Saturday, September 1, 2012

Why Romney can't win

The Tampa-based pep rally called the Republican National Convention ended on Thursday with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney officially emerging as the standard-bearer and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his sidekick to face the Obama/Biden ticket on the Democratic side.

Although the election apparently will be closer than I had originally predicted -- last year I was thinking a blowout of Johnson/Goldwater proportions -- I still don't foresee any scenario of "regime change."  That's especially the case after what will likely be a campaign bounce for President Obama after the upcoming Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Here are my reasons:

1) In all the time that he's run for president, Romney has never, ever articulated a comprehensive, inclusive vision for this country that contrasts to Obama's -- in other words, he has become little more than the "not Obama," and that's not good enough.  In 1996 and with reality setting in, Bob Dole was reduced to saying, "I"m not Bill Clinton!"  True dat. Romney has had to shift his positions so radically over the years that no one is sure just what he actually believes; remember that he was elected governor of arguably the most liberal/Democratic state in the union but moved rightward during the primaries after going up against a number of fellow Republicans with more conservative bona fides.

2) Romney's support as a result is suspect. According to Bloomberg News columnist Jonathan Alter and quoting from a survey by Public Policy Polling, Virgil Goode, the candidate of the Constitution Party, has 9 percent support in the swing state of Virginia -- 9 percent, more than enough to give the state to Obama, that would normally go to Romney.  Let's also not forget about Ron Paul, who was refused a speaking slot at the convention because he wouldn't endorse Romney.  (Paul's support, while not particularly wide, is very, very deep.)

3) Republican "dirty tricks" to try to keep Democratic voters from the polls are being fought in court and thus creating more of an incentive to vote not only for Obama but also against the GOP.  The Justice Department has invalidated recently-passed voter-ID laws in several Southern states, including Texas just a couple of days ago, because they went against the 1964 Voting Rights Act.  Just yesterday a Federal judge in Ohio allowed early voting in that state, favoring urban (and thus pro-Obama) voters when it was previously permitted but recently outlawed by the Republican governor and legislature in that state.  Earlier this year, another statute was declared unconstitutional in Wisconsin.  And as I write, Pennsylvania's voter-ID law has gone to the state Supreme Court, with a ruling to be delivered later this month.   (Interestingly enough, Gov. Tom Corbett had wanted the court to delay a ruling until October.  Wonder why?)

4)  Ronald Reagan is still dead. Reagan remains the only conservative political candidate whom moderates actually liked; the trouble is that the conservatives still haven't learned that the country voted for him as a person, not as a conservative.  As such, the likes of Newt Gingrich and Joe Scarborough are saying that "when we promote a strong conservative message, we win,"  If that were the case, we'd see a Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain or Rick Perry leading the charge against Obama, but voters -- Republican voters, mind you -- didn't buy any of them.

Furthermore, the tea-party movement, which officially is non-partisan but so far has backed only Republican candidates, wants to cause political change but only from the outside, without being involved in the actual process.  Its insularity and resultant unpopularity have become such that, at least here in Pennsylvania, Democratic political candidates actually ran campaign ads that they "stood up to the Tea Party."

Romney will thus need to find a way to counteract all of these things working against him.  I see no way for him do that.

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