Version 2.0 Can't Win Either
In a recent article, I mentioned it briefly, but I don’t think that I have made the point explicitly enough. The GOP establishment, and all its myriad shills in the media along with their numerous allies on the left tell us that Mitt is inevitable by virtue of his wins in New Hampshire, Florida, and Nevada, and his second-place finishes in Iowa and South Carolina. I’m now faced with a question born of two problems I see with his victories, and I wonder if the GOP establishment would be willing to explain them. At present, Romney has a vast financial advantage over even the best of his competitors, and the support he’s been getting from SuperPACs is a big part of that advantage. In a general election, Romney won’t enjoy such an advantage over President Obama. Those states in which he now exploits a home turf advantage over fellow Republicans because he is the more liberal won’t necessarily be an advantage in the general election.
I think his win in Florida and second-place in Iowa owe entirely to the money, when you look at the how asymmetrical the spending had been in those states. New Hampshire was home turf, and arguably, so was Nevada. South Carolina could be said to be home turf for Gingrich, but remember Romney had a large lead there for weeks. The problem is that Romney’s advertising advantage was not so huge, and Gingrich’s good week in the debates helped seal Mitt Romney’s fate. I still don’t understand how he or other establishment types can contend that he’s the most electable, however, because I can do the math too.
Let’s take a state for examination that has not yet held its primary: Massachusetts. One would expect that since he was governor there, he might have a significant advantage, at least in the primary. It’s his home turf after all, and besides, Massachusetts is a liberal state. As the most liberal Republican in this race by a clear margin, one would expect that he’d have an easy win there, and he probably will – in the primary. Once we clear the nomination process, who in the GOP establishment believes Mitt can beat Obama in the Bay State? What amount of money will he spend there on advertising? He shouldn’t need to spend much, as name recognition should be his friend there, if nowhere else. Yet in the primary, he may need to spend a goodly sum in advertising there to attack his rivals, and tamp them down.
This simply doesn’t add up to victory in November, despite the countless stories proclaiming Romney’s inevitability. In all those states, particularly in the South, where he will need to spend tremendous sums to capture the primary victory, or like in South Carolina, finish second, he will not motivate the base of the party this fall. You know it. I know it. Mitt Romney knows it. Romney is so uninspiring that in fact he might manage to lose states like Texas in the general election. In the Northeast, where his policy positions are more palatable to voters, they are such deeply blue states that Obama can win them by simply running a competent campaign while show-casing Romney’s flip-flops. Romney will not carry New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, and may be sorely challenged to win in Maine and New Hampshire. He will not capture California, Oregon, or Washington on the West Coast. He will not capture Minnesota or Illinois, and probably not Ohio or Michigan. Even with his good showing there, he may not pull Florida over in a general election.
This leaves you with just the Southern states, and the states of the Great Plains and the Rockies, along with the Southwest. These will be contests in which the base matters, but Mitt Romney does not appeal to the base. He will surely carry a number of these in close races, but he will not carry enough, and with the weight of the northeast hammering him, and the West Coast anchoring Obama, there is no way I can see Mitt Romney winning without being able to saturate the airwaves with negative ads as he’s currently doing, state-by-state, with Gingrich. He won’t be able to do this against Obama. Obama will rule the airwaves with his ads, as his war-chest far exceeds whatever Romney will muster.
The takeaway here is that having a distinct money advantage over his more conservative rivals does not and will not translate into victory over Obama in November, because he will have no such advantage, and in fact may be on the receiving end of a similar disparity in campaign cash. If you believe that some Republican voters are too easily swayed by such ads, don’t ponder too long how so-called “independents” or “moderates” can be pushed by such campaigns, never mind the liberal voters. In such a race, Mitt Romney cannot win, and he won’t. To win, the Republicans must nominate a candidate whose sole advantage is something other than money over his Republican rivals. That candidate must have a clear and understandable agenda, and an ability to convey it with an unremitting passion that transcends money, and if you’re waiting for Romney to break out with that, you’re in for a very long wait, indeed.
Realizing this, Republicans who have any hope of defeating Obama must hop off the Romney train now. We haven’t another four years to wait in the wake of another presidential loser. If we hope to win, and to undo Obamacare, and to capture the Senate and strengthen our numbers in both houses of Congress, we must nominate somebody else, like Gingrich, or maybe even Santorum. The problem is that we’ve been here before, and by now we should all have the t-shirts. Winning in 2012 will be impossible with Mitt Romney, and our desire to unite the party should not obscure our vision of this fact.