Mitt Romney 2012 GOP Favorite

Mitt Romney is the frontrunner for the 2012 Republican nomination. Aside from it being Romney's "turn," he's got very strong organization and fundraising capabilities and has demonstrated the ability to get through a campaign without committing major gaffes.

mitt_romneyThe Southern Republican Leadership conference held over the last few days consisted mostly of red meat speeches castigating the treasonous, socialistic Democrats and dastardly Republicans like Tom Coburn, who dared to proffer the idea that Nancy Pelosi was actually a nice lady in person.

At the end of the proceedings, they were asked who they’d vote for if the Republican presidential primary were held today.  Their choices:  Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Gary Johnson, Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, Mike Pence, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum

They picked Romney.  Who had the good sense to skip the whole thing and stay out promoting his new book.

Romney triumphed by a single vote over Ron Paul, who took second place 439 votes to 438. Both men won 24 percent of the vote. Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich essentially tied for third with 18 percent of the vote each. 1,806 ballots were cast by the conservative activists who attended the conference. No other candidate got more than four percent of the vote.

Now, I’m dubious of straw polls, which are easily manipulated. And the fact that Paul came in a close second reinforces my skepticism in this instance. That, and Dave Weigel‘s report that both candidates spent money organizing.

Still, it’s fascinating that these guys finished ahead of Palin and Gingrich, who get rock star treatment at these sorts of gatherings and, indeed, got rock star treatment at this particular gathering. And I continue to think Romney has the clearest path to the 2012 nomination, despite Palin’s status as the Republican that draws the biggest crowds and most excites the base.

I’m not a huge Romney fan.  He’s a sterling manager but he’s too oily for my tastes, giving the impression that he’ll adopt whatever position is politically convenient at the moment.  But I’m far more comfortable with him that with Palin or Huckabee, the 2008 leftovers who seem his most plausible competition.   (I’ve heard good things about Johnson and like Haley Barbour quite a bit but don’t see them as serious contenders for the top of the ticket.)

Aside from it being Romney’s “turn,” he’s got very strong organization and fundraising capabilities and has demonstrated the ability to get through a campaign without committing major gaffes.  Presuming Palin actually runs — which is hardly a given, in that she may well prefer to remain a television celebrity and stay out of the business of having to answer questions from reporters — she and Huckabee cancel each other out in the primaries.  Paul is a great organizer and generates powerful enthusiasm but he’s never going to be anything but a niche player.  Gingrich is interesting but his personal  baggage is so heavy that I just can’t imagine him actually running, much less getting far. And I don’t see anyone else with the ability to jump in, build an organization, and raise enough money to beat the name brands.   (No, I don’t think David Petraeus is running.)

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Herb says:

    I don’t think anyone on the list can beat Obama, least of all Romney. Is it possible a second term is all but assured at this point?

    Interesting that Gary Johnson (by his own admission Ron Paul-lite) was on the list but not Bobby Jindal. No one mentions Jindal as presidential material anymore. Makes me wonder if he ever was in the first place…

    Also interesting that only 3 of the contenders are currently serving in office (Paul, Pawlenty, and Pence)….exactly the same number that work for Fox News (Huckabee, Palin, Santorum).

  2. Herb says:

    Correction: Newt Gingrich is also a “Fox News contributor.”

    So make it: There are more Fox News employees than current office-holders in this straw poll.

    Not sure if this indicates that Fox is becoming the “official Republican network” or if the Republicans are becoming the political wing of Rupert Murdoch’s business empire, but I think the increasing symbiotic relationship between the two entities spells nothing but T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

    (Imagine if 4 out of 9 contenders for Coastal Democrat Leadership Conference were CNN contributors! Yikes!)

  3. Pug says:

    Will Romney explain to us on the campaign trail how the individual mandates in his Massachusetts health care plan are different than the evil individual mandates in Obama’s health care plan? I sure hope so, because I gotta hear this.

  4. steve says:

    If Romney had just run as what I think he really is, granted it is difficult to tell, a moderate Eisenhower type Republican, I could have voted for him. As a governor he was interested in governing, and I had hopes he would do the same as POTUS. Then he went and changed all of his positions so he could please the base. I think that will continue to haunt him.

    Face it James, Palin will be your nominee. Huckabee has crappy organizing skills and he is Palin lite, albeit he did not quit after 2years on the job. Santorum couldnt get elected in PA. I see Palin with maybe Bachman as VP. Enjoy. Lot of foreign policy heft there.


  5. Triumph says:

    The main problem with Romney is that he is not a Christian.

    Palin is the only true American in the race. She comes from the heartland, has presidential campaign experience, and is well-schooled on all of the issues that matter.

    I normally don’t support women as candidates, but she can shoot a gun and skin a bear, so she’s got my vote.

  6. mb says:

    ok a couple of things…..Everyone says Romney changed his stance to fit in or whatever but thats what ALL political figures do. Just a few weeks ago I seriously saw Nancy Pelosi change her stance on something 3 times in 2 days. They ALL do it so dont single out one person for something everyone else does.
    Second, Someone please tell me why Romney isnt a Christian. Not that it matters because he isnt trying to be your pastor, just your president. Im a Mormon and I’m so frickin tired of people who think they know my faith more than I do. The people who talk crap about Mormons are just tards who only repeat what they are told, not people who actually have been to Mormon church services. But I suppose its better to vote for a guy who goes to a radical, white hating, America hating church than to vote for a Mormon right??? Freaking tards

  7. Brett says:

    I pity the GOP if they end up choosing Romney. He’s going to just get crucified in terms of negative campaigning as a flip-flopper. Hell, just look at what McCain’s campaign did with the whole “Tale of Two Mitts” ad in the primaries.

  8. Highlander says:

    Been to the GOP Southern Leadership conference several times. In my experience the majority of the attendees are NOT conservative activists.

    To use an old fashion term, they are “Republican Party Political Hacks”. Whose chief aim in life is attaining some form of political power in an of itself, and for what ever potential monetary gain might come of it.

    The GOP if it ever had a conservative political soul,lost it a long time ago.

  9. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    James it appears you don’t think much of Palin. Your snarky remarks reveal a chauvinist attitude. That, no doubt, is attributable to your pile it higher, deeper degree. You are an expert in theory, at best. Theory is unproven. There is no science to politics yet you hold a degree in same. Only your opinion is revealed here not anything expert or something that cannot be gotten from the Daily Kos. Does the term President Palin scare you?

  10. superdestroyer says:

    One of the legacy’s of having the last two Republican president come from the Bush clan is the total destruction of talent in the Republican Party.

    It seems that the Bush’s planned on ensuring that only people named pushed should have a future as a conservative that managed to make sure that no one has a future as a Republican Candidate.

    I wonder when the white middle class Republican voters will realize that the Republican Party is irrelevant to politics and start voting in the Democratic primary?

  11. UlyssesUnbound says:

    There is no science to politics yet you hold a degree in same.

    But at least he does hold a degree…

  12. An Interested Party says:

    Romney is such a poison pill candidate…I mean, really, are there that many people out there suffering from cognitive dissonance who will take him seriously when he trashes “Obamacare” while he did basically the same thing as governor of Massachusetts? Which leaves the GOP with Sarah Palin…good luck winning a wager on her winning the presidency…

  13. Jay says:

    Romney is, for me, the “over my dead body” Republican candidate. If he gets the nomination, I’ll be horrified, because the Republican has to win 2012 and almost can’t help but win. He gave us Obamacare in Massachusetts way before the fact, and it’s way too similar for comfort. Indeed, that was Scott Brown’s one big handicap; he helped write the RomneyCare plan. Bill Weld was the ideal. After him we went to Bill Weld Lite, then to a female Dan Quayle but without the intelligence or principles, and she got shoved aside by a photogenic snake oil salesman who was only nominally an improvement. That said, since he probably wouldn’t push hard on social conservatism but would be selling and trying to deliver the fiscal conservatism people want these days (hopefully not in the false guise of throwing bones to his buddies in industry, like, say, requiring everyone to buy your product, or financing your better-off-failing company), and he’s actually *managed* before and has meaningful experience, he might be viable in practice. Not that almost anything couldn’t be called viable compared to the current disaster.

  14. Triumph obviously doesn’t know diddly squat about Christianity, or he’d know that the LDS Church is Christian. I mean, the church is called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for heaven sakes. You can’t get much more Christian than that.

    While I have a few misgivings about Mitt Romney, I see no other Republican rising to his level. He looks, talks, and acts Presidential, plus his new book, “No Apologies”, is right on target. You won’t see President Romney jetting all over the world apologizing for our existence and bowing from the waist like Barack Obama does. Obama makes me ashamed to be an American; I just want to crawl inside a hole every time I see him in public.

  15. Merely putting the word “Jesus Christ” in your name doesn’t make you Christian. Muslism believe Jesus Christ was the messiah as well. Does that make them Christian too?

    Mormonism has major theological differences with Christianity on things like the nature of God, eschatology, etc. While it certainly developed from Christianity, I wouldn’t consider a Mormon to be Christian anymore than I would consider a Christian to be Jewish.

  16. My issues with Romney are, well, the issues. It appears that he has no real stance other than getting elected. His religion IMO is a non-point. However it does make me laugh to hear Mormons getting all mad about being told they’re not Christian. Mormons have been telling mainstreams Christians that they’re churches are apostate since day 1. Whats the difference?

    Religion shouldn’t be part of any of this election however LDS and Evangelicals alike will consider it when choosing who to vote for. Unfortunately for Mitt the majority doesn’t like his.

    You know the old saying, “The only thing religions hate more than non-believers? Competing religions.”

  17. Chonguey says:

    The people who talk crap about Mormons are just tards who only repeat what they are told, not people who actually have been to Mormon church services. But I suppose its better to vote for a guy who goes to a radical, white hating, America hating church

    And you are basing your opinion of United Trinity based on all the times you have personally visited it rather than simply just repeating uninformed gossip, right?


    For shame. As a fellow LDS member, I find your defense of LDS criticisms as well as your ad hominem attack on another faith to be weak at best and painfully silly at worse.

    If you don’t want people to engage in unfounded attacks on the LDS church, it is often best not to engage in unfounded attacks on other faiths. I seem to remember Christ preaching about “Doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

  18. reid says:

    “Oily” is a great word for Romney. Prior to the 2008 primaries, I didn’t know that much about him; he had a reputation as a serious MBA-type. (Then again, Bush did in the early days, too.) Then he proved to be a panderer of the highest order. Kerry 2004 had nothing on him. It feels like he’s hired a PR company to do whatever it takes to get him to the presidency. Utterly fake. If he did get elected, I suspect he’d be more tolerable than any other R you’ve mentioned (not sure about Johnson, who was my governor (!)), but I can’t support someone so oily.