Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Unelectable Mitt redux

On the morn of the Florida primary, if the polls are to be believed, Mitt Romney will win convincingly and therefore likely wrap up the nomination. In and of itself, Florida might not be enought to seal the deal but it is followed by a February which has only a handful of contests all of which Romney is well positioned to win. By the time Super Tuesday rolls around, there won't be enough air left for others to be in fighting form.

But just in case Floridians focused on electability are reading this blog before they vote (hahaha), I want to restress my view that Mitt Romney is the least electable Republican in the field.

While it is true that polls now show Romney in a dead head with Obama nationally and these same polls Newt Gingrich far, far behind him. It misses an important point.

Newt has already had all of his dirty laundry aired repeatedly by Mitt Romney and his super PAC. All of the damage that will be done to Gingirch has been done.

If Romney is the nominee, the Obama campaign will destroy him with his own words. He has taken the opposite position on virtually every issue. A smart Obama campaign would target the deep south with ads showing Romney in his own words saying he favours abortion rights and opposes the record of Ronald Reagan. This would so depress grassroots conservative turnout that the south would be competitive for the first time in a generation. Add to that that Obama's operation massively increase Black turnout in the south in 2008 and that the enthusiasm of those voters has not diminished, unlike other demographics that fueled Obama's 2008.

Newt Gingrich, on the other hand, may or may not be competitive nationally, but his win in the South Carolina proved that he has the ability to excite the Republican base and get them to come out to vote.

Rick Santorum, as hard as it is for me to say, is probably the most electable of the bunch. While his awkwardness in New Hampshire that caused him to blow his post-Iowa momentum gives me pause, the fact is that he did manage to win a Democratic-leaning swing state in 2 of 3 attempts. A state that resembles demographically a number of other swing states in the so-called rust belt. And he would obviously be very well positioned to sweep the south.

So let's take a look at the electoral map. First, these would be the states which I would argue are locked-in for the respective parties regardless of the Republican nominee.

Here Obama carries 196 electoral votes on the west coast and the northeast, while the Republican wins in Appalachia (+ Arkansas and Louisiana which behaved like the Appalachian states in 2008 by giving Obama less votes than they'd given John Kerry), as well as the strong Republican states in the plains.

If the Obama campaign is smart, and they destroy Romney's credibility among social conservatives, these voters will stay home or vote for a third party candidate. That would cripple the Republicans in the south. Even if we give Mitt the benefit of the doubt and say he could carry Arizona, Colorado and Nevada (due to higher Mormon turnout), Iowa (due to his strong organization and enthusiasm built there during the caucus), Michigan (due to his roots there) and New Hampshire. It would still be a blow out:

While it is conceivable that Mitt might be able to salvage things in Alabama and Texas (and maybe Mississippi but I doubt it), those wins would be offset but just-as-likely loses in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Iowa, Michigan and New Hampshire.

Now Newt could ensure enthusiasm in the conservative heartland but would likely lose all swing states. Nonetheless, this leaves him far better positioned than Mitt. Under this scenario Newt would lose the presidency by just 30 electoral votes, compared to 111 for Mitt.

The last map I'll show you is definitely a best case scenario for Rick Santorum. I am not saying this is the likely outcome were he to win the nomination. It does show however, that he has a much clearer path to victory than these other knuckleheads.

This shows Santorum crushing Obama 338 to 200, which would be the worst Democratic defeat since 1988. That probably wouldn't happen. But even if Santorum lost Virginia, Michigan and Wisconsin from the above map, he'd still win by a margin of 299 to 239. He could then also lose either Ohio or his home state of Pennsylvania and pull out a win. Or lose them both and hold Virginia.

If Republicans in Florida want to continue to buy into the completely insane groupthink that Mitt Romney's middle name is Electability, then we'll be hearing a lot of this over at Obama HQ in Chicago.

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