March 15, 2012

Could Rick Santorum End Up Being Good for Mitt Romney?

Just for a moment, allow me to make an argument that I’m fairly certain neither supporters of Rick Santorum nor those of Mitt Romney are going to like. Namely, that the best thing that could happen to Mitt Romney would be a long, drawn-out primary fight in which he ultimately beats Rick Santorum either at or not too long before the Republican convention. In other words, the persistence of Rick Santorum could actually be good for Mitt Romney. I make this argument based on the assumption that Romney will ultimately be the nominee, because it is, as he points out, mathematically impossible for any of the other contenders, and because this is the most likely outcome. I will first make the argument, then attempt to combat some of the most common counter-arguments that could be made to it.

First, the argument. Rick Santorum is essentially running a “pure conservative” campaign against Romney. He has portrayed Romney as a “Massachusetts moderate” who doesn’t hold dearly enough to the tenets of conservative orthodoxy. Santorum has, in addition, made social conservatism a key part of this argument. To be sure, he has actually criticized Romney very little on so-con issues, but in so far as Rick continues to respond to questions on social issues very conservatively, voters will gain the implicit assumption that he is well to Romney’s right on these issues. This barrage of identification of Romney with moderation can’t help but confirm, in the minds of those who are listening, that Romney must in fact be a moderate. In a Republican primary this is a damaging assertion, but this argument stipulates that Romney is likely to win this nomination. In a general election, the notion that Romney is a moderate pragmatist will more likely help him with moderate, pragmatic voters than not.

Further, if left-wing elements of the media and intelligencia remain true to form, they are likely to vehemently attack Rick Santorum’s conservatism, in order to further their narrative of the stupidity of conservatives. If Rick hasn’t started getting the Palin treatment already, he will soon. By contrast Romney who is calm, a bit wonkish and reasonably non-threatening, will be that much harder to attack. One can imagine the cognitive dissonence in the minds of swing voters when they’re told that the man the “right-wing ideologue” has been calling “Obama lite” for the past six months is now himself a “right-wing ideologue”. The longer Rick Santorum is around to attack Romney from the right, the harder it will be for left-wing Obama allies to convincingly make the case from his left. In other words, if Rick Santorum shapes the narrative about Mitt Romney, it’s going to be much harder for the Obama folks to do so.

Finally, there is the fact that even the attacks which team Obama can steal from Rick Santorum might not help as much as they would if Rick hadn’t made them first. There is a substantial segment of the electorate which claims to be fed up with ideology. How will these voters react if both the left and the right are piling on Mitt Romney? The fact that both the left-wing Democrats and right-wing Republicans don’t like Romney doesn’t seem to me like it would deter moderates from voting for him; in fact, quite the opposite. Indeed, I suspect some moderates may assume that Romney, who was attacked by both sides, really isn’t beholdened to either, and will like him more for it.

I can think of three solid counter-arguments to this idea. First, there’s the obvious financial argument. This primary is costing the Romney campaign a lot of money, which can’t then be spent on attacking cash-flush Obama. Second is the damage which Romney has sustained amongst the Republican base, whom Romney will need to turn out strongly for him in November. Third is that being attacked from both sides didn’t seem to help John McCain all that much in 2008.

I think each of these arguments have a response. The first and second, I think, go together. The Republican base, and the deep-pocketed donors who fund Republican campaigns, want Obama out of office very very badly. There should be a not insubstantial rallying effect around the eventual nominee almost regardless of who that nominee is. In addition, we can expect that nominee Romney, who now only has to compete with the President, will start to make a sharp contrast between himself and Obama, which should help rally the base. I think that contrasting himself with Obama, after he has been established as a “moderate” by the primary process, is actually a winning strategy; after all, if the population doesn’t believe that Obama is too ideological to be reelected, we’re not going to beat him anyway. With regard to money, I would finally note that the RNC and various super-PACs haven’t really even started spending heavily to bring Obama’s negatives down, and that I’d imagine a number of Republican bundlers have held back to see who the eventual nominee is going to be.

The John McCain comparison deserves some separate treatment. It is true that McCain was attacked from the right (by none other than Mitt Romney), in the 2008 Republican primary process. However, I would make a few arguments here. First, the Republican battle was cleared up long before the Democratic slug-fest between Hilary and Obama. As a consequence, I suspect a lot of the criticism of McCain from the right got buried in the midst of the Democratic contest. Second, Democrats made a tactical decision–after her selection as McCain’s runningmate–to run against Vice-Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, rather than against McCain himself. There was an active, and in my view deliberate, campaign to totally discredit  Palin among moderate swing voters, in order to convince the public that Obama, not McCain, was the moderate. For Team Romney, the solution is obvious; pick a running mate reassuring to the base but difficult to demogogue (see McDonnell, Bob, Jindal, Bobby or possibly Rubio, Marco). Third, the administration fatigue at the time was with a Republican president, not a Democrat. Thus, McCain faced a steep task in persuading the country to give Republicans another shot. By contrast in 2012, it will be Obama who needs to overcome administration fatigue, and convince voters that they’re better off than they were four years ago. Fourth, McCain was essentially a foreign policy hawk running in an election dominated by economic issues, with which he was unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Finally, it is worth pointing out that McCain actually led Obama from the end of the Republican convention until the collapse of Leaman Brothers on September 15. It was the suspension of his campaign, then it’s rapid resumption, which marked the end of McCain’s poll lead. So in conclusion, a number of substantial factors intervened to keep McCain from getting the moderate perception bounce he should have gotten from his conservative pummeling in the primary.

If all of this is true–and there are probably arguments against it that I haven’t thought of yet–then Romney supporters may end up proving grateful for the long period of testing their candidate underwent this primary season. Allow me to close with a few historical notes. In his Labor Party leader election in the 1990s, Tony Blair recruited a man named Prescott to run to his left, so that Blair could present himself as the face of “new Labor”. It worked. In 1992, Bill Clinton took a beating from his ideological left in the primaries. However, this allowed Clinton to position himself as a “new Democrat” and unseat a Republican president in a time of mild economic uncertainty. And David Cameron’s supporters would argue that his success in leading the Tory Party to a partial victory in the most recent British elections stemmed in part from his “moderate” victory in the preceding party elections, which helped rebrand the Tories as a more centrist party. This is not to argue that candidates seen by the voters as centrists have a tendency to make better leaders. However, I do think they have an easier time getting elected in the first place, which is a necessary pre-cursor to governing. If you can get someone else to convince the general public that you’re a centrist without having to pivot to the middle on your own, so much the better. So from an electoral perspective, having Rick Santorum constantly arguing, for months, that Mitt Romney is a moderate and “no true conservative” might not be the worst thing in the world, so long as Romney ends up with the nomination in the end.

by @ 1:59 pm. Filed under Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum
Trackback URL for this post:
http://race42016.com/2012/03/15/could-rick-santorum-end-up-being-good-for-mitt-romney/trackback/

64 Responses to “Could Rick Santorum End Up Being Good for Mitt Romney?”

  1. Nevada Conservative Says:

    Off the top of my head, the greatest benefit of a protracted primary is that Romney continually proves he can beat everyone. With the exception of Paul, he’s faced all of the other contenders head-on (even Palin, Huck and Trump before their declarations) and come out ahead.

    The man has more political lives than a zombie cat. Votes for Santorum are just protest votes against Romney, and yet Romney still has over a million votes more than Santorum (and that’s after all these open primaries–the only ones where Santorum is competitive against Romney.)

    It proves that Mitt has the chops and the endurance to win.

  2. Nevada Conservative Says:

    Actually scratch that, he faced Paul in VA and won there as well.

  3. Matthew E. Miller Says:

    This is all fine and would normally be true. But. The problem is, the long-drawn out primary has exposed the cracks in Romney’s coalition. Cracks that might have remained hidden had he won the primary quickly. What cracks? Namely, Romney’s problem with blue-collar white voters. That storyline has been at least as prominent as the moderate/conservative divide. Nate Silver did an analysis a bit ago showing the breakdown in ideology by region. Turns out, Romney won even very conservative voters in the northeast and nearly won them in the west. Coincidentally (not) these regions of the country are wealthier, relative to states like Ohio, Michigan, and the South. So Romney’s losing less on ideology than on class. That probably doesn’t happen without someone like Santorum- someone with a natural affinity for blue-collar voters- prominently cudgeling Romney. It probably doesn’t happen without someone like Newt- a natural populist- cudgeling Romney on Bain. Effete, professorial, urban Obama couldn’t have pulled it off by himself. Or to put it another way: why did McCain/Palin briefly take the lead over Obama? Because Hillary had convinced blue-collar urban and suburban whites that Obama was the pits and pre-ridicule Palin looked at least modestly appealing to these folks. I went to a Palin rally in Johnstown, PA, while Palin was still in demand: lots of love. Even from some independents. Romney’s probably going to have to hope for something similar: either a massively elite Obama move or a further economic collapse. Whereas, had he avoided this class divided primary, which has constantly reminded voters that Romney is rich and “out of touch” he could have probably easily exceeded McCain’s numbers with blue-collar whites simply by showing up.

  4. blue Says:

    IF romney puts it away, i.e. past the # needed, in june at the latest than santorum probably would have been good for him. AT that point, romney will need to pick a veep that brings some mo and unites the party. If romney doesn’t have the #’s and it goes to the convention, than that’s a bad outcome for romney.

  5. pea-jay Says:

    The free media publicity that comes with a contested race cannot be discounted. With each election there is news coverage and media analysis and any decent campaign should be able to leverage to their advantage to trumpet something positive or spin something negative. That’s worth more than 30 second advertising soundbites and endless political rallies. Once a the nomination is settled, this coverage goes a way and the race goes into hibernation mode. Obama gets plenty of press because he is the president but Romney will get pretty much close to squat if Newt and Santorum pull up stakes and suspend their campaign.

    That said, every dollar spent to fight a primary is one that cannot be spent in the general. Wrapping up the nomination would allow Romney to spend this hibernation phase raising money and not incurring negative press from the other republican candidates and right-wing media types that dislike him. Time spent campaigning for the nomination takes away from time needed to repair party rifts. To a certain extent Obama managed that in 08, pulling in most of Hillary’s hardcore support and I would expect most ABR-types to suck it up and vote for him in the fall. But the risk before the nomination is settled is some folks just get too turned off on Romney or the party due to the negativity and fail to vote at all in the fall.

  6. Common Cents Says:

    Yes, Santorum makes Romney look REALLY good. It will be absolutely impossible for Romney to look like some sort of right-wing extremist after this primary. Once you’ve overcome “Massachusetts Moderate” in a GOP Primary, independent voters DON’T like ideologues of either extreme.

    That being said, if this continues to be a food fight until Tampa, the GOP is going to be at a huge disadvantage.

  7. A.J. Nolte Says:

    MeM: I agree to a point, and think Romney needs to ameliorate that with a good VP pick. That said, it should pay dividends among suburban voters.

  8. Matthew E. Miller Says:

    Another problem is that Romney’s never made any attempt to play up the conservative/moderate divide. He’s not giving any “agents of intolerance” speeches. He’s not attempting any Sista Souljah moments. When people have hit him from the right he’s either hit them back from the right or said, effectively, “that’s just fine”. This is probably smart primary politics and I don’t think he gets enough credit, from conservatives, for refusing to lash out at them like other so-called moderates. At worst, he’s occasionally indifferent. But it means that he doesn’t have as much appeal to moderates as he ought. I’ll give you an example. This cycle, one state’s primary electorate has gotten MORE moderate/liberal. Take a guess which.

    New Hampshire. Why? Because Jon Huntsman pitched himself as a legitimate moderate. Romney did fine with moderates there. In fact, he won the moderate/liberal cohort. But he did better with conservatives. In fact, at a guess, I’d say it’s the only state where he’s done better with conservatives than with moderates/liberals. And that’s because, again, you had a legitimate moderate drawing people in. Odd as this may seem, moderates like to be pitched to, same as ideologues. If they aren’t, they’ll probably just tepidly support the fellow who looks more moderate. In a primary, that’s good enough. But in a general, it’s a different ballgame entirely.

  9. Keith Price Says:

    The other problem with a protracted primary is fundraising. Every dollar that Mitt spends to fight against Rick and Newt is a dollar that won’t go against Obama.

    Every dollar that gets donated to Rick or Newt is a dollar that won’t get donated to Romney to beat Obama.

  10. Conservative Independent Says:

    #9 You are correct about this. We have donated money several times to Romney’s campaign once we decided to support him. Most families have a set amount in their budget for donations this year. We also have to take into account supporting Romney in the general election. Our dollars will only go so far. This never ending Primary is an expense we didn’t count on.

  11. Nostradamus Says:

    10.

    Another benefit is the building of battle tested organizations in battleground states.

    Word is that White Sox and Cubs fans are uniting behind Mitt!

  12. Matthew E. Miller Says:

    Keith Price,

    Is that really true? I don’t know. Romney’s only raising primary funds right now. Sure, if he was free of the primary, he could still raise primary funds for awhile and spend them attacking Obama. But if he was free of the primary, he’d also have to spend a lot of those primary funds simply to get the amount of attention he’s getting now. The spring/summer is frequently a fairly slow period in Presidential Politics. Nomination’s been wrapped up, general hasn’t begun in earnest, etc. I think if Romney could use the protracted primary- which is making him somewhat more visible- to improve his campaign, expand his outreach to voters, and target states, it’d be something of a wash. It certainly was for Obama. He outraised McCain massively but that money didn’t kick in, in terms of targeting his Republican opponent, until relatively late in the process. But while the primary exacerbated his demographic weaknesses, it also allowed him to do things like mount huge voter registration drives, energize his natural base, etc. The worst part of THIS primary is that nothing productive is being accomplished. Everyone’s favorables are getting worse, turnout is down, and I don’t see any sign that the relatively competitive contests are allowing Republicans to draw in/interest different voters. Quite the opposite. We’re regressing.

  13. Claire Says:

    Romney has made a calculated effort to risk looking too conservative. He played illegal immigration against Perry, but other than that he almost seems content to wear the moderate label–even though he is no less and in fact is more conservative than Santorum in almost every way.

    So yes, Rick is drawing fire for things like contraception, English only, and now pornography. That allows Romney to go under the radar for a little longer.

  14. Massachusetts Conservative Says:

    3

    Oh, so I guess Santorum and Gingrich would beat Obama and Mitt wouldn’t.

    LOL!

    Mitt’s coalition is strong. It’s not the one Palin would have had, but does it matter WHO it is, as long as it is somebody?

  15. Matthew E. Miller Says:

    One curious aspect of this primary: independent turnout has been up in most contests but the electorate is much older and much more conservative. Paul is driving a lot of the increase in independents but, even in states where Paul’s been more or less non-existent, independent has typically been OK relative to ’08.

  16. Meh Romney Says:

    I guess the corollary question is whether Romney is using the extended primary to his benefit and the data is soemwhat mixed. On the positive side, Romney being constantly described as moderate will be beneficial as will the general electorate’s increasing fimiliarity with Romney as a successful businessman. That part of his resume is now part of America’s consciousness. Romney has also been given time to develop responses to attacks that will be remade in the Fall. Negatively, a caricature has formed in the media and in many Americans that Romney is out of touch and does not represent the interests of middle and low income people. In 2000, the media taveling wiht Gore had every bit as much that Gore was inauthentic as they have of Romney. But it wasn’t developed during the primary with Sen. Bradley and wasn’t harped on as much. Romney can’t seem to escape it. His interview with Fox yesterday was perfectly fine, but some in the media found ways to nitpick (ironically, giving him a pass on healthcare). The extended primary has allowed the caricature to develop and be set. Finally, I do not see much improvement in Romney as a candidate. Hillary made Obama a better candidate by making him do his homework because he never knew where she was going to go next. Romney’s weapon of choice has been attack ads, which I think are already beginning to lose their effectiveness else Santorum would not have won MS and AL.

  17. Claire Says:

    10. I’ve done the opposite. I’ve only donated to Romney three times so far in this campaign. I know full well that I’m going to do more, but I can wait for the genera because so far Romney is okay on fundraising.

  18. Matthew E. Miller Says:

    Mass Con,

    No. Santorum and Gingrich are less electable than Romney. I’ve said this before (though I don’t think Santorum HAD to be unelectable).

    “Mitt’s coalition is strong. It’s not the one Palin would have had, but does it matter WHO it is, as long as it is somebody?”

    I’m not sure what this means.

  19. Mark in PA Says:

    AJ,

    Very interesting points. Great writing.

    I agree that Mitt is far more conservative than Newt and Rick are painting him. But IF he gets the nomination anyway, how is it going to hurt that Mitt is obviously not beholden to talk radio, special intrest right wing groups such as the Tea Party, Fox News, etc? Mitt is not an ideologue, and most of the country is going to like that.

    But should he fix the economy, I think independents will forgive him if he also pushes for a Federal Marriage Amendment against gay marriage (which passes the popular vote if not in the courts). And only the far right will be surprised when he completely decimates Obamacare – since they thought he was just kidding the whole time.

  20. ha Says:

    the answer to your question is no. but say hi to your brother nick.

  21. pea-jay Says:

    If Romney is elected pres, the LAST thing he should do in the first term (or first half) is to touch any social issue. Stick to economics. Most presidents are afforded some benefit of the doubt and to blow that taking on radioactive social issues will squander that. Stick to the economic and rack up a few easy victories first. Coming in gunsablazin’ is going to harden up opinions real fast and then good luck getting anything done. Remember a Romney victory WONT be a blow-out.

  22. Matthew E. Miller Says:

    Mass Con,

    1 vote is the same as any other. Outside of the effect on the electoral college. But it’s not the case that it doesn’t matter what kind of voters a candidate naturally attracts. Bill Clinton was so devastating to George H.W. Bush because George H.W. Bush was an Gentleman Republican in a party that had come to rely increasingly on blue-collar voters. Clinton had inordinate appeal to these voters and, the folks who were in H.W.’s natural wheelhouse- suburban voters- liked Clinton just fine, and were eager for a change. A strong Republican candidate would have been either someone who A.) Had inordinate appeal to voters that had only begrudgingly voted for Obama last time, and was “good enough” with voters who had affirmatively swung Obama’s way, or B.) Had inordinate appeal to voters that affirmatively swung Obama’s way, and was “good enough” with voters who’d only voted begrudgingly for Obama last time. There’s probably more juice in the latter formulation and, admittedly, Romney’s closer to that than the other. But he’s not really particularly close to either. I think Romney has, at best, slightly above average appeal to the voters who affirmatively swung Obama’s way last time, and considerably below average appeal with the voters who only begrudgingly voted for him. This is better than the reverse (which is something like where Santorum is) but still not so very good.

  23. OHIO JOE Says:

    “Every dollar that gets donated to Rick or Newt is a dollar that won’t get donated to Romney to beat Obama.” And you think that we are going to donate our hard earned money to Mr. Romney? I do not not think so. Vote for him in the general sure, I am giving my money to people like Mr. Kasich and Mr. Walker, not the presidential candidates.

  24. Katechon Says:

    Romney will probably reach 1144 delegates

    My question is: why mainstream Republicans, typical Romney backers, are staying home? Why don’t they get out to vote?

    And why are the Evangelicals so much more enthusiastic about turning out? The percentage of Evans is up from 2008 across all states.

  25. Franklin Says:

    The real question will be Romney’s flip flops.

    Romney will go after Obama on Obamacare. Obama will be able to point out that the centerpiece of Romneycare is the individual mandate. Also the fact that the same people who designed Romneycare also designed Obamacare. That will undercut Romney’s argument.

    Global warming and cap and trade are off the table. Massachusetts put in the same type of regulations that the EPA is putting in place. Romney said he was 100% behind them and attacked oil and gas companies. He also kept Massachusetts in a regional cap and trade compact and only withdrew the state late in his governorship.

    Crony capitalism is off the table. Romney wants to bring up Solyndra and Obama can point out that Romney gave state money to green companies and the results weren’t much better. Several went bankrupt and the rest have cut employees. Romney like Obama supports ethanol subsidies. Given the fact that lobbyists are all over his campaign and the amount of money he receives from them.

    He will get the Palin treatment and Bain Capital will be the focus. Some of it will be deserved and some undeserved. I suspect some of the legitimate issues will be brought up. The fact that he was able to get a federal bailout for some of the companies that he took over. The fact that he blackmailed state and local officials to get taxpayer money.

    Again flip flopping will be the issue. Voters understand that politicians can change their minds legitimately on one maybe two issues. But when you are constantly changing your mind then it becomes a issue.

  26. Thunder (Romney/Rubio 2012) Says:

    In my opinion, it really doesn’t matter how soon it is over as long as it doesn’t become a brokered convention, which I think is highly unlikely. Romney has survived his worst states, and is standing tall. Every time Santorum or Newt make a dent in Romney, he finds a way to find more delegates.

    Despite what everyone says, delegates matter.

    As far as the financial, I am not that worried about that. The same people who donated to him in the primaries can donate to him for the general since they are not considered the same thing. Plus PACs are going to be huge this election cycle. Both sides will have millions, if not billion of dollars to spend, and in the end, it will be all about Obama’s record.

  27. Katechon Says:

    Illinois

    If Gingrich performs well, Romney will win the popular votes.

    If Gingrich backers switched en masse to Santorum, then Frothy wins.

    What data could help us estimate the percentage of Gingrich backers switching to Santorum vs to Romney?

  28. A.J. Nolte Says:

    Matthew:
    On Romney’s suburban appeal; depends on the kind of electorate with whom we’re dealing. My assumption here has always been that we need someone suburbanites see as “safe” to vote for if they’re disenchanted with Obama. Romney meets this test, and Santorum is helping him meet it. A solid VP pick who helps with working class whites and Hispanics should insulate him relatively well. Meanwhile, Santorum attacking him for being a wealthy moderate should actually increase his appeal with wealthy moderates.

  29. Katechon Says:

    Silver allocates Gingrich voters :

    57% Santorum
    27% Romney
    16% Paul

    http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/08/how-would-santorum-do-without-gingrich/

  30. A.J. Nolte Says:

    Franklin: it’s pretty difficult to make the challenger’s flip-flops the major issue in a GE. The only reason this happened to Kerry was the whole “I voted for it before I voted against it” line, or in general, the fact that Kerry was a terrible candidate.

  31. Mittman Says:

    Rick Santorum is good for Romney is equal to.

    Having a pimple on my rear is good for me.

    Yeah thats a good comparison.

  32. Katechon Says:

    Illinois is a toss up

    If Gingrich backers — who turn out to vote — go 60% for Santorum, Santorum wins Illinois

  33. Mt. mod (prev.cons) Says:

    Re: Romney fundraising. Everytime I donate to the campaign, I swear I will NEVER watch or listen to Sean Hannity, Bret Bair, Palin, Rush or any of the rest of them who are drawing this out. Money is being spent fighting Newt and Santorum which could be used against Obama. I wonder how much I will be able to help out during the general. It DOES make a difference.

  34. Mittman Says:

    29.

    Read the entire article ..

    Lower on he says that those numbers are way to optomistic for Santorum.

    he says

    “Still, that doesn’t explain all of Mr. Romney’s edge, nor does the split in the conservative vote. Even after receiving his share of Gingrich vote, Mr. Santorum would still have trailed Mr. Romney in the overall popular vote — about 45 percent to 38 percent.”

    So fizzzzlllleeee.

    I have been saying all along it would be better for the grinch to get out it just muddys the waters..

  35. machtyn Says:

    Third, the administration fatigue at the time was with a Republican president, not a Democrat. Thus, McCain faced a steep task in persuading the country to give Republicans another shot.
    This is the reason why I am glad Romney didn’t win in 2008. I don’t think he could have beaten Obama in the midst of Republican backlash.

    The problem with picking a VP is you need one that doesn’t become the center of attention. Unfortunately, McCain was such a terrible choice that he had no momentum. His selection of Palin was a great choice… until she tried to parrot talking points. I still liked her (not as a candidate, though) until she started stringing her fans along and playing them.

    Romney was clearly favored by the conservative base. We may just have to admit that the Republican party, as a whole, is just more moderate. Either that, or we need to start closing up some of these primaries. A good idea might be to give a 2 month headway for voters to register as a Republican.

  36. Wendilynn Says:

    Franklin, I think Romney has way too many good people behind him to not already have ideas on how to separate himself from Obama.

    There is not one move Romney has made that hasn’t been planned on. His campaign has been heavily organized from the start. There was an article a few days ago that talked about Axelrod admitting that he’s miscalculated hounding Romney because its forced him to look at his campaign and fix a few things. Romney is a much stronger candidate then he was just a few months ago.

    One of Romney’s strengths that is often ignored by the media is that Romney does not spend his time whining about how its unfair. He admits when he screws up, tries to learn from it and do better. He doesn’t take anything personally and no matter what he says about their record, he still keeps his respect towards everyone, including Obama. I realize that doesn’t fly with the part of the electorate that wants someone angry and brutal. But for those of us who are moderates, Romney being a gentleman is part of his charm.

  37. Katechon Says:

    34- in Chicago, Gingrich supporters might vote Romney more than in the south if Illinois, where I expect them to go massively Santorum

  38. Katechon Says:

    Besides I expect turn out among Gingrich backers to go down “dramatically “

  39. Katechon Says:

    36- Romney ‘s campaign has been Underwhelming.

    Let’s see if it can manage a strong get out the votes operation in Illinois.

    If Santorum wins Illinois, Romney’s campaign = :lol:

    To be fair however, a lot depends on Gingrich : could he boldly, frankly and dramatically encourage his backers to vote Santorum?

  40. A.J. Nolte Says:

    36: I think this is another benefit to a long primary for Romney. I assume his people are learning from every primary loss, and defeats often teach you better lessons than victories. Hopefully this means they’ll be in top shape come the GE.

    I will say that, aside from a 5 dollar donation to qualify for a contest the campaign put on, I’ve been keeping my powder dry until the general, and I have to think there are a fair number of Republicans–both large and small donors–who are doing the same thing.

  41. A.J. Nolte Says:

    Rick Santorum isn’t going to win Illinois. There are enough voters up-state for whom he’s anathema to make sure that doesn’t happen. Also, he’s failed to qualify for several congressional districts in the state. If he couldn’t win Michigan, he won’t win Illinois.

  42. Massachusetts Conservative Says:

    MEM,

    Clinton beat HW Bush because of the economy. Everyone knows that.

    Remember this guy?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFuskOLd2jw

  43. Matthew E. Miller Says:

    Mass Con,

    Sure he lost because of the economy. But when broad structural problems- like a bad economy- intrude, it’s not the case that every voter becomes, across, equally amenable to change. It’s generally “last one in, first one out”. With Bush, the “last one in” was the blue-collar voter in the upper mid-west and the Democratic South (states like Louisiana, which still had majority Democratic registration but had been voting for Democratic Presidents). These are the voters that resisted Bush (recall he trailed Michael Dukakis for a fair portion of ’88) until Dukakis proved himself the sort of fellow who gave dispassionate discourses when questioned about the hypothetical rape and murder of his wife and daughter; the sort of fellow who furloughed murderers. This voter was the low-hanging fruit and pro-death penalty, lip-biting, Sista Souljah denouncing Bill Clinton was tailor made to win him over. The not so low-hanging fruit- the moderate suburban voter- was won over by Clinton’s relatively moderate record and his elite pedigree (Yale, Rhodes Scholar, etc). Bad economy or no, another Dukakis would not have beaten Bush. The suburban voter- who’d liked Bush just fine 4 years earlier- would have said “eh, maybe it’s not his fault; let’s give him another chance”. And the low-hanging fruit voters would have been split- which is fine by Bush, since he a 156 vote electoral cushion.

  44. Matthew E. Miller Says:

    states like Louisiana, which still had majority Democratic registration but had been voting for Republican* Presidents

  45. Massachusetts Conservative Says:

    MEM,

    Obama is no Clinton.

    Obama is Clinton’s hipness, combined with McGovern’s ideology, combined with Carter’s record.

    We aren’t trying to put up a nominee against Clinton. We’re trying to put up a nominee against Obama, someone who’s very unpopular among working class voters anyway and who relied on urbane upscale independents to fall for his bull*** four years ago and will not do so again.

    His winning coalition from 4 years ago is a paper tiger. He’s not going to do much this year apart from blacks, liberals, and hispanics. No one else likes him, no one.

  46. Massachusetts Conservative Says:

    Obama’s decent approval ratings (yeah, 46% is really decent, huh?) are partially a result of how Americans really haven’t critically analyzed Obama’s tenure. Most Americans like to give their president the benefit of the doubt until the final month of the campaign. All we need is a nominee who can point out Obama’s failures and Mitt has proven he can do this.

  47. Matthew E. Miller Says:

    Mass Con,

    Obama doesn’t need to be Clinton. In this scenario, Obama is Bush. Bush had underlying structural factors (a bad economy) against him and ran into an opponent well positioned to win over, easily, the low-hanging fruit while grabbing some voters a little higher on the tree. Obama has similarly problematic structural factors but looks unlikely to run into an opponent well positioned to do the same. In this scenario, Romney needs to be Clinton. And I’m pretty sure he’s not.

  48. Massachusetts Conservative Says:

    47

    Romney doesn’t need to be a populist smooth talker like Clinton. If he were, he’d present little contrast in terms of demeanor. In a bad economy and a world in turnmoil, Mitt’s steady stern style is a lot more like what the country is looking for.

    HW Bush was the Republican president who presided over a bad economy and appeared not to care about it. That’s not to mention he alienated his base by raising taxes and flubbing the Supreme Court.

    Obama is ALSO a president who presides over a bad economy and appears not to care about it. While Clinton won because he DID appear to care about the people’s plight, Romney can win by appearing like he’s actually going to do something to fix it, which Obama has never done.

  49. Franklin Says:

    Obama will simply say that Mitt agreed with him on a lot of things before he decided to run for the Republican nomination for President. Romney has flip flopped on so many issues that it will hurt him. Also his ties to Wall Street will hurt him. These great advisors he has are many of the same people that gave us McCain.

  50. Matthew E. Miller Says:

    Mass Con,

    Obama is not a smooth, populist talker like Clinton. A Clinton (Huckabee is probably the closest we’ve got, or maybe Pawlenty) would present an enormous contrast in demeanor. And as 1992 showed, voters are just fine with giving that sort of fellow the reins in bad times. You’re right that there’s an alternate. You’re right that a competent, non-threatening, Mr. Fixit has a clear appeal in times like these. And Romney COULD be that guy. Thing is, Romney keeps on wandering off into hedgerows. This goes back to my post yesterday- Romney’s numbers in the suburbs are underwhelming given his competition. Maybe a pick of someone like Jindal- or possibly even McDonnell- who enhances the brand Romney has tried but failed to sell could turn things around. But so far, there’s not much evidence that it’s happening. I will say this: a weak Mr. Fixit (thus far, Romney) is likely to do better than a weak Clinton (Santorum).

  51. Massachusetts Conservative Says:

    50

    Obama’s a smooth talker with populist rhetoric. Sure, he’s a bit more snobbish, but he’s much more in the mold of Clinton than someone like Romney. He’s Clinton without the compassion. Romney and Obama could not be any more different in terms of demeanor if they tried to be.

  52. DrJeckyllAZ Says:

    #25 –

    “Blackmailing”??

  53. K.G. Says:

    How does Santorum staying in the race help Mitt? (1) By making Mitt appear sane, competent, intelligent, experienced, even-handed, gracious and presidential by comparison.

    How does Santorum staying in the race hurt America? (1) By giving the StopMitt people the illusion of an alternative. (2) By making the average American believe that the GOP is a bunch of low IQ religious bigots vying for a theocracy.

  54. Meh Romney Says:

    The economy is not going to be the drag on Obama that it was on Bush41 much less Carter. One of the interesting bylines to Cameron’s visit has been the British press’ comparisons of our economy to theirs. They are in recession and unemployment is rising. We have growth, while tepid, and employment is rising. So some in Britian are sking why Vameron chose austerity over stimulus. These differences were downplayed by the two leaders, but it will play out in our election. It will thus make the case against Obama on the economy tougher.

  55. Massachusetts Conservative Says:

    54

    I am now convinced you are an Obama supporter.

  56. Joe (R42012 Groupie, Joe For Mitch) Says:

    50
    Matthew why do you keep pushing Bob McDonnell? You are experienced enough to know the first week of Romney/McDonnell will be COMPLETELY about his college thesis. Week two will be about Gay Rights. Week 3 will be contraception. Cmon. The VA press is NOT the national press corps. There *will be a national re-vetting of Bob McDonnell. I dont agree with it. I dont want it. But I have to believe it will happen

  57. Massachusetts Conservative Says:

    56

    You may be right. I hinted at this yesterday, but I hinted the liberal outcry may rally the party behind the ticket as well. I’m more inclined to believe there would be a net negative from the reaction overall, but McDonnell does deserve consideration.

  58. DrJeckyllAZ Says:

    #55 –

    I agree.

  59. uncdave Says:

    42… Clinton beat Bush because of Ross Perot

  60. Arizona Says:

    The answer to your question is no.
    He is already dragging the race into the gutter

  61. Conservative Independent Says:

    Illinois poll just announced

    A poll was just announced on Fox News Chicago. It was just done Pollster We Ask America 1,133 people participated MOE plus/minus 2.2

    Romney 37%

    Santy 31%

    Newton 14%

    Paul 8%

    Undecided 10 %

  62. Meh Romney Says:

    Lot of dog lovers in Illinois who won’t look favorably on Romney’s torturing Seamus. Romney is the Michael Vick of the GOP.

  63. Craigforlosers Says:

    54, 62. You’re a democrat, aren’t you?

  64. English Only Says:

    The dog story is disturbing.

Join The Community


Sponsored Ad

Meta

Recent Posts

Sponsored Ad

Categories

Archives

Search

Blogroll

Site Syndication

Main