Romney in trouble

Ana Marie Cox:

"If the world were a logical place, Mitt Romney would be president by now. I'm sure that's what he thinks – or that is what the chips in his circuit board tell him. His business background in the context of America's financial meltdown should have won him the Republican nomination in 2008 – seriously, John McCain? Seriously? – and his mixed-marriage political history (as the conservative governor of a liberal state) could have given him a fighting chance against any Democratic nominee. The logic of that equation is so strong, and Romney and his team are so helpless in the face of logic, that they appear to be running for the 2012 GOP nomination as if all of that worked out the first time.

How else to explain the slow, easy lope Romney is taking around the primary states, refusing to look hurried or even like he's campaigning? It's true that, for decades, Republican primary voters have tended to nominate the person "next in line", and this year, Romney has that distinction. Such behaviour is less the product of analysis (looking who has the most experience, who has been working on getting the nomination the longest) than it is of name recognition. In any poll more than a year out from an election, most voters will simply gravitate toward the familiar. Romney's precipitous fall from first place in current polling – Texas Governor Rick Perry, a newcomer to the national stage, has catapulted to the lead – suggests revisions to the conventional wisdom about the GOP primary both general and specific.

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Romney is taking the approach he is, because the more aggressive approach of 2008 created hostility toward him by other candidates and voters. That is why he has held back in criticizing his opponents. That, and the fact that the media is doing it for him with daily hit pieces on Perry. Those hit pieces are not getting any traction at this point which suggest that Romney attacks probably would not either.

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