I keep hearing from the Washington Chattering Classes, Team Romney, and the White House that the race is over and Romney’s the nominee. To be fair, I think Romney will, at present, be the nominee. But as I’m starting to see stronger signs that he is not going to be the nominee, the White House, Team Romney, etc. are building more expectations that he will be the nominee.But occasionally we hear views from those living in reality. On Wolf Blitzer’s show yesterday, Gloria Borger, Mary Matalin, and Joe Johns were in agreement with reality — this is the most volatile Republican race in decades.The only thing constant in the race has been Mitt Romney stuck in second place. Everyone else has bounced up above him, fallen back, and seen another bounce above him.For normal people in fly over country that is a troubling sign. For folks in Washington, many of whom on the Republican side have a financial interest in MItt Romney being the nominee because of a potential appointment, consulting contract, etc., it is just the precursor to settling for Romney.Notwithstanding the beltway conventional wisdom, however, I am beginning to see the beginning of the end of Romney as the viable nominee and, more importantly, for people wondering why the Republican primary seems so volatile this year the answer is staring at everyone in the Real Clear Politics polling average.
The race is so volatile because seventy-five percent of the Republican base does not want Mitt Romney as the nominee.Consider that most people did not start paying attention to the race until the end of summer, around Labor Day. Now look at the RCP polling average since that point.Romney has been in the lead three times: before Perry’s rise, between the Perry fall and Cain rise, and between the Cain fall and Gingrich rise. That’s it. Each time, the non-Romney candidate gets ahead of him.But what’s more, consider how Romney has never, since November 3, 2010, gotten more than 25.5% of the polling average. And he only recently broke above 25.0% of the polling average only to fall back down to 21.3% within weeks.The race is so volatile because the race is well settled as we get 38 days from Iowa. The race is settled against Mitt Romney. The question, however, is who the alternative is going to be. And if one does not hold up, it will fall to Mitt Romney. This may cheer Romney’s supporters, and it is likely, but I fear there will be sever damage to the GOP down ballot with a Romney nomination. If voters are not excited about their guy — and 75% of them are not excited by Mitt Romney — that lack of excitement will trickle down ballot limiting any coat tails.The Washington GOP establishment may have fallen for Mitt Romney, but they are both foolish and naive to think they can beat something with nothing. Mitt Romney is, in fact, a great big nothing — malleable into any shape you want, a void into which you can place any policy position. That’s a problem nationally, but it is also a problem down ballot with coat tails.The race for the GOP nomination is well settled at this point. It is settled in ‘Not Romney’s’ favor. The reason the race is so volatile is that “Not Romney” is not on the ballot making a Romney nomination not just possible, but probable.