Go Mitt, Go!
by Chris Bowers, Mon Apr 02, 2007 at 01:39:40 PM EDT
Although I generally have not paid much attention to the campaign for the Republican nomination, at least relative to the campaign for the Democratic nomination, I have consistently help out hope that someone besides McCain or Giuliani would win. After my weekend survey of general election polling, despite overwhelming Democratic advantages right now, I no longer have any doubt that the three leading Democrats are basically tied with McCain, and about four or five points behind Giuliani. Now, I know there is a long way to go before the election, but I don't think the long-run favors us against these two. Here is why:
- All five of the candidates in the weekend polling study are pretty well known, and so it is hard to imagine a huge amount of polling movement among them between now and November 2008.
- McCain and Giuliani are generally viewed as different from, and independent of, the Republican Party, thus helping them avoid the negatives currently facing pretty much every other Republican in the country. And those disadvantages are large, right now. Democrats lead the generic presidential ballot by 20 points, for crying out loud.
- Democrats are currently sitting on top of a huge peak, both in terms of popularity relative to Republicans, and in terms of partisan self-identification relative to Republicans. It seems more likely that Republicans will close those gaps between now and November 2008, than it does Democrats will maintain our current lead or build an even larger advantage.
- John McCain and Rudy Giuliani remain two idols of the establishment media and punditry elite, and the Republican Noise Machine is still better at smearing Dems than we are at counterattacks.
Enter Mitt Romney--the man who can complete the Democratic realignment. Word is that he raised more primary campaign funds, $23 million, than anyone else running for President, Democrat or Republican. It also is not a secret that Romney is the favorite of Republican insiders, as an LA Times poll from January showed. In that poll, not only did Romney lead among the first-place choice trial heat (with Giuliani second) Romney had a net favorablity of +77% among Republican insiders, while McCain was a paltry +18% (Giuliani was a close second at +73%). McCain's "poor" fundraising numbers, despite a wave of small donors, further verify that he does not have many friends among the Republican establishment. The theocons and conservative blogosphere also hate McCain, and while they might not love Romney, at least they won't be a drag on his campaign.
Romney's advantages in terms of insider support, fundraising ability, and fewer enemies among the grassroots are starting to make an impact in early state polling. In New Hampshire, he has clearly risen to the top tier, and is now only single-digits behind McCain and Giuliani. He lags further behind in Iowa, but is still in the double digits and has clearly inched up a few points since December and January. If these trends continue, and considering the structural advantages listed here, I see no reason why they won't continue, then his deficit in national polls will not matter one bit. If Romney wins Iowa, he will win the Republican nomination. And that would be very, very good news.
Mitt Romney has none of the advantages enjoyed by McCain or Giuliani. While they have been defined, or some time now, as exceptions to the Republican rule, Romney would just be a another Republican during a time when it is very bad to just be another Republican. Polls show him down by between fifteen and thirty points to every top-tier Democrat, and that is not just name ID. Whether or not it is justified, as a Mormon, he has a huge problem with national electability, according to a recent Gallup poll. Further, after spending two decades running against such people, Republicans would ironically, and hilariously, nominate a flip-flopper from Massachusetts. And oh yeah--he is entirely in favor of endlessly continuing the Iraq war, which I sure will be a hugely popular position in another year or so. The guy is so beatable I almost want to go volunteer for his campaign. Had he run for re-eleciton in Mass., Deval Patrick would have eaten him alive.
Right now, barring a late entrance and despite McCain's position in the polls, I think the Republican nomination is primarily a battle between Romney and Giuliani. Given that choice, I think we should all hope Romney becomes the nominee. While Giuliani would be a real challenge, any of our top candidates could beat Romney by 8-10 points, and win over 350 electoral votes. So, I say, go Mitt, it's your birthday. Win that Republican nomination, for the good of all of us.