With nothing left in Iowa except the flights out, we have a better picture of what the rest of this primary season has in store for us and what will take place in November. It appears that we’ll have a battle between Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney with Newt Gingrich using what money he has left to throw mud at Romney. There’s also Ron Paul in the mix, but we’ll get to him later.
Each of these three real candidates are attracting different crowds. Rick Santorum is getting people who are looking for the conservative candidate. Ron Paul is getting a rather mixed crowd. Mitt Romney’s supporters are suggesting that he’s the most electable candidate. I’ve had trouble swallowing that last one. As I’ve had the day to digest the results of Iowa and consider each candidate more thoroughly, it becomes very clear that Mitt Romney may not be the most electable. In fact, he may be the least electable of the three.
Now what I’m doing with this article is more of a mental exercise than a flat out statement that I’m right and anyone who disagrees is a moron. But if Romney supporters are going to say he’s the most electable, they need to back it up. Right now, everything I’m seeing is either irrelevant or contrary to that argument.
I’ll start out this mental exercise by bringing up the recent news that 2008 Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain came out and endorsed Romney following Iowa. I would like to remind everyone that this is the guy who lost in 2008 by a final score of 365-173. In other words, he didn’t even get half the score of the opposition. He lost Nevada, Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Florida, and Indiana. All of those are states that President George W. Bush won in both 2000 and 2004.
2008 was an embarrassing year for the Republican Party. We can point to the fact that Bush wasn’t too popular and the fact that Obama was practically the rock star of the political world in 2008, but that’s ignoring the fact that McCain wasn’t someone that got people excited. If Obama was the rock star, McCain was the old man shouting “Turn down that music!” Nobody wants to be associated with that guy. Conservatives wanted a country star to go against the rock star.
A lot of parallels can be drawn between McCain and Romney, which is why it makes sense that this endorsement took place. McCain was viewed as the candidates who could win. McCain wasn’t Obama. McCain was viewed as the one who paid his dues. McCain was viewed as being moderate enough to pull in the independents. McCain had a number of liberal policies under his belt. One of those policies even had his name (McCain-Feingold). This kept the conservative wing of the Republican Party from getting behind him.
Ask a Romney supporter why they’re backing him and it wouldn’t be uncommon to hear that Romney can win. Romney isn’t Obama. Romney paid his dues. Romney’s moderate enough to pull in the independents. This, all despite the fact that Romney has a number of liberal policies under his belt. One of those policies even has his name (RomneyCare). This is why the conservative wing of the Republican Party is backing another candidate.
McCain had all the characteristics that people claim to be a credit to Romney. And yet, he lost in an election to Obama. Why would it be a different story for Romney, or as I call him, McCain 2.0?
I did always get a laugh out of the “Paid their dues” argument. Because that clearly mattered in 2008 when the nation elected a candidate who didn’t even serve a full term in the US Senate.
I find these similarities funny since I’ve seen Romney supporters like former Michigan Republican Party Chair Saul Anuzis sharing an ad by the RNC using Obama’s own words against himself. The ad ends with Obama saying “This country can’t take four more years of the same failed policies. It’s time to try something new!”
This country can’t take four more years of the same failed policies. It’s time to try something new to keep Obama from winning a Presidential election.
Sure, there are probably a few differences between Romney and McCain. But the perception is still what it is. Romney is getting much of the same reaction McCain got from the whole political spectrum. The fact that Romney has welcomed McCain’s endorsement further established the perception. Some conservatives in ‘08 had a hard time getting behind McCain. Romney’s not changing that. The best thing Romney has going for him is the fact that Obama’s been a really lousy President. If he was just okay, I promise you that 2012 would be an exact repeat of 2008.
Now Romney supporters have provided some evidence to back up their “Electability” claim. It’s not all talk. The main thing I’m seeing people point to is a recent national poll that shows that Romney ahead of Obama. That’s great and all, but there are two problems with that poll.
Problem #1: It assumes that the election was held when the poll is taken. Between now and then, there will be debates, TV ads, and news coverage regarding the eventual Republican candidate and Obama. A lot can and will change between now and then. To base a decision today on a poll taken in December about an election in November is a bit foolish.
Problem #2: It’s a national poll. We don’t select our President by a popular vote. There’s this thing called the electoral college. Maybe you’ve heard of it. I’m sure Al Gore is well aware of it. If Romney polls better than Santorum or Paul in California, big deal. I’m pretty sure that that state is going blue November 6th. But what about those states Bush won in 2000 and 2004 but McCain lost in 2008?
But there’s still the possibility that Romney is more moderate and has a better chance of pulling in the independents. Well if that’s the thinking, why aren’t Romney supporters backing Paul?
I’m dead serious about that one. In Iowa, the people who were first time caucus goers or weren’t registered Republicans prior to caucus week tended to side with Congressman Paul. I’ve talked to people who supported Obama in 2008 but now they’re supporting Paul. I’ve seen others on Twitter or Facebook that never had any interest in politics but now they’re supporting the Congressman. “Paulbots,” despite the mocking they receive (and many times, rightly so) are incredibly passionate. It seems like Paul is doing a significantly better job of bringing people into the Republican Party than Romney is doing.
Does Paul’s foreign policy upset a number of Republicans? Yes. I’m deeply disturbed by his refusal to talk tough with Iran (See Jimmy Carter, 1980, for reference on how that works out). Do I have concerns about his drug policy? I can’t say “YES!” loud enough. But the guy does have a lot of conservative ideals (lower taxes and less government) and there’s no doubt he’ll do all he can for those causes.
Now I’ve gone over the reasons why Paul can’t win in November before. This isn’t my call for everyone to support him. But if the one thing a voter is looking for is someone who’s going to bring in more than just the Republican establishment, then the logical and proven conclusion they need to come to is Ron Paul.
If anything, Ron Paul is proof that it’s possible to take a VERY right-wing approach on a number of issues and actually attract people from the whole political spectrum.
“But Dan! He’s the only candidate that has consistently been polling high!” Yes. There’s a reason for that. The rest of us (read: The conservative/paleo-con wing of the Republican Party) have been looking for our candidate. After all, that was the purpose of all of these debates we’ve had up to this point. First we thought it was Rick Perry. Then we learned he couldn’t even make his way on to a junior high debate team. Then we moved to Herman Cain and we eventually learned he had so much baggage even Southwest Airlines would have to charge him. We then bought into Newt Gingrich’s conservative rhetoric until we realized it was just rhetoric. That brings us to now rest on Santorum. That’s why he’s come out of nowhere.
So I’m listening, Romney supporters, why are you backing this guy? I’m not seeing many good reasons.
If Romney get the nomination, I’ll vote for him. He would be better than Obama. There’s no doubting that. But to call him the “Electable” candidate is something that currently appears to be very far from the truth. If Romney’s going to run on that principle, he’s going to need to do a better job of proving it. Right now, I’m just having flashbacks to 2008 and I’m feeling that tug to vote 3rd party or stay home. I’m certainly not very motivated to go out and campaign for him.
And one more thing regarding the “Electability” aspect of Romney. The DNC has put this video out.
This ad is well done. It features Brit Hume and Neil Cavuto. Both are people in the news media that conservatives love. And then there’s a short clip of Ronald Reagan. It almost appears like they’re going against Romney.
Then there are clips from some late night hosts. That suggests the people who influence the moderate crowd are going to bash Romney from now until November.
The goal of this ad isn’t to get people to go from Romney to Obama. The goal is to discourage conservatives from going to the polls in November at all. That’s the key to get Obama a victory. McCain’s wishy-washy record kept the conservatives home in 2008. If the DNC can expose Romney’s similarly wishy-washy record, they may be able to accomplish the same thing. If only the DNC believed in the “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” approach to running our country…
I seriously ask Romney supporters to watch that ad three or four times in a row and then tell me it’s not a bit discouraging—because that’s what’s going to happen in September and October. The DNC will run a similar ad at every turn if Romney’s the candidate.
Can the DNC produce similar attack ads for any Republican candidate? Yes. But this one’s a bit like being told that Santa Claus isn’t real. It shatters everything. The person goes to look for evidence to the contrary, but it’s all gone. All the evidence supporting the argument is wiped away.
With other candidates, there are at least some things that can’t be questioned. I challenge the DNC to do this with Paul’s domestic policy or Santorum’s stance on social issues. We can at least hang on to those nuggets no matter what. Conservatives can go to the polls and know that they’re at least fighting for a President who will follow the Constitution or the right to life. They can completely destroy almost every single thing about Santorum for me, but I’ll be able to go into a voting booth and vote for him because at the very least, I’m voting for a solid pro-life candidate.
This is a very important thing to keep in mind with this election, largely thanks to Obama. Because the economy is so poor and we have so many people that are unemployed or underemployed, people have less disposable income. That means they have less to give to a campaign they don’t really believe in. On top of that, who’s going to stand in line for an extended period of time (potentially in the cold in a number of battleground states) for a candidate they don’t really believe in?
“But Dan! He’s not Obama! People want that guy out of office! People will donate and stand in line to make Obama a one term President!”
If that’s the case, and that’s the end of the arguments for Romney, tell me why that doesn’t apply to Paul or Santorum?