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Gingrich Phony Populism Sells in the South

By Michael Collins - Posted on 23 January 2012

By Michael Collins

Bionic candidate Mitt Romney went from inevitable to simply evitable thanks to South Carolina Republican primary voters. With 600,000 voting, turnout was up 34% over 2008. Ninety eight percent of voters were white. This is even less representative of the nation than Iowa and New Hampshire. But that's how things work in this democracy

The South Carolina exit poll (sponsored by the mainstream media) had a new question for voters as they left their polling places. They were asked if they had a positive or negative opinion of Mitt Romney's background as an investor. Investor refers to Romney's time as an investment banker with Bain Capital and can be taken as a proxy for a pro or anti-Wall Street/financial elite stance.

The results indicate what may turn into a fatal flaw in the Romney campaign. Sixty four percent of voters had a positive view of Romney as an investor with 28% negative. However, Gingrich won 50% of those who had a negative view of Romney's wheeler-dealer days as an investor. Romney took only 3% of voters who had a negative view of his role as an investor.  Mitt can't buy an anti-wall Street vote.

Gingrich's skillfully applied phony populism produced around 80,000 votes based on the results for the investor question. His margin of victory over Romney was 76,000. The issue is potent and will be repeated in upcoming contests.

Looking at the graph above, two conclusions are obvious. Gingrich won the primary by taking half of the anti-Wall Street vote. As for Romney, he couldn't break out of single digit support from the anti-Wall Street voters. The Gingrich anti-investor/investment banker pitch sells and he will keep selling it in larger states where the anti-Wall Street sentiment is greater. Ironically, one or more of the Gingrich campaign's fat-cat donors will be spending millions to help "their guy" attack crony capitalism, the basis for their wealth.

Never mind that every candidate running for president this year, save Ron Paul, is a Wall Street toady. Hostility toward the financial elite is so profound, even right wing Republicans like Gingrich and Santorum are attacking the destructive ways of the financial elite. And the financial elite are happy to fund their campaigns to make the attacks. It's called the Davis Doctrine. "Just win baby" was the motto for Al Davis' management style when he ran the Oakland Raiders organization in its glory days.


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