It’s not over, but …

posted at 8:40 am on February 1, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Did Mitt Romney resuscitate his “inevitability” argument with his win last night?  The subtext of his victory speech seemed to make that claim, Reid Epstein argues at Politico:

Mitt Romney didn’t just claim victory Tuesday night — he sent a clear message to Newt Gingrich: The nomination is mine.

The former Massachusetts governor scored a decisive win in the Florida presidential primary — by a higher percentage than even in his New Hampshire stronghold. Celebrating the results, he looked past Gingrich and his other opponents but offered a clear appeal to the voters backing them in both the tone and substance of his speech.

Well, Team Romney might want to keep the fireworks boxed up a wee bit longer, as hubris is as bad a political aphrodisiac as desperation.  Romney has a grand total of 84 delegates now, putting him far into the lead but 1,060 delegates shy of a majority, too.  He’ll have to put more distance between himself and the rest of the pack for his opponents to concede the contest to him.

Still, the big win in Florida does put Romney in the driver’s seat, as I wrote for CNN late last night:

Is the primary over at this point? Gingrich would vociferously object to that notion, as would Rick Santorum and Ron Paul. It does begin to get more difficult from this point forward, though. Until now, the primary states have come one at a time. Starting next week, states start coming simultaneously, and organization will begin to make more of a difference than it has, even in Florida.

Romney’s campaign announced its fourth-quarter fundraising before South Carolina, and it was an eye-popping $24 million, with almost $20 million of it in the bank. Gingrich only raised $10 million, his team announced a few hours before the polls closed in Florida, with $1.2 million in debt still on the books. That kind of fiscal dominance will allow the Romney team to do a lot more in parallel primaries than Gingrich can. And that will make a big difference as seven states hold contests in the next four weeks, and then ten more hold theirs on the same day in five weeks.

In order for the other Republicans to catch up now, they will need a big stumble from Romney.  Their strategy going into the caucus-heavy month of February will be to score one or two wins as a way to change the narrative, not only in relation to Romney but in relation to each other.  Gingrich demanded that Santorum pull out of the race yesterday, and Santorum began running ads in Nevada and Colorado that targeted Gingrich rather than Romney.  Both of them want to be the consolidation candidate, and neither can while the other won’t quit — and that helps Romney, too, who has plenty of money to fight both simultaneously when needed.

Even if one of them dropped out, though, that wouldn’t mean that the entire non-Romney vote would coalesce behind the survivor.  This argument got expressed by my friend Kevin McCullough on Twitter thusly: “The REAL story in Florida: Votes 4Romney 765,834, against Romney 882,424!”  That, however, assumes that everyone’s second choice wouldn’t be Romney.  PPP’s final Florida poll showed that Romney came in second in the second-choice category at 18%, with Rick Santorum in first at 26% and Gingrich slightly behind Romney at 17%, and 31% saying “someone else/not sure.”  It also assumes Paul’s voters would flock to either Gingrich or Santorum, which seems laughably speculative at best.  If Santorum had dropped out, Gingrich wouldn’t have won Florida, and the reverse is even more true.

The fat lady ain’t singing, but she’ll be clearing her throat in four weeks if Romney doesn’t make a big mistake.


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Your absurd statement that “the establishment conceded” to the conservatives is baby talk.

If Kennedy had survived to run in 1964, the conservative movement would have been poised to take over the party.

Your statements are senseless.

You either are ignorant of history or a dissembler. I suspect a combination of both.

wraithby on February 1, 2012 at 4:16 PM

TeaPartyNation on February 1, 2012 at 1:40 PM

If the financial meltdown had waited a few months, McCain would probably be POTUS right now. McCain was surging past Obama, until the meltdown. Some conspiracy theorists even blame Soros for orchestrating the meltdown, so Obama would win. The Hope and Change message of Obama would not have sent him to the White House, if the economy had still been moving along normally. Contrast that with how the economy is doing right now and for the foreseeable future and even the much hated McCain would probably beat Obama. We have a real chance of replacing Obama with a POTUS who will move things to the right. I think that the Mitt haters are simply a vocal minority who have decided to hate Romney, no matter what he says or does. Their minds are made up, so the rest of us shouldn’t waste too much time or effort trying to sway them with the facts. Their blind hatred of Romney and their insistence that staying home on election day disqualify them from being part of the patient majority of conservatives who seek to move the conservative brand forward by persistent and active involvement in the electoral process. I wish that they would come to their senses and face reality, but that is probably too much to expect from their narrow-minded approach to conservatism.

NuclearPhysicist on February 1, 2012 at 4:35 PM

Romney haters who insist on digging up awkward moments in Mormon history to impugn Mitt’s reputation should spend some time digging up such awkward moments in the history of the Protestant and Catholic Churches. Logically, they should then conclude that all candidates who affiliate with such churches should be disqualified from being a GOP presidential candidate that conservatives can vote for. Unfortunately, that would be all of them.

NuclearPhysicist on February 1, 2012 at 4:45 PM

Meant to say:

Their blind hatred of Romney and their insistence to stay home on election day if Romney is the GOP nominee disqualify them from being part of the patient majority of conservatives who seek to move the conservative brand forward by persistent and active involvement in the electoral process.

NuclearPhysicist on February 1, 2012 at 4:54 PM

NuclearPhysicist

X haters are simply a vocal minority who have decided to hate X, no matter what X says or does.

That criticism regarding “haters” certainly applies across the board, regardless of candidate.

Of all the GOP candidates lined up in debate, however, it is Mitt’s face that exudes contempt for his opponent whom Mitt named as “our constitutional candidate” in debate.

It doesn’t require “hatred” of a person, religion, race or even of an ideology to vote against it on principle.

Mitt Romney is a Keynesian, and that taints every boast he makes trumping himself as “the only one” who knows anything about successful economics.

Mitt Romney is Obamalite, not simply enjoying the backing from “Repo Men” (Williamson, NRO, 12/11) Wall Street, but also prepared to further augment the corruption of our economy through derivatives “investment” requiring more US taxpayer bail-outs demanded by the pirating global investment/insurance banks. Sure, promote denial based either on ignorance or vain deceit.

Regarding Constitutional Governance, Romney is not going to prune back authoritarian abusive federal bureaucracies or usurped powers in order to secure either our Dollar or Liberty. Nor is Romney going to cut federal spending. So should Romney manage to “lower” taxes, we’re too far along the ruinous trajectory from debt set by GWB and Baroqued by Obama for anything but the downgraded debt-riddled Dollar and economic ruin to be the fruition of Romney’s promises. Romney supports augmenting the unconstitutional “Patriot Act” and would make use of the newly legislated authoritarian Chief Executive opportunism to arrest and/or assassinate American citizens without protecting our civil liberties “secured” in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, denying an American the right to an attorney, the right to jury trial, denials of rights based on no solid evidence, but merely on the opinion of a bureaucrat or even simply a technical error.

Logical opposition to Romney’s potus agenda has nothing to do with either bigotry or hatred. It has everything to do with constitutional integrity and sound economics which the sneering Romney has no interest in either supporting or defending.

maverick muse on February 1, 2012 at 5:10 PM

Being mortals, none can boast perfection. Any person who states that they are perfect and have wronged no one in order to enter their place of worship exercises deceit. As if avoiding the “appearance” of imperfection by claiming one’s own perfection makes one more “worthy” than the humble sinner who received forgiveness.

Luke 18
9To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood up and prayed abouta himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

13“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

14“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

maverick muse on February 1, 2012 at 5:22 PM

maverick muse on February 1, 2012 at 5:10 PM

Your claims concerning what Romney is or isn’t don’t square with many of the facts. I have no issue with conservatives that wish to support someone other than Romney, because they like their campaign promises and/or record better. I do have a problem with conservatives who parrot anti-Romney talking points without serious, in-depth analysis of the anti-Romney claims. Romney has many warts, but he is far from being Obamalite. Since he governed in a highly liberal State, much of his efforts to compromise in order get things done will show him signing off on liberal programs. What else is new. This fact provides no evidence that he will govern a right-leaning populous as a liberal. What it does say is that he listens to his constituents and gives them what they want. At this point in history, I would say that is a positive thing. He will listen to conservatives, if they make their voices heard. On the flip side, Obama will never even think of acting in ways that would consider the current outcry from conservative voters. He has proven that in spades.

NuclearPhysicist on February 1, 2012 at 5:36 PM

This is the lamest thing I’ve read in a long time.

Look up the states that are in the best shape fiscally. It’s almost exclusively deep red states like ND, SD, WY, OK, etc. But you’re right all those rubes are concerned with is abortion.

And people wonder why Mittens can’t connect with conservatives….

Look at the record. In 2007 the South went ballistic when Rudy ran as a pro-choice but fiscally conservative candidate–even though he vowed to nominate strict constructionist jurists to the SC if elected. He was polling ahead of Obama and Hillary and was ahead in the swing states by double digits. It didn’t matter. Evangelicals passionately blocked his candidacy and he was dead in the water, no matter that his record of fiscal reform was matchless. Huckabee and McCain, on the other hand, both fiscal illiterates, got passes. As was the case for Bush and Dole before them, all fiscal moderates.

The only real passion ever shown has been for screening on social issues–rarely on fiscal matters. If the candidate is from the NE like Romney, it’s even worse–he’s damned no matter what he stands for. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem to matter how much personal baggage a good ol’ boy like Newt carries. He supported the Brady Bill and embryonic stem cell research and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and global warming and even attacked Bain Capital from the left. None of that seems to matter, he still gets a pass and is considered a conservative in good standing by a good many Southerners, including Rush.

It’s no accident Goldwater and Reagan were the sole exceptions in a long line of fiscally moderate nominees–Nixon, Ford, Dole, both Bushes, McCain–or that an exceptional candidate like Giuliani would be screened out before a commonplace Democrat-lite like Huckabee. The problem with the GOP is that the South has dominated its politics far too long. Its favorites are seldom the favorites of swing staters who care much more about the economy and electability than about social issues.

writeblock on February 1, 2012 at 5:36 PM

Keep reading. One and the same thing. BTW, they’re heeeere…they travel in herds.

Portia46 on February 1, 2012 at 12:10 PM

ok, i went trough parts of http://www.exmormon.org/ site and, besides some hilarity, its hard to make a concise view of how exactly mormons are supposed to be as bad as you paint them.

nathor on February 1, 2012 at 6:27 PM

NotCoach on February 1, 2012 at 1:22 PM

Your absurd statement that “the establishment conceded” to the conservatives is baby talk.

If Kennedy had survived to run in 1964, the conservative movement would have been poised to take over the party.

Your statements are senseless.

You either are ignorant of history or a dissembler. I suspect a combination of both.

wraithby on February 1, 2012 at 6:36 PM

Driver’s seat ? Really ? Why ?

We’ve had 4 primaries so far. Two pissant states that mean nothing, especially considering that in one of them, the winner also lives there part-time. Ignoring IA and NH, there have been two significant primaries. One won by Gingrich and one won by Romney while national polls show Gingrich leading Romney overall.

How, again, does that put Romney in the driver seat ? Because you WANT it to be so ?

deadrody on February 1, 2012 at 8:07 PM

Michael Medved and Jay Cost each make interesting observations about the Romney-Gingrich fight. Medved points out the candidates’ ideological differences are actually minimal. Both have compromised at one time or another. Both have flip-flopped. Both would shrink government and cut spending. And Jay Cost makes an even more interesting point–one I have expressed myself frequently. He states poll data indicates a geographic, not simply a demographic divide.

Many conservatives, for instance, are convinced Gingrich’s appeal to Tea Partiers in SC indicates he’s the Tea Party preference. But as Cost points out, the Tea Partiers themselves are regionally divided. What’s more, he connects the South to the West and sees it in historic opposition to the NE and Midwest. He writes, “The electoral and legislative power of the South has long depended upon an alliance with the West. In fact, the electoral strategy of nearly every major Southern candidate for national office dating back to Thomas Jefferson has been to unite these two regions.”

So the fight is not a simple matter of ideology as some Southern pundits like Rush Limbaugh and Erick Erickson would like to suggest. And it’s not just a matter of personality differences. George W. swept the South–but barely squeaked by in the swing states. McCain from the West did even worse, losing the swing states and even some traditional red states. Newt would almost certainly repeat the pattern. Romney, on the other hand, coming from the Midwest, would do well in the central swing states such as OH, MI, WI, and PA–and by a fluke, also in places like CO and NV with their large Mormon populations. In short, geography counts. And in the general election, it’s the swing states that count most of all.

We lost in 2008 because we ignored this lesson. We nominated a sunbelt candidate with no appeal in the swing states. Giuliani, on the other hand, was popular in the Midwest and even in unlikely blue states in the NE like NJ, CT and PA with their large Italian-American populations. One twelfth of the electorate–the Italian-American vote–was ready to leave the Democrats to vote for Rudy. These were in part the Reagan Democrats we lost in subsequent elections. But Rudy couldn’t get traction in the early primaries despite such excellent prospects. In part it was his own fault–he ran a lousy campaign. But it’s also true that in the South his candidacy was dead on arrival. He was mocked as a “rino” and liberal, much as Southern conservatives on various blogs now mock Romney. So we got the sunbelt loser instead. That gave the election to Obama.

writeblock on February 2, 2012 at 12:14 AM

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