As my colleague Guy wrote over at Townhall, it’s happening; Mitt Romney is probably running for president (again). Right now, he’s moving towards to reassembling his “national political network.” Ann seems to have had a change of heart about the notion of launching another arduous national campaign. Allahpundit also wrote about the resurgence of Mitt 3.0 as well.
Over at FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver noted that Romney sits squarely in the establishment camp, which is usually crowded. To cut down the field, Silver hypothesizes that during the “invisible primary,” which is the “tumultuous time of speechmaking, fundraising, coalition-building and constant travel…to boost…name recognition, stand out from the field, and secure the GOP nomination once the voting begins.” Romney could make the case against the other candidates behind the scenes.
Right now, Christie is probably too moderate to win the nomination, Rand Paul has some legal issues to resolve; you can’t run for two federal offices at the same time according to Kentucky law, and Rubio has run silent.
Romney does have the “I told you so/I was right about everything” narrative going for him, he was a governor, and he has executive experience, national campaign experience, money, and the name recognition. At the same time, Romneycare undercuts all of these attributes. Romney is the candidate where we cannot speak frankly about health care reform. It’s an issue that will continue to be integral in debates about America’s fiscal health. With fallout from the Jonathan Gruber tapes, those sentiments will be rehashed by new fervor; Gruber worked on Massachusetts’s health care overhaul.
Divisions within the Republican field, money, and confidence are some of the reasons Harry Enten, also of FiveThirtyEight, listed as Romney’s reasons for his optimism regarding a 2016 run. He can also unite the party (so the polls say)–and he’s leading in the early primary states:
In a recent Monmouth University survey, Romney had a +28 percentage point net favorable rating (favorable – unfavorable) with non-tea partyers, and a +19 percentage point net favorable rating with tea partiers. That 9 percentage-point gap between the two groups was the smallest for any candidate. The average difference was 24 percentage points.
In other words, Romney has reason to think that he can unite the different portions of the party in a way that others cannot.
If any candidate wins the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary, it’s likely that he or she will win the nomination. Romney averaged 23 percent in the three Iowa caucus polls taken over past six months. That’s right near the 25 percent he won in the 2012 caucus. He averaged 30 percent in two New Hampshire primary polls taken over the same period. No one was close to him in either state’s average.
Some of Romney’s lead is, no doubt, because of name recognition. Still, he scored a 65 percent favorable rating and a 77 percent favorable rating in the most recent surveys taken among Iowa and New Hampshire Republicans, respectively. No one else comes close to that in New Hampshire, and only Romney’s 2012 running mate Paul Ryan (who has said he won’t run if Romney does) beats him in Iowa.
So, let’s say Romney wins Iowa and New Hampshire. He’s got the money and the momentum heading into South Carolina, where he doesn’t necessarily have to win; he just can’t do too badly as delegates are awarded proportionally until March 16. So, a so-so showing in the deep red South and then tread water until Super Tuesday. Then again, he starts 2016 as he did in 2012: a fragile frontrunner.
That will be especially so with Gov. Scott Walker and a revamped Rick Perry possibly tossing their hats in the ring later this year. Unlike Santorum’s inability to overcome Romney in ’12, it’s possible that Walker could change the whole game by the time he gives his official announcement on his intentions by the summer of 2015. It’s the battle of the “RINOS” for now, though Jeb Bush’s campaign doesn’t have great odds regarding winning the nomination. So, maybe Romney is the establishment’s guy yet again, right?
I’d rather believe Allah’s first hypothesis before the Washington Post broke the news of Romney’s reconstituted political team:
I can believe that this is all just an elaborate fake-out by Romney and that he’s not really serious about running again.
Though he does make a good point about a candidate, like Walker, clinching the nomination–untested–on the “anyone by Bush” wing of the GOP. At the same time, Walker is a governor, he’s the executive in a purplish state, he’s got energy, he can also unite the Tea Party and Establishment wings, and he’s survived three elections–one of which was the tumultuous 2012 recall where he earned more votes than his initial 2010 gubernatorial bid. He’s certainly more battle-tested than, say, Ted Cruz. But, as with anything in politics, we shall see what happens.
Either way, history isn’t too kind for Romney or Bush. Enten cited that most general election losers that ran again for their party’s nomination haven’t had much luck. For Bush, his last successful election was his 2002 gubernatorial re-election bid. By the time he possibly runs in 2016, he would be out of office for 14 years. If he wins, he would be the first president since Lincoln to have a 14-year gap between his last successful election and winning the presidency.
That’s quite the hurdle for both of them.