Is Romney the Front-Runner?

WaPo reports a bit of spin from the Romney camp:

Giuliani “is now trailing in four of the five key states that fall before Feb. 5,” Gage writes. The memo goes on to note that the average of public polls conducted in June and July show Romney leading comfortably in Iowa and New Hampshire and more narrowly in Nevada. Former senator Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) leads the way in South Carolina, while Giuliani is a strong first choice only in Florida.

The story goes on to say that Giuliani “is shifting from a Feb. 5 strategy aimed at running the table of large states set to vote that day to a more traditional approach of lavishing attention on places such as Iowa and New Hampshire…”

Well, ok.  So say Giuliani goes all out in Iowa and New Hampshire and loses both to Romney. Winning Florida alone would still give him more delegates than Romney. The race then moves to “Super Duper Tuesday” on Feb. 5, when about 20 states will be holding primaries, including New York, New Jersey, and California, as well as a good many Southern and Midwestern states.  In most of the Southern and Midwestern states that are up, Romney rarely polls even half as well as Giuliani.  Romney’s spinners are saying that Thompson will pull support away from Giuliani, which I think is true. But he’ll pull support away from Romney as well, and in those Feb. 5 primary states, the battle will be between Thompson and Giuliani.

Wikipedia has a breakdown of the primary polling by state.  Using only polls since June 1 of this year, Giuliani leads in five states — California, Florida, NY, Illinois, Ohio, and Pennsylvania — which nets him up to 620 delegates (in fact, it would be less than that because not all those states are winner-take-all), about half the number needed to win the nomination. Fred Thompson comes in second with leads in four states — Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Nevada (which Romney apparently disputes), and Tennessee — for up to 335 delegates. Romney is in third with leads in Iowa, Idaho, Michigan, and New Hampshire that add up to at most 158 delegates.

Romney has the most money, and perhaps that combined with early wins will make him competitive in the South and Midwest.  But I don’t see it happening.  What I do think is possible is that a protracted three-way battle might leave no one candidate with a majority of delegates, and Romney might be in a position to play king-maker.   Would he throw his weight behind Giuliani or Thompson? Things get even messier in a four-way fight if John McCain hangs around: my hunch is that McCain would ultimately back Thompson, who after all supported McCain-Feingold.  But whatever way you cut it, Romney’s trajectory doesn’t seem to be taking him to the White House.


David Cameron’s Losers

The UK has just had two parliamentary by-elections, in Ealing Southall and Sedgefield. “David Cameron’s Conservatives,” as the Ealing ballot called them, came in third in both.  Labour’s share of the vote was down in both places, though, and the Tories’ share was marginally up — by less than 1%.

Cameron didn’t just have his name all over the Ealing election — he visited the district at least five times, and he hand-picked the Conservative candidate, Tony Lit, foisting him on the local party. Lit had been a Labour supporter practically up to the minute he became the Tory candidate. “Rupert Murdoch’s Times” has a useful time-line of the story here. (I think I could get to like the practice of identifying institutions with their awful owners and leaders…)

Time for the Tories to dump Cameron? Their rapid cycling through leaders hasn’t done them any favors. But sticking with Cameron won’t do them any favors either.

Democratic Capitalism Rides Again

Finished copies of Brian Anderson’s Democratic Capitalism and Its Discontents arrived at the ISI Books offices yesterday. It’s a handsome book, if I do say so myself, and while I’m skeptical of any concept that originates with Michael Novak, I’m looking forward to seeing what Anderson has to say. His earlier South Park Conservatives wasn’t the trendy cash-in that its title might lead you to expect. (Oddly enough an event I helped put together, a lecture by Paul Cantor at Washington University in 2002, is a notable episode in the history of “South Park conservatism”; Anderson interviewed my friend Matthew Arnold about it for his book. For more on Professor Cantor’s take on South Park, see “Invisible Gnomes and the Invisible Hand” on LRC.)

Anderson’s new book includes chapters against Rawls and for Bertrand de Jouvenel, which I expect I’ll find congenial. He also notes in his introduction, with some surprise, that an excerpt from Benjamin Barber’s Consumed ran in The American Conservative. I’m even less sympathetic to Barber’s nostrums than I am to “democratic” capitalism, but I find the whole debate rather interesting.

The Heinlein Centenary

The 100th anniversary of Robert Heinlein’s birth is July 7, and already there are several excellent pieces in print and on the web commemorating the great sci-fi writer. Brian Doherty’s article in the Aug/Sept. issue of Reason is well worth a look (it’ll be on-line eventually, but why wait? You won’t want to miss Peter Bagge’s pro-2nd amendment comic strip, either), and Steve Sailer has some thoughts about Heinlein on his blog here.

I still like John Derbyshire’s characterization of Heinlein from about a year ago: “Libertarianism, the warrior virtues, and enticing women—that’s Heinlein. What’s not to like? The man was a saint.” Of course, calling for higher taxes to fight the Cold War is one thing not to like, and that wasn’t the only questionable thing about Heinlein. But that’s water under the bridge now, and Brian Doherty’s piece in Reason deftly puts down the idea that the Heinlein of Starship Troopers was some kind of fascist.

I haven’t read very much Heinlein — I may actually have read more Arthur C. Clarke, even though I like him less — but the first non-picture-book I read as a boy was his Red Planet, which taught me what an “IOU” is and much else besides.