Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Super Tuesday looking real super for Mitt Romney

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In getting ready for Super Tuesday, let’s look back at what we learned from Michigan (and Arizona).

— Mitt Romney had a “bad” night last Tuesday. Romney has more delegates than the other GOP contenders — combined. This doesn’t mean Romney will win the nomination, or win it “fast enough.” But Romney is in the position where Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul would like to be.

Yes, Romney and Santorum tied with 15 delegates each in Michigan, so each could be the winner. But it’s like Romney’s basketball team is up by 10 points and each side exchanged a basket. Margin is still the same and there is less time on the clock.

— We know that Republicans aren’t as thrilled with the presidential choices, but they are showing their disapproval by not showing up to caucuses and primaries. Turnout has been quite low, and pundits, mostly on the Democratic side, feel like this will correlate to lower turnout for the GOP in the fall. GOP turnout was down in 1992 and 2008 in particular, when you had upbeat candidates for the Dems and not-so-great candidates for the GOP. Republicans need an emotional reason to hit the polls. Right now, thanks to the obsession over contraception, Dems have that emotional reason. Too much time left on the clock, but Super Tuesday should give us a sense of whether, on a broader scale, GOP enthusiasm is truly lackluster. In a virtual two-person race, those that don’t like Romney have one last chance to make that point. If Romney wins a lot of delegates, he gets that momentum that Santorum or Gingrich or Paul can’t take back.

— Why does Rick Santorum want to be president? And why doesn’t he know this? We expect ingenues such as Herman Cain to make rookie mistakes. But to say Santorum went off message in Michigan is to imply that he has a message. His economic credentials were pretty flimsy, but when you are in Michigan, you can’t go wrong talking about the economy. And amazingly, none of the top contenders talked jobs and the economy in Michigan. Make that mistake in the fall and Obama will win Michigan in 2012.

— Newt Gingrich has a strategy. The only problem for Gingrich is that strategy has nothing to do with getting the GOP nomination. If his goal is to win more than one state (South Carolina), then he has a slim shot if Romney and Santorum ignore that state. Gingrich sticking around is helping Romney. After all, Santorum could have won Arizona with Gingrich’s votes, or made it close.

— We know Bob McDonnell won’t be the VP pick of Romney, Santorum, or anyone else. McDonnell seems confused as to why this is true. The Virginia governor was surprised at the backlash over the transvaginal penetration bill, which McDonnell says he will still sign. His chances weren’t that great to be the VP nominee, but no candidate in recent times has worked as hard not to be the nominee as Bob McDonnell. Conservatives who want government out of the bedroom knows the Virginia legislation stinks.

— Conservatives generally like beauty contests more than liberals, but both parties should consider not having caucuses or primaries where no initial delegates are awarded. In a country that seems to be all about democracy, we have a lot of hiding away of the process. Republicans tend to hide more of the process anyway, but 2012 has been an extraordinarily bad effort on the part of the GOP.

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