Romney can’t seal the deal
Why hasn’t Mitt Romney closed the door on his opponents? Romney has dominated much of the early primary states and his 6-of-10 performance on Super Tuesday should’ve been the end for his rivals. Yet rather than looking for the doors Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are still discussing their strategy for taking the nomination and targeting each other rather than Romney. The answer is as simple as pie: Romney hasn’t connected with the broader Republican base.
Romney suffers from two distinct issues: A wealthy and successful entrepreneur in times of the Occupy Wall Street one-percenters and a vague sort-of-conservative stance. Romney has not been able to resolve the confusion between his notably liberal stance while Massachusetts Governor and his campaign message of conservatism. Romney just hasn’t sold it. Romney had success with more moderate Republicans, but much of the base is still looking for that elusive “anti-Romney” who poses the greatest distinction to President Obama.
Romney’s path to the nomination is by far the clearest and both his organization and campaign funds would make betting against him a long-shot. The Romney war chest is well stocked and his years of campaigning for the nomination have resulted in a powerful national campaign organization. This nomination campaign should’ve been a first-round knockout.
We’re witnessing a David-and-Goliath moment. The Gingrich campaign has been a rollercoaster with desertions, funding issues and clear lack of support from Washington insiders. Santorum is effectively a nobody with a miniscule campaign, out-of-the-mainstream conservative views and probably the least forward-thinking campaign of the four remaining hopefuls.
Romney is benefitting from the weakness of his rivals that should’ve propelled him to a quick and decisive victory for the Republican nomination. Yet Romney can’t make the sale with the base. Romney has bludgeoned his opponents with multiple million dollar ad campaigns that started with him dismembering Newt Gingrich in Iowa and clearing a path for Santorum. It seems as if every move by Romney to disparage one opponent has profited another.
While many pundits point to Romney’s victories on Super Tuesday as the sign that none of the other three hopefuls have a realistic path to the nomination, yet they fail to consider that if Romney can’t quickly dispatch a Santorum with a feeble organization and a bank account filled with moths, can he defeat the Barack Obama political machine? Romney’s slim victory in Ohio speaks volumes.
This campaign season is beginning to look a lot like 2008 for the Republican Party. Four years ago the Republicans nominated a clear moderate John McCain as the candidate of last resort. It would seem they are about to repeat the same mistake in 2012. The GOP base would prefer any of a dozen other people who have chosen to sit out this year’s presidential election and are about to settle for Mitt Romney. What Romney has managed to do is much the same as McCain did in 2012: appear like the least lousy choice in a field lacking a standout.
The Obama campaign isn’t waiting around for the Republicans to pick Romney. The Democrats have analyzed the field and determined that the GOP will stumble into the fall campaign with the default next-in-line approach and are going at Romney full-bore. Obama will define Romney long before Romney has locked-in the nomination and the president’s re-election appears more and more likely.