The GOP race is over


Mitt Romney ended the New Hampshire primary with a decisive—albeit expected—victory and has a strong chance to win the January 21 primary in South Carolina as well. His purportedly strongest opponents in South Carolina—Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry—have little or no momentum and are unlikely to cause an upset at this stage. After just one week of primaries, only one first-tier candidate remains and that is Romney.

Last night, Mitt Romney spoke like he was already the nominee. He spoke early, was on message and delivered a blistering attack against President Obama. The highly scripted candidate knows it’s over for the nomination, and he wanted to convey the aura of a prospective president.

Mark this one as a victory for establishment Republicans over the Republican base. It shows that the GOP remains an electoral force and that it will ultimately choose a candidate that can appeal beyond the party’s base when it comes to a presidential contest. That lesson was learned back in 1964, when the GOP went outside the mainstream to pick Barry Goldwater and lost in a landslide.

Sure, the party has very vocal factions and can sometimes appear very divided. As we have seen in this campaign, Newt Gingrich has an unrivaled capacity for confrontational politics, while Ron Paul has a similar affinity for fringe politics politics. But while a different candidate kept emerging to challenge the inevitability of Romney’s nomination, the former Massachusetts governor kept accumulating endorsements, strengthening his organization, and raking in money.

Romney’s opponents, by contrast, have been unable to sustain any surge. The first two contests in Iowa and New Hampshire have uncovered no meaningful threat to Romney. As long as Santorum and Gingrich both stay in the race, any serious anti-Romney movement will be too divided to succeed. Ron Paul would be a greater threat to Romney as a third-party candidate than as a rival for the GOP nomination. Jon Huntsman, despite his bravado-filled speech in New Hampshire, was never a serious candidate because of his work with the Obama administration. And Rick Perry’s campaign is entering its final days.

Romney’s campaign should nonetheless keep in mind it is still a long way to November. Cracks began to emerge in the latter days of the campaign about his work in the private sector. Gingrich will be hitting him hard about it in the days ahead in S.C., and Obama will not get any less aggressive down the road. Expect this to go on and count on a closer scrutiny of his record as governor.


The GOP race is over

  1. Their best choice out of the current crop is Huntsman…..but they don’t want him, so they’ll get Romney, as I’ve said for some time.

    • The basic objective of members of a political party is to nominate the most ideologically extreme candidate that can win. Jon Huntsman (who I like) may be electable, but he wouldn’t be sufficiently different from Obama to satisfy the GOP base. When you account for the policy goals of the GOP (which, of course, you probably think are stupid, and many are), Romney is their best option. He’s not a hard-core conservative, but he’s at least willing to pay lip service to their sacred cows. 

      • I agree….Huntsman is not extreme enough for current Repubs….he agrees with evolution and climate change for example….but the problem with Romney is that he’ll agree with the last person he spoke with.

        In any case, Romney against Obama….and Obama wins.

  2. I believe in fiscal responsibility, I believe in a strong and ready military, I believe in smaller government, I believe in the private sector, I believe that power belongs in the hands of the people, not in the hands of the government, I believe that “redistribution” is wrong, I believe that everyone can be whatever they want to be, providing they are willing to work for it, I believe in the freedom to make my own decisions and accept the consequences. I believe in the Constitution. I am not an extremist. I am an American.

    • I believe in world peace…and I’m not an extremist. I’m a global citizen.

    • You apparently also believe logical consistency is overrated. 

      • That is a little unfair, no.  Assuming he is talking about a powerful, private militia run by warlords and a government composed of Congressmen from the Lollypop Kids, Senators from the Lullabye League then he is completely consistent provided you accept some straightforward misinterpretations of the American constitution.

      • You are mistaking tensions for logical inconsistencies. Politics is about tradeoffs. Yes, there are tensions between having a “strong and ready military” and “smaller government”. 

        But to some extent they can be resolved simultaneously. The US military is notorious for its cost inefficiency. Planned weapon systems always go over budget, defence companies often get paid to do nothing, things are purchased with insane specifications, and a mentality of using sonic screwdrivers when a regular one will do prevails. It is possible to have more defence for less money. 

        Even then, military spending in the US makes up only about 4% of GDP (government spending is about 39%). It is hardly the biggest part of big government, and it would be possible to shrink government without shrinking defence spending. 

        Only An_Illogical_Person would conclude that it is impossible for people to simultaneously like defence and dislike taxes/spending. Yes, defence requires taxes/spending, but up to a point the positives outweigh the negatives. 

  3. Mark this one as a victory for establishment Republicans over the Republican base.

    Is this really all that accurate though?  I think people misrepresent what the “Republican base” is.  In particular, the size of the tea party movement vis a vis the Republican base is VASTLY over-estimated, mostly because they can be loud and obnoxious.  The media narrative is certainly that the “establishment” want Romney and “the base” wants someone else, but I don’t actually see that in the voting.  Iowa and South Carolina are pretty conservative places, and it’s not unlikely that Romney will end up winning BOTH contests.  He’ll almost certainly win Florida too.  As you say, the race is pretty much over, but isn’t that because the voters are showing pretty strong support for Romney.  And who exactly is “the base” of the Republican Party if it’s not “people who vote in Republican primaries”?

    As long as Romney is winning the contests decided in the voting booth by regular voters, can we really say that his win is a win of the “establishment” over the “base”?  Don’t get me wrong, I know that the “establishment” wants Romney, but the actual vote totals would seem to indicate that the establishment’s view on that is not actually as far removed from the opinion of the “base” (i.e. the voting public) as one might assume from much of the media’s take.Take a look at New Hampshire.  If we’re going to buy the premise that “the base” would prefer Gingrich, Santorum or Perry over Romney, how do we explain how the actual VOTE went?  Romney received TWICE as many votes in New Hampshire as Gingrich, Santorum, and Perry COMBINED.  Hell, RON PAUL received more votes than those other three candidates combined.

    Now, we’re only two states in, and we’ll see if South Carolina really shakes things up (though I personally doubt that it will), but two contests in I’d say that the “base” is coming out pretty strongly for Romney.  Santorum’s impressive showing in Iowa notwithstanding, the tally of actual votes cast by actual people would not seem to indicate that the “base” wants someone other than Mitt Romney.  And to the extent that the vote totals show an appetite for a candidate other than Mitt Romney, that second candidate is pretty overwhelmingly RON PAUL, not Gingrich, Santorum or Perry.  It seems to me that the voters are showing more interest in the “fringe candidate” than in any of the candidates that “the base” is supposedly behind.

    FWIW, here is the tally of votes cast in Iowa and New Hampshire combined:

    Romney: 127,547
    Paul:         83,067
    Santorum: 53,369
    Gingrich:   39,662
    Perry:        14,370

    If “the base” wants Gingrich or Santorum they’re going to have to start showing up at the voting booth FAST, because right now Mitt Romney is over 34,000 votes ahead of those two candidates COMBINED.

    • The “party base” concept is wide open to projection: the term means whatever the user wants it to mean.  Kudos to you for at least making your definition explicit.  My definition would be those who always vote for the party, no matter what, and give it money when they can.  Of course, with those who behave that way, there’s no point in playing to the base after you have the nomination.  And it seems that’s what often happens.

      Here are some definitions of the Republican Party “base” that Google has turned up:

      While many still say the Republican party’s base is that of Wall Street and corporate America and big business, the real base of the Republican Party has become much more about working class (especially white males) in rural and small town areas of the country.
      While many see the state’s Republican Party base trending more toward the evangelical Christian and Tea Party right, several of those attending these Romney events want the rest of the country to know there still is a strong moderate base in the Iowa GOP, especially in Eastern Iowa.
      While analysts often talk about the Republican Party’s base as a monolith, in reality it has many components. There are fiscal conservatives and social conservatives, Main Street Republicans and Wall Street Republicans – and traditionally there has been a slice of that base concerned with national defense and military.
      the more radical social conservatives who constitute the Republican Party base,
      The Republican Party’s voting base is the middle-class, small-town, rural American. The GOP’s interest base is corporate America and Wall Street.
      Santorum—an anti-abortion crusader—is popular among Christian conservatives who make up a large segment of the Republican Party base.
      I explain briefly my simplistic break down of the two groups that make up the majority of the Republican party. Republicans have traditionally been known as the party of “small government.” They felt that the invisible hand of the market would take care of business regulation and, therefore, eliminate the need for government intervention. The Republicans wanted everyone to keep their tax money, minimize government programs and spending… with the exception of common defense and a few other vitals. The other part of the Republican party’s base is the social conservative side, mostly made up of Christians. The belief is that things like drug use, gay marriage, affirmative action are not OK and that the government should not allow any of these social behaviors.

      Pick your favourite.

      • Interesting.

        One thing I would say is that if “the base” (whoever they are) is really supporting Gingrich and/or Santorum, and Gingrich and Santorum are getting CRUSHED so far by Ron Paul (!) then maybe “the base” isn’t worth holding on to. If I were the Republicans I think I might prefer the candidate with 127,000 voters behind him who doesn’t have “the base” to a candidate who’s got “the base” but less than 55,000 voters.

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