Romney vs. Not Romney, revisited

posted at 4:20 pm on September 24, 2011 by Karl

As Allahpundit thinks I am being too bullish on Rick Perry’s campaign, it is probably time to repeat my standard disclaimer and collect some of the analysis I have done not only in blog posts, but in comments and tweets. First, the disclaimer: I am currently not supporting Perry or any of the other candidates. Perhaps I am overly cynical, but I have not been excited about a presidential candidate since Reagan — and that was as likely the result of youthful exuberance as it was Reagan’s merits.

When other people were starting to call Perry the front-runner, I was still analyzing the race as Romney vs. Not Romney. In analyzing comments from Romney back Justin Hart (who is likely feeling vindicated these days), I wrote:

At the outset, I want to stress that his point about vetting is important. There is a reason why the GOP tends to nominate the person who is “next in line.” Running for president is not an easy thing. Having done it before means you have built a network of grassroots contacts, donors, consultants, and so on. Presumably, the candidate may have learned lessons about not only strategy and tactics, but about our complex country and the people whose votes must be won. And yes, having already run a gauntlet of vetting from opponents and the media is valuable to a candidate.

Romney has benefitted from his experience, while Perry has handed his rivals at least one club in his debate comment suggesting opponents of illegal immigration are racist. How big a club it is depends on how Perry deals with it in the next few days. (Romney’s recent Democrat-sounding comments about entitlements may become a club for Perry, but they are not as emotionally egregious as playing the race card.)

Aside from that comment, I remain of the opinion that the debates themselves are not all that significant. Rather, they are parts of the overall vetting of a new candidate. The general media coverage of the campaign illustrates this point.

The 2012 campaign was barely covered from mid-July through early August, as public and media attention was focused on the debt ceiling debate. However, Perry was the most covered GOP candidate every single week since he entered the race. He was the only GOP candidate to receive significant coverage in a number of those weeks. In the week the debates started, Perry was featured in more than 3 times as many stories as either Romney or Bachmann. Thus, it is not surprising that Perry’s ups and downs have been magnified, relative to other candidates.

A look at the RCP poll average for the GOP nomination tells roughly the same story. Although Romney, Cain and Bachmann had their bumps at different times, their overall numbers declined from mid-July through early August; Perry, despite not being in the race, was the exception to the overall trend. Moreover, Romney’s turnaround started after the Labor Day weekend, while Perry was still rising, and a week and a half before Perry appeared in a debate. As the two most popular candidates, Perry and Romney appear to have benefitted from increased public attention to the campaign at the traditional moment. Notably, Romney is just now back to roughly where he stood in the polls on the day Perry entered the race.

Of course, given Perry’s current stumbles, some are straight-line projecting that Romney will continue to gain while Perry will continue to fall. That is also the impression you would get from the odds at Intrade. If Perry’s aura of invincibility is shattered, what is left?

What is left, for starters, are the things which caused me to conclude Perry is the likely GOP nominee in the first place. He remains the largely successful governor of a major state in one of the party’s base regions. He remains — despite his various deviations — more conservative than Romney, which is a bit of an advantage in the more conservative major party.

Moreover, assuming for the sake of argument that the campaign reverts to the dynamic of Romney vs Not Romney, Perry remains the only candidate in the race who has shown the ability to beat Romney. Other candidates could make a late entry. However, an entry by Chris Christie would be just as likely to hurt Romney as Perry. An entry by Sarah Palin would split the Not Romney vote, carrying a significant likelihood of helping Romney more than Not Romney. Perry is currently the most viable Not Romney and the one best positioned financially to wage a long campaign against Romney, if necessary.

Indeed, most of the criticism of Perry’s debate performances from the right have been that Perry has failed to effectively attack Romney’s weaknesses. It is a criticism which — like Perry’s sudden rise in general — underscores that Romney himself has exploitable flaws as a candidate. The tendency by Romney’s supporters is to dismiss them as priced into his stock. However, it seems unlikely to me that those flaws will not become a focus of the campaign going forward, especially if Romney is perceived as regaining the lead.

In short, Perry’s hockey-stick ascent is broken and he could play himself out of the campaign. The GOP electorate may conclude that there is no viable alternative to Romney. But there are currently big reasons to conclude that Perry is far from done. Straight-line projections about the campaign remain as hazardous now as they were when Perry’s numbers were skyrocketing.

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
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As a resident of Massachusetts I’d like to point out that Romney could debate Romney. Somewhere on YouTube is a video comparing Romney’s flip-flops on abortion, Global Warming, gun control and a host of other topics.

Romney is a very slick politician.

NickDeringer on September 24, 2011 at 4:26 PM

Somewhere on YouTube is a video comparing Romney’s flip-flops on abortion, Global Warming, gun control and a host of other topics.
NickDeringer on September 24, 2011 at 4:26 PM

Akzed on September 24, 2011 at 4:29 PM

Palin will be able to get the old Perry voters

TheQuestion on September 24, 2011 at 4:30 PM

Somewhere on YouTube is a video comparing Romney’s flip-flops on abortion, Global Warming, gun control and a host of other topics. NickDeringer on September 24, 2011 at 4:26 PM

Akzed on September 24, 2011 at 4:29 PM

Surely there are better videos than that one.

TheQuestion on September 24, 2011 at 4:34 PM

Romney going all in on the media’s position with Social Security is wackkkk!

conservador on September 24, 2011 at 4:37 PM

As usual, we’re going to be left with a choice between a nightmarish Democrat & a RINO. Dammit.

OhioCoastie on September 24, 2011 at 4:44 PM

What is left, for starters, are the things which caused me to conclude Perry is the likely GOP nominee in the first place.

You should have checked his RCP polling avg against Obama, Perry’s been dropping like the proverbial rock for a while. Electability is coming more and more into the forefront as an issue, for quite obvious reasons. Obama would totally dismantle Rick Perry in any debates; it would be a “pretty ugly” spectacle for both Perry and the Republicans. With Perry’s falling numbers and his complete ineptness at thinking on his feet, his candidacy isn’t sitting well with more & more folks as the days go by.

whatcat on September 24, 2011 at 4:44 PM

I predict an appearence by petunia directly

a capella on September 24, 2011 at 4:46 PM

Here comes Mittens cotton tail
flopping down the bunny trail
Flippity floppety Romney’s on his way…

amnesty.

John the Libertarian on September 24, 2011 at 4:47 PM

Or alternatively….

Perry vs. Not-Perry.

(I don’t buy this either but it’s just as legitimate)

Spathi on September 24, 2011 at 4:52 PM

Perry sounded like he was having a mild stroke during the flip-flop retort in the debate.

It was at that moment when millions of Republicans realized in horror that this was the man they’re going to nominate to debate against Obama.

haner on September 24, 2011 at 4:53 PM

Or alternatively….

Perry vs. Not-Perry.

(I don’t buy this either but it’s just as legitimate)

Spathi on September 24, 2011 at 4:52 PM

You may have a point there. Perry is the frontrunner after all.

ddrintn on September 24, 2011 at 4:57 PM

Aside from that comment, I remain of the opinion that the debates themselves are not all that significant.

So what’s been driving down Perry’s numbers lately?

ddrintn on September 24, 2011 at 4:58 PM

Why is this Romney guy being pushed at us? He’s a horrible candidate for the GOP. I refuse to allow the MSM and the Democrats pick another loser for the GOP Presidential candidate. Sadly it seems, I stand with only a few. It seems most of the people who are whining about the state of affairs are to lazy to do a little independent research. If you are content with being told how to think. You should be content with the results. This is how we got McCain in the last election. The only person I though could actually lose to the little community organizer.

Tommy_G on September 24, 2011 at 4:59 PM

I don’t think its Romney vs Not-Romney, I think its a race to be the guy that is Not-Obama. And I had high hopes for Perry but ask yourself this – if he is making this many unforced errors and and communicating so poorly, what is he going to do when the media does its inevitable “Palin Pivot” and paint him as Scary Crazy Conservative Monster Who Wants To Kill Your Kids Guy??

If you think they were hard on Palin, wait till you see what they do to the Man Who Would Threaten The Anointed One. And even before that begins in earnest Perry is busy handing out the shovels that the media will use to bury him with. There is a very good reason that Romney is leading generic ballot against Obama and Perry isn’t – Perry will excite the Tea Partiers but not the swing/disinterested voters.

Kaisersoze on September 24, 2011 at 5:06 PM

OhioCoastie on September 24, 2011 at 4:44 PM

Thats a trillion times better than a choice between a nightmarish democrat and another unelectable candidate. Perry would be destroyed at every debate by Obama. His record will be torn to pieces. It will be exposed that the jobs that he created were mostly minimum wage jobs and that Texans have the worst coverage of healthcare inthe country. Obama will make him out like a monster, as someone who executes potentially innocent inmates while letting illegals attend our university at in state rates. I mean the lines of attack on Perry for Obama are so numerous its beyond belief that anyone thinks he would win.

thphilli on September 24, 2011 at 5:08 PM

There is a very good reason that Romney is leading generic ballot against Obama and Perry isn’t – Perry will excite the Tea Partiers but not the swing/disinterested voters.

Kaisersoze on September 24, 2011 at 5:06 PM

So what makes you think they’d be more fired up to vote for someone as squishy as Romney?

ddrintn on September 24, 2011 at 5:08 PM

Why is this Romney guy being pushed at us? He’s a horrible candidate for the GOP. I refuse to allow the MSM and the Democrats pick another loser for the GOP Presidential candidate. Sadly it seems, I stand with only a few. It seems most of the people who are whining about the state of affairs are to lazy to do a little independent research. If you are content with being told how to think. You should be content with the results. This is how we got McCain in the last election. The only person I though could actually lose to the little community organizer.

Tommy_G on September 24, 2011 at 4:59 PM

Oh please… why is this Perry guy being pushed at us? He can’t even string some simple before-and-after sentences without losing his track of thought and he had clearly rehearsed it. What kind of loser fumbles his own prepared zinger?

Why does the GOP base insist on nominating candidates with demonstrated deficiencies in their mental faculties?

haner on September 24, 2011 at 5:09 PM

PerryRomney or Huckabee will excite the Tea Partiers conservative base but not the swing/disinterested voters [as McCain would].

Kaisersoze on September 24, 2011 at 5:06 PM

It fits, by the way.

ddrintn on September 24, 2011 at 5:10 PM

It was at that moment when millions of Republicans realized in horror that this was the man they’re going to nominate to debate against Obama.
haner on September 24, 2011 at 4:53 PM

It would be a massacre. I wouldn’t be able to watch it anymore than I would the inevitable resulting second Obama inauguration ceremony.

whatcat on September 24, 2011 at 5:13 PM

Tommy_G on September 24, 2011 at 4:59 PM

Romney ain’t the best candidate, but he is electable. Perry isn’t outside of Texas. He will be TORN TO PIECES by the liberals and made to look like a monster. He will be made to look like another GWB, a cowboy from Texas. He will be called a murderer of innocent prisoners. He will be labeled extreme and so far to the left on some issues that he makes Obama look like a moderate (in state tuition for illegals and binational healthcare insurance). They will completely turn off the independents through constant attack on his record, which has a LOT of exploitable holes. For instance he used accounting gimmicks to balance the budget in Texas this year, something republicans were throwing fits about Obama doing. None of these things can be said about Romney. The lines of attack on him are simple and not very effective in my opinion. His work at Bain Capital and Romneycare are the main ones I can think of. They will try and exploit his flip floppy nature, but frankly republicans will be so fed up with Obama at that point that I doubt it turns off many voters.

thphilli on September 24, 2011 at 5:14 PM

Romney ain’t the best candidate, but he is electable. Perry isn’t outside of Texas.

thphilli on September 24, 2011 at 5:14 PM

I don’t know how anyone can say that with any certainty about either of them. One thing we do know is that of the two Romney ks the only one who’s run a LOSING national campaign before. That doesn’t sound too darned electable to me.

ddrintn on September 24, 2011 at 5:17 PM

Surely there are better videos than that one.
TheQuestion on September 24, 2011 at 4:34 PM

Waiting…

Akzed on September 24, 2011 at 5:20 PM

ddrintn on September 24, 2011 at 5:17 PM

Among republicans. And I say that about Perry because I am not a zombie conservative who thinks that because I love a candidate everyone else will too (not saying you are, but some certainly are). I can see the attack ads against Perry and can imagine how effective they will be. I can see Perry BOMBING at a debate and the resulting ads with GWB bumbling a sentence and then Perry bumbling a sentence with the tag line something along the lines of “America: Don’t make the same mistake twice”. I just don’t see how its possible that he could win, and that is if he was intelligent enough to even be able to defend his positions. From what I have seen of him he resorts to calling others racists, heartless, lying and turning off his brain when the going gets tough. How the hell is someone like that going to beat the Obama machine, which has spent the last 3 years infusing money into donor’s pockets?

thphilli on September 24, 2011 at 5:22 PM

What is interesting is that for a few of the candidates (Gingrich and Cain come to mind) I only have the vaguest notion of why they are running and what they want to do as President. The last debate was creating the beginning of a consensus of some things that need to be done: repeal Obamacare, repeal Dodd-Frank, get rid of the EPA/Education/Energy…

That is great, but shouldn’t candidates have to think that through and articulate it a bit before a debate? And considering my cat wants the first two done, they are no-brainers for any entrant into the race. The last of actually looking to shear off parts of government is becoming a majority area and that may drive the last couple of hold-outs who just want to manage an authoritarian government out of their comfort zone.

Yet that isn’t being articulated well by any of the candidates, and if you are a ‘front runner’ aren’t you supposed to: 1) give a reason why you are actually running?, 2) actually be able to say what it is you want to accomplish?, and then 3) demonstrate that you have an idea of how to accomplish it as an executive?

I’m not voting for dog catcher where the job description tells what they have to do, but someone who actually has to be able to give some real reason why they, above all others, are actually fit to do the job. Yet I don’t get that from the ‘front runners’. And offering ‘plans’ is not the same as telling me why those ‘plans’ are important, if they can actually be accomplished and how they intend to accomplish them. It isn’t a question about ‘liking’ a candidate, but trusting them to do a job that you think is important and that you are confident that they can actually do it. They are elected to represent the people of the United States, and I’m one of those people. This is a job audition. So far I’m seeing a bunch of fail out there, and the Nation cannot afford someone who just wants to do repeal a couple of bills and then put back the old status quo… as it is that status quo that got us here in the first place.

ajacksonian on September 24, 2011 at 5:22 PM

Among republicans. And I say that about Perry because I am not a zombie conservative who thinks that because I love a candidate everyone else will too (not saying you are, but some certainly are).

thphilli on September 24, 2011 at 5:22 PM

No, but it’s also possible to be a “moderate” who thinks the only GOP candidates who have a chance are those that are most like Democrats. We got that in 2008. How a candidate can’t get Republican base voter support but still be considered “electable” against an incumbent Democrat is beyond me.

ddrintn on September 24, 2011 at 5:24 PM

I don’t know how anyone can say that with any certainty about either of them. One thing we do know is that of the two Romney ks the only one who’s run a LOSING national campaign before. That doesn’t sound too darned electable to me.

ddrintn on September 24, 2011 at 5:17 PM

Actually many candidates have had a failed national campaign in their past, including Reagan. Not comparing Mitt to Ronnie or anybody, lol, just sayin’ for the record.

whatcat on September 24, 2011 at 5:29 PM

So what makes you think they’d be more fired up to vote for someone as squishy as Romney?

ddrintn on September 24, 2011 at 5:08 PM

I think they are fired up to vote against Obama. Fired up enough to walk over broken glass to do so. Its not the tea partiers I would be worried about. I don’t see them staying home if any Republican is running against Obama in 2012 – even (God Forbid) John McCain.

Kaisersoze on September 24, 2011 at 5:33 PM

haner on September 24, 2011 at 5:09 PM

thphilli on September 24, 2011 at 5:14 PM

Don’t recall saying a thing about Perry. I’ am talking about a compliant media and a complacent society. If we are going to talk about candidates. My hope is that the GOP candidate has not yet entered the race. If Romney isn’t the best candidate he shouldn’t be elected. Just because someone (MSM) tells us he’s electable, doesn’t mean we should elect him. A bad candidate with a bad agenda is a bad candidate with a bad agenda. It doesn’t matter what party he represents.

Tommy_G on September 24, 2011 at 5:33 PM

I honestly don’t see any great distinction between Perry and Romney.

Romney ran to the left in a liberal state and Perry ran to the right in a conservative state. Both men took positions they needed to take to get elected in their respective states. Professional politicians playing the game.

Romney vs. Not Romney/Perry vs. Not Perry.

What’s the difference?

sharrukin on September 24, 2011 at 5:35 PM

PerryRomney or Huckabee will excite the Tea Partiers conservative base but not the swing/disinterested voters [as McCain would].

I totally disagree. I’m not a huge Romney fan but I think he is the only guy that would have beaten Obama last year because he would have had a coherent economic plan and would have pummeled Obama in the debates, instead of the halfassedness we saw from McCain in the debates.

Kaisersoze on September 24, 2011 at 5:37 PM

OK, forget everything I said…

HER MAN CAIN!!!

HER MAN CAIN!!!

HER MAN CAIN!!!

Kidding, I love Herman Cain but don’t see as POTUS. I want him to be the awesomeiest Secretary of Commerce ever and kick butt and take names in whatever it is that DOC will do under a GOP President.

Kaisersoze on September 24, 2011 at 5:51 PM

What is left, for starters, are the things which caused me to conclude Perry is the likely GOP nominee in the first place.

You’re braver than I am. I couldn’t call it between these 2. I’m glad that you rely on the RCP averages as I do. I think that it is the best data available and it gives a common set of data to analyze. Like you, I see Perry coming off of his “Hi I’m Rick Perry and I want to make DC as inconsequential as I can” high. But I also see the descent slowing with him still retaining a good lead.

I also applaud your recognition that a straight line trend is apropos of little without some deeper understanding of the forces moving the line. I said a lot and I said very little because I can’t pick a winner. I see a good 2 horse race and that’s a good thing. Let them toughen and sharpen each other. Let’s see the winner emerge in fighting shape for the big rumble!

MJBrutus on September 24, 2011 at 5:56 PM

sharrukin on September 24, 2011 at 5:35 PM

I’m afraid that Snow White is sitting out this dance.

Sorry purity seekers.

MJBrutus on September 24, 2011 at 5:59 PM

I’m afraid that Snow White is sitting out this dance.

Sorry purity seekers.

MJBrutus on September 24, 2011 at 5:59 PM

Maybe she is and maybe she isn’t.

If so there’s always Jack Daniels and a day at the beach.

sharrukin on September 24, 2011 at 6:03 PM

sharrukin on September 24, 2011 at 6:03 PM


You know when I drink alone
I prefer to be by myself :-)

MJBrutus on September 24, 2011 at 6:07 PM

Both Romney and Perry fail — big time — on illegal immigration, which is killing this country.

An example of Romney’s mushy-headed thinking (or intentional deception), in which he poses that tired liberal false dichotomy of “We can’t deport 11 or 12 20 million illegal aliens, THEREFORE we must make them citizens”
while he intentionally ignores
the most popular and effective solution – attrition through enforcement.

“I don’t believe in rounding up 11 million people and forcing them at gunpoint from our country..Let’s have them registered…those that are here paying taxes …should begin a process towards application for citizenship”

Let them go home by themselves.

And Perry recently insulted me and the MAJORITY OF AMERICANS (and 40% of Hispanics!!) by stating that expecting our laws to be obeyed is racist or hard-hearted.

Can’t we find a GOP candidate who wants to enforce our laws and stop all the rewards and benefits for illegal aliens?

fred5678 on September 24, 2011 at 6:14 PM

I totally have the solution to the Immigration problems. Forget deporting them… they go into a Foreign Legion!! Lead by Herman Cain!! Kandahar by October Mi Companieros!!!

Kaisersoze on September 24, 2011 at 6:37 PM

Can’t we find a GOP candidate who wants to enforce our laws and stop all the rewards and benefits for illegal aliens?
fred5678 on September 24, 2011 at 6:14 PM

That’s a good question. It doesn’t seem to be too much to ask. But if you ask it, you’re a heartless raaaaaacist who hates people because their last names sound funny!

whatcat on September 24, 2011 at 6:43 PM

it is folly for the Rs to squabble over small things. They all look like a bunch of children, with no philosophical anchor…temporizing long enough to get to the next question.

I find it remarkable that they each seem on the defensive. Perry’s remark about the women with cancer was a running retreat from the principled stand that moved him to issue the EO in the first place (unless, of course it was a quid pro quo). If Perry can’t defend his principles, then he has failed

Each seems to be eager to shout out some lame thing to get their face on TV. Bachman did that on the mother who claimed the vaccine hurt her child.

Huntsman, Paul, the NM guy are losers…although each have their moments.

I apologize for the long post, but this is who we need to be talking about:

The Founders of the United States were deep students of politics and history, and they shared Aristotle’s concern. Up through their time, history had shown all known democracies to be “incompatible with personal security or the rights of property.” James Madison and others held that the “first object of government” was to protect the rights of property.

They understood the protection of property rights to be bound up with freedom itself. “In a word,” Madison explained, “as a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights….” The Founders thus incorporated numerous provisions of the Constitution and Bill of Rights to protect the property rights of citizens from the power of the government.

Whatever else might be said about him, President Obama operates on a different philosophy of government from that of the Founders. His credo is reflected in the proposition: “I think at some point you have made enough money.”

The Founders thought that at some point the government had enough power.

and he will win if our candidates don’t start focusing on the problem

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/09/mrs-warrens-profession-contd.php

r keller on September 24, 2011 at 6:54 PM

So what makes you think they’d be more fired up to vote for someone as squishy as Romney?

ddrintn on September 24, 2011 at 5:08 PM

I think they are fired up to vote against Obama.

Kaisersoze on September 24, 2011 at 5:33 PM

Counting only on an anti-Obama vote is a grave error. Voters who generally vote Republican are tired of forever having to vote against someone and not for someone. And no, a ham sandwich couldn’t beat Obama in 2012.

ddrintn on September 24, 2011 at 10:51 PM

The right seems absolutely determined to pick a nominee whom Obama can beat. Perry has proven that he’s not a real leader. He’s a crony politician who hires other people to do his thinking for him. The more I see of him, the more annoying he is. He’s all hat and no cattle, as they say in Texas.

I have nothing against letting Texas run the country. As a state it has done a lot of the things I’d like to see the nation do, which is why its economy is still functional. But Perry is a faux conservative, as his Dream Act legislation shows. Our higher education system bubble is about to burst. We don’t need to keep it inflated by paying for illegal aliens’ college. And anybody who tells me I have no heart because I prefer to cut spending on asinine projects like this and others Perry has backed is far more untrustworthy than Mitt Romney will ever be. We need a president who knows how to cut spending and reduce a bloated government workforce. We had two candidates who have done that, and now one has dropped out. The other is not Rick Perry.

Quit looking for Prince Charming, and vote for intelligence and expertise.

flataffect on September 25, 2011 at 2:59 AM