Romney Wins Illinois; Conservatives Yawn

Winning Another Blue State

Mitt Romney won in another deep blue state that he will never win against Obama, edging close to the 1144 delegates needed to sew up the Republican party nomination.  Romney continues to win in states where he’s likely to lose in November, while in states where he has a hope of winning, voters continue to turn away from the former Massachusetts Governor.  He had a clear victory in deep blue Illinois, but this raises a question about strategies:  It seems Romney is willing to alienate the South, generally, because he hopes in the general election this Fall, voters across the South will simply vote for him because he’s not Obama, but that’s not likely to get voters to the polls.  He can’t afford to lose in even one “battleground” state, like Ohio or Michigan, in which he had only slim margins of victory over Santorum, and in the South, where a Republican should be expected to win handily, there’s a fair chance he will have alienated so many voters that they simply won’t show up.

That would constitute catastrophe, not only for Romney’s electoral hopes, but also for the nation.  He may win the nomination battle, but lose the general election war.  It’s one more reason for conservatives to worry, and I think the worries are more than valid.  After all, the fact that he wins in blue states is slim consolation compared to the fact that these are states he cannot win in the Fall.  He may be the inevitable nominee if he and the GOP establishment have their way, but that says nothing of his campaign against Barack Obama.  The evidence may lie in the fact that this was the lowest primary turn-out in Illinois in more than seventy years, just a meager 24% in Chicago according to CBS.

If Romney doesn’t start winning some states across the South, or some of the remaining battleground states by convincing margins, he’s going to be a sitting duck.  I think the Obama campaign has known this, and they have understood his nomination strategy quite well.  It may successfully make him the GOP’s candidate, but it is unlikely to pave the way for victory in November.  Romney has a real problem, and his failure to consolidate the party around him at this date speaks to a level of dissatisfaction with his candidacy and record that is truly stunning. He cannot put the notion of a brokered convention to bed until he starts commanding the red states.

Some will surely support him in the Fall campaign if he does secure the nomination, but that’s not likely to heal all the wounds his negative campaigning has inflicted on the conservative base of the party.  There is a wider segment than most may imagine that will simply not feel inclined to cast a vote for him come November, and this would be a catastrophe, albeit one brought on by the GOP establishment.  Sure, they would blame conservatives, as per their usual talking points, but the truth is that for a change, the establishment ought to have allowed the competition to occur without its own agenda of manipulating outcomes. Blue state primary wins does not a Republican victory make, and at some point, Romney is going to need to have a moment of clarity on this matter.  He’s winning, but he’s not really winning in a fashion to invigorate anybody.  If he doesn’t, and soon, he may get the nomination but yield a second term to Barack Obama.

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