Super Tuesday is just around the corner with 786 delegates at stake. The polls and the pundits are all over the place. The Michigan and Arizona primary results were interesting in that they showed very little momentum for Mitt Romney. Michigan, which is Romney’s home state had an voting increase of 13% from 2008. However, Romney won the state by little more than 3%. Arizona, had a voting decrease of 15% from 2008. Although Romney had tepid opposition in Arizona, he still could not break the 50% barrier. Yet, politicians and pundits say Romney will close the deal on Super Tuesday. I am not so sure. Although I am on record as being against Romney as the GOP nominee, I shall endeavor to argue in good faith.
Romney has an overwhelming advantage in money and organization, yet, he has yet to achieve 50% in any caucus or primary. His numbers in the caucuses and primaries are rather pedestrian. There is not, despite the many polls, an overwhelming enthusiasm surrounding Romney. To be fair, the rest of the field has had a difficult time sustaining any momentum. Whenever any one in the field becomes a threat to Romney, Romney’s super-PAC uses a sledgehammer to take out the threat. I believe these actions will come back to haunt Romney to the convention and beyond. Team Romney has decided to campaign against their opponents in lieu of promoting Romney. Team Romney has used an array of distortions, lies, and half-truths to take out their opponents. Unfortunately, they also use an array of distortions, lies, and half-truths to promote Romney and his record. I believe these actions will also come back to haunt Romney to the convention and beyond.
I believe that Team Romney has made a strategic mistake in their campaign. They are running a general election campaign full of campaign rhetoric and promises to attract non-Republicans, when they should be running a primary campaign to attract the Republican base. The perception is that Romney believes he is the inevitable GOP nominee. Romney may end up being the nominee but the air of entitlement will turn off the GOP base. His ruthless attacks on his primary opponents will lose him valuable assets in money and manpower for the general election. There will be those who will cheer Romney’s Machiavellian tactics against his primary opponents. However, it is very important to remember to promote your virtues instead of your opponent’s vices. Perhaps, when one has never felt comfortable being a conservative, they must tear down their opponent to make themselves look better. The problem with that method is that the typical GOP primary voter tends to be a political activist who also tends to be very keen on issues and politicians. They know Romney’s record better than Romney and no amount of negative advertising or smoke-and-mirror promotion is going to change their perception of Romney.
Thus, the non-Romney vote as always been stronger than the Romney vote. I see Santorum is putting together an organization but lacks the financial resources to compete. Gingrich seems to be raising money but outside of Georgia he doesn’t seem to be building much of an organization. Both Santorum and Gingrich have to blunt Romney’s organizational ability to garner absentee ballots for Romney. I think this is one of the most under analyzed topics of the primaries. Without the absentee ballots, Romney would probably have lost Florida and Michigan. I have not seen the numbers for Arizona but I assume that 75 to 80% of the absentee ballots are for Romney. Absentee ballots may give Romney primary victories but they also overstate Romney’s strength in the primaries.
The question on Tuesday is whether either of them will be able to continue. The main reason I believe that both will continue is the power of the Internet. The Internet allows information and mass communication to many people in a quick time frame. The TEA party utilized the Internet to great advantage to mobilize people to appear at rallies and to vote in 2010. I believe both Santorum and Gingrich have and will utilize the Internet to extend their campaigns. As long as they continue the run, I believe Romney will have to fight tooth and nail for every convention delegate. I think Team Romney is worried about a long and drawn out process. They are not worried about spending copious amounts of money to win the nomination but if they do not attain enough delegates to win the nomination on the first ballot, they may be worried about losing the nomination in a brokered convention. This may have played a role in the Michigan State GOP giving Romney both at-large delegates instead of splitting them between Romney and Santorum; as per the original agreement. It does make one wonder about the machinations surrounding access to the Virginia ballot.
I am in favor of a brokered/contested GOP convention this year. I do not believe that any of these candidates will be able to unify the GOP against Obama in November. I believe the GOP/TEA party activists are currently putting their efforts into taking the Senate and increasing their margin in the House. I believe a brokered/contested convention will produce a candidate who will not only unify the party, embrace conservative ideals, but will ably destroy the Obama campaign of class warfare and war on culture. There will be those who say that a brokered/contested convention will produce a candidate who will be behind in money and organization. I disagree. I believe, with the power of the Internet and the advent of the super-PACs, the candidate will be able to hit the campaign trail immediately. I also believe that the enthusiasm generated by the broker/contested convention will nullify any advantage Obama believes they maintain. At this time, my first choice for brokered nominee is Paul Ryan. I believe that he can unify the social conservatives, foreign-policy hawks, and the economic conservatives, to win the presidency. My second choice, unfortunately, has a seemingly unpopular last name but I strongly believe he has the right executive experience to be the best president since Reagan; Jeb. I may be one of the very few, but I believe Jeb would make an awesome candidate to face Obama.
In the meantime, I do not believe that Romney is inevitable to be the GOP nominee nor will the primary race be over on Super Tuesday. Let’s see what happens.