The Romney “Electability” Myth
There’s a generally-accepted notion that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is the most “electable” Republican running for president in 2012.
In fact, that underlying notion pretty much defines his support.
Ask most Romney backers why they’re voting for him and they’ll tell you “we need someone who can beat Barack Obama.”
These people don’t particularly like or trust Romney, mind you, they’ve just been led to believe that his nomination is the key to getting rid of Obama and undoing things like Obamacare – which is especially ironic (and especially ignorant) in light of Romney’s prior support for socialized medicine.
Anyway, why does this root perception exist? Well, Romney looks like someone who should be president – one reason why the nation’s mainstream media has been man-crushing on him for months. As a result, Romney’s ascension to the GOP nomination has become all but inevitable … Borg-like, even.
But is Romney really the most electable Republican? Or would his nomination actually guarantee a second term for Obama?
Seriously .. take independent voters our founding editor. He’ll be casting his ballot for Paul in this month’s “First in the South” presidential primary in South Carolina, but as he recently noted on his Twitter page, he’ll be “double dipped in sh*t” before voting for Romney in either a primary or general election.
Obviously that’s entirely anecdotal, but Sic Willie is part of a broader trend that’s slowly bubbling up across the country … a trend which, if it continues, would make Romney eminently unelectable come November.
Need proof? There’s an article out this week from reporter Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post – a guy who has been gushing in his praise of Romney in the past – which underscores this trend.
“Almost seven in ten people who voted for Ron Paul on Tuesday in New Hampshire said they would be ‘dissatisfied’ if former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney was the Republican nominee,” Cillizza writes, citing exit poll data in New Hampshire.
Cillizza also points out that “78 percent of Paul’s New Hampshire support came from those who are dissatisfied or angry with the Obama administration,” a number eerily similar to the “77 percent of Paul’s Granite State supporters in 2008 (who) were similarly upset with the Bush administration.”
These are people who follow the money, not the rhetoric. And they’re not buying Romney’s snake oil.
Cillizza also cites a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted last month in which Paul receives 21 percent of the vote in a hypothetical general election match-up against Obama and Obama Light … err, Romney.
Would that keep Obama in the White House? Sure it would … but when the GOP nominee is so ideologically similar to the Democrat, does it really matter?
The Romney-Paul dichotomy is obviously not a new dilemma for Republicans.
“In 1980, George H.W. Bush was making the same argument against Ronald Reagan that Mitt Romney is making this year,” writes Peter Ferrara of The American Spectator. “Bush argued that he was the most electable against Jimmy Carter. The big money Republican establishment was behind Bush because they feared that Reagan was too radical to win, and would carry the entire party down to historic defeat, like Goldwater did.”
Did those “establishment” predictions pan out?
Of course not. Reagan swept to a pair of landslide victories and Bush rode his coattails to a third straight GOP win.
“With Mitt Romney as the nominee, the Republican Washington Establishment will be back in charge, and the Reagan Revolution will be long forgotten history,” Ferrara continues. “That was the meaning of the endorsement of Romney by John McCain, embraced by Romney with such relish.”
True that …
The GOP spent some significant time in the political wilderness in 2006 and 2008 because it betrayed its core fiscal convictions. In fact for those of you with short memories, that’s what ushered in the “Age of Obama” in the first place.
Is nominating “Obama Lite” in the hopes of appealing to the mushy middle, then, really a wise strategy for Republicans to pursue? Especially when the GOP has a fiscal conservative champion like Paul whose candidacy is already widely-supported by independents?
In fact, the more we look at this race it is not Ron Paul supporters who need to “get on board” with the GOP establishment, it is establishment Republicans who need to get on board with a candidate who is actually supporting the principles their party claims to stand for.