Friday, December 30, 2011

Mitt Romney, And The "Electability" Myth...

This blog has not endorsed a primary candidate in the Republican primary, although we retain our original crush on Rick Perry, maintain a healthy respect for Michelle Bachmann (we love her, but we're not in love with her) and stand by our utter and complete disdain for Newt Gingrich.  And we view Mitt Romney with caution, wondering what's really behind that plastic-fantastic facade and slick haircut.

Over at Legal Insurrection, Professor Jacobson has been furiously waving the caution flags the last few days, trying to warn the party faithful that the Romney Train - gaining more and more passengers - could be heading full-speed for a brick wall, with the every-smiling visage of Barack Obama (and his $1B war chest) painted across it.  A few links:

We will pay the price for giving Romney a free pass

Don’t fall for Operation Psych Out

Romney's electability is overblown

It's the last one that I think is the key - if "electability" were a real thing, a radical liberal from Chicago would never have stood a chance in the primary, nor would a right-wing nut from California won the presidency in 1980.  It's about the party putting forward a candidate that best reflects their values, and then sending him out across the country to convince others that his plan of action is the right course for America.

And what record of "electability" does Mitt Romney have, exactly?  To answer that, I am reprinting a post from August 31st of this year:

Would You Start A 5-18 Pitcher In Game 7 of the World Series?

Because in 2012, we'll be well into a double-dip recession, the Arab Spring will have devolved into open warfare with Israel, and there will be social unrest in America.  And this time, it may not be simply senior citizens yapping at their congressmen at town halls.

And into this mess, when we need most a strong performance to help lead us from tyranny to triumph....we can choose one of the following starting pitchers for Game 7 :

- young upstart Michele Bachmann, more of a successful minor league player with a good inside fastball but questionable savvy, 

-Solid veteran Rick Perry, who's career indicates he can get it done irregardless of what dire circumstances surround him,

- or a lifetime 5-18 pitcher, who has spent most of his career pleading for a chance to get into the Big Game.

That losing pitcher is....Mitt Romney.  The 5-18 record represents his record in elections.  Jonathan Last on how The Man With No Constituency cannot seem to get it done, no matter how hard he tries, or how much he spends.


Let’s revisit Romney’s campaigns:
1994: MA Senate Republican primary: Romney 82%, John Lakian 18%
1994: MA Senate general election: Ted Kennedy 58%, Romney 41%
2002: MA Gubernatorial Republican primary: Romney runs unopposed
2002: MA Gubernatorial general election: Romney 50%, Shannon O’Brien 45%
2006: MA Gubernatorial primary: trailing in polls for the general election to Deval Patrick—a guy who’d never run for anything before—Romney declines to seek reelection. I’ll count this as a loss; you might be more charitable.
2007: Presidential primaries: I won’t go state-by-state, but here’s the breakdown: Romney won only three states where the vote was a straight-up primary. Each of these wins was in a place where he had enormous legacy advantages: Michigan, where his father had been governor; Massachusetts, where he had been governor; and Utah, which is overwhelmingly Mormon. (He also won 8 caucus states, though the organizing rules there are much less indicative of electoral strength.)
On other side of the ledger, Romney lost primaries in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, California, Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, and Maryland. (He also lost a bunch of caucus states, but we won’t count those against him since we’re discounting his caucus wins.)
Which means that in the 2008 cycle he went 3-16.
Combine that with the rest of his runs and you get a 17-year career average of 5-18. I don’t think you could find any other figure in politics who has run this far below the Mendoza line and still managed to get taken seriously as a presidential candidate. In fact, the only reason Romney gets taken seriously is his money. Strip away the $500M treasure room and the willingness to blow large chunks of his kids’ inheritance, and he’s Ron Paul without the ideological moorings and grassroots support....
Last goes further, pointing out that in his signature victory - governor of Massachusetts - he only received 49% of the vote, and that he blew $7 million running against Kennedy only to lose by 17 points.
This line is brilliant:
It’s funny that Romney’s line of attack on Perry seems to be that Perry is a “career politician” because he’s been in elective office since 1984. Well, Mitt Romney would have been a career politician too, if only voters would have let him. He’s been running since 1994. His real gripe about Perry is actually, “Hey, that guy wins all the time! No fair!”

So back to baseball.  Game 7 of the World Series, and you're the manager.  Do you put in the guy who has never -  ever - lost a game, or the loser with a laundry list of excuses and gripes, coming off of a 3-16 season?

That's not a decision I feel comfortable with.  Not unless all my other starters are unable to lift their pitching arms.  So when the clamor begins to get aboard Train Romney, let us do it with trepidation, and be sure that rather than our first choice, he is our last resort...

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