Why Mitt Romney Is Stronger Than You Think
Republican leaders seem resigned to a second Obama term. Here's why it's no slam dunk.
Ezra Klein pushes back against the gloom and doom so many Republicans, including “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough, feel about the inevitable nomination of Mitt Romney. Klein’s argument is long but built around four key points:
— The recovery might falter.
— Romney is an underrated politician.
— Romney is unsuited for the primary but suited for the general.
— Romney might go for it.
The last of these, that Romney might decide to go for broke and embrace a truly bold set of policy proposals to shake up the race, strikes me as the least likely. The second and third are almost surely right and most analysts say that the current economic uptick is a mere blip.
Beyond this, though, the more fundamental factor in Romney’s favor is the degree to which the country is divided. Even a Rick Santorum would win a significant number of states. While he’s by no means exciting, Romney isn’t scary and he’s likely to poll within four or five points of the president even if the economy continues to hum along; it’ll be much closer, and perhaps tip the other way, if there’s even a modest dip.
I’ve noted time and again over the past 18 months or so that Obama is likely to be re-elected simply because re-electing the president is America’s default position. And Obama is likable, decent, and otherwise doing nothing to upset that inertia. But the combination of a weak economy, a decent opponent, and the continuing “50-50” political mood means it’ll be a close call.