If Obama And Rick Perry Are Losing, Why Isn’t Mitt Romney Winning? (The Note)

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone ) and AMY WALTER ( @amyewalter )

Rick Perry’s fading, Herman Cain’s surging and what about Mitt Romney? He’s running in place.

The past and present Republican front-runner is back on top of a fresh ABC News-Washington Post poll out today, but he hasn’t moved an inch since last month. In September, Romney was the choice of 25 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents in our poll, and one month later, he’s still the choice of 25 percent of them. http://abcn.ws/nNgsS0

Compare that steadiness to the volatility of former front-runner Rick Perry, whose support plummeted from 29 percent last month to 16 percent in October.

And then there’s the 2012 race’s current “it” candidate Herman Cain who quadrupled his support in the span of one month, blasting off from 4 percent in September to 16 percent in today’s poll.

Still, as ABC’s long-time Romney watcher, John Berman, points out, Romney advisers are upbeat, saying, “this is all good for Romney.”  One adviser said that while it is clear voters are shopping around, “All of this is people who will come to Mitt.” Eventually. http://abcn.ws/qb0cA8

Another clue in the poll for the lack of Mitt-mentum: Issues matter. Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, 73 to 20 percent, said  it’s more important to them to support the candidate they agree with the most than the one who’s most likely to win. That’s a relative weakness for Romney. Why? Head-to-head against Perry, leaned Republicans by a 43-37 percent  margin, describe Perry as closer to them on the issues.

So where does Romney go from here? While Romney might not be lighting anyone on fire, one Romney aide told our John Berman, “It takes somebody to beat somebody.” And lucky for the former Massachusetts governor, nobody yet seems to be the “somebody” who is a breakout choice.

Then again, in an appearance Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” conservative commentator George Will predicted that Romney may have hit his “ceiling.”

“The energy in the Republican Party is the river of Tea Party sentiment. It initially flowed to Michele Bachmann. Perry entered, it immediately flows largely to him. He has two bad debate performances, it goes to Herman Cain,” Will said. “What it may tell us most of all however is the reluctance of it to flow to the front-runner, Mr. Romney, who’s been campaigning for about seven years.”

Will did his homework: “I looked it up: In 2008, in no Gallup poll did he get above 22 percent. … His highest this year is 25 percent, which suggests a ceiling and the enthusiasm for the alternative candidates may say why,” he said.


CHRIS CHRISTIE WATCH. According to ABC News pollster Gary Langer: “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, when added to the mix, debuts with 11 percent support in this poll. … While that means nine in 10 don’t side with the Garden State governor, 42 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents also said they’d like him to run — more than say that about the other major figure still in the wings, Sarah Palin. … Best for Cain and Christie alike is the way in which potential Republican voters are warming to them. Forty-seven percent say the more they hear about Cain the more they like him versus 18 percent who like him less. It’s a similar 43 to 23 percent positive for Christie. …  Christie does best, naturally, among the three in 10 leaned Republicans who are dissatisfied with the current field of candidates. In this group, 22 percent support him for the nomination.” http://abcn.ws/nNgsS0

WILL HE OR WON’T HE? “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is expected to say any day now whether he will reverse his long-held decision to stay out of the 2012 Republican presidential campaign,” reports the Associated Press’ Steve Peoples. “Christie has been silent in early-voting primary states, and if he decides to join the Republican presidential race, he would face the challenge of launching a campaign from a standing start. Neither Christie nor his political team has reached out to GOP strategists or top party officials in Iowa or New Hampshire as the first-term governor re-evaluates his oft-repeated refusal to seek the Republican nomination. His lack of spadework would complicate an undertaking that already requires raising millions of dollars and establishing operations in several states simultaneously. Adding to the challenges, Florida last week moved its primary into January, pushing the start of the 2012 nominating contests to barely three months away.” http://bit.ly/oKOOWt


AND THEN THERE’S OBAMA. Lost in the GOP scramble is the fact that President Obama’s disapproval rating is up to 54 percent and those who strongly disapprove of the job he is doing stands at 40 percent. “He’s at career lows specifically among independents — key swing voters — and moderates,” ABC pollster Gary Langer notes. “General-election matchups remain quite close, with support for Obama’s challengers below his disapproval rating, indicating that discontent with the president hasn’t yet coalesced into full-throated support for the other side. Obama has 47 percent support versus 46 percent against Romney; this flips to 46 to 48 among registered voters. It’s 46 to 44 percent among all adults for Obama-Christie and 49 to 44 percent pitting Obama against Perry. The differences are not statistically significant.” http://abcn.ws/nNgsS0

ABC NEWS AND YAHOO! NEWS: REACHING A ‘SUPER BOWL SIZED AUDIENCE’ Yesterday Yahoo! and ABC News today announced they are joining forces to launch a strategic online news alliance. GoodMorningAmerica.com, launched on Yahoo! along with three new online-first video series hosted by ABC News anchors. “By combining forces, we will reach a Super Bowl-sized audience each month,” ABC News President Ben Sherwood said. “Today is just the start of the new relationship.” http://abcn.ws/nezwnZ

PRESIDENT ‘UNDERDOG.’ ABC’s George Stephanopoulos interviewed President Obama live at the White House yesterday to kick-off the new “Newsmakers” on ABCNews.com and on Yahoo!

Calling himself an “underdog,” President Obama said the faltering economy is a drag on his presidency and seriously impairing his chances of winning again in 2012. “Absolutely,” he said in response to a question from Stephanopoulos about whether the odds were against him come November 2012, given the economy. “I’m used to being the underdog. But at the end of the day people are going to ask — who’s got a vision?” The American people, he conceded, are “not better off” than they were four years ago. “The unemployment rate is way too high,” he said of the 9 percent jobless rate, the highest in more than half a century. Obama said his proposed American Jobs Act will put construction workers, teachers and veterans to work and give “more consumers more confidence.” Obama would not handicap the 2012 election, but objected to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s comments that he divided people more than united them. Republicans, he said, have stood in the way of working with him time and again to fix the economy. “At every step of way, I have tried to get the Republican Party to work with me on the biggest crisis of our lifetime. And each time we’ve gotten ‘No,’” he said. More from George’s interview with the president: http://abcn.ws/nEWnvC

ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE.” ABC’s Rick Klein and Amy Walter interview Rep. Jackie Speier, D- Calif. and Jim Clifton, Chairman of the Gallup Organization and author of “The Coming Jobs War.” Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern.  http://abcn.ws/toplineliveabc  


WHITE HOUSE WATCH. From ABC’s Mary Bruce: “President Obama will spend today promoting his jobs bill and raising campaign cash in Texas, the home state of GOP presidential candidate Gov. Rick Perry. The president will fly to Dallas this morning where he will deliver remarks at two campaign events before heading to Mesquite, Texas, to pitch his $447 billion jobs bill at a local school. The president’s remarks are expected to highlight how the American Jobs Act would prevent teacher layoffs and modernize schools buildings and campuses across the country, while once again urging Congress to pass the bill. Then, it’s off to St. Louis, Mo., where the president will attend two more campaign fundraisers before returning to Washington late this evening.” http://abcn.ws/oBTXdq



WEST VIRGINIANS HEAD TO THE POLLS. “In a race that has continually narrowed in the past few months, West Virginia acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin will attempt to make his stay in the governor’s mansion official today in a special election against Republican businessman Bill Maloney,” reports ABC’s Amy Bingham. “Tomblin, the former state Senate president, began the race with a significant lead in the polls, but his edge his dwindled after the Republican Governors Association began running a series of ads linking Tomblin to President Obama’s health care plan. The RGA has poured $3.4 million into the race, according to the Washington Post. And while the RGA has not released the exact price tag on the ad buys, they ran during Sunday football games in the D.C. media market, an undoubtedly pricey slot.” http://abcn.ws/nhjVzW


Cook Political Report’s Jennifer Duffy: “It would be nice to know who is voting on a random Tuesday in October in an off year. My sense is that Maloney falls short, just by virtue of where real polls had him last week (still in the mid 30s).  A Tomblin win doesn’t say much.  A close call tells us what we already know; the President isn’t popular and can hurt Democrats, even when he’s not on the ballot.  It would also beg the question as to why Republicans waited until so late in the game to pull the trigger on the Obama message since it clearly moved numbers. A Maloney win, though, would be seismic, and perhaps more so than NY-09 because even using the Obama message late was enough to pull Maloney across the line.  It would also tell us that rural/small town voters are as angry with Democrats as they were in 2010.  In fact, they might have tuned out Democrats altogether.  Finally, a Maloney might also say something about the power, or lack thereof, of endorsements,  Tomblin has labor (AFL-CIO, teachers) and business (Chamber, manufacturers) and the NRA.  If Tomblin can’t pull out a victory with all that help, then voters aren’t listening to the usual ssuspects.  This would be a particular problem for labor next year.”

Rothenberg Political Report’s Nathan Gonzales: “I don’t know who is going to win, but by the indications we have, Obama was the factor in making this close … Of course Obama has never been popular in WV, but it is striking that Republicans could take such a loose connection and make it stick to Tomblin.”

CAIN’S MEDIA MADNESS. He’s running third in today’s ABC News-Washington Post poll, nipping at the heels of Rick Perry and former Godfather’s Pizza CEO is using his newfound momentum, not in any early primary states, but on television. He’s promoting his new book, which officially hits store shelves today, “This is Herman Cain! My Journey To The White House.” Here’s his schedule of media appearances today, courtesy of ABC News’ Susan Archer:

7:30 AM ET – Fox and Friends on FNC

8:30 AM ET — Imus In the Morning

9 AM ET –”Kilmeade and Friends” ON Fox News Radio

11 AM ET  — “The View” on ABC

4 PM ET — Your World with Neil Cavuto

9 PM ET — FOX News / Hannity on FNC

9:30 PM ET –  America’s Newsroom on FNC

CHRISTIE $50 MILLION CHALLENGE. “As New Jersey Governor Chris Christie deliberates whether to plunge into the presidential race, he is rapidly running out of time to mount an effective campaign, say Republican strategists and fundraisers,” reports Bloomberg News’ Lisa Lerer and Terrence Dopp “‘It’s a big job,’ said John Catsimatidis, the billionaire supermarket tycoon who has raised tens of thousands of dollars for Christie. ‘And he’s only concentrated on New Jersey, so he doesn’t have the national contacts.’ To undertake a national campaign, Christie and his team must hire scores of staff, recruit teams of volunteers in crucial early voting states and embark upon a fast-paced travel schedule of fundraisers and campaign events. That requires raising a lot of money quickly. Yesterday, the South Carolina Republican Party announced it would hold its primary on Jan. 21, a shift that probably will bump the Iowa caucuses to just after New Year’s Day. The accelerated primary calendar leaves Christie with less than 90 days before the first round of voting. ‘You need at least $50 million to mount a campaign between now and Jan. 31,’ said Steve Duprey, a New Hampshire Republican Party committeeman who was a top adviser to Arizona Senator John McCain’s 2008 president bid. ‘That means raising half a million a day — starting last Friday.’” http://bloom.bg/qQpuTz

ROMNEY’S IMMIGRATION GAMBLE. “With Romney’s recent move to wield the immigration issue as a club against Rick Perry – painting him as “soft” on a topic that resonates with the Republican primary electorate — the former Massachusetts governor is taking advantage of a rare opportunity to outflank Perry on the right among conservatives,” writes Politico’s Maggie Haberman. “But the tactic is not without risk, and some strategists — and even some Romney supporters — are beginning to worry that he could damage himself as a general election candidate with the fastest-growing population of voters who are up for grabs: Hispanics. ‘Mitt Romney has definitely adopted [a hostile] tone, and needlessly,’ said Ana Navarro, the national Hispanic chairperson of Jon Huntsman’s campaign who served the same role on John McCain’s 2008 campaign. ‘Barack Obama’s basic vulnerability was that he made Latinos a promise on immigration that he has not delivered and Latinos remembered,” she added, referring to the president’s pledge for immigration reform. ‘We have a unique opportunity to capitalize on a broken promise to the Latino community, and instead of capitalizing on that, we are fighting over who is tougher and meaner and stricter when it comes to immigration. We’re completely missing the boat.’” http://politi.co/r3Yftt

ON THE AGENDA: THE FUTURE OF ENTITLEMENTS. Howard Dean, Mort Zuckerman, Margaret Hoover and Jeff Madrick will debate whether “Grandma’s Benefits Imperil Junior’s Future” at an Intelligence Squared debate at New York University’s Skirball Center tonight. ABC News’ John Donvan will be the moderator. “Given our rapidly aging population and harsh economic realities, healthcare has become an especially pressing issue. Among the questions to be addressed at the debate: Are we asking our children to sacrifice their future for the sake of the elderly? Have entitlements saddled our children with unmanageable debt? If we do cut spending to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, how will the elderly be cared for?” Presented in partnership with Slate, the Intelligence Squared debate will air on WNET and more than 220 NPR stations nationwide. The event begins at 6:45 p.m. More information: http://intelligencesquaredus.org/



@ MattMackowiak : Thrilled to announce today that my firm,  @potomacstrategy, has announced a second office in Austin –  bit.ly/ps3LPq  #tcot  #RS  #txlege

@ ZekeJMiller : David Brooks: The strongest case for Romney is that he’s nobody’s idea of a savior.  http://j.mp/omZe5I

@ seanspicer : RNC is up with a killer new Solyndra video MUST watch youtu.be/k7Z3bUpENKg was it a good bet, no regrets??  @RNC

@ EmilyABC : My take on Romney’s town hall last night in Salem, NH — spoke about Obama’s comments about America “going soft” abcn.ws/oP2yfp

@ ByronYork : Clinton polishes image at Obama’s expense. http://ow.ly/6MO17

@ evanmc_s : ICYMI, supporter of SF Mayoral cand says he’s the first openly gay candidate to feature his child in a TV ad  bit.ly/p8AsWz



ROMNEY TO DELIVER MAJOR FOREIGN POLICY SPEECH. ABC’s Emily Friedman reports: “Mitt Romney will deliver a major foreign policy speech at the Citadel in Charleston, S.C., Friday. Romney made his announcement on Sean Hannity’s radio show this afternoon. Romney said he will talk about a ‘very different vision’ and what changes to put in place to keep America leading of the world. The speech ‘will be the broadest, most in depth foreign policy discussion of anyone in this race’ and will be about ’America leading the world,’ according to a Romney adviser.” http://abcn.ws/qUKWiC

The Note Futures Calendar:  http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV


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