Romney’s very bad night: boo farking hoo

Romney gets his clock cleaned in Missouri and Minnesota, and maybe in Colorado as well. Liberals terrified of the awesome electability of Rick Santorum are – according to wingnut logic – quaking in their boots.

Some of the wingier wingnuts have convinced themselves – or hope to convince the marks – that the Obama campaign, the liberal commentariat, and the mainstream media all think that Mitt Romney would be the weakest GOP candidate in November. (That’s true, in a Churchillian sense: he’d be the weakest candidate except for Gingrich, Santorum, Paul, Perry, Cain, or Bachmann.) On this theory, the fact that we’ve all been piling on ol’ Mittens, accusing him of everything short of child molesting, is a bit of reverse psychology directed at Republican primary voters. We’re begging them not to throw us into the briarpatch.

By that standard, the entire Reality-Based Community should be tearing out its hair and rending its garments tonight. Just when it looked like Romney was going to cruise to the nomination, he’s taken a terri ble shellacking in Missouri and Minnesota, and may complete completed the hat trick by losing Colorado as well. In Minnesota, which he carried four years ago, he’s running third, behind Ron Paul and below 20%. In Missouri, he’s second, but with only a quarter of the votes. Turnout was lousy.

I still think Romney gets the nomination – money talks and bullsh*t walks, and even most wingnut voters aren’t dumb enough to think that Rick Santorum would do well competing for independent voters – but this means that it’s now Santorum’s turn to be hit with the same torrent of slime Romney’s people used to sink Gingrich’s boat. Lots of ill will being built up for November.

Gingrich hailed the results, saying “the big story coming out tonight is going to be that it’s very hard for the elite media to portray Governor Romney as the inevitable nominee.” What we Elders of Cambridge are really scared of is that Gingrich and Santorum might tacitly collude from here on out by choosing to concentrate on different states: Romney is much better off with three active opponents than with two.

Now pardon me while I go drown my sorrows in champagne.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

28 thoughts on “Romney’s very bad night: boo farking hoo”

  1. Turnout was lousy in MO because it didn’t really count. It was a non-binding primary that didn’t mean much beyond signaling the voters’ intent to the caucus that will actually choose it’s delegates next month.

  2. Actually, I think the more widespread theory is that Romney is catching the flack from you because you think he’s already got the nomination nailed, and have switched to general election mode. The theory you mention is more of a PR line by supporters of candidates other than Romney.

    I’m sure you’d prefer to go up against Romney this fall, but not so much on the basis that he’d be easier to beat, as that it would be more of a win-win election for you.

    1. brett, that’s crap. against the current republican party there is no such thing as a win-win election. i call bullshit. that’s the most trollish thing you’ve written in weeks because you know better!

      1. Navarro,
        I think that Brett is trying to make sense, and has a handle on a nugget of truth. Very very few Democrats would view a Romney victory as a “win,” and Brett is wrong if he thinks so. But most would view a Romney victory as a smaller loss than the victory of any other Republican. A risk-averse Democrat might want Romney to get the nomination for exactly this reason, even though Romney has a better chance of winning than any other Republican.

        Me? I’m going for Little Ricky. If I weren’t so miserly, I might even set up a Ricky SuperPAC: “Talibans un-for America”

        1. Scrooge, that makes no sense. Plenty of people have been cheering for Newt and Ricky not because they think they are the lesser evil but because theu believe either of them would get slaughtered in the general. Mark has said as much right in this space, so Brett’s point is also exactly backwards. In fact, he says as much in this very post, if you read it carefully. At this point, most Dems likely view the GOP primary as a win, no matter who comes out on top (try not to keep that visual in your mind, no matter how much that reminds you of Deliverance).

          1. It does make no sense if you think I was talking about a primary victory. I wasn’t. I was talking about a general election victory. But I might not have been clear enough. Sorry ’bout that. I agree with you. You, me (and Brett!) all think that Mitt would do better in the general than Newt or Ricky.

    2. On Mark’s favourite model, the calculus for our preference is to minimise the expected value of the GOP nominee, ie (chance of candidate winning x negative consequences of candidate’s presidency). So if Gingrich would be twice as bad a President as Romney, but would have less than half Romney’s chance of becoming one, then go for Gingrich.
      This is a no-stakes parlour game for Democrats, who have no say in the GOP nomination.

      1. Except in states that allow cross-over voting or same-day registration changes or allow independents to vote in party primaries.

      2. Any Democrat with a checkbook has a say in the GOP nomination. I’m thinking of cutting a check to Santorum.

  3. …it’s now Santorum’s turn to be hit with the same torrent of slime Romney’s people…

    Yep. Nothing like abig-time money-bag Mormon sliming a Main Street Republican Christian around the clock on TeeVee.
    This is gonna be better than female dwarves mud wrestling in bikinis.
    Pass the bubbly, and here, have one of my FDR cigars…

  4. Given that the economy is improving, I don’t think Obama is in trouble from any GOP candidate currently running. But a red-meat Republicant might well bring out more voters for the congressional elections. I think I’d rather have Romney.

    1. Interesting view. I figure Newt will make such a big target, and especially because his cohorts elected him Speaker last time, he would prove to be an albatross to hang around all their necks.

  5. even most wingnut voters aren’t dumb enough to think that Rick Santorum would do well competing for independent voters

    Right.

    But there are two models here, depending on a bunch of things.

    One is the fairly straightforward “who’s likely to win” question. But the other is “Win or lose, who does us the most good”–and especially when winning looks unlikely, that model can dominate. (Think of the impact long-term of Goldwater or McGovern, versus the long-term impact of McCain or Kerry).

    1. Agreed. But there’s a third model. Some wingnuts think that Obama is unelectable, so that any Republican nominee would win, even one who doesn’t appeal to moderates. If this were true (hah!), a rational wingnut would support the wingnuttiest primary candidate.

  6. If it’s a brokered convention, and I have felt that for some time now, and the brokered candidate is Jeb Bush, he will unite Republicans. He will also be someone low information voters (independent voters) will more likely embrace, which would spell deep trouble for Obama. So Obama supporters may not want to break out that bottle of champagne at this point…

      1. And a long, bitter struggle up through the convention itself will have trashed the GOP, *and* Jeb would have to start the last 10 weeks of the race from basically a standing start.

        1. Then again, beginning from a standing start may be better than beginning already covered with slime.

    1. Oh, I’m sure one of the Obama campaign’s nightmare scenarios is a brokered campaign that produces another Bush as the candidate. I think everyone on both sides is tired of legacies, which is the reason Jeb hasn’t run, and Obama was able to dispatch Hillary Clinton for the 2008 nomination.

  7. Colorado caucuses are non-binding and the delegates to the state convention may still go for Romney. Crappy weather and icy streets could have kept many people at home last night; these conditions favor the passionate and committed voters who tend to be the wingnuts.

  8. The same dynamic that was at work in the 2008 Republican presidential primary contest is present in 2012, and it will help Obama win in November. What happened in 2008 is that McCain was the most moderate of the candidates in the contest, but given the crazy base of the GOP, as much as he tried to run to the right during the caucuses and primaries he was always the moderate one. But then in the general election, McCain found himself forced to appeal to the crazy base (like picking Palin for his running mate) and had to run to the right instead of the center. Romney is similarly trapped into being the most moderate by default, and try as he might against a field of absolutely unelectable rivals he’s also going to have to appeal to the GOP crazy base in the general election. He’ll of course pick a wingnut VP, probably young, obnoxious and polarizing (hey, Scott Walker would be a fine choice in that regard) and run to the right until November. Obama on the other hand will again tack towards the center like he did in 2008 and win again despite the still recovering economy, because he’ll be making a wider appeal than Romney. About the only hope Romney has is if the economy gets worse, which of course it could but you can be sure the Republicans will spin a negative message relentlessly in hopes of keeping hope down for the count. As effective as negative campaigning can be though, it does take its toll on the campaign that runs on negativity and Romney doesn’t have the likability or even the faux folksiness of Dubya to keep the mud from sticking to him. Obama on the other hand by taking the high road (which he’s been on before he even took office) will look better as a leader in comparison.

    1. Nice bit of analysis! To which I can only add that Romney’s probable loss will simply stoke the crazy base of the GOP even hotter in 2016. They’ll just get crazier until they finally get their dream candidate, and said dream candidate gets under 40 percent of the popular vote. Then they’ll go away for at least a decade.

      1. Agreed, not a whole lot of flexibility in these folks. Long past due for a Barry Goldwater moment for America’s Liberty Free Freedom Warriors. Any luck this’ll also translate into a super majority in the Senate. I very much like how Team Obama is using circumstances to hobble-tie the Recants – the wild cards, of course, being Citizen’s and redistricting. But the White House is certainly putting the boot to the Replutocrats.

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