Posted by: mutantpoodle | February 29, 2012

Repeat after me: It’s Romney

John F. Kennedy (the one who makes Rick Santorum want to hurl) once joked that his father had sent him a telegram that read as follows:

Dear Jack: Don’t buy a single vote more than is necessary. I’ll help you win this election, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay for a landslide!

Well, Mitt is largely his own sugar daddy (although he has rich friends who help, too), and clearly he’s not buying a single delegate more than is necessary. Because if you were incredibly rich with incredibly rich friends and looked like your jaw should be put on Mount Rushmore just ‘cuz, you might be inclined to spend enough money to put Rick Santorum out of his misery.

But no, Mitt barely won the home state (out of three) that he was actually born in. And no matter what you say, 3% isn’t the new landslide.

Sadly, it doesn’t matter.  Romney has money, an actual political organization, ballot access in ALL the states, and the total lack of shame that allows him to continue to to troll for votes among people who would seriously vote for Rick Santorum. Or, for that matter, Newt Gingrich.

I had held out hope that a Santorum victory in Michigan would tip reality enough to give him a chance at taking Mitt down. Yesterday, when Bob Grundfest posted essentially what I am saying today (with, to be fair, more specific analytics), I suggested that there was maybe a 10% chance Santorum could pull the GOP nomination out of his Mitre. I based this on four main points.

1. Romney’s campaign has always been buttressed by inevitability and electability. As his electability advantage evaporates, he’s left with inevitability, and as he loses contests – no matter how small – to Rick Santorum, inevitability wanes, too.

2. No one in the GOP is passionate about Romney. They dislike him less than they hate Obama, but Santorum is better at serving up GOP red meat, and Romney is better at tin-eared gaffes.

3. I expect Gingrich to be irrelevant after Super Tuesday, in which case Santorum coalesces the social conservative not-Romney vote.

4. In 2008, when Barack Obama lost Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Texas, New York, Massachusetts, California, Florida and Michigan, he lost them to Hillary Clinton, not, for example, Mike Gravel. In a sane political world, Rick Santorum would be a joke, and Romney can’t put him away.

Mitt’s not going to put Rick away. But he’s going to put him in the rear-view mirror and slog his way to 1,144 delegates before this is over.  When he does that, people will wonder why it was so hard, the way they would if Usain Bolt beat Billy Crystal in a 100 meter dash by just a few yards.

There are two answers.

The first was offered up by GOP consultant Jonathan Wilcox on KPCC this morning. Romney, he said, wanted the slow, steady, tortoise vs. hare race. He doesn’t want excitement; he just wants his inexorable march to Tampa to continue.  And I think there’s truth to that: the less nuts Romney goes now, the fewer crazy things he’ll have to walk back in September and October.

The second is this: Mitt Romney is not the USain Bolt of politics. He is, in fact, an awful politician.  He is weirdly out of touch with most people, and incapable of creating connections with the vast majority of voters. Add to that a tin ear and a record that puts him on every side of virtually every issue, and the miracle (for him) is that h’s running against clowns like Gingrich and Santorum. I mean, if Rick Perry hadn’t scheduled his lobotomy for June of last year I’d expect he’d be wrapping this nomination up right about now.

However.

It’s not Perry, or Bachmann, or Pawlenty, or Huntsman, or any of the myriad not-Romney’s who have come and gone – some with barely a whimper.  It Mitt Romney, crawling to a lead he will likely maintain to Tampa, wherein, as predicted here a few weeks ago, he will lose the general election to Barack Obama.

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