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.
The 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.)