Mr. Not so Electable anymore
There has always been a huge chink in Romney’s armour of electability. Last night, that chink turned into a chasm.
Romney lost 25.2% to Santorum 55.4% in Missouri; 17% to Santorum 45.2% in Minnesota and 35% to Santorum 40% in Colorado. To be fair, two are non-binding caucuses and MI was a non-binding primary. Does it mean that Santorum is the man now. I still don’t think so. I’m still convinced that Santorum was the lucky man at the right time to receive the Not Romney bounce going into the Primaries. Santorum hasn’t been the focus of a $30 million negative ad bomb that Newt is dealing with. That’s all going to change.
It will be interesting to see how Santorum reacts to the carpet bombing of negative ads that Team Romney will unload on him. Meanwhile, Newt is waiting for Super Tuesday. I think if Newt is smart, he’ll let Romney do all the dirty work against Rick (which is the only thing Romney is good at) and focus on the positives of his campaign, which is what he wanted to do in Iowa before Mitt went negative first.
Where does that leave poor Mittens? Well besides the millions in SuperPAC funds to unload a barrage of negative attack ads on Newt and Rick….not much. Romney is/has peaked. His constant negativity has hurt him. His percentage of votes has all gone down vs ’08. If you look at the States Romney has won, you see two things pop out, money spent on attack ads and demographics. Money is the big reason that Romney won Florida. Romney’s campaign spent $7 million to Newt’s $1 million and the Romney’s PACs spent $8.5 million to Newt’s $2.2 million. In Nevada, the huge Mormon population played a big factor in Romney’s win. As for New Hampshire, what can you expect when the candidate campaigned in the state for the past 5 years?
Looking ahead, there are some bright spots for Mitt. He should do well in Maine, Michigan, Vermont and Massachusetts. After that it looks bleak. Going out West, he might do well in Idaho (sizable Mormon population there) and of course Utah, but that’s it. One of the problems for Romney, is that he doesn’t have enough money to sustain the constant stream of negative attack ads against two opponents. If he goes full bore on the attack against Santorum, Newt will come out the winner. If he goes full bore against Newt, like he has been, Santorum will come out the winner.
This is the big reason Team Romney and it;s surrogates have been pushing the meme to end the primaries early. They know, just like in 2008, a longer primary will spell their doom. It’s not because the longer primary will expose more and more of Mitt weaknesses as a candidate, which are legion. It’s because Mitt only campaigns negatively. A prolonged negative campaign only hurts the candidate in the long run, while propping them up in the short run. Unless Mitt can campaign on positives, telling people why they should vote for him instead of why they should vote against the other guy, he will continue to lose support.
Romney would help himself and his party if he realized that he will have a much higher chance of winning the general election if he reaches out to conservatives and convinces them to be enthusiastic. It’s one thing to win the vote of every anti-Obama voter in the country, but on his current trajectory Romney will fail to convince many of them to make that extra effort to get their friends and neighbors to the polls. That could ultimately mean the difference between victory and defeat — and for now Romney seems oblivious to that fact.
This is also the reason why I don’t think Romney would win against Obama. You can’t win by hoping that the electorate will vote against the other guy. I think Republican’s misunderestimate Obama’s 2008 win. I think the GOP thinks Obama won purely by running a 100% against Bush campaign. He didn’t. He gave Liberals a reason to vote for him as well. He gave them Blue meat as well as telling then to not vote for the other guy.