Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Obama vs Romney in 2012

Hi Everyone,

I thought I would indulge in a little excessively early prognostication. With Governor Huckabee declaring his non-candidacy, that leaves the field open. The conventional wisdom among many is that Mitt Romney is incapable of winning the Republican nomination because he's Mormon and is "soft" on Obama-care. I think Romney is the guy to bet on getting the nomination and here is why...

First, there is a long history of the GOP nominating the guy who has the "resume." If the Democrats picked nominees like the GOP did, the 2008 contest would have been between Clinton and Edwards with Obama having to wait for a VP offer - assuming he could hang around longer than Richardson. But Republicans LOVE to pick the resume. The often nominate the runner up from the previous election cycle. Examples: Reagan lost to Ford in 1976 and was nominated in 1980. GHW Bush lost to Reagan in 1980 and was nominated in 1988. Bob Dole was Ford's running mate in 1976 and lost the nomination to GHW Bush in 1988 but was nominated in 1996. John McCain lost the nomination to GW Bush in 2000 but had a come back win to get the nomination in 2008. So who came in "second" in 2008? It depends how you figure it. Romney was probably the second most serious candidate but Huckabee hung on like grim death to come in second in the delegate count even though he was mathematically eliminated. So the "who's turn is it" question would be open to interpretation with both Romney and Huckabee in the race. With Huckabee out, Romney is in sole command of the "best resume" title for 2012.

In addition to the "tradition," the GOP nomination process is more dependent on "winner take all" results. So if a candidate comes in first in a crowded field but with only 25% of the vote, that candidate could walk away with 100% of the delegates for that state. So being out in front is huge. The early polls show that only Romney and Huckabee were consistently getting close to 20% of support from Republican respondents (see polls here). Romney and Huckabee were also the most popular "second choice." So with Huckabee gone, that sets up Romney.

Then there are the delegates who get to vote at the convention independently from the primary and caucus results. Democrats call these "super delegates." Republican use them too. This crowd is the "Party establishment" that the tea party dislikes so much. These are also the people who occasionally leaked out "Palin is an idiot" stories in the aftermath of the 2008 election catastrophe. I hardly think these people are going to line up behind either Palin or Trump. They'd be torn between a couple of former governors with decent records in office but not when the choice is between one of them and cluster of whackos, anti-establishment demagogues and unknowns. Gingrich MIGHT attract some of this support but his tenure as Speaker was controversial among the Republican establishment. Also, Gingrich's infamous relationship with his family(ies) makes the Mormon Romney look good to evangelicals, at least the elite ones, by comparison.

This sets up Obama vs Romney in 2012. It also takes the health care reform issue off the table for things Republicans can challenge Obama on. That could be huge as this was the main issue Republicans used to win seats in 2010. Romney's close ties to the auto industry might make it hard for him to go after Obama on the stimulus because a big part of the post 2010 bail out/stimulus was directed at keeping the US auto industry afloat. On foreign policy, Romney can hardly make a serious claim that he's got more or more hawkish foreign policy credentials than the incumbent president who "got Bin Laden." His best bet would be run against the idea of foreign policy and portray himself as something of an isolationist (which is what Ron Paul is doing).

All of this makes me think that the biggest beneficiary of Huckabee's non-candidacy is going to be Obama.


USWest said...

Interesting pattern that you point out. I hadn't considered that. But it's true.

Do you really think the Evangelicals will go for a Mormon? You mention the elite will. But will the rank and file? I sort of don't think so.

Trump is out.

If it is Romney, the Obama is set. Romney is like the John Kerry of the Republicans. He's too . . . soft? Is that the right word? He's too moderate? It's isn't easy to be a read meat Republican and the governor of Massachusetts.

Who do we pick as his running mate?

Raised By Republicans said...

My point really is that whether the rank and file evangelicals go for a Mormon or not really isn't the deal breaker for Romney. The GOP has a system that favors the "obvious" front runner types regardless of which faction they come from.

I think you're right though. Romney can't beat Obama. The rank and file evangelicals may not be able to determine who gets nominated over the objections of the party big shots but they can stay home in November. And like you say, it's going to be hard for Romney, with his long and well documented record as a moderate from "Taxachussets" to portray himself as a purveyor of ideological red meat for the Tea Party base.

He'll try to get these people to his side though. He'll pick a running mate with credibility with the party establishment who could possibly appeal to the base. I'd guess Mitch Daniels or someone like that.

The Law Talking Guy said...

The notion that the GOP always picks the establishment candidate, and therefore did so with McCain, is a bit shaky to me. I'm not sure Reagan and McCain are easily viewed as establishment candidates in their years. That would have gone to Bush in 1980, and not sure if Romney or Fred Thompson were not equally the "establishment" candidate in 2008. Is Romney the establishment guy now? I suggest not, because of Taxachussets and Romneycare and LDSness. I think he was always a bit of a moderate/outsider in the party. Gingrich is too ornery to be the establishment candidate. Jeb Bush is still the go-to guy for 2012, I think.

Raised By Republicans said...

LTG, I think you're missing my point about the nominee. It's not necessarily an "establishment" guy it's "the guy who's turn it is." The guy who "paid his dues last time around" if you will. Jeb Bush doesn't qualify because he's never run before. Republicans like to have two looks at their nominees. There is a very strong tendency to nominate the guy who came in second the last time.

That's true of Reagan, GHW Bush, and McCain. It's arguable that GW Bush was a "dark horse" but he was the governor of the largest Republican State. Nixon had run before but he had been VP. I'd say Goldwater was the last genuine "dark horse" candidate the GOP nominated.

The VP nomination though is a different question because the "establishment" will insist on picking the VP after the Palin train wreck.

I'll tell you what, I'll bet Romney against the entire field. If anyone but Romney gets the nomination, I'll owe you a beer. Unless of course the world ends on Saturday evening. In which case the bet's off.

The Law Talking Guy said...

OK, that's a different argument than I thought. But "the guy whose turn it is" is not a straightforward judgment. Really, Romney? I'll take that insensitive bet of a beer on the Mormon guy. I don't think it's his turn at all, in that analysis. Not sure whose turn it is.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Surely it wasn't GWBush's "turn" in 2000, was it?

Raised By Republicans said...

Yeah, GWB was the closest the GOP has gotten to a "dark horse" nominee in decades (before that the last one that comes to mind was Goldwater). GW Bush was a bigger deal in the GOP than some of might think. He had run his father's campaign in 1988 and he was the darling of the Religious Right, as well as the - at the time - popular governor of the biggest reliably Republican state. Given who his competition was, McCain, the "who's turn is it?" question was genuinely open to interpretation. That's not the case now. With Huckabee out of the picture, there is a clear ownership of that title and it's Romney.

Of course, I'm not saying this is determinative. It's just a strong tendency within the Republican party.

LTG, I'd bet you a cup of coffee but that's a problem for Mormons too. It makes you wonder what Mormons do use to make friendly bets. I suppose their against that too.