A short, yet very astute piece by Michael Walsh appears today in the National Review. In his article, Walsh essentially makes the same point I’ve been making, if less artfully, all along: Romney can’t beat Obama.
Back from the SS National Review’s tour of the eastern Caribbean to find the WaPo’s Chris Cillizza making the same point I made on board ship to cruisers and fellow speakers alike: You may think Obama is eminently beatable, but unlike Mitt Romney, he has a solid base that is a dead-certain lock to be there for him next year:
Everyone knows that President Obama has a problem with his political base heading into 2012. Except that he doesn’t.
. . . an examination of the polling data among key subgroups that constitute Obama’s base makes clear that he has as much support from them as any modern president seeking a second term.
“There is one immutable fact about President Obama’s reelection chances: Nobody has a more solid 44 percent base than he does,” Democratic pollster Peter Hart wrote in a not-entirely-uncritical memo assessing the state of political affairs a year out from the election.
Meanwhile, “electable” Romney stays moored at around a quarter of the GOP primary electorate, and as a “frontrunner” has been happily chucked overboard for every not-Romney flavor of the month, including Bachmann, Perry, Cain, and now Mr. Newt. Head-to-head with Romney next year, Obama will sink him handily.
If anything, the 25% figure may overstate Romney’s base, such as it is. The latest RCP average has The Mittster holding steady at 21.6%. Despite the fact he’s been running for president (and spending untold millions in support of this quest) since 2002, nearly 80% of the Republican electorate still aren’t buying what he’s selling. Obama, on the other hand, will have a committed base twice that size who will knock on doors, man phone banks, drive dead people to the polls to vote, and do whatever else is necessary to re-elect their Messiah. Romney, not so much:
Meanwhile, Say-Anything Mitt has no home port and is unlikely find one beyond the generic anti-Obama vote. Which, alas, will not be big enough or motivated enough to evict Cap’n Barry from the White House bridge as he madly steers the ship of state into the iceberg. Indeed, the campaign will begin and end with this photograph.
Sorry, but that’s the truth.
There’s plenty more where that photo came from, and Team Obama is salivating over the prospect that Republicans may nominate a guy with such a target-rich resume and for whom, unlike Obama, there is near zero enthusiasm among the base. The fact of the matter is this: Beyond the beltway establishment, Romney has no constituency. He can’t even win his home state. Think about that. Even Mondale won his home state. But Mitt won’t. Barack Obama’s presidency is at least as much a failure as Jimmy Carter’s, but in 1980 Republicans had a candidate about whom they were excited. Had Republicans nominated a Mitt Romney in 1980, Carter may well have won. Who among Republicans could have generated the needed enthusiasm to beat Obama in 2012? Walsh provides a name:
Say what you will about Sarah Palin, but she would have brought a super-energized base of productive taxpaying citizens with her that might have competed favorably with the Obamabots.
I can’t argue with that. Had Governor Palin thrown her hat in the ring, she would have united the conservatives and sent Mitt back to Massachusetts (where he would have been free to spend millions more plotting his next losing campaign) — and Obama back to the streets of Chicago for more community organizing (an endeavor more commensurate to his “qualifications”). But she decided against a 2012 run, which undoubtedly resulted in cheers within the GOP Establishment because now it appears they’ll have their nominee. But Romney can’t beat Obama, and we’ll be stuck with another four years of Hopenchange.
The harm a Romney nomination inflicts on conservatives won’t be limited to the White House. As even George Will noted, the lack of conservative enthusiasm a Romney candidacy engenders may even cost Republicans the Senate in 2012. None of this matters, of course, to the ideologically unmoored Romney since the only issue on which he’s shown consistency is his desire to be president. The last remaining hope for conservatives is for them to coalesce behind one of the non-Mitt candidates. However, at this point in time given the cast of characters from which to choose, such an outcome increasingly appears to be an exercise in futility, as Walsh notes:
What can be done at this late date, I have no idea. And neither do the Republicans.
Indeed. Here’s hoping one of the non-Mitt candidates rises to the occasion with alacrity.