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Still Coming Up Mittens

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Santorum’s beauty pageant sweep was fun and everything, but Romney is still inevitable. The key point is the first one — Romney’s massive edge in resources didn’t come into play yesterday because he didn’t attempt to swamp Santorum in these states the way he successfully buried Gingrich in Florida. Which makes sense, since no delegates were actually at stake and Romney will get them anyway if he crushes the opposition in March. Once we get to contests that actually award delegates again, Santorum is doomed. If there was a parity of resources, the race would be genuinely unpredictable — but there isn’t.

….similar thoughts here.

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  • Yup.

    Remember that old Doonesbury cartoon, with Roland Hedley at the 1988 Democratic Convention saying, “You could cut the tension here with a knife, as everyone wonders, ‘Will Mike Dukakis accept the nomination?'” Coverage of this race is like that.

  • R Johnston

    I used to think that Citizens United was the worst Supreme Court decision since Bush v. Gore, but now that Santorum won a few essentially uncontested beauty contests I’m sure that resources and money have no significant influence on elections.

  • I posited at my blog today that yesterday’s votes were basically protests directed towards Mitt.

    Still, that Minnesota went Santorum comes as a it of a surprise, and is indicative, I think, of the coming “Mormon” whisper campaign.

    • David W.

      It’s not so much a whisper campaign as the fact that Romney isn’t religiously nutty enough for today’s MN Republican party.

      • It’s not quantity, it’s quality. He’s the wrong kind of nutty.

    • Gus

      You probably have an old fashioned view of Minnesota as a liberal state. Both of our legislative houses are R controlled, and since we have a Democratic governor, they are attempting to get laws passed by constitutional referendum. There will be on the ballot this fall an anti-gay marriage amendment, a voter ID amendment, and probably a “right to work [for less pay and fewer benefits]” amendment. All of them will likely pass. Minnesota is now chock full of wingnuts, even outside Michele Bachmann’s district. The core Twin Cities are as liberal as it gets, but outside of that, this state has gone way downhill.

      • Don’t get too downhearted. Voter ID will probably pass, but gay marriage ban, right to work, and the supermajority for taxes are much less certain. Not to mention that polling shows Dayton reasonably popular while the MNGOP is wildly unpopular; it’s likely that 2013 will begin with DFL majorities in both houses.

        And frankly, I think the more amendments the GOP puts forth, the better; the DFL can run against all of them, on a “Minnesota Republicans want to turn us into California” platform.

  • From the link:

    The problem is that this contest isn’t about delegates; it’s about momentum

    Momentum.

    Why don’t you just write a post about Romney being a clutch guy?

    Say, Scott, do you think Obama can get some momentum if he used the bully pulpit?

    • Scott Lemieux

      Yes, that’s not the term I would have chose. The point that Santorum doesn’t have the resources to compete once the schedule (of contests where delegates are actually awarded) compresses remains valid.

      • He took in a quarter mil overnight last night. There is still an awful lot of Republican money to be donated in this cycle.

        A better candidate who is being outspent by a worse one doesn’t have to have to catch all the way up. He just needs to have enough to stay in the game.

        Each of the four remaining Republicans has a billionaire sugar daddy funding a SuperPac.

        • Charlie Sweatpants

          “There is still an awful lot of Republican money to be donated in this cycle.”

          For precisely this reason I’m still holding out some hope for Not Romney. There are a lot of conservative voters in Arizona who are in inexpensive media markets and there aren’t that many Mormons. And the huge losses in places like Minnesota and Colorado, which Mittens won handily in 2008, at least opens the possibility that he’s vulnerable in Michigan.

          Romney certainly remains the favorite, and I’ll admit that I want to see him lose because I think a Santorum/Gingrich disaster significantly increases the chances of the good guys holding the Senate and retaking the House (without which 2013-2014 is going to be as painfully awful as 2011-2012 has been). But his campaign has been astonishingly inept so far, and while he can afford more mistakes than the others, he can’t afford to keep screwing things up this badly.

          • I’m surprised by how the Citizens United money environment has worked out. You’d think it would have benefited the guy who is 1) the most traditional pro-business candidate, 2) the party elite candidate, 3) the “inevitable” frontrunner, and 4) someone who comes from the financial sector and is close to a lot of other big money guys.

            But it hasn’t worked out that way. Instead, it’s been like (I’ve heard) George McGovern being able to compete in the 1972 primary, late, because of a few huge donors. It’s proven to be a boon to the fringe and the underdogs, more than anyone else.

            • Furious Jorge

              That’s an insightful observation. Or at least, it is to me, since I hadn’t thought of it yet.

            • Njorl

              I don’t think you can really draw that conclusion. Romney used overwhelming spending to crush Gingrich in Florida. Santorum didn’t even bother to run in Florida because it would have been too expensive. Romney didn’t bother trying to crush anyone with money in the races last night.

              • Colin Day

                But isn’t that not bothering part of Romney’s problem? He has the money and organization, but what about the killer instinct?

                • Tybalt

                  The killer instinct’s no good if you’re firing at an empty room; you still won’t hit anything. Nothing was at stake last night.

                • Colin Day

                  I can’t seem to reply to Tybalt. Anyway, while the CO and MN caucuses did not produce bound delegates, the results will have effects higher up the ladder. Even if MO was a beauty contest, Romney could have used a victory there as well. His forbearance has simply opened up some space for Santorum.

              • Romney used overwhelming spending to crush Gingrich in Florida.

                Romney would have used overwhelming spending to crush Gingrich in Florida under the old system, too.

                What’s different this time is that Gingrich and Santorum can keep going.

        • R Johnston

          He took in a quarter mil overnight last night.

          That’s kind of pathetic. Considering that his nights aren’t going to get any better, that means he’ll raise maybe a few million dollars before being crushed on super Tuesday. A quarter million a night is what Santorum needs to take in to barely keep the lights running on his campaign. Santorum needs to raise a million dollars a day just to catch up enough to be competitive on resources by early March, plus a whole lot of Super PAC cash as well.

          • A quarter million a night is not “pathetic.” In fact, it’s almost exactly the average rate of Mitt Romney’s fundraising in the last quarter of 2011. For a candidate to take in that much on a day that wasn’t even focused on fundraising events is just fine.

            Santorum needs to raise a million dollars a day just to catch up enough to be competitive on resources by early March

            It’s not like he was even with Romney in money last night. Shall we define the disparity between Romney and Santorum last night as “enough to be competitive?”

      • Four observations:

        1) Caucuses require less money than primary elections, because turn out is on enthusiasm and commitment, not pulling a lever in a booth.

        2) Romney has not won a caucus.

        3) Santorum has won three (albeit one not-so-binding).

        4) There are, by my count, 21 more caucuses to go, all of the rest are binding on delegates.

        I wouldn’t count Santorum out, by a long shot. Win? Probably not. Cause damage to Mitt’s machine? Oh yea.

        And I think, think, that’s the idea. The Teabaggers have decided to toss bombs into the wagon.

        • Njorl

          Santorum won’t do well in the Maine Caucus.

        • IM

          Romney has won the caucus in Nevada.

  • Question 1: If these contests are so completely irrelevant and indicators of how the race is going, why didn’t anyone say that YESTERDAY? Or at any point between Florida and today? It’s looking a lot like a post-hoc rationalization.

    Question 2: If Mitt Romney has won all three of contests, would we be reading any commentary about their irrelevance?

    Romney’s massive edge in resources didn’t come into play yesterday because he didn’t attempt to swamp Santorum in these states the way he successfully buried Gingrich in Florida.

    Actually, Romney did try to swamp Santorum in Colorado. He was counting on it as his firewall state. He hired top people there, and the campaign has been organizing the state for months. He certainly didn’t treat it as irrelevant.

    • Njorl

      Most people went one better than calling these contests irrelevant. They didn’t mention them at all.

  • The defeats may turn out to benefit Mitt since their eventual irrelevance will remind Republican voters that political power is properly awarded to the wealthiest and most powerful oligarch or their designated representative. Republicans have no business fooling around with actual democracy. Their wishes don’t matter any more than anybody else’s.

  • Jim Lynch

    I guess you’re right. I certainly haven’t read or heard of any plausible scenario in which Romney is denied the nomination.

    Still. People simply don’t like the guy. Even those who have already voted for him don’t like him. What’s to like? No one outside his campaign staff bothers to defend his amoral flip-flopping, because there’s no excuse for it. People recognize him for what he is. By any conventional political measurement, he is the most under-qualified front-runner in my lifetime (again, measured in conventional terms). George Dukakis, who was hands-down the second worst candidate, was merely boring. Romney, on the other hand, is deeply, transparently corrupt, a human corkscrew of a man, and everyone knows it.

    Which undoubtedly accounts for the sneaky feeling I have that something will happen, that events will unfold to upend his march to the nomination. Then again, the alternatives to Romney are little better. And by “little better”, I mean no better whatsoever, by any conventional (or unconventional) measurement. This country is on a very weird track at the moment.

    • R Johnston

      I certainly haven’t read or heard of any plausible scenario in which Romney is denied the nomination.

      More to the point, there are no plausible scenarios in which someone else wins the nomination. The Democratic equivalent would be something like Dennis Kucinich running against Jimmy McMillan, Vermin Supreme, and an Al Sharpton who still wore nothing but track suits and gold chains. No matter how awful Kucinich is, he wins that race.

      • Furious Jorge

        I don’t know; the rent really *is* too damn high.

      • Malaclypse

        And I’m sure my daughter will appreciate Vermin’s Free Ponies For Everyone platform, while I appreciate that his “everyone must brush their teeth” law may make bedtimes less of a struggle, as I will be able to credibly threaten her with jail.

        • elm

          Yeah, I’m not sure that Vermin doesn’t beet Kucinich in a head to head battle. He will definitely get Johnson & Johnson money to bolster his campaign coffers.

      • The Democratic equivalent would be something like Dennis Kucinich running against Jimmy McMillan, Vermin Supreme, and an Al Sharpton

        So your theory is that, under such circumstances, McMillan and Sharpton win five out of the first seven contests.

        I think Kucinich wins the all. I don’t think this analogy holds up.

    • Oh come now. Surely George W. Bush remains the most under-qualified candidate in the history of the Union. Romney has his faults, but nothing could be as bad as W.

      The interesting thing about Santorum’s hanging on like this is that it is preventing Mittens from running to the center. Newt is for Newt, but all of those Santorum Republicans are going to want a place at the table, and that can’t help to marginalize the party somewhat.

      • Malaclypse

        “I am not fit for this office and should never have been here.” – Warren G Harding.

      • Surely George W. Bush remains the most under-qualified candidate in the history of the Union. Romney has his faults, but nothing could be as bad as W.

        Someone with more time could probably come up with less qualified candidates, even major party ones. I’m not sure Bush’s record at election is that much worse than either Clintons’ (Bill was Gov. of Arkansas; Hilary was a spectator to the presidency). Depending on how you gauge relevance, Obama’s record was pretty thin, too, but at least he had a visible grasp on the nature of the problems.

        Bush had his convictions – and should have been convicted – but he was reasonably determined to be a certain kind of president and had Blue Dog Democrats to work with. Chameleon Romney with a Tea Party congress? Potentially civilization-ending event.

        • Anonymous

          I’m not sure Bush’s record at election is that much worse than either Clintons’

          The governor in Arkansas has some actual power. In Texas it’s a largely ceremonial position.

          • R Johnston

            This. The Texas governorship is far and away the weakest governorship in the country. The position has essentially no appointment authority, essentially no pardon authority, and no oversight authority over the administrative state. The Texas governor signs bills and kisses babies. Former First Lady and eight years in the Senate is vastly stronger qualification for the Presidency than being governor of Texas. Texas governor is a part time job for a full time idiot and a clear-cut disqualification for the office of the Presidency.

            If George W. Bush or Rick Perry had been governor of Alaska, either one of them would have been a quitter just like Palin.

      • Jim Lynch

        I think not. Leastwise, you’re talking about qualifications, while I’m referring get-out-the-vote mojo. GW Bush pulled away from the GOP pack pretty quickly in 2000, and after which republicans and other idiots as quickly rallied to him. That neither has, nor will, be the case with Romney. He is a profoundly alienating politician, on a level that transcends meat-and-potato issues.

        • Malaclypse

          Remember when people asked which candidate you would want to have a beer with? Hell, change that to have a conversation with.

          I think of the four Republicans, Romney loses that question already. And he clearly loses it against Obama.

          • Marek

            I don’t know, I remember the Beer Summit. But then I recall that Rmoney doesn’t drink anything.

          • I think it would be great fun to drink with Romney. You could have the same conversation over and over again, with Mitt taking completely different positions depending on how many drinks… no, he doesn’t have that excuse, does he? He’s just floppy!

      • Njorl

        George W. Bush was a poor choice for a president, but an excellent choice for a candidate for president.

        • wengler

          He bound together the corporate and religious factions of the party. There was some hope that Perry would do the same.

          That hope was misplaced.

  • elm

    Scott, while I continue to agree with you that Mitt almost certainly wins the nomination, you did claim after Florida that no one else would win anymore states. You were clearly wrong on that, unless you want to claim that what you meant was “states that assign bound delegates.” However, it is now clear that at least Romney will face at least opponent on Super Tuesday. I agree that Romney will win big but there’s no way he sweeps. So even if you want to caveat your way out of being wrong, you have to admit that you will soon be wrong.

    • Colin Day

      According to this

      http://www.cnn.com/election/2012/primaries/candidates/1752

      Santorum received 17 pledged delegates from Colorado. How are they not “bound”?

      • elm

        The precinct caucus chose delegates to district and county conventions. Those delegates can actually vote for whomever they wish at these conventions to determine the RNC delegates. They typically vote based on the caucus results in their precinct, so CNN is projecting how many delegates will eventually get from Colorado, but he did not win them last night. (CNN’s probably right, so this is a semantic point anyway, but it does provide Scott wiggle room if he wants it.)

    • Scott Lemieux

      Scott, while I continue to agree with you that Mitt almost certainly wins the nomination, you did claim after Florida that no one else would win anymore states.

      Yes, that specific claim was wrong.

      • elm

        I’m glad you admitted that, because you’ve sneered at your commentariat in some posts about how we’re the only people left on Earth who think the nomination isn’t decided. Maybe you just mean joe, but I think much of the pushback to your “inevitability” positions have been to the stronger claims you made and not the weaker “Romney almost certainly wins the nomination” claim, and so your commenters aren’t as stupid as you’ve been claiming they are.

        • Malaclypse

          Maybe you just mean joe,

          I assumed he meant me, as I refuse to concede our bet (yet).

          • elm

            Fair enough, but you admit you’re gonna lose even if you haven’t lost yet.

            • Malaclypse

              I admit that the odds are quite unfavorable at this point. I still have an emotional disbelief that the party of religious bigotry will nominate someone who prays to the wrong Jesus.

      • Yes, that specific claim was wrong.

        Will Newt Gingrich win any more states?

        I say he wins multiple states in the South.

        • Scott Lemieux

          I’ll concede Georgia. I assume he has a good shot in Alabama and Mississippi…

          • What happened between “Gingrich won’t win a contest after February 1st” and this comment that changed your mind?

  • DrDick

    I have to agree with this analysis, though I must say that it is quite delightful watching the GOP base twist in the wind over this. It is rather enlightening that they are adamantly opposed to the one candidate with even a slim chance of winning the general election.

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    Romney may look like a winning candidate on paper, but…

    He. Just. Loses. Primary elections.

    He is the political reverse Tebow.

    [all snark aside, he’ll still get the nomination…but even his own party will never really like him]

  • SamInMpls

    Scott,

    I assume you are correct about Romney’s decision not to flood Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri because it wouldn’t affect his chances to win the nomination.

    What about the general election?

    All three states have a decent chance of being up for grabs. Does Mitt have a strategy that doesn’t involve those states? We hear a lot about the 12 states that will make up the contest, which do you think they will be?

  • I don’t understand the point about Santorum lacking resources. Is not God the mightiest of all SuperPACs?

    • I’m tempted to point out there are some candidates even God can’t help…you know, irresistible force, immovable object…but then I remember that God is laughing at Michele and Rick…

  • Manju

    C’mon, there’s gotta be some way Rick can pull this off.

    He has plausible gravitas. He was a Senator. He’s not as kooky as Bachmann, except maybe when it comes to the gays. He doesn’t wear a beard. Its not like he was selling pizza before. And Noam Chomsky doesn’t advise him on foreign policy. Thats Presidential!

    And when was the last time the GOP went against Rush? Lets say Newt drops out b/c he thinks he can stick it to Mitt better by not dividing up the conservative vote. That throws some $$ Ricks way. Rush then gets the rest of the RWing aboard.

    The Rockerfeller set may be looking at the good employment data and figure that they might as well throw a sacrifice lamb out there. Better for a populist to take a Goldwatering now than for them to have to explain to the base why Mitt couldn’t beat Obama in ’12, when beating O was his only selling point. Indeed, they get to scold the base when Ricky goes down.

    And Ricky will go down. His electoral map will look just like George Wallace’s, or Adlai Steveson’s, since there’s little difference between the two.

    • Malaclypse

      He has plausible gravitas.

      If you forget about his google problem.

      He’s not as kooky as Bachmann, except maybe when it comes to the gays.

      And the bringing home dead babies to introduce your living kids to.

      • Captain Splendid

        And the bringing home dead babies to introduce your living kids to.

        You know, I’m happy to consider that weird, and totally not something I would ever do, but as a Marx-quoting, abortion-loving, atheist librul, I actually thought that was kind of poignant and touching.

        • NBarnes

          Yeah. I wouldn’t consider it more than weird, and certainly not Presidency disqualifying. Miscarriages and stillbirths are emotionally wrenching, and you’d have to respond a lot more weirdly than that to make me say a damn word about it.

        • Jim Lynch

          “I actually thought that was kind of poignant and touching”.

          Really? It creeped me out. Here’s how I picture how that day went in the Santorum household:

          “Kiss your baby brother goodbye”.

          “No, daddy no… [screaming as she’s being drawn nearer the miscarried fetus] NO! I DON’T WANT TO! PLEASE, DADDY, PLEASE, NO..”!!

        • I actually thought that was kind of poignant and touching.

          I thought it was so weird that my liberal cultural relativism kicked in.

          “Hey, who are we to say that we’re any better than the people who pass around a dead baby? They’re just different from us, that’s all. Don’t judge!”

          • Captain Splendid

            I thought it was so weird that my liberal cultural relativism kicked in.

            Gold!

      • ocularity

        I like to think that maybe all these Santorum voters are just trying to refudiate Dan Savage. Isn’t

        pissing off libruls

        job number one?

      • There’s nothing particularly wrong or weird about it. It’s exactly as weird as having any dead body laid out in a house for a viewing before burial. Friends of ours had a baby which died a few hours after birth. They knew it was going to happen. My father in law had made a coffin, my wife and mother in law helped make the lining. After the child died in hospital, the body was brought back to the house and laid in the coffin. The family grieved. Then their friends and neighbours came around and grieved with them. It was sad and beautiful, horrible and hearfelt and it helped. Every time I hear someone call what the Romneys did to grieve for their dead child weird or grotesque, or even a form of abuse for FUCK’S SAKE, I feel nothing but revulsion.

    • elm

      The Rockerfeller set may be looking at the good employment data and figure that they might as well throw a sacrifice lamb out there.

      As odd as it is to agree with Manju, I think that’s the only plausible way Romney loses: the corporate part of the party decided the general election is a lost cause and withdraw their support from Romney in order to try to discredit the loony wing of the party. I think this is very, very, very unlikely to happen for numerous reasons. But if it did happen, Romney could be in trouble.

      • DrDick

        OK, that one I can buy, but I also think it highly unlikely and Mittens is still the presumptive favorite.

  • wengler

    Corporate.

    Religious.

    Mean.

    Coot.

    The four parts of the party are well represented. But there is very little overlap. I think Santorum is actually the only one who could expand his support into the Mean faction. And despite the fact that he’s an ultra-Catholic the fundamentalist Christian leaders have already chosen him to defeat the apostasy of Mitt.

    • Josh G.

      I’d break it down slightly differently.
      Plutocratic Faction (Romney)
      Religious Fanatic Faction (Santorum)
      Southern Cultural Resentment Faction (Gingrich)
      Libertarian Faction (Paul)
      There is, of course, a lot of overlap here, but there are also real tensions. Just because the coalition has held together in the post-Nixon era doesn’t mean it always will. During the New Deal, alignments were completely different.

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