Home / Robert Farley / More on Romney’s Inevitability

More on Romney’s Inevitability

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Sabato et al have broken down the rest of the GOP primary race by date, delegate, and demographics.  A couple thoughts:

1. Colorado notwithstanding, I have trouble seeing the Pacific Northwest and Mountain West states as tossups.  Romney is going to have strong support from Mormons all over the region, and I suspect that Ron Paul will also bite into Santorum’s base.  So to speak.

2. It’s very hard to see Romney giving up, or accepting a VP slot.  Theoretically Romney could try again in 2016, but it’s doubtful that he’ll ever face a field this weak again.  As we know, there’s nothing more dangerous than a Mitt with nothing left to lose.  Santorum might have a chance in 2016, might be willing to accept the VP slot, and thus is less likely to go for broke.

3. The failure of Santorum to get on the ballot in Virginia (and apparently Indiana) is a real problem, forcing him not only to sweep the Midwest but also to chip away at Romney’s strongholds.  I just don’t see it happening.

4. Gingrich may well cut into Santorum in the South, either in terms of margin or by taking a state. Although it’s hard to tell at this point, neither Gingrich nor Paul seem susceptible to the pressures that drive sane humans from Presidential races.

And so while baiting Lemieux is entertaining, I have to concur with his basic assessment; Mitt Romney remains overwhelmingly likely to win the GOP nomination. For you compulsive types that just have to bet, I don’t think I’d take the 15% that’s now being offered for Santorum; 10-1 is a bit more to my liking.  I should also note that I don’t think that this is good for Romney in terms of his general election viability. Unlike in 2008 when two essentially identical Democratic candidates fought it out, I suspect that wrangling with Santorum will push Romney farther to the right than he’d like to be.

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  • Santorum might have a chance in 2016, might be willing to accept the VP slot

    I await the editorial cartoons with a puppyish VP candidate strapped to the top of the campaign bus.

  • efgoldman

    Santorum will push Romney farther to the right than he’d like to be.

    Only places Mittster would “like to be” are the acceptance speech at the convention, and in front of the Capitol on January 20.
    To do that, he will move to the right of Torquemada, and/or to the left of [the real] Norman Thomas, on a weekly, daily, or hourly basis, as necessary.

    • Uncle Kvetch

      he will move to the right of Torquemada, and/or to the left of [the real] Norman Thomas, on a weekly, daily, or hourly basis, as necessary

      True, but the further he’s pushed outside of his political comfort zone (viz., making the rich richer), the clumsier he gets. He’s a lousy panderer and I think that’s a big part of his problem.

      • Malaclypse

        I have to disagree. Mitt is always clumsy. That is not the root of this.

        I saw Mitt give a talk, in sacrament meeting, when he was stake president in the early 90s. A man in the ward had recently come out as gay, and was struggling. Mitt’s talk was all about the importance of Celestial Marriage, and the law of chastity, and the abomination of buttsex, and was fairly obviously crafted with the idea of twisting a knife into my friend, publicly.

        I don’t know of Mitt really hates gay people, or just likes picking on people weaker than him. But for Mitt it is not simply money – he could have bought himself a winning candidate easily. It is about holding power over others, and using that power to teach the weak a lesson they cannot ignore.

        Mitt has plenty of genuine Torquemada in him. That I am sure of.

        • joe from Lowell

          If I had to pick one area in which Mitt Romney held genuinely right-wing beliefs, it would be gay rights. Remember when he wouldn’t let the school gay-straight alliances use state letterhead?

      • JohnR

        You may be right, but I wonder – does Mitt actually have a “political comfort zone”? Sure, making the rich (ie himself, and coincidentally “his people”) richer is his main goal, but he has always seemed to me to be slightly upset that he should have to demean himself by such crass salesmanship as campaigning. He wasn’t any more comfortable in Massachusetts than he is now. He’s certainly still willing to do or say anything that he believes he needs to in order to get elected, but I’m convinced that the only “comfort zone” he has is basking in the well-deserved accolades and wealth that come from his inevitable success. If he could simply pay for the election without all this tedious and unsavory parading in front of the mob, I think that he would be more than happy to plunk down a large chunk of his ready cash.
        It’s not that he’s a lousy panderer; it’s that he doesn’t feel that he should have to do something as distasteful as pandering to the masses in the first place.

        • Hogan

          Romney 2012: he kept us safe from the Volscians.

  • Warren Terra

    No way Romney picks Santorum as Veep. The Veep nominee will be someone perceived as able to appeal to independents – or at least not to send them running and screaming. And probably someone David Brooks can tell Totebaggers they should welcome.

    • efgoldman

      No way Romney picks Santorum as Veep.

      Also too, the VP nominee should at least bring his own state along. Senator Savonarola was routed by 18 points in his last PA election.

      • snarkout

        This came up when a friend and I were talking about Rubio — is it possible that top-tier VP candidates, which I’ll define as candidates who I can see winning the nomination in 2016, might not want to run with Romney? Because it’s still early, but this is shaping up to be a bad-to-awful performance on the presidential ballot, and if Romney’s the candidate the claim is going to be that the candidate they ran wasn’t conservative enough. Does the stink from a bad performance four years earlier stick to the Veep candidate? Does that outweight the “next in line” factor and the huge bump in name recognition as a head start on 2016? (Martinez in New Mexico hasn’t been governor long enough, so I think Rubio and McDonnell are the likeliest picks.)

        • Warren Terra

          Who was the last veep nominee on the losing ticket to secure a nomination? The only one I can think of one offhand is Mondale, which wasn’t a huge success.

          In recent memory, several veep nominees off of losing tickets have at least flirted with running: Quayle, Lieberman (for certain values of “losing”), Edwards, Palin.

          • UserGoogol

            Bob Dole was the Vice Presidential nominee in 1976, although he had to wait twenty years, which is not the sort of thing politicians should try to replicate.

            • mattc

              I think Rubio will definitely be the first choice for VP. Whether he accepts or not is another question.

              • FMguru

                Rubio for sure. The Republicans absolutely have to lock down FL to have any chance of winning in November, he’s young, handsome, not a DC insider type, has solid conservative credentials but no track record of saying really nutty stuff on the record, and brings a welcome shot of diversity to a party of fat old white men. The thought that he might cut into Obama’s Latino vote share should make him irresistable to the GOP.

          • ploeg

            Even with Mondale, he was on a winning ticket before he was on a losing ticket.

            Seems like losing VP candidates who make successful bids for a subsequent nomination are the sorts of Washington establishment candidates who, for better or worse, don’t do so hot in the general election.

            • LosGatosCA

              Joe Lieberman, William Miller, Ed Muskie, Thomas Eagleton, Lloyd Bentsen, Henry Cabot Lodge, Estes Kefauver, John Sparkman, John Edwards.

              But the winner is – FDR.

              • LosGatosCA

                Also, too, Curtis LeMay, Strom Thurmond, James Stockdale, Pat Choate.

                But most remembered – Winona LaDuke!!

    • DocAmazing

      totebaggers…
      delicious

      • Warren Terra

        Don’t know for sure he coined it, but its use as a descriptive term has at the very least been heavily evangelized by DougJ at Balloon Juice.

    • joe from Lowell

      The Veep nominee will be someone perceived as able to appeal to independents

      I don’t think this is necessary so with a nominee who, himself, is meant to appeal to independents. In that case, I think the nominee picks someone who can cover his flank in his own party.

  • LosGatosCA

    Santorum’s chances hinge on Michigan. If he can benefit from Democrat crossover mischief and Western Michigan evangelical voters to win, Romney is in real trouble and all prior projections are inoperative. If Romney wins and meets / exceeds expecttations in Michigan and Ohio, Santorum is done..

    • Tybalt

      I don’t see Michigan as determinative. If Santorum manages to win Michigan or essentially run a tie, it hurts Romney but Santorum just needs to do it again on Super Tuesday, a fight he is ill equipped for. And then he will need to do it again, and again, and again. It’s an uphill slog, and just three or four in a row might finish him.

      • LosGatosCA

        It’s an uphill slog for sure and I’m not predicting a win in Michigan for Santorum.

        What I am saying is that if Santorum wins in Michigan lots of factors come into play that aren’t in the equation right now. Whether those factors can switch from behind Romney to behind Santorum or get behind someone else entirely, I obviously can’t predict.

        If Romney wins Michigan handily and wins Ohio anyway he can the situation starts to become less fluid. If Gingrich does well in the South, then Santorum is done.

        An alternative scenario could be that after winning Michigan, Santorum is competitive in Ohio while losing, but the South, outside of Georgia, goes for Santorum-including Texas – shunning Gingrich and Romney. And then Gingrich bails leaving a 2 man race out West. California Republicans could go for Santorum – see Simon for governor.

        Once the herd is turned, it will stampede in the new direction just as fast. It already has turned at the national level, it needs to turn in the remaining states and the donor level to make Santorum’s race sustainable and overcome the shutouts he will take in VA and IN.

    • joe from Lowell

      I don’t think there will be any one determinative race or week for Santorum. Romney can knock Santorum out of the race, but Santorum has to keep winning and winning, and Romney remains a serious opponent right up until the end, even if he ends up losing.

  • Romney only needs to win Michigan by one vote for the corporate press/media to declare him the comeback kid, the fighter, the champ.

    Romney can only lose if losses in Michigan and Arizona are followed by several losses on Super Tuesday which then produce a collapse in his support. The likelihood of this is very small because there is nowhere else for sober Republican money to go.

    Santorum, Gingrich, et al., are not national candidates. They on persist in this campaign because Romney is a Mormon. If he were any Protestant sect he would have won every primary and caucus (with the possible exception of South Carolina) and the race would be long over.

    • LosGatosCA

      Correct. But Romney is the Mormon Kerry so the show will go on if Santorum wins Michigan.

      Santorum and Gingrich between them have one statewide race in their immediate past which Santorum lost by 17 points. Gingrich has never run or won a statewide race in GA.

      This speaks to how deeply visceral the dislike of Romney actually is.

  • DrDick

    Absolutely have to agree about the Northwest. It will likely be a Romney-Paul slugfest. There just aren’t enough Talibangelicals up here to give Santorum much traction and our Teabaggers are of a definitely of a libertarian bent (and I mean that in the most twisted way possible).

    • Warren Terra

      You say that, but do you have your finger on the pulse of the Republican electorate, especially East Of The Mountains?

      Remember, in 1988 Washington was the only state to go for Pat Robertson in the Republican nominating contest. Remember that in 1996 the Republicans nominated Ellen Craswell for governor; I won’t discuss her at length, but she makes every candidate who’s run for the Republican nomination for President this year seem sane, responsible, and secular.

      The Republican party may have become more sane (or, at least, more secular) in the fifteen years since my examples. But don’t discount the depths of evangelical nuttery in Washington (or, by extension, the rest of the PNW) just because you don’t see so much of them in the parts of Puget Sound that have good restaurants.

      • DrDick

        Ummmmm. I live in western Montana and rarely get to Puget Sound. The Republican Party in this part of the world is anything but sane, but they are not mostly Talibangelicals. I know there are pockets of them, but there are far more Mormons in the Interior Northwest and our politics are much more dominated by the libertarian/teabagger wing. I was not even attempting to address the rest of the country, as I made explicit in my post.

  • Ken

    I suspect that wrangling with Santorum will push Romney farther to the right than he’d like to be.

    It might also keep him there longer than he would want. Those Santorum supporters are suspicious of him anyway, and if Romney heads left too quickly they will raise six kinds of hell and someone will break out the “RINO” label.

    • strannix

      I’ll take “Things That Are Already Happening Anyway and Have Been Since 2008” for $600, Alex.

      Question will be, what can they do about it?

    • Captain Splendid

      ‘break out’? I’ll have you know Romney was April in the ’96 RINO calendar.

  • Scott Lemieux

    One other thing: if Newt can somehow win his home state and perhaps another in the deep south, that also hurts Santorum, taking states where Mittens is vulnerable.

    • firefall

      I dont see that. All Santorum really needs is for Mitt to not get 50%+1 of the delegates. Then a Santorum/Gingrich ticket looks ….. well totally demented, but a feasible win for the nomination.

      Romney seems so widely disliked at almost every level in the Republican Party, only a decisive lock on the nomination beforehand gives him the nomination – still a high likelihood, certainly.

      • joe from Lowell

        I agree with firefall. If Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich go into the convention 1-2-3, but nobody has enough delegates to win, it is Romney who gets dropped as a failed candidate.

  • caesaigh

    Should Texas ever get its collective redistricting shit together, this is telling…

  • Tom M

    Santorum is the candidate most likely to bring out Obama’s presently disaffected base. Here in Western PA, his problems start not with his overtly religious behavior but with his worship of lobbying dollars (K Street project) along with his place of residence, cyber school money and general money grubbing.
    Obama’s reelection campaign has so many targets so easily within reach when it comes to Rick, they must be praying for a Santorum nomination. Romney’s Republican standard bearers know this as well and no matter how many primary voters indicate for Santorum, there won’t be enough to secure Rick a first ballot win at the convention.
    Romney has to be favored by the serious, centrist money because he is the candidate least likely to engender strong negatives among Democratic voters.

    • Rarely Posts

      I disagree. Gingrich is the candidate most likely to bring out the disaffected democratic base (and to swing all independents to the Democrats). The Obama campaign would love a Gingrich nomination because of his high unfavorable rating, toxic personality, far right positions, and disgusting personal life. In contrast, Santorum comes off (to some) as a “nice guy” and is less tainted on the national stage (outside the internet savvy). There are greater risks with Santorum.

  • rea

    While it’s hard to see how Romney loses, it’s also very hard to see how the Rs got to this spot in the first place.

    • Murc

      It is? Seems pretty standard to me. They got here because the Republican party is currently experiencing a big fault line between its establishment and its base, combined with the fact that the establishment candidate is monstrously weak. When that happens, the hounds come baying for him.

    • Malaclypse

      What Murc said. One of the very very few things that Pat Buchanan was ever right about was when he came out and said that unfettered capitalism was erosive of “traditional values.” Or, as someone way better than Pat put it:

      Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.

  • The Republican Party is a regional affair at this point, and activity in what swing states there are takes place at the margins. What’s notable about this is that Mittens seems weakest, for the most part, in the states that McCain carried. It is interesting that he is in a close race in Michigan, a state which should be easy for him, but he is, I think, very unlikely to carry Michigan in the general. His strength seems to be in the Mountain States, but he needs the South, and that is where he is showing up as most vulnerable.

  • Ed

    Although it’s hard to tell at this point, neither Gingrich nor Paul seem susceptible to the pressures that drive sane humans from Presidential races.

    Money, money, money. Adelson kept Gingrich afloat more or less singlehandedly, and although Adelson seems to be losing faith in his old pal he’s indicated a willingness to keep the spigots open for others if not Newt.

  • wengler

    This campaign has shown that Romney is one of the least inevitable candidates in the world. Party bosses in Maine had to squelch their own party’s election results in order to make it appear that he won. Same thing in Iowa.

    The vast majority of Republicans do not like Romney. He has one and a half dedicated bases(Mormons and corporations), and many of those corporations will defect to Obama once they realize what a losing candidate Mitt is.

    And if we learned anything from the Obama campaign four years ago, the most dedicated supporters can rack up delegates in the caucus states simply by knowing the rules. Ron Paul’s campaign claims to be doing this.

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