The Romney Myth
One thing I’ve noted in passing several times on OTB Radio but haven’t posted upon here is my bewilderment that Mitt Romney continues to be treated by the media the other Republican contenders as a First Tier Candidate. In fact, he’s a distant fourth and within the margin of error of Newt Gingrich. His fundraising efforts have been dismal, saved only by his ability to continually lend his campaign millions out of his own pocket.
Here is where the race is today:
Here are the trend lines:
Despite all this, WaPo’s Chris Cillizza recently pronounced Romney the odds-on favorite to win the nomination.
Romney continues to sit in the cat bird’s seat for the nomination. Romney has built the strongest Iowa organization and if McCain is reduced to second tier status in the contest, Romney’s chances in the New Hampshire primary will rise. If Romney can emerge victorious in Iowa and New Hampshire, he will be extremely hard to beat.
Professional pollster Charles Franklin, examining the trend lines of the major candidates (as discussed in my previous post) mentions “the rising candidacies of Romney (in IA and NH) and Fred Thompson (nationally and in FL and SC).”
While Romney is technically rising, his share of support remains negligible nationally. He’s gone from 6.9% in February to 9.9% in July.
Now, it’s true that he is doing well — leading in fact — in Iowa and New Hampshire. But even Cillizza admits that Romney’s “the only major Republican candidate on the airwaves” and that “the race isn’t yet engaged” in those states. Indeed, Giuliani and McCain have simply written Iowa off.
Traditionally, winning Iowa and New Hampshire created momentum that was nearly impossible to overcome. With the race so frontloaded, though, I’m dubious that this will matter at all.
The fact that Romney has been considered a frontrunner from the beginning of the race — being part of the infamous “Rudy McRomney” that conservatives have been struggling to find an alternative to — yet remains an afterthought in the polls and seems unable to raise money from people not named Romney would indicate that he’s stuck in the second tier. He has somehow managed to ward off that conclusion.