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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The GOP Primary Catastrophe

Feb 28th, 2012

Mitt Romney may have won yesterday's contests but even one of the victories was something of an embarrassment. Having appealed to the basest anti-immigrant sentiments of the Arizona GOP and with the support of that state's large Mormon community, he won by a comfortable margin. It's the Michigan contest that has Republicans worried. He barely carried his home state.

Brian Montopoli observes:

"Sure, it wasn't exactly a convincing win. And certainly, there will be those who say the fact that he barely won the state where he was born (and where his father was a popular governor) despite significantly outspending his rivals shows that he is the flimsiest of frontrunners.

But so what? Mitt Romney just avoided what would have been a catastrophic defeat, and in doing so set himself on a course to beat back the latest anti-Romney candidate and ultimately secure the Republican nomination for president."

Thank God that we weren't completely humiliated can't exactly be an inspirational analysis for Romney's team.

Philip Klein writes:

"So to sum up, tonight Romney reasserted his frontrunner status, but still remains vulnerable in upcoming primaries. And even if he wins the nomination, bigger questions remain about how he’ll compete against a tougher, better-funded opponent in President Obama."

It's worse than that. There is really no way, after desperately racing to the margins of the right, Romney can believably pivot back to the center for a general election without having to convince independents that he didn't really mean what he said to get that far. Talk about a lose-lose predicament. The most recent polling of these precious, unaffiliated voters portends disaster.

Kevin Drum seems not to be buying any of the brokered-convention-producing-another-candidate chatter and states, flatly:

"Unfortunately for Romney, being the second luckiest guy in the world in a presidential race is sort of like being the second best team in the Super Bowl."

American conservatives are reaching a state of rational panic. The fact is that this was all avoidable. The GOP engineered the possibility of a clusterfuck long before last year.

Benjy Sarlin writes:

"...only two years after deliberately retooling their primary rules to encourage a lengthier fight, Republican politicians are struggling to remember just what on earth they were thinking.

“You’re running against an incumbent president who will not have a primary, so your idea is make ours longer so we can beat each other up longer?” New Jersey governor Chris Christie (R) complained to FOX News last week, calling the new rules “the dumbest idea anyone ever had.”

Indiana governor Mitch Daniels (R), whom many in the party had wanted to run himself, is gobsmacked by the way the primary is playing out.

“I don’t know anybody who thinks if you started out to design a good process to pick a president you’d choose exactly what we have now,” he told reporters this weekend.

Maine governor Paul LePage (R) even suggested the candidates have already been so badly damaged by the fight, that the GOP may need to nominate someone new entirely."

We haven't reached Super Tuesday yet and many on the right are already asking if the extreme primary rhetoric has lost them the election. When one of those folks is Paul 'screw the NAACP' LePage? They're in tremendously serious trouble.

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