Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Romney Derangement Syndrome

There is a disease going around some right wing pundits.  They seem to be disregarding their usual intelligence and analytical abilities and have become brainwashed minions of Mitt Romney.  I really can't explain it.  Take Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post, who I have read for a while now, both at WaPo and at Commentary who seems to be one of the worst of the Romney pod people pundits.  She has spent columns nitpicking every single thing that people like Perry, Cain and Newt have said (she even criticized the Cain 999 plan for being insufficiently progressive, that is the whole point!) but has nary a word to say that would criticize Mitt Romney.  She even stoops to misleading commentary to make points in his favor. Take her column today (please) titled "Resigned to Mitt Romney" which starts:

Reading right-wing commentary or listening to talk radio would give you the impression there is great aversion, even loathing, of Mitt Romney among Republicans. The reality is very different, suggesting that the chorus of "anybody but Mitt" for their presidential candidate is more a function of the media than of actual voter sentiment.

Really?  It's not about actual voter sentiment?  Has she seen the polls?  Mitt has been running for President this election cycle since Obama was elected and yet has a national polling average of around 22% which is pretty much no different than what he had during the 2008 primary season.  So after 3 years and at least 4 competitive candidates imploding (Pawlenty, Bachmann, Perry and Cain) Romney's support has not inched up one iota amongst Republicans.  If there wasn't great aversion to Romney, you would have expected him to have picked up at least some of the voters from those competitors, especially the 5-6% who have supported Pawlenty, given he has endorsed Romney.  Nope.  No bumps anywhere.  Now take a look at how her next paragraph where she cherry picks data from gallup, ignoring important data from the same poll:

Take for example the latest Gallup poll. According to that survey, Romney has the highest total favorable rating (67 percent) and the lowest unfavorable rating (24 percent) of any candidate.

You know who #2 is for favorability?  Herman Cain at 66%.  #3?  Newt at 65%.  From a statistical point of view, this is a tie.  The same goes for the unfavorable rating where Cain and Newt are both at 26%.  So statistically, on that metric, Romney is really no better than the other two contenders.  Importantly, Ms. Rubin completely ignores the positive intensity score rankings from Gallup.  This is where they take those who strongly favor a candidate and subtract those that have a strong dislike for a candidate (this ignores those that have more muted feelings towards a candidate).  In this score, Newt and Cain score the best at 17, while Romney is only at 10.  I'm sorry, GOP voters are just not that into Mitt.  Also, most importantly, this survey includes GOP leaning independents, who might not vote in many primaries and they are probably skewing the data for Romney.  So again, after campaigning for years and having the largest war chest of any candidate and having done the best, besides Newt, in the debates, Romney is still unable to get more than a fraction of GOP voters to back him and quite a few to openly hate him.

He may be a non-starter or ultimately unacceptable to a significant number of conservative pundits and hard-core Tea Partyers, but there is little reason to doubt that he could pull the party together if he does take the nomination.

Hard core tea-partiers? You mean the people who came out in droves to hand the GOP the House of Representatives in 2010?  I don't think we'd have much of a party without them.  Also, I think many Republicans are sick of voting for Democrat-lite candidates who don't stand up for conservative beliefs, the Bob Dole's, the John McCain's, one or both of the Bushes.  Hell, even Jimmy Carter has said he would be "very pleased" if Romney won the nomination.

The worst part is that Romney supporters can't even tell us why we should be supporting him besides the whole electability thing (even Ann Coulter), which may not even be true.  Just think about this scenario, what if the anger of conservatives and "hard-core tea partiers" leads someone like Ron Paul to run on a third party ticket?  This could hand the election straight to Obama and would be more likely to happen under a Romney candidacy than one of a more conservative candidate who has more overlap with a Ron Paul (at least economically). 

When you take away Romney's electability what do you have?  His 59 point plan which looks like it was written by a Bain consultant (lots of pretty pictures with not a lot of real content).  And some of his policies seem purely for rhetorical purposes.  He wants to eliminate capital gains taxes, but only on the people who pay almost no capital gains taxes.  He thinks Obama's decision to withdraw the surge troops from Afghanistan in September 2012 is a mistake, but only because he would withdraw them in December, just three months later.  And Romney seems to know that his positions are a joke or else he would be giving more interviews.  It seems you see Newt everywhere, just about every day.  He does both personal campaigning as well as interviews for the media (both mainstream and conservative).  Romney, on the other hand, is pretty much nowhere to be seen.  You don't see him doing interviews and usually when I check his calendar on Politico it has one event.  And today it's empty!  Either he is spending all his time at fundraisers or he is afraid of scrutiny.  He is probably both.

The establishment of the Republican Party needs to stop trying to nominate people who they, in their infinite wisdom, think have the best chance of beating Obama, but instead try to nominate people who will actually govern from the right.  We don't need perfection, we just want someone who we have confidence will do the right thing most of the time.  Romney just ain't it.  Also, it would be nice if they didn't try to blow everything a conservative says out of proportion in order to help their friend Mitt, as Jennifer Rubin laughably attempted to do by criticizing Newt's talk of zero-based foreign aid as a threat to Israel (one of the first things he will do as President is move the embassy to Jerusalem, I don't think Israel has to worry under President Newt!).   I expect that much from the lamestream media, not from people we are supposedly allied with.

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