Movies aren't about that. Movies are about vanquishing a villain, that's what movies are about. And what happens in American politics is that notice how, and we see this in the Republican debate, that idea of vanquishing the villain, in this case Barack Obama, has become the political meme.

It's not about policy. It's not about interests. It's about, there's this bad guy in the White House and we've got to defeat him. That's Batman. That's not really the way the political system would operate. And it contributes to polarization.

BILL MOYERS: Have you seen Ides of March with--

NEAL GABLER: Yes, I have, yes.

BILL MOYERS: George Clooney? There's a moment in there where he talks differently about religion from the way many candidates including Santorum are doing. Let me play that for us.

GOVERNOR MORRIS in The Ides of March: I am not a Christian, or an atheist. I'm not Jewish or Muslim. What I believe, my religion, is written on a piece of paper called the Constitution. Meaning, that I will defend, until my dying breath, your right to worship, in whatever God you believe in. As long as it doesn't hurt others. I believe we should be judged as a country by how we take care of the people who cannot take care of themselves. That's my religion. If you think I’m not religious enough, don't vote for me. If you think I’m not experienced enough, or tall enough, then don't vote for me. Because I can’t change that to get elected.

NEAL GABLER: Of course, if anybody had ever said what Clooney says here, and again this is where we get this kind of schizophrenia, we love candidates who are forthright on the movies. We love candidates in the movies who say what they want to say and just rip the cover off the ball and, you know.

But in real life if a candidate ever said that he would have doomed his chances to be elected in a second because the headline would be-- and every one of his opponents would say, 'Doesn't believe in God. Clooney doesn't believe in God.' And then for a week the narrative that week would be him having to come back and def—'I never said I don't believe in God.' And you know, this is the kind of idiocy that absolutely overtakes the American political narrative. But this is the only-- the only thing we get is idiocy. We get one-

BILL MOYERS: We're a nation of idiots?

NEAL GABLER: I won't say we're a nation of idiots although I will say this-- I would never say that of course. Because if I said that-

BILL MOYERS: In a movie you would.

NEAL GABLER: That would-- in a movie I would, in a movie, absolutely. Yes.

BILL MOYERS: We'll do a movie.

NEAL GABLER: But I would say that we allow this kind of thing to happen, we let it happen. And we let the media promulgate this sort of thing and we don't put our feet down and say, 'You know, enough, enough.'

And I think we have to shame the public and the media, shame them, into saying, 'Look, as a citizen this is your responsibility. It's not your responsibility to watch, you know, woodpeckers in a debate, you know, knock one another's heads. That's entertaining and it's fun and all of that, but now you have a duty. You have a responsibility.'

We've got an Occupy Wall Street movement. We now need an Occupy Media movement in which, you know, ordinary people say, 'I want a real debate on issues.' And find the resources to do that.

BILL MOYERS: But in a society so thoroughly saturated with entertainment, aren't we losing our capacity for the sustained or more serious ideas?

NEAL GABLER: We are losing our idealism. We are losing our ability to process these things. We outsource our opinions. I mean, when you look at Fox News and MSNBC for example, and they're not the only culprits, what do they really represent? I mean, people always say, 'Well, they're, they market to a niche.' But what they really represent is outsourcing our own opinions.

Yeah, we don't have to think. We can outsource it to Fox. We kind of agree with them generally, we kind of generally agree with MSNBC, so now we've outsourced it. They'll do it for us.

So in some ways in this media saturated, entertainment saturated culture what we have to do, it's imperative for us to do this, is disenchant ourselves, get ourselves out of the movie, leave the theater for a moment and say, what is the real impact?

When we get into the cold light of the sidewalk after the movie is over, what is the impact of all this? What is it going to mean for my life? What is it going to mean for America? And if we don't start asking those questions we can't move this forward at all. All we're going to get is punditry and analysis of who's winning and who's losing and a movie. We'll get nothing but the movie. But the problem is movies don't answer the pressing questions of America. Policy answers the pressing questions of America and we have to demand to know what these guys are going to do and what choices they're going to make.

BILL MOYERS: Neal Gabler, we'll continue this conversation as the year goes on. Thank you for joining me.

NEAL GABLER: Thank you so much, Bill.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Update: Best page for 2012 Republican Party presidential primaries dates, # of delegates, winner-take-all or proportional through Super Tuesday

My developing table on 2012 Primaries and Caucuses for the Republican Presidential Nomination: (parentheses = probably)
The Republican National Convention will be held at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, Tampa, Florida, August 27 (Monday) to 30 (Thursday), 2012.
State Date (Sat. elections in italics) Caucus or primary Open or closed Winner-Take-All or proportional Number of delegates
Iowa evangelical January 3 Caucus Closed Proportional 28
New Hampshire libertarian but New England January 10 Primary Open to Republi- cans and Indepen- dents Proportional 12
South Carolina evangelical January 21 Primary Open Winner-take-all 25
Florida evangelical, Old South north; cosmopolitan southern section January 31 Primary Closed Winner-take-all 50
Nevada libertarian West; besieged with foreclosures February 4 Caucus Closed Proportional 28
Maine (municipal level) February 4 to 11 Caucus Closed Determined at precinct level (Likely WTA) 24
Colorado social conserv., but libertarian February 7 Caucus Closed Unbound 36
Minnesota February 7 Caucus Open Unbound 40
Missouri (non-binding, see 3/17 cauc.) February 7 Primary Modified Alloct. at convention 52
Arizona February 28 Primary Closed WTA 29
Michigan February 28 Primary Open* Proportional (15% threshold) 30
Washington March 3 Caucus Open Mixed WTA/Proportional 43
Alaska March 6 Caucus Closed Proportional 27
Georgia March 6 Primary Open Mixed WTA/Proportional 76
Idaho March 6 Caucus Open Mixed WTA/Proportional 32
Massachusetts March 6 Primary Semi-Open Proportional (15% threshold) 41
North Dakota March 6 Caucus Open (per state party's county convention rules) 28
Ohio March 6 Primary Closed Mixed WTA/Proportional 66
Oklahoma March 6 Primary Closed Modified WTA 43
Tennessee March 6 Primary Open Mixed WTA/Proportional 58
Vermont March 6 Primary Open Modified WTA 17
Virginia March 6 Primary Open Modified WTA 49
Wyoming March 6 to March 10 Caucus (County Convention) Closed (per state party's county convention rules) 29
Table in progress.

Source for winner-take-all or proportional allocation of delegates:
*In Michigan, voter may chose which party primary in which to vote, but once they have chosen that party, they must vote for all one party once they have entered the voting booth.

Projected winners in latest opinion polls; highlights are links to polls:
Arizona: Mitt Romney
Michigan: toss-up, leaning Romney
Big considerations, states with over 50 delegates, March 6, Super Tuesday:
Georgia: Newt Gingrich, but with only a three point lead on Romney
Ohio: Rick Santorum
Tennessee: despite being next-door to Gingrich's home state: Santorun

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Key Ohio GOPer Switches from Romney to Santorum; CPAC and Religious Endorsements

Yesterday (February 17, 2012) in a major coup for the Rick Santorum presidential campaign, Attorney General Mike DeWine speaking publicly in Columbus, Ohio, switched his support from Mitt Romney to Rick Santorum. This could have a detrimental effect on the state next door, Michigan, on February 28 when Romney's birth state holds its presidential primary, 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM, Central Time. 30 proportionally distributed convention delegates are at stake in the Michigan primary.

Take a look at the meeting program of the crazy, far right Conservative Political Union's Conservative Political Action Committee "CPAC": February 9 to 11, 2012 at the Ballroom of the Marriott Park Wardman Hotel in Washington, DC:

The CPAC endorsed Mitt Romney for the 2012 presidential nomination, but well short of a majority, 38 percent supporting Romney; Rick Santorum won 31 percent, Newt Gingrich, 15 percent, Ron Paul, 12 percent.

Rick Santorum charged that the process was manipulated:
“Well, you know, those straw polls at CPAC — as you know for years Ron Paul has won those because he just trucks in a lot of people, pays for their ticket, they come in a vote, and then they leave,” “We didn’t do that. We don’t do that. I don’t try to rig straw polls.”
--As reported by The Raw Story blog.

Earlier post:
The CPAC is due to make an endorsement. In the past they have endorsed Mitt Romney and Ron Paul.
Which of the remaining Republican candidates for president in 2012 will they endorse?: Romney? Gingrich? Paul? Santorum?
DO these groups' endorsements have an effect?
Did the religious conservatives' January 14, 2012 endorsement of Rick Santorum at their Texas meeting play a role in his recent primary and caucuses wins (Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri)? (More than 150 religious conservatives such as Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference president Rev. Samuel Rodriguez and former presidential candidate Gary Bauer met at the Benham, Texas ranch of retired judge Paul Pressler.)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Social Roots of the Enduring Support Gingrich is Recieving --The Story the Media is Missing

The media have been abuzz with commentary about how former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is the front-runner in the 2012 Republican presidential contest.
They have missed analyzing the county-level returns. In contest after contest, the social conservatives, first former Senator Rick Santorum (Pennsylvania), then former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Georgia) have been cleaning up in the non-urban, cultural periphery parts of states and their primary or caucus contests.

First, in the Iowa caucuses, Santorum won the majority of the counties, and particularly, he won the rural counties. (See this county map of the 2012 Iowa Republican caucuses.)

Next, in the South Carolina primary (January 21) Gingrich swept to victory in the parts of the state that were outside of the state capital, Columbia and the Atlantic Ocean coast with Charleston and Myrtle Beach. (See this county map of the 2012 South Carolina Republican primary.)

In Florida on January 31 Gingrich got all but three counties in the western part of the state, including counties north and west of the county containing Alachua, and west of the county containing Jacksonville. (See this county map of the 2012 Florida Republican primary.) Presaging the Super Tuesday contest at the beginning of March, Gingrich handily beat Romney in the Florida panhandle, adjacent to Georgia.

Even in yesterday's Nevada caucuses, Romney's support was not quite as strong in the western part of the state.
In Minnesota we can expect some drama as this was one of the better Huckabee states (he was the leading social conservative since the 2008 race), as he got 19.88 percent of the votes in the 2008 caucus.

One can also see a county level map of the whole U.S.A.of the winning pluralities in the 2008 race as part of this 2008 comparison process. Assuming that these depictions are useful future predictions, in the next coming contests, Romney will do quite well in Colorado (Feb. 7), Gingrich will have a level of a come-back in the Minnesota caucus (Feb. 7), Gingrich will have a level of a come-back in Missouri (it has a non-binding primary on February 7 but its binding caucus is on March 17), Romney will will do well in the Maine caucus (February 11) but will share the win with Paul in parts, and Gingrich will have a resurgence in Super Tuesday, particularly in the authentic South (e.g., Georgia as opposed to Florida).

Santorum is in trouble and you would think that he would consider dropping out, he has not exceeded 18 percent of the vote any contest since New Hampshire on January 10, his highest recent response being 17.0 percent in the South Carolina primary.

The winner-take-all ("WTA") dynamic has a way of encouraging candidates to leave the race. Notice the heavy load of delegates racked up for John McCain in the 2008 contest; yet, Romney won many contests as well. However, the WTA delegate stack meant that the delegate accumulation did not happen for Romney, only in significant numbers for McCain. Note these patterns in the 2008 race, in a chronological wikipedia table of vote and delegate distribution for each primary; wearying of the delegate accumulation for McCain, Romney dropped out fight after the February 5, 2008 Super Tuesday primaries.
This year, 2012, however, with more contests having proportional distribution of delegates and candidates insistent on staying in the race after front-runner momentum shows futility for the less successful candidates. (i.e., Think of Santorum in particular.)

* * *
It is interesting that Newt Gingrich has not pointed this out more clearly:
Romney is the sole moderate remaining in the Republican presidential race now. Four years ago in 2008 he split the moderate vote with John McCain.
Now, with no McCain in the race, he has not once been able to lift voter enthusiasm beyond the 48 percent mark.
With McCain out of the way, he should be able to win with rates of 70 percent or more.
(Compare with the percentages that Romney and McCain got in the 2008 primary season.)
Yet, look at the states where Romney and his media boosters have trumpeted; Romney has not once broken through the 48 percent point:
New Hampshire, January 10, 39.3 percent
Florida, January 31, 46.4 percent
Nevada, February 4, 47.6 percent