Thursday, February 16, 2012

Plum Line: A Romney Nightmare

Over at Plum Line, I ask: what if Santorum manages to stay very popular...but his campaign continues to be a shoestring operation. Could he wind up winning the bulk of the primaries and caucuses and still fall farther and farther behind on the delegate count?

It's most just political junkie daydreaming, but it technically could happen. In fact, I think it's still more likely than a real deadlocked convention.

By the way, Romney is now up to 9 of the 29 Republican Governors, and Santorum is still...crickets. Bizarre, really. Two Members of the House, zero Senators, no Governors, after winning Iowa, Colorado, Minnesota, and a tick ahead of Romney in national polling. He does have the evangelicals, though. Very, very odd, it seems to me, that he can't get any politicians to jump on his bandwagon.

12 comments:

  1. Jonathan, something that I think you haven't talked about in a while, but is tangentially related to this post, is Paul's relatively under the radar move of amassing as many delegates as possible. What's the realistic end game of that move as I think the odds of Paul winning the nomination is as high as Santorum (meaning, almost nil).

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    1. It's probably impossible to verify this, but the Paul camp claims that his delegate numbers are close to Romney's.

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  2. "And it’s even harder to see Romney kicking off the fall campaign successfully if half his party believes he stole the nomination."

    To solve that you invite Santorum onto the ticket.

    I think the most appropriate comment i have read was from Carie in AZ over at Benen's new home:

    "my sincerest hope is that this entire campaign season is an elaborate satire, and sometime around August all these folks will take off their masks and leap out from behind sofas and shout "SURPRISE!" and reveal themselves to be part of the vastly extended, now 500+ person staff of the Colbert Report."

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  3. I think the current birth control fight certainly helps Santorum in the GOP primary. This may be a fight the base wants, but I can't see the political gain for their presidential election (from their establishment point of view). The only possible explanation, to me, is this is a signal they are giving up on their presidential election, and they want the culture war to help the down ticket races.

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  4. Maybe some those governors just caught Foster Friess's joke about aspirin as a form of birth control and dropped the phone receiver just as they were about to call in their endorsement to Rick...

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  5. I've always believed that the beginning of the end for the GOP in the 2000's was Congress' disgraceful intervention in the Terry Schiavo case. Suddenly Americans saw just how far the Republicans were willing to go to meddle in what should be family decisions, and they didn't like it. I believe the whole contraception flap is a similar watershed, particularly the way the GOP is playing it. Rep. Issa's refusal to let a female testify today is a case in point. Most American women will be seriously turned off by his "run along, little lady, this has nothing to do with you" response.

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    1. Why do we need another watershed over conservative interference? (Not a rhetorical question.) BTW, I researched Terri Schiavo, so here's a short, readable summary.

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  6. From up here in the cheap seats, the lack of Santorum endorsements isn't especially surprising. We've discussed numerous times that Romney is the obvious nominee if this is a normal cycle; the only road for Santorum is that there's an unusual, ostensibly Romney-specific reason Romney can't win.

    Suppose there is such a reason, and that Santorum is consequently the nominee. Is there any cost in endorsing Romney? Not really, you would have backed the obvious horse, and what damage is there in not knowing about a vast roiling conspiracy? Ignorance of such things is a feature, not a bug.

    By contrast, an endorsement of Santorum today is, at minimum, an acknowledgement that there's something wrong with the Romney candidacy, cause if this cycle resembled others in the past, we wouldn't even be talking about Santorum now, much less discussing whether to endorse him.

    Any national Republican politician that endorses Santorum is, in effect, saying that s/he doesn't endorse Romney, which is also, in effect, saying there's something wrong with the Romney candidacy. I wouldn't personally care about such a thing, but I suspect that would upset a large number of Republicans - the 20% or so that are fervently pro-Romney - which is the kind of thing that a pol with national aspirations usually doesn't do.

    Therefore, the lack of Santorum endorsements doesn't necessarily tell us anything bad about Santorum, but rather that no one wants to be associated with the elephant in the room, that is, there increasingly appears to be some unusual flaw in Romney's candidacy.

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    1. I guess this makes sense. But if we're always coming up with reasons why it's not in politicians interests to make endorsements in ambiguous situations, then WHAT is the point of endorsements EVER within the primary process of the party deciding? Either endorsements are significant as a way of current politicians signaling who their preferred option is, trying to influence others, or what's the point? They can't simply be ratifications of what general party common sense already knows. In the past, endorsements have mattered and had a function, even though politicians are in general self-seeking cowards.

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    2. PF, thanks for the comment, I actually had the same push-back to my own post just after submitting it. The answer I came up with is:

      The reason a Santorum endorsement gives offense today is because it is so transparently an anti-Romney endorsement. If McCain and Romney are clubbing it out in the Iowa/NH phase of the 2008 primary, one could easily endorse McCain without giving (much) offense to the Romney crowd. One could quite plausibly claim at that point that they liked McCain a little better without suggesting anything too negative about Romney.

      YMMV, but it seems to me that train has long since left the station in the 2012 GOP primary. It would be extremely difficult to defend an endorsement of Santorum, today, as anything other than a (thinly-veiled) damning of Romney. This is obviously extremely subjective, and I'm not relating my personal feelings, but nevertheless it seems there's an unusual propensity to give offense to an unusually large block of the GOP with a Santorum endorsement (today - obviously, a Santorum endorsement 2 months ago would have raised few such issues, but such an endorsement also never would have happened, because pretty clearly no one endorses Santorum - in isolation).

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  7. While the wider public is not yet familiar with the delights of Rick Santorum, his fellow pols are all likely very, very familiar. The easiest explanation for why no one wants to be associated with Rick Santorum is that they know their own future careers will not benefit from an association with Rick Santorum.

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  8. AMS: No one is paying that much attention. Something that 98% of people have forgotten about (Schiavo) or that 99.9% of people will never hear about (today's hearings) isn't likely to move votes.

    "To solve that you invite Santorum onto the ticket."

    That's just compounding the problem. The base will be there. They dislike Romney; they hate Obama. This is not a hard choice. The problem with the not-Romneys this cycle is that each and every one is pure general election poison; anyone outside the noise machine is going to take one look and run six miles. Santorum as Veep slaps Romney with the same problem - he's going to need to spend the whole fall explaining away the silly-ass things his silly-ass running mate says and does.

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