Monday, March 19, 2012

Meanwhile, South of the Border

Despite a pair of humiliating set-backs in Alabama and Mississippi last week, Mitt Romney is still on course to stumble over the finish line in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Despite an overwhelming desire to find anyone else up to the job, the Anybody But Romney options have imploded one by one - first Bachman, then Perry, then Cain, then Gingrich. When Rick Santorum is the only alternative left standing, you know you're scraping the bottom of the barrel. So it's no surprise that the delegate math is still heavily in Romney's favour, and that the election stock markets still peg him as an 89% favourite to win the nomination.

But his odds of taking the White House are far less than that, despite Obama's lackluster approval ratings. Although Romney is routinely described as the most "electable" Republican in the field, he has two glaring flaws that should ensure Obama's re-election.

Flaw 1. Romney reminds me of John Kerry v 2.0 - he flips, he flops, he lacks convictions. Voters want a leader who stands for something and, unlike the rest of the Republican field, it's unclear what Romney believes in. Just as Kerry's past made it difficult for him to attack Bush on Iraq, Romney's past makes it difficult for him to criticize Obamacare. It's going to be very difficult to attack Obama's Health Care model during debates, when Obama just needs to smile and thank Mitt for providing the Massachusetts model it was based on.

Romney's wishy washineness has allowed him to get pulled into issues that are better left dormant. The only thing making contraception a major election issue accomplishes, is energizing Democrats who were otherwise indifferent to this election after being let down by Obama.

Flaw 2. The one issue Romney may be able to ride to the White House is the economy, but Romney's business background only highlights his second fatal flaw - his inability to relate. Say what you will about them, but the one thing Barack Obama, George W Bush, and Bill Clinton were all able to do was connect with voters. So while Obama is sinking three pointers and cracking jokes this fall, expect more awkwardness from Romney, in line with his "$10,000 bet", "I'm not concerned about the very poor" and "some of my friends own NASCAR teams" Richie Rich moments.

If Obama wants to take on Wall Street and the top 1% this election, he couldn't have designed a better opponent. After all, you can't spell Romney without "money".

So while Democrats may be hoping for divine intervention to deliver them a Santorum nomination, they really should be counting their blessings that Romney will be the nominee. He may look like a formidable opponent, but Romney is the perfect foil for Obama to be up against.

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  • Kennedy is going to run. This is big. He's gonna kick Harper's ass and pull us out of the stone-age.

    Canada always deserved its own Kennedy. I hope he moves to Quebc soon. He promised to in 2006(?) - and I am sure he's almost done picking a neighbourhood.

    We'd love to have him and his family as neighbours. We could watch each other's dogs when on vacation.

    By Anonymous Quebeckers for Kennedy, at 10:14 a.m.  

  • Nice to see you toeing the Democrat Party line here, just as CNN have consistently done.

    In the South, Romney was never expected to be strong. Yet the Democrats have taken the fact that Romney won more than half the delegates at stake to say that he was "humiliated". Absolute GARBAGE.

    Gingrich and Paul cannot win the nomination. If Santorum were to somehow pull it out and win, pundits would "suddenly" realize that he was weak in the South, very weak in the North, and very weak in the West. And that's among Republicans.

    Romney, on the other hand, has shown himself to be strong in the urban areas in the South, and very strong in the urban areas in the rest of the country.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:49 a.m.  

  • If I was a Republican, I would not vote for Rmoney (spelling mistake intentional), for exactly the reasons you state. He's so out of touch, it's beyond comparison. He flip flops so much, I don't believe him, would lack focus and leadership and would be run by the same cabal. That said, I wouldn't vote for Obama this time either (last time I would have).

    The U.S. needs a radical shift back to it's basics, or it will fail this century.

    By Blogger Mike B., at 1:22 p.m.  

  • Was John Kerry such a bad nominee? If a few votes had gone the other way in Ohio, he would have been president. I also suspect people (especially Canadians, who forget that people are electing somebody that shares their values, in addition to the best commander in chief) underestimated the strength of Bush's position in 2004.

    Bush had approval ratings in the low 50's, and the economy started surging in mid-2003 (short-term economic performance is often a better predictor of economic voting than long-term). Ray Fair, who projects elections based on economic data actually predicted a much larger margin for Bush.

    Additionally, the idea that Kerry couldn't effectively distinguish himself from Bush on Iraq doesn't really fit with the data. First, Kerry had no enthusiasm problems from Democrats. 8 million more Democrats turned out to vote (51 to 59 million). Second, exit poll data showed Kerry won voters who saw Iraq as the most important issue 73-26.

    By Anonymous hosertohoosier, at 2:35 p.m.  

  • I'm an American, and I pretty much agree with everything Calgary Grit said in this post. Its funny how often political analysis by foreigners is more on point than what you can get in the country concerned. I have a minor caveat about Santorum representing "scraping the bottom of the barrel", he may take some cringeworthy positions, but the man was elected to Congress (House and Senate) four times in contested elections, to the Senate from a state with a bigger population than any Canadian province. I think he is underestimated.

    As for the earlier commentators, I see you got a set of Republican talking points and a set of Democratic talking points, so there must be other Americans reading this blog.

    By Anonymous Yankee, at 11:12 p.m.  

  • People's expectations of Barack Obama were far too high.

    I think a lot of people were disappointed that Obama's presidency wasn't as different from Bush's presidency as they had expected (and had been told).

    If so, those people might stay home, giving Romney the upset victory.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 10:41 a.m.  

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