Yes, Mitt Romney is a terrible political candidate. Sure, Santorum could embarrass Romney in Ohio. Gingrich could raise questions by winning Georgia. And Paul could upset Romney in some small caucus state.
And of course, Romney will continue to stick his foot in his mouth and say things to remind everyone he is an out of touch rich guy.
It just doesn’t matter.
On a 1 to 10 scale for candidates (with 1 being George McGovern and 10 being Ronald Reagan), Mitt Romney is, at best, a 1.2. But since all of his GOP current and former opponents are precisely negative infinity, it just doesn’t matter.
Mitt Romney has already won the GOP nomination—we all might as well come to grips with it.
So why do I claim Romney has a 2 in 3 chance of beating Obama?
For starters, contrary to popular belief, the GOP will rally around Romney. Why? Because the base of the Party is motivated by one thing only: hatred of President Obama—nothing else. Romney is irrelevant to that equation.
Some political insiders persist in spreading the idea that it would not be logical for Tea Party members and fervent conservatives to support Romney, given his numerous past liberal positions on social issues, not to mention Romneycare. Astute observers will instantly spot the flaw in the previous sentence: I used the word “logical” and “Tea Party” in the same sentence.
Remember, the Tea Party ostensibly stands for eliminating Washington of its career politicians and insiders, traditional values and is in favor of reducing government spending. So for much of the last 3 months most self-professed Tea Party members have supported Newt Gingrich, a 35 year Washington career politician who has enriched himself while making government bigger, all the while showing contempt for traditional values.
If the Tea Party can pretend to love Newt out of principle, then they will surely find a way of supporting Romney out of some other string of illogical nonsense.
Romney will have a unified party behind him.
There are three primary scenarios for the fall election.
Scenario one. The economy continues to improve. Team Obama makes no flubs. Optimism flourishes. Romney runs a lackluster, flub-filled campaign. Yes, under this scenario, Obama wins, but not by a large margin.
Scenario two. Europe’s economy takes a major tumble this summer. Unemployment numbers for the U.S. trend up in September and October. Optimism plummets. The only message that resonates with independent and moderate voters is “the economy and unemployment are awful and getting worse. Obama had a chance. Let’s try the other guy—he couldn’t be worse.” If this happens, Obama loses to Romney. The same scenario applies if China’s real estate bubble bursts or any other economic problem infects the world economic bloodstream.
Scenario Three. The economy holds, but the Roger Ailes/Fox News/Karl Rove/Rush Limbaugh/GOP message slime machine does what it does best, it creates an utterly phony issue out of thin air that destroys Obama’s credibility and allows Romney to win the White House.
Republicans might not be very good at governing, but no one can deny that they are great at sliming, vilifying and character assassinating Democrats. Here’s a quick review:
1. 1988. Michael Dukakis was destroyed because of “Willie Horton ad” nonsense regarding a furlough program that most Republican governors in the country had also implemented.
2. 1992, 1996. True, the best Democratic politician of the last 70 years, Bill Clinton, was able to prevent the GOP slime machine from destroying his campaigns. But let’s not forget, the GOP propaganda mill did convince a majority of Americans that their taxes had gone up, that the deficit was worse than ever and that the economy was shrinking in 1994. None of those things were true, but those lies resulted in the GOP takeover of the House and led the ground work for the successful Ken Starr Witch Hunt and the impeachment of Clinton in 1998.
3. 2000. We all remember how Al Gore got himself in trouble by lying, exaggerating and claiming “I invented the Internet” and that he was the inspiration for the characters in “Love Story.” The only problem is that he never actually said these things (I dare you, try to find a literal quote anywhere of Gore saying “I invented the Internet” that didn’t have its origins in a GOP press release). It turns out that the GOP message machine just created the scandal of “Gore is a liar and exaggerator” out of thin air and through constant repetition, it became a reality.
4. 2004. John Kerry, for all his flaws as a candidate (and yes, there were many) was a genuine war hero. Bush was a draft dodger and a national guardsman who appears to many to have gone AWOL. But the GOP Slime Machine created its “Swift Boat” campaign and they successfully inverted reality until most independent voters perceived Bush as the war hero and Kerry as the coward.
5. 2008 was a rare misstep for the GOP message machine. GOP slime merchants were obsessed with Hillary Clinton and just assumed she would be the Democratic Nominee. They were so excited about the prospect of reusing their greatest “Slime Hillary” hits that they weren’t thinking clearly. They thought all they’d have to do is trot out the “Hillary killed Vince Foster” nonsense or “”Hillary is a Lesbian” garbage and win. So they were uncharacteristically caught flat-footed when the unknown Obama won the nomination running against an 8 year record of Bush-GOP incompetence.
But since the 2008 campaign, the GOP slime machine has regained its footing and has continued doing what it does best: creating completely phony BS scandals about a Democratic president and then getting not only the conservative media but the mainstream media to obsess over it for months at a time. Birth certificates? Obama is a Muslim? The Administration hates Catholics? At this point, the only thing that should surprise us about the right wing message machine is if they don’t wage an all out 2-month war claiming Obama personally poisoned Andrew Breitbart.
The bottom line is that the GOP Message Machine has an excellent quarter century record of slimy accomplishment. And this machine couldn’t care less whether they or anyone else likes the GOP nominee. The only difference between 2012 and other years like 2004 or 1988 is money. This year the Republicans will have at lease several hundreds of millions of dollars more (via Super PACs) to run completely phony, BS, manufactured ads to demonize Obama.
And this is why Mitt Romney is the clear-cut, prohibitive favorite to be the next President of the United States.
TJ Walker is the founder of AmericanLP www.americanlp.org, a Democratic Super PAC.