Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mitt Romney is Doomed! Doomed!

There never was much reason to think that Mitt Romney had a fighting chance of winning the Republican nomination in 2012. Sure, Romney has all the right stuff on paper. He's a former Wall Street honcho and he saved the LA Olympics, served two terms as governor of Massachusetts, and looks great in a suit. Romney also projects oodles of alpha male leadership qualities and is going to win all of the fundraising battles because of his own personal fortune and his access to big business and Mormon cash.

But none of that means much in the Republican primaries.

Romney is what's going to be known as the classic "Mike Castle" candidate. The now former senator from Delaware, Mike Castle was experienced, popular, had lots of money and would have won a general election against a Democrat hands-down.

And I'm sure that Castle was supremely confident of election in 2010.

Nevertheless, Castle's re-election campaign folded up like origami paper after a few well-placed Tea Party attack ads on his moderation and Castle ended up with the most humiliating loss possible. He was beaten by the unemployed, dysfunctional neophyte Christine O'Donnell who promptly became a national embarrassment.

In the same way, Mitt Romney has little chance of winning the GOP presidential nomination even though he's leading in the polls. As soon as aggressive conservatives like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachman, or Rick Perry begin running attack ads, Romney's numbers are going to sink and his campaign's going to run aground.

And if the other GOP candidates aren't going to go after Romney, Tea Party organizations were determined to see that he didn't win.

But it turned out that none of that was necessary.

Even without a barrage of attack ads, the current polling indicates that Romney is a long-shot. A PPP poll released today has Romney 20%, Bachmann 16%, Palin 12%, Perry 11%, and the GOP riff raff corralling another 32% among them. Romney's ahead, but these are disastrous numbers for him because Bachmann, Palin, and Perry are the same woman or "guy." They're Tea Party affiliated, aggressive, religious, suspicious of government, and alienated from the multi-cultural America that's going to line up behind Obama's re-election. Bachmann, Palin, and Perry get 39% of the vote between them and that's the case even though neither Palin nor Perry have started campaigning yet. Bachman was around 5% before she announced. One positive debate performance and some hard campaigning later, Bachmann's nipping at Romney's heels in a field of ten. When Perry and Palin announce (and I'm convinced Palin will run), their numbers can be expected to go up as well.

Bachmann's actually slipping ahead of Romney on other measures, edging Romney by 1 point (21-20) with Sarah Palin not being considered and edging Romney again (44-41) in a head to head measure. Bachmann's even or slightly ahead despite not having Romney's name recognition, not having Romney's money, and not running any RINO crushing attack ads. Right now, Romney's a second choice for almost as many Palin, Cain, Gingrich, Perry, Ron Paul, Pawlenty, and Huntsman supporters as Bachmann.

Romney also seems to be the second choice of that guy in Idaho who supports Rick Santorum.

But support will eventually drift away from Romney as the super-charged emotions of the Republican primaries start building in earnest and the number of candidates drops down from the current 10 after the South Carolina caucuses.

Who becomes Romney's strongest opponent is anybody's guess. Right now, I would give slightly better odds to Michele Bachmann because she's proven to be more energetic, more determined, and more systematic than either Sarah Palin or Rick Perry.

But that could change.

Given all her charisma, Sarah Palin still has an opportunity to reignite among conservatives. Likewise, it could be the case that Perry has untapped national appeal.

Who knows?

But the battle to win the Republican nomination is likely to be determined by who's the strongest between Bachman, Palin, and Perry.

Sarah Palin's Appeal

A well-stated formulation of Sarah Palin's core appeal by Jonathan Kay writing for Salon:

Sarah Palin isn’t like other politicians. I know this from personal experience, having watched her speak to a massive Tea Party event that I covered while researching my newly published book about conspiracy theories, "Among the Truthers." She is not so much listened to as worshiped. Her stock right-wing policy formulations and anti-Obama barbs are not really the source of her appeal. Rather, Palin is loved for the personal qualities she embodies: Her large family, her decision to give birth to a child she knew had Down syndrome, her son who served in Iraq, her small-town clapboard roots. There is a rapturous quality that comes over right-wing audiences when she speaks, as if they were in the presence of a Madonna figure come to deliver America from its travails.

Of course, the America that Palin's audiences view her as delivering is "white America."