Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mitt Romney's Electability

In this corner, the Contract with America. In that corner, Romneycare. When the bell rings, come out fighting.

If that were the choice, if those were the options, the Republican Establishment would be lining up to support Newt Gingrich.

It is not. Instead Republican grandees have been acting like surrogates for the Romney campaign. They are doing their level best to destroy anyone who would stand in the way of Mitt Romney.

Since Romney cannot run on his record, he has to diminish and degrade anyone who would thwart his ambition.

In truth, Mitt Romney’s campaign is based on an incoherent premise and a dubious promise.

Jonathan Last succinctly defined the intellectual vacuum at its heart: “The only real ‘conservative’ problem Romney has is a matter of policy and not ideology: It’s his Massachusetts health care reform. He says it worked great for his state, that he’s proud of it, and that his first act as president will be to make sure no one else in America ever has to experience anything like it.”

It is difficult to run a political campaign on an absurd idea. If you have no positive message, you need to go negative.

Establishment Republicans do not much care about all that. Their minds are consumed by one issue:  electability. Overcome with Obamaphobia, they are so terrified by the prospect of another Obama victory that they only care about one thing: electing someone other than Obama.

They have cranked up their prodigious powers of ratiocination and concluded that a moderate like Romney will appeal to more independent voters, and therefore be guaranteed election.

None of them has imagined that Romney’s hostile tone will likely cost him votes in the general election. And none of them has considered that a campaign that sets Republican against Republican is less likely to lead the way to victory.

Still, serious Republicans take it for granted that Mitt Romney is electable. But is he really?

Jonathan Last has crunched the numbers and has analyzed the data. He concludes that the aura of electability surrounding Mitt Romney is more hype than substance.

Explaining why Romney’s poll numbers have not been moving, Last writes: “If none of the conventional wisdom is fully satisfying as an explanation for why Romney is now stuck in the mid-20s, then, perhaps a more elemental explanation will do: Voters just don’t like him very much. And they never have.

“Romney has the least-impressive electoral history of any Republican frontrunner in a very long time. Most of the politicians who chase the White House are proven vote-getters with very few electoral blemishes on their record. John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Bill Clinton, John Kerry, George W. Bush, Bob Dole, Michael Dukakis—what unites all of these men is that before getting to the presidential level, they had demonstrated a talent for getting people to vote for them. (Barack Obama is the exception who proves the rule.)

“Over the years, Mitt Romney has faced voters in 22 contests. He won 5 of those races and lost 17 of them. (This total includes a win in the 1994 Massachusetts Republican Senate primary as well as results from the 19 primaries he participated in during 2008. It excludes caucuses because their rules make them complicated enough to be considered distinct from straight-up lever-pulling.)”

Amazingly, the Republican establishment has based its argument for electability on recent polls, not on actual election results.

Last explains that even Romney’s victory in one gubernatorial election is not all that it seems.

In his words: “Yet Romney’s victory was, as a matter of raw political power, less impressive than it seems. Romney was actually the fourth in a string of Republican governors who ran the state from 1990 until 2006. Of that group, Romney received the lowest percentage of the vote, failing to break the 50-percent mark in his 2002 victory. He took home a smaller share of the vote even than Paul Cellucci, the political nonentity who won the 1998 election. After three years in office, Romney’s approval rating was so low that he was forced to abandon hope of reelection. Romney’s term concluded with a Democrat winning the governor’s office for the first time in 20 years.

“More evidence of voters’ coolness toward Romney came in a recent Public Policy study, which took snapshots from 13 states both early and late in 2011. In all 13 states, he became less popular as the year progressed. Even more telling were Romney’s negatives—which increased in tandem with his name recognition. As Romney began campaigning more actively, voters became less favorably disposed toward him.”

Could it be that Rush Limbaugh is right? Has the Republican established been conned by a slick presentation? Is it so overwhelmed by irrational emotion that it has willingly blinded itself to the salient issue: in real elections Mitt Romney has never been very electable.

1 comment:

Katielee4211 said...

There is not much about Romney, as time has gone on, that appeals to me. He's arrogant and blatantly elitist. He thinks he deserves the Presidency--he is a privileged member of the 'ruling class' in his eyes after all. And I think he feels he will get it, since he has the support of the Republican Grandee's.

Good points in this article, and something that should be looked at. His past electability, and his history in holding office, say a great deal about him. As well as his chuckles, when someone makes a point about him.