It is now clearly certain that Gov. Mitt Romney will be the next GOP nominee for the Office of the President of the United States. It is as sure a thing as Clinton's nomination was in 2008, and as Perry's nomination was for 2012 as of a few months ago. There is do doubt that -- unless things change -- Mitt Romney will be the nominee. Of course, in politics things do change. Here is the case for the nomination for Romney:
- In this election the MOST importaint factor for most GOP primary voters will be who can and is most likely to defeat Obama. Frankly, most GOP voters in November of 2012 will be voting against Obama, and that is what they care about now, defeating Obama. Mitt Romney consistantly polls very well against Obama, is vetted, and is a an able candidate. There is no question that the vast majority in the GOP would happily replace Obama with Romney.
- Romney faces a great primary schedule. The first state, Iowa, is one he already spent millions in last time around. Despite the lack of significant visible effort in that state; Romney has campaigned there for 4 years now and is known. He will finish in the top 3 without question. Perhaps winning the state. The next state, NH, is a state Romney has campaigned in for well over a decade. In the 1990s, his race against Kennedy had media coverage in the NH media (Boston shares the same market as NH), and the same is true from his time in governor. He likewise campaigned there hard in 4 years ago, and is has been doing so since. He leads greatly in the polls for NH, which is a NE state, a less socially conservative state, and one very focused on defeating Obama. Then, except for South Carolina, the remaining early states are still good states for Romney. He could potentially win Iowa, which would make him a virtual lock as the nominee. If he does win Iowa and NH, only Perry and Paul would have the money to even play past that state. Paul is a long-shot, and Perry poll numbers are now getting into the single digits.
- Romney has the left to himself. With the exception of Huntsman, Romney is the most liberal person in the GOP field running. This is too his advantage for several reasons. The first is that Romney is not a liberal. Romney is a question mark. That is not so bad in a world where a questionmark still equalls: not Obama. In fact, the one certain about Romney is that he his name is not Obama. That fact alone is enough that most voters would elect him over Obama. Is it enough in a GOP primary? Maybe. Since there is no one to his left who is viewed as having a chance, Romney gets solidly the small part of the GOP primary voter base that is liberal. In addition, he gets a small number of moderate and conservative voters. This gives him about 25% of the vote. If GOP conservative voters were to all come together behind a single candidate, that candidate could eaily get more than 25% of the vote. However, that is not the case. Gov. Rick Perry was supposed to be that person. Gov. Perry has the money and the resume. However, he has not managed to unite conservatives and thus the conservative vote is fractured. At this point-in-time Cain is taking a fair portion of that vote, Gingrich and Perry have meaningfull slices. Santorum has a share. Bachmann a share. Although I know some people do not agree, Paul also has a fair portion of the conservative vote. Perry could never win the Paul group, they want the government balanced in three years. He was expected to be able, however, to hold 30% or so of the vote together. That would have assured his victory. He is showing now that he cannot, and as long as that is the case, Romney having the left by himself may be enough to win.
- Romney is doing well outside his base. Romney may not be the first choice for the conservative voter, but he is clearly a viable alternative. Unlike in the past, Romney appears more presidential and less, frankly, annoying. 4 years ago he tried being everything to everyone. This time he is playing smart. He is running left of where most of the GOP crowd is. This is actually good for him. First, he has found a niche. Second, no matter how far right a GOP voter is, he still wants to beat Obama. Romney looks better than Obama to someone at the far right. Romney's move left gains him some votes in a general election poll, which makes him look more electable to the right. To the degree that winning is a primary concern for voters at the far right; Romney actually looks better as he moves left (to some degree). As a result, Romney's leftness, is helping him with the right. So long as he polls better than Obama, and remains reasonable acceptable he is doing well.
- Time heals wounds. Romney has spent 4 years claiming to be pro-life and pro-family. At year 1, many did not believe him. After year after year of this, he is starting to sound less like a flip-flop.
- Romney is running a better campaign. He is better as a candidate, so is his team.
- Romney has weaker competition. In 2007/8 Romney's main competition in Iowa were Huckabee and Brownback. Brownback went across Iowa saying Romney was not a conservative and then endorced McCain. When Huckabee beat Brownback in the AMES straw poll, it was narrowed to Huckabee. However, Huckabee remained a very formidable candidate, a governor, and someone who ran hard. Cain is, frankly, not in the same league as Huckabee. Further, Cain went around Iowa praising Romney and attacking Perry. When Cain drops out he will endorce Romney.
Bottom line is the Romney is in a very good possition, and may be the de-facto GOP nominee in a 3 months.