What Happens To The GOP If Romney Loses?

Some Republicans are beginning to ponder what might happen to their party if Mitt Romney loses in 2012.

Another week coming to a close in which the Romney campaign has fumbled itself from one news cycle to another while failing to really advance anything resembling a coherent agenda, and the prospects of a Romney victory becoming seemingly more unlikely every day. We’ve seen the Romney campaign tripped up over a video in which the candidate privately told donors that he was essentially writing off 47% of the American population despite the fact that he needs a good portion of that 47% to win the election, causing fellow Republicans to distance themselves from him. We’ve seen stories of infighting on the campaign itself, and Republican politicians speaking openly about what they clearly see as a campaign in disarray. The Electoral College outlook is looking even more troublesome than the national polls thanks largely to a series of very unfavorable swing state polls. As if to add emphasis to the wh0le sense of doom and gloom, Tim Pawlenty announced today that he’s leaving the Romney campaign to take a position as the CEO of a financial services industry trade organization. And, as if to make things even worse, the odds that the GOP will take over the Senate have plummeted precipitously in just the past several weeks. While it’s still far too early to say that Mitt Romney will definitely lose, the sense of doom is clearly descending over Boston’s North End, and Republicans, at least some of them, are pondering the consequences of losing to Barack Obama for a second time.

Commenting on a video discussion by David Frum earlier in the week, Rod Dreher endorses the idea that there should be a “civil war” inside the GOP in the event that Romney loses in November:

I agree with David, of course, that there ought to be some very serious reckoning within the party if the Republicans lose the presidency this year. But I thought that in 2008, in the wake of the Bush presidency and the McCain defeat. Nothing happened. Of course, this time the economy is still in the toilet, and Obama is the incumbent. How does a Republican lose in this environment? If the GOP standard bearer does lose, there should be Robespierre-like recriminations.

Here’s the thing, though: if there were a GOP civil war, who would the opposing sides be? The Democratic Leadership Council came into being after the Mondale defeat in 1984, offering new ideas and cultivating new talent for the intellectually moribund Democrats. By the time the Democrats went down to a third straight presidential defeat in 1988, the demoralized party turned to the DLC types … which gave them Bill Clinton.

Where is the Republican version of the DLC?

I actually touched on this issue last November when I pondered, before Republican primary voters had even started voting, what might happen to the GOP if the President were reelected. As I noted at the time, it really boils down to who the nominee would be:

If Romney is the nominee and he loses, it’s likely the reaction will be the same and that, at least, initially we’ll see the activists in the GOP go on another purity quest. On Capitol Hill, this would likely have the impact of making the House GOP even less willing to compromise than it has been since the 2010 elections for fear of facing trouble during the 2014 midterms. The danger this poses for the GOP, of course, is that a re-elected President Obama is likely to have at least some public opinion boost behind him in 2013, as well as the ability to claim a mandate. Another round of obstructionism is only likely to cause the public to further lose faith in Congress as an institution, and could have serious consequences for whatever is left of the GOP majority when the 2014 mid-terms roll around. In short, a reaction by the GOP that sends the party even further to the right and less willing to compromise would be precisely the wrong reaction to disappointing election results in 2012, and one that Republicans would likely come to regret in the end.

I still tend to think that this is the most likely outcome of a Romney loss in November. When Romney picked Paul Ryan as his running mate, I speculated for awhile that a loss by a Romney/Ryan ticket would actually end up hurting the Tea Party agenda to some extent if the reason for the loss was related significantly to Ryan’s Path To Prosperity, and specifically his plans for Medicare reform. Given the fact that Ryan himself has basically said that his plan isn’t the campaign’s plan — although it’s entirely unclear what the campaign’s plan actually is at this point — I don’t think that’s the case anymore.

Faced with a Romney loss, conservatives will argue that they’ve been betrayed again, and I don’t think they’ll be all that eager to support another “moderate” nominee, even though the facts don’t support their “the candidate wasn’t conservative enough” theories:

[T]here’s really no evidence for this argument at all. Dole lost in 1996 because he was running against a popular, telegenic, well-liked incumbent President in time when the economy was booming and was, well, Bob Dole. I’m not sure that a Republican candidate with more personality than Dole would have done any better, but it’s fairly certain that Dole didn’t lose that election because of doubts about his conservative bona fides. John McCain lost because he was a Republican trying to succeed an incredibly unpopular Republican President in the middle of the most several financial crisis in a generation, and because he ran one of the worst campaigns in modern American political history. A better run campaign might have held on to a few of the traditionally Republican states that Obama won that year, but I doubt any Republican could have won that election under the circumstances that existed at the time. If Mitt Romney loses in 2012, it won’t be because isn’t conservative enough, it will be because he didn’t give the American public sufficient reason to fire the incumbent President.

To that I would add that Bush 41 lost in 1992 because the economy was bad, he ran a bad campaign that made him seem completely out of touch with the concerns of the American people, and he was up against one of the best pure campaigners to run for the White House in recent memory. Of course, this is a political battle, and since when have the facts mattered in politics?

More importantly,  it has to be recognized that the scenario I laid out in November is the same one that the GOP has followed after every loss in a Presidential election in the past twenty years. The argument has always been that the reason that the nominee — whether it was Bush 41, Bob Dole, or John McCain — lost is because he wasn’t conservative enough and/or because he ran an incompetent campaign. Notwithstanding his turn to the right this year, the conservative arguments against Mitt Romney still apply, and will be easily remembered on November 7th if he loses. He’s a Massachusetts flip-flopper, they’ll say. He’s not a true conservative, they’ll argue. The script has already been written for them, they just need to take the name McCain out, and insert the name Romney.

The other important thing to remember about the future of the GOP in the wake of a Romney loss is that it is likely to be even more dominated by its most conservative wing than it is now. Regardless of what happens with regard to control of the Senate, the Senate GOP Caucus will be losing people like Richard Lugar and Olympia Snowe and gaining people like Ted Cruz and, most likely, Jeff Flake. Additionally, a significant number of the Tea Party affiliated House freshman elected in 2010 are in generally safe Districts thanks to the fact that many of them defeated Democrats who were already considered conservative to begin with, and thanks to redistricting. Additionally, even if the GOP doesn’t get control of the Senate this time, there’s a better than even chance that they’ll be able to do it in 2014, and the organizations like the Club for Growth are already talking about their target seats for those elections. In other words, the levers of power in the GOP are going to be even more firmly in the hands of the Tea Party and its affiliated groups and their supporters. That seems to me to pretty much guarantee that the the GOP reaction to a loss on November 6th will be to move further to the right.

Daniel Larison seems to disagree that this is the most likely outcome:

One of the more common predictions of what will happen after a Romney loss is that Republicans will convince themselves that they will need a more ideological, more combative candidate in the next election. This could happen, but it seems doubtful for a few reasons. After their 1996 and 1998 losses, Republicans ended up supporting a relative moderate running on a “compassionate” conservative platform for their next nominee. The desire to defeat Gore and indirectly reject Clinton was great enough that winning the election was the most important thing. The same instinct could prevail in 2016. Instead of a more ideological candidate, Republicans might decide that what they need is a “pragmatic” nominee without the baggage of someone like Romney.

I suppose it’s possible, and I don’t doubt that we’ll see the money people who have been behind Romney try to push a Jeb Bush or a Chris Christie in 2016, but we’re not living in the late 1990s anymore. As I noted above, the conservatives are far more powerful inside the GOP than they were back then, and with the advent of the SuperPACs, the money advantages that the GOP’s traditional “big money” provide aren’t quite as big as they used to be. Moreover, after having Romney sold to them this time around I really don’t think the base is going to be quite as eager to accept another one of those pragmatic nominees again. No, I think it’s just as likely that a Romney loss would cause the GOP to veer to the hard right and nominate someone who cannot possibly win in 2016.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. danimal says:

    The DLC example is a poor one. The split within the GOP isn’t between moderates and conservatives; it’s between pragmatists and purists. The entire GOP is aligned with VERY conservative policy positions, the arguments are mostly about tactics. I don’t see it playing out openly in a public setting, but the battles in the background are likely to be brutal.

  2. Fiona says:

    Good post, Doug. I’m forced to reluctantly agree with you, although it’s certainly not my wish to see a Republican party that’s even more deranged than it is now.

  3. Lit3Bolt says:

    Let’s rephrase the question. Instead of, “Will Republicans tack to the hard right in 2016?” let’s ask the following questions.

    Will the Republicans nominate someone who is pro-choice?

    Will the Republicans nominate someone who believes in gay rights?

    Will the Republicans nominate someone who defies the neocons on Iran?

    Will the Republicans nominate someone who thinks that climate change just might be occurring?

    Will the Republicans nominate someone who believes in keeping Obamacare intact?

    Will the Republicans nominate someone who believes we need to cut defense spending?

    Will the Republicans nominate someone who believes in immigration reform and amnesty?

    Will the Republicans cease their war on Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare?

    Will the Republicans nominate someone who thinks that maybe, higher revenue (ie taxes) might solve budget deficits?

    All available evidence points that the answer to all of these questions is “no.”

  4. Ron Beasley says:

    “Will Republicans tack to the hard right in 2016?”

    That should read “Will Republicans tack to the hard crazy in 2016?”

  5. Drew says:

    Your assumptions on polls and fumbling set up your argument.

    In my opinion, you err. This is simply the main stream media narrative.

    This will be an election on fundamental worldviews. I think polling is bogus. 2010 elections are indicative.

    I think the world will be surprised.

  6. Santorum has said that his party doesn’t need smart people or the college educated.

    I don’t need to be mean myself, do I?

    Santorum has identified the split.

  7. Jen says:

    If they go that route (and I see no reason that they wouldn’t) I think the operative phrase is “welcome to permanent minority party status.”

    Tacking further and further right will not help gain people like me back. In fact it further solidifies my position as an independent who (now) leans Democratic.

  8. legion says:

    Regardless of their previous records, the GOP is losing right now because they are running a bad candidate on worse policies. Go look back at the primaries – Cain, Bachmann, Santorum, Perry? That’s a veritable Murderer’s Row of bums. You remember back when all of the pundits were desperately trying to convince other, more competent politicians to come into the race? Mitch Daniels? Bobby Jindal? Those guys were smart enough to know that running against even a moderately popular incumbent is a fool’s game. This is truly the GOP’s “B Team”, and we’ve known it for a long time now.

  9. Ron Beasley says:

    Maybe it will be this guy in 2016:
    Rick Perry Blames Separation Of Church And State On Satan
    I can see it now – Perry /Bachman 2016

  10. David M says:

    @Drew:

    This will be an election on fundamental worldviews. I think polling is bogus. 2010 elections are indicative.

    Polling indicated gains in the Senate and House for the GOP in 2010, so it’s not necessarily biased against Republicans. Why would the polls be right in 2006, 2008, 2010 but not 2012? Secondly, why would an off year election be a good parallel for our current presidential election?

  11. @Drew:

    This will be an election on fundamental worldviews.

    Sure, and here is the worldview that is death:

    The worst of Romney’s now-infamous comments about “the 47 percent” came in this couplet: “My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

    They might have made it with a rich guy, Drew, if that rich guy believed that most people were out there trying. They aren’t going to make it with a guy so insulated and deluded that he thinks half the country is staring on Jersey Shore.

  12. @legion:

    I like “a veritable Murderer’s Row of bums”

  13. Rafer Janders says:

    @legion:

    Those guys were smart enough to know that running against even a moderately popular incumbent is a fool’s game.

    And yet Bill Clinton beat George H.W. Bush in 1992.

  14. mattb says:

    @Drew:

    I think polling is bogus.

    The last, but saddest refuge of the desperate, is to deny the reality around them.

    As @David M if you look at the polls from this same period in 2010 the Republican win was predicted in the data. Were the polls bogus then?

    What about the polls from other past presidential elections at this period? The polls may be incomplete, but they are anything but bogus.

  15. Hoot Gibson says:

    What will happen if the GOP loses?

    Just as James Carville predicted—a Democrat Thousand Year Reich!

  16. Jr says:

    @Drew:This will be an election on fundamental worldviews. I think polling is bogus. 2010 elections are indicative.

    I love when conservatives bring up 2010 as if that is relevant. Democrats are more upbeat about voting thanks to the convention and the demographic make up will be closer to 2008 then 2010, which usually always favors the GOP since their block is more likely to vote.

    Also, polling does matter in late September. There are very few undecided left and people’s minds are all but made up at this point.

    Conservative’s denial about the status of the race is hilarious, if things remain as they are Obama is going to by a comfortable margin.

  17. David M says:

    As far as the GOP goes, I think it’ll depend on how some swing states go. If / when enough swing states look like they are starting with a default position of lean Democratic, then they’ll reconsider.

  18. Anderson says:

    @john personna: My late father, who never quite overcame the racial prejudices of his Mississippi youth, loved watching “Sanford & Son” because in his mind, black people really were like Fred Sanford.

    Maybe Romney has a similar reaction re: Snooki — that’s how the 47% live!

  19. @mattb:

    Hey give him a break. He’s consistent. He doesn’t like climate data either.

  20. mattb says:

    Larison wrote:

    After their 1996 and 1998 losses, Republicans ended up supporting a relative moderate running on a “compassionate” conservative platform for their next nominee. The desire to defeat Gore and indirectly reject Clinton was great enough that winning the election was the most important thing.

    One issue with this is that in 2016, it’s unlikely that a highly visible member of the administration will be running for President. Biden does’t appear to be interested in the position (and would be pretty advanced in age). Ditto Hillary (though that is a possibility).

    That means that whom ever the Democratic front runner will be (and my money is on Cuomo) will not be positioned as the third Obama term. That presents a different problem for Republicans.

  21. @mattb:

    I think Hillary would prefer not to run, but I think she might consider it her duty if it looked like a slam dunk.

  22. Moosebreath says:

    I’ve said in the past when the Democrats lose a Presidential election against a sitting President, they choose a more conservative challenger next time (Mondale was more liberal than Dukakis, who was more liberal than Clinton, Kerry was more liberal than Obama). And when Republicans lose a Presidential election against a sitting President, they choose a more conservative challenger next time (Bush the Younger was more conservative than Dole). I strongly suspect that this will hold true again, and the next Republican nominee will be more conservative than Romney.

  23. Moosebreath says:

    @mattb:

    I am going to disagree with Larison. As I stated above, Dole was considered less conservative than Bush the Younger, as Dole was derided by the Republican base as the Tax Collector for the Welfare State.

  24. mattb says:

    For what it’s worth, I stand by the prediction I made in the comments section of the Larison post. Provided no game changers:

    1. Obama wins reelection, matching if not beating GW’s numbers in his second election.
    2. Prior to Obama’s win, Republican elite will move from hedging against Romney to full out defection.
    3. Post election, the Tea Party (really the populist conservatives) returns with a vengeance and Conservative Inc (i.e. the talkers and bloggers) will take their side against the Elites (because their audience has always been the Tea Partiers).

    The real question is what happens then — do the Elites and party leadership double down on populist conservatism? Or do they finally decide that it’s time move in a different direction? I think a lot will ride on who the next RNC chair is.

    My suspicion is that while Chris Christie isn’t Presidential material, he would be an excellent individual to oversee a return to Rockefeller Republicanism as the RNC Chair. That said, if he gets the position, expect a revolt by the social cons (who are increasingly fed up with the party).

  25. scott says:

    As far as this Republican is concerned, the Republican Party ended years ago when it took on the mantle of George Wallace. I am hoping that 2010 was its high water mark. (Yes, the allusion to Gettysburg is intentional).

  26. OliviaC says:

    It may be that Republicans choose to throw their weight around legislatively. With the Presidency denied, the house and senate is where they plan to negatively stake their claims. They don’t want to govern. It’s beyond their desire or means or both.

    What should be hoped for is Democrats regaining the House and Senate in 2014 so that there can be follow through with plans to move the Country forward. At that point, if successful, you’ll have steady economic growth and the Republicans will be the minority Party they once were.

    I think giving the Democrats the room they need to enact the legislation they assume will make the Nation healthy should be allowed to proceed. Invest in Green energy, really invest. Invest in education, etc.

  27. dennis says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Yes, RJ, because GHWB was no longer popular for two reasons:

    (1) He broke his “No New Taxes” pledge, angering the GOP base (me) who then pretty much cast their votes for Ross Perot;

    (2) After the Gulf War, he seemed to be unable to disengage from a foreign policy focus and adopt a domestic policy emphasis, pissing off everyone else.

    But that’s just how I saw it back then, so it’s only my opinion. I don’t believe you can compare the 1992 incumbent/challenger race to the 2012 incumbent/challenger race because the 2012 challenger is turning out to be . . . oh, nevermind.

  28. mattb says:

    @Moosebreath:

    I strongly suspect that this will hold true again, and the next Republican nominee will be more conservative than Romney.

    There is a school of thought that the Republicans typically nominate the runner-up in the previous Presidential Primary cycle (the good soldier who gave up the campaign in the name of party unity). That would put the spotlight on Rick Santorum.

    I still don’t think any sane party would run Rick Santorum as their candidate. That said, if Romney loses this year, they sanity/health of the Republicans in 2016 will be anyone’s guess.

  29. LC says:

    That “43%” remark might not cause as much damage as pundits think. I surfed into a discussion on one of the cable networks. Some organization played the video for a mixed group (Dems, Reps, Independents) that they usually screen ads for (I think). 24% of the Independents were less likely to vote for Romney; 20% were more likely to vote for him. And 80% said they paid income tax (which feeds into another meme I’ve been following which is that many Americans simply know they pay taxes and it’s all “income” tax).

    Sorry, I can’t give more details. It was just something that caught my eye, and I surfed away when they started to analyze it all.

  30. dennis says:

    Lit3Bolt hit the nail on the head and wins the ‘webs award for today.

    The current GOP has to be aware — it HAS to be — that it MUST change it’s party platform and move away from evangelical Christian meddling. This is a Republic, not a theocracy; people have to live their morals out between themselves and their god. But we all have to live out our ethics between one another and our government.

    If the GOP doesn’t move back to Constitutional ideals (I know I’m gonna get smoked for that one), then, as Fiona said, they’ll be a perpetual minority party. The problem with that is that Democrats will be so gleeful, they’ll start acting like asshats again because there will be no true, effective opposition. And that’s downright frightening, when you think of the ramifications of that.

  31. mattb says:

    @OliviaC:

    What should be hoped for is Democrats regaining the House and Senate in 2014 so that there can be follow through with plans to move the Country forward.

    Without comprehensive fillibuster reform (or a complete change of heart in both parties) the chances of Washington becoming unstuck — regardless of which party is in power — is next to nil.

    If Obama wins and the Democrats retain the Senate, I guarantee that the Republicans will remain in full on obstructionism mode.

    If Obama wins and the Democrats lose the Senate, I expect that the Democratic Senators will start to behave like the Republicans in terms of gumming up the works through abuse of the bylaws.

    If Obama loses and the Democrats lose the Senate, I expect that they will be just as bad, if not worse, than the Republicans will be been for the last four years (especially since the prevailing logic is that a handful of Senators can torpedo a Presidency through inaction… and the Dems will do everything in their power to ensure Romney is a one term president).

  32. dennis says:

    Whoops. Jen made the statement about the GOP being a permanent minority party, not Fiona. Apologies.

  33. Barfour says:

    I don’t see how Jeb Bush will be rejected by the GOP if he ran for his party’s nomination in 2016. He will be the nominee if he rans.

  34. mattb says:

    @dennis:

    The current GOP has to be aware — it HAS to be — that it MUST change it’s party platform and move away from evangelical Christian meddling.

    That’s only part of it – or rather it’ emblematic of the Republican’s larger issue:

    They have to admit that they are now a coalition party. And that the interests of their individual members are increasingly becoming diametrically opposed.

    All of the fractures we have been, and continue to see, are due to this. And as pressure is put on the coalition by outside forces, each section becomes more reactionary — more focused on what it thinks is key. And as that happens, more and more of the fractures become more and more pronounced.

    This has historically been a Democratic Party issue. But its going to be the present/future of the Republicans for a while.

  35. OliviaC says:

    @mattb: Matt, I think Obama comes to a second win, providing he keeps the Senate, with enormous power and he may be the first President not to have much of a lame duck session.

    He’ll have no need to assuage precarious partnerships. In fact, he can test his powers of upping his narrative game.

    It’s impossible for me to know how sound or unsound we are structurally. That’s what will probably be revealed in the next term. But either way, the Republicans, if they don’t learn the art and science of governing, will have a choice between a frenzied atrophy and secession.

    It isn’t just the social issues, Republicans, as the Convention showed, are quite an alienated lot. In my opinion, it’s bone deep.

  36. @dennis:

    This is a Republic, not a theocracy; people have to live their morals out between themselves and their god. But we all have to live out our ethics between one another and our government

    That is the fight as Santorum sees it too. I don’t think he thinks he’s chosen the losing side.

    (I wouldn’t lay bets one way or the other for the next election cycle or two. I might be an optimist enough to think republic will be chosen over theocracy long term … but who knows what that BPA is really doing to us.)

  37. mattb says:

    @OliviaC:
    Unfortunately history tells us otherwise. Remember the the 2004 election cycle ended with the winner announcing:

    “I earned capital in this campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it,” Bush told reporters. “It is my style.”

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/Bush-claims-mandate-sets-2nd-term-goals-I-2637116.php#ixzz2733yIQDF

    BTW, for what it’s worth, at that time conservative partisans also predicted that Bush would be able to take advantage of that power to avoid a “lame duck” administration. See http://mediamatters.org/research/2004/11/04/media-echoed-conservative-claim-on-bush-mandate/132246 and http://mediamatters.org/research/2008/11/04/in-2008-will-media-recall-2004-declarations-of/146033 for roundup of some of the better predictions from post election celebratory editorials.

  38. michael reynolds says:

    I suspect guys like James Joyner intend to save the party. I very much doubt that will work. It’s less an ideological party and more just an old white people’s party. It’s heavily branded as dumb and old. Like Oldsmobile. It’s very hard to salvage ‘old, dumb, all white.’

  39. Tsar Nicholas says:

    What Happens To The GOP If Romney Loses?

    That is the $64,000 question, isn’t it? And it’s a good one. Worthy of consideration and rumination.

    First off, despite the best wishes to the contrary of the media-academe-union cabal, if Romney loses that does not mean the GOP will go the way of the Dodo. It’s a two-party system. In a two-party system it’s impossible for one party not to be relevant. Besides, even if Romney loses, and even if the GOP has a horrible night down ticket, they’ll still nevertheless end up with a significant majority in the House. near parity in the Senate, and a substantial majority of the state governorships, including most of the big states. It’s not 1993 anymore, much less 1977.

    For the presidency, however, a Romney loss would be a major problem for the GOP and by extension for the country. Because a Romney loss would means another (self-destructive) primary competition next cycle, which in recent years has degenerated into an embarrassing clown circus act and invariably, in light of the bad demographics of the GOP primary selectorate, will get bogged down in pissing matches about abortion, contraception, deportations, vaccines, precious metals, and other tripe. It’s not unreasonable if Romney loses to envision the Democrat candidate winning the ’16 presidency, essentially by default. That in turn would mean a likely Democrat presidency all the way to Jan. 2025. That pretty much would finish off the country’s finances along with the SCOTUS and the lower federal courts, which in turn pretty much would finish off any real hope for the nation.

    So a lot is at stake. There are several layers of irony. That so much rides on the shoulders of a blue blooded Mormon really is amazing if you think about it. That said blue blooded Mormon possesses all the “charisma” of a mannequin makes it all the more stark and all the less comforting.

  40. swbarnes2 says:

    27% of the country is pretty much insane, driven largely by their incredible bigotry. How can politicians ignore such a huge % of the electorate? But the victims of that bigotry are even more numerous, and that’s where the Dems are, and have been for a few decades. So Republicans have to go after the crazy 27%. They have no choice at all. That 27% will decrease eventually, but not any time soon. It will be the Republican base for decades to come, and that is going to drive Republican’s proposed policies, and drive them away from what rational people want, at least at the national level.

  41. A says:

    @Drew:

    How do you answer for the fact that 2010’s electorate looked nothing like the normal electorate that turns out in Presidential elections?

    The only thing 2010 is indicative of is that when democrats don’t show up to vote they lose.

  42. grumpy realist says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Why you think that the Republicans would be any better at getting us back onto a sound fiscal footing is beyond me.

    Look at who ran up the US debt on the credit card for two wars and the doughnut hole in Medicare and then get back to us.

  43. grumpy realist says:

    @Drew: As I said in another thread, if you are convinced that the polls are All Wrong, then you are in a splendid position to make oodles of money off of InTrade, which has at present Romney’s chances of winning at roughly 30%.

    As such a fantastic financial genius, I’m surprised you haven’t already sold all your assets and invested in something that is such a sure winner.

    Unless you don’t actually believe that Romney is in fact, going to win.

    So tell us, Drew, how much have you invested in InTrade so far?

  44. gVOR08 says:

    @mattb: @Barfour: What’s Jeb’s slogan going to be? “Third Times the Charm”, “Hey, What are the Odds of Three in a Row?”, “George Who?”

    No sane party would nominate Jeb. However, as Matt B points out, we may not be talking about a sane party.

  45. grumpy realist says:

    (to everyone else: sorry for the snark, but Drew pisses me off. He’s continually attempting to throw around his weight in arguments claiming authority to his self-proclaimed financial genius, but we never see any evidence of said financial acumen. As said, EVERYONE’S Ron Johnson on the internets. So here’s a case where he can put his money where his mouth is.)

  46. OliviaC says:

    @mattb: I don’t think Obama’s situation can be credibly compared to Bush’s at all.

    I’m not predicting no warfare what I’m saying is that if President Obama is at all conscious of his legacy, he will make the most of having few rhetorical constraints.

    It’s not really just about jobs. And it’s not just about money as this election will probably prove. It’s about the New Deal Nation we are and the ability and desire to advance it. The private sector or the free-market (to my knowledge there has never really been such a thing) will be allowed to lose its sacrosanctity. It will have to adapt.

    With a second term, President Obama has the opportunity and the means to make life for Republicans a lot harder. And stung by a loss that they have convinced themselves they were morally entitled not to lose will make them enter into a state more likely to further their disordered worldview.

    President Obama is not a man I voted for nor will I vote for him in this election. I really don’t want an IPAB capable of possessing supra-congressional power. I want sane reform brought to the nation through bi-partisan means. But I don’t dislike Obama. And I’m willing to give the Democrats a shot at full power to enact legislation according to their means and expertise.

  47. Doubter4444 says:

    @john personna:
    Laugh if you want – but i think it’s Clinton’s to turn down, but if not, it’s Huntsman changing parties and he either goes VP or P with Cuomo has his partner, depending on the economy.

    Cuomo/Huntsman (D) 2016

  48. legion says:

    @Rafer Janders: As Dennis points out, Bush the Elder had lost a lot of momentum when he was coming up for re-election. Obama’s in no better a position, frankly, which is why a _competent_ GOP challenger would legitimately have a shot at unseating him. But Romney is no Bill Clinton.

  49. Rick Almeida says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    And yet Bill Clinton beat George H.W. Bush in 1992.

    Remember, Clinton won with only 44% of the popular vote. Ross Perot got 19%. The unit rule of the Electoral College really worked in Clinton’s favor.

  50. David M says:

    Assuming Obama is re-elected and the Dems gain seats in Congress, a number of things will happen between now and 2014/2016 that probably won’t be helpful to the GOP if they continue their obstruction.

    1) The economy will likely improve, and the Democrats and Obama will probably get more credit.
    2) Obamacare will be implemented and the world will not end.
    3) Immigration reform will continue to favor the Democrats, and the voting share of minorities will continue to increase, leading to
    4) Missouri continuing to trend Republican while AZ/TX join New Mexico in trending more Democratic.

    The combination of those could start to force changes in the GOP, but I’m not holding my breath.

  51. Jen says:

    @dennis: No worries. I like the name Fiona.

  52. ozarkHillbilly says:

    Tim Pawlenty announced today that he’s leaving the Romney campaign to take a position as the CEO of a financial services industry

    Wait a minute… let me get this straight…. Financial SERVICES is an industry?????????

    I want to see the dirt under their fingernails.

  53. Jen says:

    @Moosebreath:

    I strongly suspect that this will hold true again, and the next Republican nominee will be more conservative than Romney.

    The question then is: which Romney? The moderate Governor of MA, or the 2012 presidential candidate, who tacked hard to the right to appease the more conservative elements of the party?

    I’m not being sarcastic–I’m serious. The problem with Romney is that no one in the electorate knows which one is really the one running in this election.

  54. DRE says:

    @legion: As Dennis points out, Bush the Elder had lost a lot of momentum when he was coming up for re-election. Obama’s in no better a position,…

    There was one really big difference. Bush Sr. was running for a 4th GOP term while Obama is running for only a second Dem term.

  55. ozarkHillbilly says:

    Of course, this is a political battle, and since when have the facts mattered in politics?

    C’mon Doug. you are now bailing out of a plane that you are not even flying upon. Either facts matter…. or they matter. (if they don’t…. I should stop reading you)

  56. I think I’m seeing more hurt being put on the “talk radio wing nut” crazy machine than many of you.

    The key embarrassment for pausing, thinking, calculating, conservatives has to be that the inmates are running the asylum. Sure, the inmates might try convince themselves and the party that they just need to be crazier next time, but I think they are going to get stern and early push-back. That will be the key fight, and then we’ll see what comes out of it.

    IMO it will be a more professionally run party, or another wave of “why I left the GOP” essays.

  57. Woody says:

    Exceptional piece, Doug. I think your analysis is astute.

    Much of the 2016 election will hinge on whether or not the economy improves enough (specifically in regards to jobs) – and also whether or not the electorate finds the ACA to be working well enough for them personally.

    If these two items hold, the GOP candidate will be faced with a bit of a quandary. Yes, it’s a big ‘if’.

  58. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Doubter4444:

    Sorry, but I really don’t see this. What about Huntsman policy wise makes him a Democrat? He’s very, very conservative in almost all issues–he’s just pragmatic, and sane on things like climate change.

  59. sam says:

    @Drew:

    This will be an election on fundamental worldviews.

    God knows Romney has a plethora “fundamental worldviews” he can draw on.

  60. wr says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: “There are several layers of irony.”

    Apparently the Tsar has tired of declaring that everything is equivalent to the sun rising in the east, and has now decided that everything is “ironic.” Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to have a single clue as to what that word actually means.

  61. Anonymous says:

    Clinton won because of Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich . Bush 41 campaigned on “read my lips; no new taxes”. This was because, popular myths aside, Regan deficit spent like crazy and raised taxes a number of times. Regan left us with a huge national debt and a weak economy. This no new taxes pledge was to convince Americans that he would not be another Regan. After being in office for some time and with the economy weakening, Bush decided that we needed stimulus. He wanted to make a deal to raise taxes and spend it on infrastructure. Rush Limbaugh and Newty Gingrich hammered him to death for violating the no new tax pledge. This ruined him for ditto heads and newt trolls and cost him the votes that may have lead to his winning. In other words, Newt and Rush got Clinton elected then whined about it for the next eight years. Does this dynamic seem familiar today?

    As a footnote, for the Regan deficit we got a wealth of technology from government funded research on Star Wars which we are still benefiting from today and we got the end of World communisim. Obviously, deficit spending is never worthwhile. Also, as I recall, the Bush stimulus was all real stimulus, that is, infrastructure and not the bullshit people try to pass of for stimulus today like digitizing medical records, ObamaCare, or tax cuts. He was also fiscally responsible, paying for the spending with new revenues.

  62. Stephen1947 says:

    Wick Allison at The American Conservative asks: Could the GOP Lose the House?

    One can only hope. And donate to non-Blue Dog Dem candidates, and maybe help get out the vote…

  63. anjin-san says:

    And yet Bill Clinton beat George H.W. Bush in 1992.

    Well, Clinton is one of the great political talents of our time, and Romney is… Romney.

  64. An Interested Party says:

    Your assumptions on polls and fumbling set up your argument.

    In my opinion, you err. This is simply the main stream media narrative.

    This will be an election on fundamental worldviews. I think polling is bogus. 2010 elections are indicative.

    I think the world will be surprised.

    All of this from someone who claims to be a successful economic tycoon…do such people really make their great fortunes if they live in a deluded cocoon that makes them think like Jan or Florack…

    That pretty much would finish off the country’s finances along with the SCOTUS and the lower federal courts, which in turn pretty much would finish off any real hope for the nation.

    Oh please…really? If eight years of George W. Bush didn’t finish off the country’s finances, nothing will…I would guess that you have never realized the irony of how you think you are sharing some great political insight when you are actually spouting inane, clichéd projection and nonsense…

    First off, despite the best wishes to the contrary of the media-academe-union cabal…

    This ties in rather nicely with this…

    27% of the country is pretty much insane…

  65. @Drew:

    2010 elections are indicative.

    Two problems:

    1) If you are using 2010 as a means of rejecting polls you have to deal with the fact that the 2010 polls showed serious Democratic weakness. The Republicans taking the House in 2010 was not a surprise.

    2) You have to recognize that the turnout in a midterm is very different from that of a general election. The 2012 electorate will look more like that of 2008, rather than that of 2010.

  66. Antodav says:

    There will be a civil war in the GOP when Romney loses, but it will not be the hard right that takes over forcing someone who is “unelectable” to become the nominee in 2012. Romney was unelectable to begin with, because of his wishy-washy “moderate” tendencies which did not represent a serious shift away from Barack Obama. What will happen, God willing, is that the GOP establishment will collapse after this election. Then the single most powerful, rapidly growing, and influential force in the GOP will fill the vacuum and take over the party. Of course, you ignored them as a factor completely in your article, because establishment Republicans like you like to pretend they don’t exist, as was clearly evidenced at the convention a few weeks ago. But they do. And they are growing. And they are not going anywhere. They are the future of the Republican Party, whether you like it or not. I am speaking of course of the libertarians.

  67. Jc says:

    Hopefully if they lose they return to socially moderate and fiscally conservative, rather than the current socially medieval and fiscally insane. An old moderate Mitt would have won, not sure what happened to that guy

  68. jan says:

    @Drew:

    “This will be an election on fundamental worldviews. I think polling is bogus. 2010 elections are indicative.

    I think the world will be surprised.”

    It bears repeating. Yea, Drew!

  69. Hal 10000 says:

    Regarding conservative purity: they seem to forget that George W. Bush won twice running a centrist campaign. Remember “compassionate conservatism” and all that? The public simply isn’t going to elect a rockhead conservative like Santorum.

    However, I think the nominee in 2016 will almost certain be a moderate. This year, if any, was the year for the GOP to put in a purist. But while the GOP leading lights and base want that, the bulk of the voters shied away and went for Romney. They have always shied away from guys like Santorum or Pat Robertson or Pat Buchanan and toward guys like Bob Dole, John McCain and Mitt Romney. So the pundits can fume and fulminate all they want. In 2016, it’s going to be someone like Chris Christie or Tim Pawlenty or Mitch Daniels (who are very conservative, but not purists).

  70. Al says:

    @Jc:

    Social conservatives are an awful combination of being the kind of people who want to stick their noses in everyone else’s business and a fairly monolithic voting block. We won’t be seeing the end of them any time soon.

  71. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Moosebreath: “…and the next Republican nominee will be more conservative than Romney. ”

    That may not really be a high bar to jump over. Every one of the “not Romneys” was more conservative than Mitt–which is exactly Doug’s point, it seems to me.

  72. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @john personna: “The key embarrassment for pausing, thinking, calculating, conservatives has to be that the inmates are running the asylum.”

    And who might these pausing, thinking, calculating conservatives, in fact, be?

  73. Ed in NJ says:

    @Drew:

    This clown here reveals the most likely result of Romney losing. You can already hear it coming. The media was in the tank for Obama and skewed the polls, forcing Romney off message and demoralizing the base. So the obvious answer is to throw Romney under the bus for being a poor candidate, and double down on the crazy.

  74. michael reynolds says:

    @jan:

    Yay! Yay!

    Winning!

  75. michael reynolds says:

    You know how screwed Romney is right now? My biggest concern is that he’ll start to get a pity vote.

    The important thing for Democrats to emphasize is that as pathetic, inept, clumsy, goofy, ridiculous, frankly stupid and jaw-droppingly incompetent Mr. Romney obviously is, it’s not endearing. He’s really quite a nasty cwnt of a human being.

  76. superdestroyer says:

    The question is not what the GOP will do in the future since the GOP and conservatives in general have become irrelevant to politics.

    The only question is what will the Democratic Party when no longer restrained by the the idea that they could lose a significant number of elections.

    I would guess that the party platform of the Green Party http://www.gp.org/committees/platform/2010/index.php is probably a good template of where policy and governance are headed in the U.S. Of course, the question then becomes how does the U.S. afford all of the entitlements that the Democrats will be giving to people while the private sector is shrinking.

  77. Murray says:

    @superdestroyer: “…since the GOP and conservatives in general have become irrelevant to politics”

    Sure. Control of the House, a blocking minority in the Senate and a majority of governorships are unmistakable signs of irrelevancy.

  78. superdestroyer says:

    @Murray:

    Even though the Republicans have a majority in House for the near future, the demographic changes of the U.S. will eventually eliminate it. In addition, even in a time of bad economic conditions, it looks like 2012 will be the third election in a row that not one Democratic incumbent in the Senate will lose their re-election bid. When Democratic Party incumbents face no threat to losing re-election bids, it should be obvious how irrelevant that the Republican Party has become.

    The Republicans are totally incapable of passing any legislation that will be passed and even in the past when Republicans were capable of passing legislation, the bills were so badly written that it is very easy for the Democrats to ignore them (See DOMA as a perfect example).

    There is no scenario that leads to the Republicans have any real effect on policy or governance in the future. The only purpose that the Republicans serve these days is a speed bump that barely slows down what the Democrats are doing. So, the long term question is not what the irrelevant, demographically doomed Republicans will do in the future but what the Democrats will do in the future when more than 50% of the voters will be automatic Democratic Party voters.

  79. sam says:

    @jan:

    It bears repeating. Yea, Drew!

    Michael Gerson in today’s Post fixed Drew and Co. in amber:

    [A] Republican ideology pitting the “makers” against the “takers” offers nothing. No sympathy for our fellow citizens. No insight into our social challenge. No hope of change. This approach involves a relentless reductionism. Human worth is reduced to economic production. Social problems are reduced to personal vices. Politics is reduced to class warfare on behalf of the upper class.

    A few libertarians have wanted this fight ever since they read “Atlas Shrugged” as pimply adolescents. Given Romney’s background, record and faith, I don’t believe that he holds this view. I do believe that Republicans often parrot it, because they lack familiarity with other forms of conservatism that include a conception of the common good.

    But there really is no excuse. Republican politicians could turn to Burkean conservatism, with its emphasis on the “little platoons” of civil society. They could reflect on the Catholic tradition of subsidiarity, and solidarity with the poor. They could draw inspiration from Tory evangelical social reformers such as William Wilberforce or Lord Shaftesbury. Or they could just read Abraham Lincoln, who stood for “an unfettered start, and a fair chance, in the race of life.”

    Instead they mouth libertarian nonsense, unable to even describe some of the largest challenges of our time.

  80. Fiona says:

    @jan and drew: I bet that if the polls showed Romney ahead that they wouldn’t be irrelevant.

  81. @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    And who might these pausing, thinking, calculating conservatives, in fact, be?

    They kind of self-identified after the LIbya crisis. The people who knew (and esp. could say) the next morning how bad Mitt’s “gotcha” attempt was, were pausing and thinking.

  82. mattb says:

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Rather than snarking at @Drew & @jan, I suggest we all use Dr Taylor’s reply from a different thread:

    This will be easily settled in just over a month.

    I will graciously acknowledge the error of my ways should it prove that the polling ends up to be wildly out of sync with reality.

    Will you do the same if your rejection of the polling ends up to have been incorrect?

    What do you think @Jan and @Drew? Are you going to admit if you were wrong?

  83. @mattb:

    Rather than snarking at @Drew & @jan …

    I think the extreme down-voting is pretty mean. Be magnanimous in (likely) victory.

  84. C. Clavin says:

    We (the American people) elected George Bus twice.
    Given that Romney is likely to still win.
    The question is what happens to the Republican party then???

  85. Neil Hudelson says:

    @john personna:

    Agreed. I frankly don’t understand it. Drew posted a simple opinion. Is it an opinion I disagree with? Yes. But he didn’t attack any commentor, any candidate, or even any ideology. He, essentially, just stated that he hopes Romney wins.

    And for that he gets dozens of down votes?

  86. Rob in CT says:

    @Antodav:

    Funny, considering that Doug is a Libertarian who will be voting for Gary Johnson in the general.

    As for the topic… I have no idea. In 2008, after the GOP had lost elections in 2006 (mid-terms, obviously different than a Presidential election year) and 2008, I really thought they would moderate. I was completely wrong.

    Therefore, it’s tempting to say “oh, they’ll double down, for sure.” But I was wrong last time, so I could easily be wrong this time.

    Part of me wants them to double-down. Part of me is very worried they will (for a variety of reasons, including those articulated by Dennis).

  87. mattb says:

    @Neil Hudelson:
    I’m not a big fan of downvoting and didn’t downvote either @Drew or @Jan.

    However I suspect that Drew’s down votes are due to mostly to “I think polling is bogus.” It’s one thing to support Romney. It’s another to shrilly deny reality.

  88. haha, I’ll assume a few of those recent down-votes were ironic.

  89. @mattb:

    I suspect that Drew’s down votes are due to mostly to “I think polling is bogus.”

    This would be my interpretation as well.

  90. @Steven L. Taylor:

    I pull the trigger on up and down votes according to 617 internal rules, often conflicting. I didn’t down vote Jan or Drew though because:

    Rule 282: A comment like “I think polling is bogus” is self-refuting and needs no vote.

    Rule 618: When all they’ve got is weak dissent in the face of an onslaught, give ’em a break.

  91. mattb says:

    On the topic of “bogus polls” if you plug the current electoral college polling from Rasmussen (and only Rasmussen) into the RCP electoral college tool, you end up with the following results:
    Obama/Biden – 313
    Romney/Ryan – 225

    Here’s Rasmussen’s latest Electoral College Map.

    Anyone want to argue about oversampling or bogusness from Rasmussen?

  92. Speaking of polls, Dylan Matthew has some good stuff on “the undecideds” here

    They found that the results have remained remarkably stable. Of those who originally said they’d vote for Obama, 2 percent have switched to Romney and 2 percent have become undecided. Of those who originally said they’d vote for Romney, 3 percent switched to Obama and 3 percent switched to undecided.

    So the “undecided” count has stayed pretty constant at 6 percent. It’s just a different group of people each week.

    That sounds much more reasonable than the idea that there are firm camps, without defectors, and then some steadfastly undecided.

    See also “marginally attached voters.”

  93. Eric Florack says:

    What happens to the GOP? A fair question.

    The answer is that the GOP is forced to do one of two things ; either offer genuine conservatives as nominees for office and support them, instead of trying to chase the mythical center, or cease to exist.

  94. Bobloblaw says:

    I’ve read more than a few posts claiming the economywill be better in 2016 than it is now, which helps the democrats. Problem is this: By June 2016, the expansion will be entering its 8th year . there have 10 business cycles since 1945. Only three of them lasted 8 years. The average was only 5 years. There will be another recession before nov 2016.

  95. Bobloblaw says:

    @Lit3Bolt: Why have a GOP if they meet ALL your conditions?

  96. @Barfour: Because the best strategy ever! for getting the citizenry to forget the national and international nightmare that was the Bush 43 Presidency is to run a guy named Bush. Prepare to run against that ghastly legacy for at least a generation.