Can Mitt Romney Win?

Those who said Romney could not beat Obama may have been wrong.


It is hard for people who have spent the last year saying, “If Mitt Romney wins the nomination, Obama will be reelected,” to say that the former governor now seems to have a legitimate chance at winning the presidency.  That is what this blogger said on more than one occasion.  It is one thing to be wrong in the past, but it is another to be wrong about the same thing twice.

It is not as people who thought Romney could not possibly beat Obama should now feel that they no longer have a right to speak about the election, without compunction, they should continue trying to give honest assessments.  The ineluctable feeling many have at  Romney being the Republican standard-bearer is an inescapable side effect of a long, drawn-out, hard fought primary.

With Democrats preparing to prevaricate rather than address their role in the country’s economic conditions, and Republicans starting to amalgamate around Romney as the nominee, the polls have begun to shift towards showing a competitive race.

Erick Erickson put it this way:

“In fact, it is a concerted effort on the part of the Democrats to hide the economy from people’s attention.  Like the Great Oz, the Democrats prefer no one pay attention to the economic disaster behind the curtains.  I have run a great many campaigns.  Each has a real narrative focus. The goal of the campaign is to try to stay on that narrative focus and not get distracted by the team worried about losing.  The Democrats’ antics reveal they are deeply worried about losing.  They cannot fight on the issue that is singularly at play in this election — Barack Obama’s bungling of the economy, so they must try to force Mitt Romney to play elsewhere.

This is a correct assessment of the state of the race as it sits now.

Reuters recently summed up the race like this:

“The 2012 presidential election is more than six months away, but here is what we know so far: It is going to be close, it is going to be nasty, and the outcome could turn on a series of unpredictable events.

However, Bill Kristol over at the Weekly Standard has a different view of what is going to happen this cycle:

“If I had to put money down now, I’d bet that Mitt Romney will win an easy victory after a relatively predictable, issue-focused, and not-too-nasty campaign.  Indeed, I’d bet Romney will win precisely if he runs such a campaign.  But if he allows the race to degenerate into name-calling and gotcha gimmicks, he could lose.  Democrats are better than Republicans at the small and nasty stuff.”

With poll trends shifting towards Romney, even after the primary where is negatives rose to all-time highs: in a March poll released by Washington Post/ABC News  50 % of all surveyed and 52% of registered voters held unfavorable opinions of Romney.  34% held positive views on Romney, the lowest for any leading presidential contender in Post/ABC polls dating back to 1984.

One would think that President Obama would be up by double digits by at this point of the campaign, but he is not, and that is good news for Romney and that is good news for the country.  However, if Romney wants to overtake Obama in the polls, and replace him in the White House, he will have to give voters a reason to believe he is not the same thing as President Obama except to the other extreme. This election will likely be won in the middle.  The country leans right on fiscal issues, and sits in the middle on social issues. However, with the Electoral College certain states tend to matter more than others.

Romney needs to peel off some of the support the president is getting from two groups: Woman and Hispanics.  He took a huge step towards that the other day when he mentioned he might get behind Marco Rubio’s version of the Dream Act. That would be a tough act to pull off considering his hard lined view on immigration he took during the primaries. But if he does get behind Rubio’s Dream Act, it will be interesting watching the Democrats get all bent over losing that issue.

Team Romney should actively work to undercut every quixotic goal the Democrats have in this campaign, to paint Republicans as anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-poor, and anti-immigrant: and if the does, he will likely meet Kristol’s prediction of an “easy victory.”  The voters seem to want something different than what they have, and Obama is not offering anything convincing. There is no hope & change coming form this administration this time. Romney can turn this into his advantage by sticking to his strengths and Obama weakness, the economy.