Thursday, March 22, 2012

Money Money Money Money

David Horsey has a pretty perceptive analysis of Mitt Romney's win in Illinois this week:

Tuesday night in the Illinois primary, Mitt Romney won his most convincing victory so far and demonstrated, once again, the power of money in politics.

Romney's critics have carped that he has had to buy his wins; that the endless stream of negative TV ads he has been able to put up have made it an unfair contest. One of Romney's spinners had a pretty good answer to that: It's like a losing basketball team complaining how unfair it is that the guys on the other side are too tall.

In the end, money almost always wins in politics. ...

Indeed, and that's why both parties are going to great lengths to procure plenty of it. President Obama, who doesn't have a primary challenger, has been out raising the Republican candidates and hasn't had to spend much during this part of the year. Romney, who has been assiduously planning this campaign for several years, has the money and the organization in place to raise more and to hit the ground running in the key states he needs to wrap up the nomination quickly. His three opponents? Eh, not so much, and it showed in Illinois.

Illinois was a good test for the Republican field. It isn't anyone's home state. It isn't a deep-red Southern state. It is a big state with a diverse population that looks a lot like the country as a whole. Rick Santorum gave it his best shot, finally getting a virtual two-man match-up, since Newt Gingrich did not compete and Ron Paul has faded to an afterthought. And Romney hammered Santorum with his money machine. ...

The big question that remains at this halfway point in the primary season is whether Romney can win the nomination outright once every state has had its say. All the chatter about a brokered convention may just be the wishful thinking of Santorum fans and political reporters hoping for something interesting to do when they head to Tampa, Fla., for the GOP gathering at the end of the summer. Still, poll tracking done by Real Clear Politics indicates the support for each of the candidates is firming up. If so, that means the delegate split will continue, making it harder for Romney to pull away and win it all by June.

Mr. Horsey didn't mention a couple of things which also play into the GOP campaign right now. The first, of course, is voter turn out, which has been amazingly low in each contest so far. That has to be worrisome for the GOP because it seems to show that voters are just not all that excited about any of the candidates. Romney's organization may have been able to get out the vote at key moments, giving him his roughly two-to-one lead in delegates, but there's still a lot of country cover.

Second, Mr. Romney continues to wander off script and to utter the kind of statements that turn off voters. "Corporations are people." "I like firing people.""I have friends who are [NASCAR] [NFL] [other pro sports teams] owners." Now that failing seems to be spreading to key members of his staff:

From Greg Sargent at the Washington Post, via Atrios:

Think Progress flags an amazing exchange on CNN, in which Eric Fehrnstrom, a top adviser to Mitt Romney, seems to confirm that the conservative positions Romney has been forced to take during the primary won’t be a big deal because he can simply erase them once he becomes the GOP nominee: ...

Here’s the exchange:

HOST: Is there a concern that Santorum and Gingrich might force the governor to tack so far to the right it would hurt him with moderate voters in the general election?

FEHRNSTROM: Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.

Hoo, boy! That's a real clanker! One worthy of his boss.

And not only the Democrats pounced on that statement with glee; so did Rick Santorum. Mitt, Mr. Flip Flop, still has a rough road to the convention. David Horsey may be right that money is what matters, but if Romney gets the nomination, it may very well be that the GOP has given up all hope for the White House in November and will instead concentrate on down-ballot elections.

Popcorn futures are rising. You might want to buy now while you still can.



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