Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Mitt Romney continues to accumulate delegates with wins in Arizona and Michigan last night. A win in Arizona was expected, but he really dodged a political bullet by pulling it out in the state of his birth and his youth.

While much of the political talk has been about Romney's weaknesses as a campaigner, and these are all real concerns, the bottom line continues to be the fact that Romney remains unflappable in the debates, has built an impressive organization capable of competing everywhere, and continues to be the default candidate for a GOP nominating electorate that wishes it had another choice.

Romney is still the man with the clearest path to the nomination.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


The latest polls show Romney gaining ground in Michigan and leading in Arizona. What does this mean? First and foremost, in Michigan it means that the ad campaign is working for Mitt. But for both states, and for the national poll numbers, it means that Santorum is getting a hard look, just like Bachman, Cain, Perry and Gingrich before him. And just like those others he is beginning to look less appealing as people learn more about him.

This pattern of potential GOP voters looking for someone other than Romney to lead them in the Fall is the central theme of this campaign season. That it is such a them does not bode well for Romney. If he wins the nomination, and I still believe that he will, he will do so by default. The base of the party will not be inspired by him, which could mean potentially disastrous diminution of support, while the President is busy rebuilding the enthusiasm that got him elected in the first place.

What could derail this scenario? A significant downturn in the economy between now and November, or a foreign policy blunder by the President, or some other event or series of events that cause independent voters to question the President's competence or to blame him for for the sorry state of the country.

I would prefer a campaigner in the Reagan mold to carry the fight to Obama in the Fall, but there it is.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


With the GOP presidential race now in a brief period between primaries and caucuses (Arizona and Michigan are next on the 28th), potential voters who have begun thinking about the race are now, or at least it appears to be so, beginning to move toward yet another anti-Romney. Rick Santorum has surged ahead in the national polls. More importantly, Santorum is now ahead in the two most recent polls in Michigan. It is hard to overstate the importance of Michigan in the context of not only the race for the nomination, but the race for the White House itself. If Santorum bests Romney in Michigan, the state where Romney was born and raised, the state where Romney's father was a popular governor, then Romney may very well be mortally wounded.

Every anti-Romney surge was defeated, not by Romney, but by the inadequacies and foibles of the anti-Romney challenger. If Santorum can avoid blowing himself up (as Gingrich has done more than once, and Perry did spectacularly during the debates), and if there are no skeletons in his closet (as was the case with Cain), he may be able to take a Michigan victory and turn it into a big day on Super Tuesday. If he does, then we can expect a race all the way to the convention, which might be the most interesting national convention for us political junkies since Chicago in '68.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Mitt Romney began the process of getting back on the right track to the nomination this weekend. First, he won the Maine caucuses, with Ron Paul finishing second and Santorum a distant third (and Gingrich an even more distant fourth). Ron Paul's people were hoping to get their first win in Maine, but it was not to be. Second, Romney won the straw poll at the CPAC conference. Although it does not get him any delegates, it does indicate that he has some strength with conservative activists inside the party. He desperately needs to re-establish the sense in the party that he is the inevitable nominee and, more importantly, he is the best man to take the fight to Obama and the Democrats in the Fall.

Now it is on to Arizona and Michigan at the end of the month, and what could be a crucial televised debate in Georgia on March 1st.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012


Mitt Romney stumbled badly last night, losing all three contests to Rick Santorum. Missouri was a "beauty contest" that awarded no delegates, but Santorum showed real strength by winning with 55% of the vote. Santorum won every county. He also won the caucuses in Minnesota, with Ron Paul finishing second and Romney third. But the big news is Colorado. Romney was expected to win in Colorado. Instead, Santorum won those caucuses as well 40% to 35% for Romney.

These defeats tell us two things. First, the dissatisfaction with Romney in the ranks of conservative Republicans remains as a significant factor. He has not closed the deal with the base of the party which is still casting about for an alternative. Second, Romney continues to campaign unevenly, doing well at times, but doing extraordinarily badly at others.

The only reason Romney remains as the front runner is that the conservative opposition has not found a single standard bearer they can agree upon. In fact, so long as both Gingrich and Santorum remain in the race they will split the anti-Romney vote.

Romney still has the best and clearest path to the nomination, but it is not without its ruts and potholes, and he stumbled into one of them yesterday. Let's see how he responds.

Monday, February 06, 2012


Mitt Romney's march to the Republican presidential nomination continues with his big, if not unexpected, win in Nevada. With 100% of the vote now in Romney won with 50%. Despite the wishes of so many within the ranks of the GOP, it still appears as if there is no clear path to the nomination for any other candidate. While Gingrich, Santorum or Paul might do well in individual contests like the caucuses that will be held in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri tomorrow, so long as Romney continues to win a few along the way he remains in his position as the front runner and the most likely nominee. Current polling has Romney leading in Colorado and just behind Santorum in Minnesota. Romney needs only to win one of tomorrow's contests while doing well in the other two to keep his momentum. There is speculation that Paul might win the Maine caucuses on the 11th, but Romney will certainly win Michigan and is leading big in Arizona, both of which hold primaries on the 28th.

Since their landslide defeat in 1964, the GOP has always picked the safe candidate, which is usually the next fellow in line. Nixon re-established himself as the establishment candidate in '68, while Reagan's narrow loss to Ford in '76 set him up to be the next in line in '80. As a sitting Vice-President George H.W. Bush was next in line in '88, while the runner-up in that contest, Bob Dole, was positioned as the establishment candidate in '96. As the governor of Texas and son of the former President, George W. Bush quickly became the establishment candidate in '00, even though he had not been the runner-up in '96 (Pat Buchanan, who was the runner up that year, was completely unacceptable to the establishment and, by bolting to the Reform Party, disqualified himself in any event). John McCain, the second place guy in '00, became the establishment guy in '08. Mitt Romney was second in that contest, and is the front runner today accordingly.

It may seem pretty dull and stale, but these are Republicans we are talking about, after all. Why should we expect the conservative party to make radical, unexpected choices?

Wednesday, February 01, 2012


Mitt Romney had a good night last night. Florida is one of the key swing states in the November election, and for that reason for the former Massachusetts governor it is a prize worth far more than the delegates at stake. This win makes the case for Romney that he is the most electable, and therefore most formidable, candidate to go up against an incumbent President. The calendar, and the determination of Gingrich, Santorum and Paul, means the contest will go on, perhaps into June. But last night Mitt Romney did what was necessary to show why all the pundits and political professionals (me included) believe he will be the Republican nominee. It also makes the case for those who believe (me included) that Mitt Romney will be the next President of the United States.