Romney’s “Core Constituency”
August 29th, 2011

Ross Douthat seems in danger of jumping on the Romney meat-wagon. He writes that despite Rick Perry’s position, Romney should not panic because “Romney doesn’t have to worry about any of the rival candidates making a play for his core supporters.”

We’re going to hear this argument a lot in the coming months from Romney partisans as they try to argue that something they would like to happen is, in fact, likely to happen. It’s worth taking this pundit fallacy apart now because it gets to the nub of why I’ve been insisting for four years that Romney is a non-starter as a political commodity—it’s precisely because he has no core supporters. Which is why he is not very good at winning elections.

Let’s revisit Romney’s campaigns:

1994: MA Senate Republican primary: Romney 82%, John Lakian 18%

1994: MA Senate general election: Ted Kennedy 58%, Romney 41%

2002: MA Gubernatorial Republican primary: Romney runs unopposed

2002: MA Gubernatorial general election: Romney 50%, Shannon O’Brien 45%

2006: MA Gubernatorial primary: trailing in polls for the general election to Deval Patrick—a guy who’d never run for anything before—Romney declines to seek reelection. I’ll count this as a loss; you might be more charitable.

2007: Presidential primaries: I won’t go state-by-state, but here’s the breakdown: Romney won only three states where the vote was a straight-up primary. Each of these wins was in a place where he had enormous legacy advantages: Michigan, where his father had been governor; Massachusetts, where he had been governor; and Utah, which is overwhelmingly Mormon. (He also won 8 caucus states, though the organizing rules there are much less indicative of electoral strength.)

On other side of the ledger, Romney lost primaries in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, California, Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, and Maryland. (He also lost a bunch of caucus states, but we won’t count those against him since we’re discounting his caucus wins.)

Which means that in the 2008 cycle he went 3-16.

Combine that with the rest of his runs and you get a 17-year career record of 5-18. I don’t think you could find any other figure in politics who has run this far below the Mendoza line and still managed to get taken seriously as a presidential candidate. In fact, the only reason Romney gets taken seriously is his money. Strip away the $500M treasure room and the willingness to blow large chunks of his kids’ inheritance, and he’s Ron Paul without the ideological moorings and grassroots support.

But I’d argue that his electoral prospects are even worse than they look from his won-loss record. Here’s why:

(1) Romney made his political career out of his “close” 17-point loss to Ted Kennedy. But keep in mind that to only lose by 17, he spent $7M of his own money. But more importantly, this was the 1994 midterm election—so he got blown out during the biggest Republican wave in half a century.

(2) The high-point of his electoral career was the 2002 MA governor’s race, where he took 49.77%. Even in the biggest win of his life, he couldn’t capture more than 50% of the vote.

(3) It’s funny that Romney’s line of attack on Perry seems to be that Perry is a “career politician” because he’s been in elective office since 1984. Well, Mitt Romney would have been a career politician too, if only voters would have let him. He’s been running since 1994. His real gripe about Perry is actually, “Hey, that guy wins all the time! No fair!”

(4) Each of Romney’s previous electoral “successes” came with him occupying a different political space:

Romney 1.0 (MA senate) was Different Kind of RepublicanTM.

Romney 2.0 (MA governor) was a competent technocrat, ready to fix Massachusetts.

Romney 3.0 (the 2008 presidential cycle) was a rock-ribbed conservative you couldn’t get to the right of.

Romney 4.0 is a sane, moderate, establishment Republican. (Romney 4.1 seems to have installed an Emotion Engine mod which allows him to show anger. Who knows what updates the engineers will push out if Romney falls into third place.)

Because of all these opposing political personas, I suspect that the Venn diagram of Romney voters over the years would probably show four distinct, small circles. And very little overlap.

Douthat says that “The greatest danger to Romney’s candidacy — the thing that could destroy him long before the voting even started — has always been that a more appealing establishment candidate would enter the race.” But that’s not right at all. The greatest danger to Romney’s candidacy is that he has no constituency because he’s not very good at campaigning and, as the electoral results of the last 17 years have shown, voters don’t like him very much. The danger to the Romney candidacy is the candidate.

At the end of the day, the only committed Romney voters out there are his co-religionists (see the 2007 Utah primary where he took 89% of the vote) and people who have written books about him.

On this last score, I’d remind readers of what Hugh Hewitt wrote on September 13, 2007:

“The third quarter fundraising is coming to an end, and so has Fred Thompson’s honeymoon, leaving one of three people as George Bush’s successor–Senator Clinton, Mayor Giuliani, or Governor Romney.”

Just something to keep in mind.

Post script: I don’t hate Romney, by the way. I bet he’s a great guy. Would love to have him as a neighbor or to share a decaf iced tea with him. For all I know, he might even make a very good president. My point is that he’s a terrible campaigner and that, over and over again, voters have been unwilling to pull the lever for him. And that’s what ultimately matters for politicians.

  1. What Happened to the Competence Primary? | FrumForum August 29, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    […] Last argues that Mitt Romney has not been a very effective candidate over his 17 years of office-seeking: [I] in […]

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  3. Fake Herzog August 29, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    One of these days I’m going to write a long blog post on David Frum, who I personally like, but who I think since leaving “National Review” has been trying to figure out what he stands for politically.

    Frum says you make good points in this post, but then says this concerning a candidate’s need for competence vs. a track record of getting elected:

    “Does he absorb and process information intelligently? Does he have a good sense for distinguishing truth from flim-flam? Does he surround himself with capable people? Does he demand results and enforce accountability? How does he react to (inevitable) failures?

    By these criteria, Romney shows the makings of a successful president. Rick Perry – not so much.”

    Why does Frum come to this conclusion? He doesn’t say. Meanwhile, anyone who studies Perry’s record as Governor of Texas knows he has surrounded himself with capable people, has demanded results and enforced accountability, and has dealt with failures (I have no idea how he “absorbs and processes information”, but I doubt David does either). There is no way he’d get elected three times (and before that multiple times to state-wide office) if he wasn’t an effective Governor. Check out the super-cute Erica Grieder for more information on the specifics. So what is David’s specific complaint with Perry’s record?

    Finally, what is the deal with the commenters over at the FrumForum website? As far as I can tell, David has succeeded in attracting lukewarm Republicans and Democrats who like to gloat the conservatives are fools. What is he up to over there?!?

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  5. Dr.Dre'del August 29, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    Fake Herzog, I can only speak for myself (as a frequent visitor and poster to Frum’s site), but my impression is that we feel that Frum is one of the last conservatives who is able to examine the Right critically, and call them on where they have lost their marbles. Granted, these days these marbles are hard to locate, but I think you should be careful not to conflate “conservatives” with modern GOP voters. They are not one and the same. I consider myself a very conservative person on many issues, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to suddenly up and deny evolution… that’s not “conservative”… that’s just stupid.
    There are indeed many left leaning people there, but the vast majority of the posters have rational, educated, intelligent people, interested in an interesting conversation. It’s hard to find that these days. Most blogs have either virulent and hyperbolic yelling or ditto-heads agreeing with one another.

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  7. John from Texas August 30, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    I agree that most blogs have “virulent” “ditto heads” spewing what they themselves have read elsewhere. But, where pray tell did you obtain the right to speak so incorrectly of Perry’s views of Creation? He DID NOT say that he did not believe in evolution. He said it one of the “theories out there”. That is not a denial but a rational statement as any paleontologist will tell you that the fossil record is incomplete and the gaps are huge in it. Also, if one were to deny evolution as unprovable, that might not mean that they deny “adaptation”. The two are not the same. Lastly, there are many people of faith who know that God would not put a fossil record here to deceive mankind. The Deceiver is the “other guy” ol’ Bub. There is room in the biblical account for evolution if that was how God wanted to do it. The real problem for evolutionists is their denial of God. They refuse to acknowledge recent astrophysical and subatomic research that continually points to “intelligent design”. Thus they use the scientific equivalent cry of “racist” when they claim someone to be “ill informed” or “one of the religious fundamentalists” inferring intellectual ineptitude.

    I believe in Intelligent Design. You sir cannot refute it. You do your own argument damage when you self righteously dismiss those who disagree with your unprovable assumptions. Mr. Perry is not dumb. He comes from a culture in which you would be a dunce. I doubt you would survive for long if you had to forage, hunt, and plant for food, clothing and shelter.

    I think Mr. Perry is far more experienced in life and in values that most candidates. He is relevant for these times if he will adhere to his conservative principles and eschew government largesse.

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  9. Dr.Dre'del August 30, 2011 at 9:36 pm


    I think you misunderstood me. I wasn’t implying anything at all about Perry’s position on evolution (or anything else). I was explaining what posters on FrumForum’s motivations are… or more precisely what my own motivations are… I do suspect they reflect the majority of the posters there.
    I have exactly 0 interest in arguing about intelligent design. This was precisely my point, actually. There are plenty of topics that are well worth discussing. Whether or not the particular mythological entity described in the particular myth to which you make reference participated in any way in the current biological reality that we know is, in my opinion, not one of them. And while you are right that there are many gaps in our knowledge of absolutely everything, filling them with untestable speculation is, in my opinion, very foolish. Most posters at FF, regardless of their political affiliation, are rational enough to dismiss Intelligent Design as the arbitrary speculation that it happens to be, and to denounce politicians that cow-tow to the ignoramuses that conflate actual science with any and all forms of religious dogma (of which ID is squarely one), as either fools, or as panderers. This, of course, gets them (us) labeled as non-conservative, but I’m perfectly happy to shed any labels, so long as I don’t have to pretend to know things that I do not know.

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  11. fltelepath August 30, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    Why do you have to use such pejoratives in describing people you don’t agree with? People with whom, I would assume, agree with you on a slew on fiscal issues.

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  13. Dr.Dre'del August 31, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Would you say that someone that argues that gravity doesn’t exist is a “fool”? Is that too harsh a term for such an individual? I don’t care how many issues such a person and I see eye to eye on. There are some litmus tests that simply supersede all others. If that’s rude, that is not my intention, and I apologize. I am sure there are worst things someone can be called than “fool”. 🙂

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  15. John August 30, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    If you’re going to call people “ignoramuses” then you should spell the word “kowtow” properly.

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  17. Mike August 31, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Cow-tows are fine for politics; camel-tows are the way to go in an inner-beauty pageant, though.

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  19. Dr.Dre'del August 31, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    I’ll gladly apologize for my spelling (and even feel mildly embarrassed about it) when we have this conversation in my native tongue. As it happens, I think English spelling is a really unfortunate historical consequence of a bunch of languages merging into one, and I, like many non native English speakers (for that matter, many of those too), find it extremely challenging. Nonetheless, I don’t think this disqualifies me from describing people who conflate science and religion as ignorant. Nor does it make such an observation any less true.

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  21. fltelepath August 31, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    I guess if someone stated the he didn’t believe in gravity I would ask really why not? I wouldn’t call him a fool. Especially nowadays when information is floating in the ether. I read an article in the NYT about Erik Verlinde a string theorist who dosen’t believe in gravity and thinks it is an illusion.

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  23. Dr.Dre'del September 1, 2011 at 2:32 am

    It’s actually very simple. Gravity doesn’t require any “belief”. Neither does evolution. We may have many questions about how evolution works (it may surprise you to know we actually understand evolution BETTER than we do gravity!), but they are both empirically testable.
    So, if someone (like a string theorist) says “gravity doesn’t exist” it’s not accompanied by the word “belief”. They will have a testable theory as to its nonexistence. ID has no testable theories. There is nothing to test. It is based entirely on belief, conjecture, and speculation. As such it may be extremely fun to discuss, but it is patently unscientific, and has no business being conflated with science; It is pure “belief”. And as I’ve said, I think it’s entirely fair to describe someone who doesn’t understand the difference between these notions as being foolish.

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  25. growler August 30, 2011 at 3:29 am

    “share a decaf iced tea with him.”

    +1 for knowing about Mormons and caffeine

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  27. Brian August 30, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    -1 tea is out for Mormons with or without the caffeine

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  29. Aaron August 30, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    -0.5 for not adding that caffeine is acceptable to Mormons.

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  31. MD August 30, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    -.025 for not adding that it is the temperature of a Mormon’s caffeine as to whether or not it is acceptable. Warm/Hot = No Go, Cold = OK

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  33. P.T. August 31, 2011 at 10:52 am

    I am not a Mormon, so I can’t speak to Mormonism. I believe in Intelligent Design. I also believe in science–proven theorems. But I am smart enough to realize that even science is not complete, it is “evolving” as our finite understanding of the universe increases. The “science” of 50 or 100 or 200 years ago seems pitifully incomplete as compared to today. Tomorrow’s science will also make us look kind of ignorant, too. The Bible account of the creation in Genesis , in my opinion, was given to all generations as a matter of explaining, with our limited understanding, where we all came from. Science , as we call it, helps in understanding more of the details, but I don’t take Genesis as literal, rather an explanation that all generations can develop faith from. To me, it isn’t “Creationism vs. science”, but Creationism and science.

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  35. The American Spectator : AmSpecBlog : Mitt Romney & The Mendoza Line August 30, 2011 at 11:55 am

    […] was amused by Jonathan Last's analysis (H/T Mark Hemingway of The Weekly Standard) as to why he thinks Mitt Romney will again […]

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  37. NotPropagandized August 30, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Surely, if Romney actually won nomination, there would not be a big falloff in conservatives/Republican who would vote for him. But despite being a perfectly nice and talented fellow, politically he’s not to be trusted because of his chameleon political past. The core conservatives and now TeaParty has had it with “capitulators” and wobbly-kneedness. They see that the decades of Republican “compromise” has put the US on the precipice of bankruptcy. We need “stalwarts” for any chance of survival from the ObamaFundamentalTransformation. Let’s watch what happens and may the best man/woman win.

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  39. Chaz August 30, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    I’ve already decided to vote for Obama if Romney gets the nod, my wife is ready to join me and I am working on every conservative I know. The theory being that if the current administation can do this much damage in 4 years imagine how bad it will be in eight. We might actually elect a candidate willing to tackle the long term issues…. or the system will collapse under its own weight and we’ll have to build something new. Either is better than another moderate republican who is “quite conservative on some issues”.

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  41. Bruce August 30, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Chaz, how many folks have to be hurt financially and how many decades will it take to build our country back with 4 more years of Obama? Your attitude is very cavalier. I will vote for anyone over the narcissistic socialist. Stopping him is more important than having your own way.

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  43. EagleInGa August 30, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    It is a non-issue. Romney can’t win. Simply put he has a cap on his support in any GOP Primary because the parties base (i.e. Conservatives) can’t stand him. He can’t win. He won’t win.

    Perry will be the nominee.

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  45. Davis August 30, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    National polls show him with the biggest margins (winning) against Obama.

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  47. AzRep August 31, 2011 at 12:50 am

    Nixon, Ford, Bush I, Dole, Bush II and McCain all had a problem with the party base and they all won the nomination. The cap is on Perry – he is a non starter in 34 states.

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  49. mortardad August 31, 2011 at 11:08 am

    McCain won, never underestimate the ability of the Republican party to nominate a loser

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  51. biggcatt August 30, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    Who is John Galt? And how is it that Ayn Rand and Cloward and Piven have the same strategy with diametrically opposed goals?

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  53. Marguerite de Valois August 31, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    But Chaz has a point. Three years of Obamaism have brought the American people to the verge of revolt. The prospect of Obama staying in office until January 2017 could prompt an actual patriotic revolution! I live in a godly, conservative part of the country. I think most of my neighbors would be ready to take up arms if Obama were reelected, and march on Washington.

    Imagine what we could do then! Arrest EVERY Democrat leader! Deport all aliens and terrorists! Go back to the ORIGINAL Constitution and the ORIGINAL Bill of Rights!

    I’m not convinced we should less this opportunity slip away.

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  55. Spartacus August 31, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    It’s not my intention to offend you, but do you have any idea about how stupid your comment is? You claim to live in a godly part of the country, but yet the people there are willing to use deadly violence to overthrow a democratically elected president. You would be well served to reconsider what it means to be godly.

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  57. Davis August 30, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    A vote for Obama is a vote for destruction of America. There is no way to rationalize it.

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  59. Marguerite de Valois August 31, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Agreed. Everyone who votes for Obama should be arrested, tried for treason, and given the appropriate sentence.

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  61. Stinny August 31, 2011 at 11:04 am

    It’s time to point out who the real RINO’s are – the Tea Partyists who insist that they get their own way on everything or they will make every conceivable effort to keep Democrats in power. Real Republicans are like many of those I spoke to in 2008, they didn’t like John McCain but agreed to support him because they knew he would be better than either Obama or Clinton. I’m sensing a similar attitude today in that many who are not fond of Perry now, would likely support him (if he were the nominee) because they know 4 more years of Obama would be disastrous for the nation. If you are truly a conservative (and not a libertarian anarchist posing as one), you will support Romney if he gets the nomination.
    P.S. Romney competently ran a state where liberals made up the overwhelming number of voters and office holders because he knows how to get things done. Perry runs a state where he has relatively little political opposition, thus has never been tested as he would be by Congress.
    P.P.S. Romney’s alleged flip-flops pale in comparison to Perry’s (former Democrat, supporting mandatory HPV vaccinations for young girls, etc.) so don’t delude yourself into thinking Perry is a purist.

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  63. MDWC August 31, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    I don’t attend a “mega-church” but the evangelical church I attend in the key Great Lakes region is just a step below in size. From many personal conversations, I would not be surprised if 15-20% of evangelicals would sit out a Romney-Obama contest. The argument “you would rather have Obama” doesn’t work with many who have well-grounded Biblical worldviews and see the Mormon religion as potentially dangerous spiritually as Obama’s governorship is in human eyes. Those who don’t share the same viewpoint probably can’t grasp how serious this concern is. I beleive that Romney as the nominee would make states like VA, NC, OH, GA, IA much more difficult to win.

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  65. Two Words August 30, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Romneycare and global warming = No chance

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  67. Chris Thompson August 30, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    I am a core Romney supporter…and I personally know dozens more who are as well.

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  69. EagleInGa August 30, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    The key word is dozens.

    Romney will be all but done by mid-March. Why? Because Conservatives hate him. They will never vote for him. Romney can never convince them to vote for him. No one can convince them to vote for Romney.

    Perry already has him beat. The rest is just the process.

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  71. Davis August 30, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Obviously not all conservatives hate him or he wouldn’t have the poll numbers he has. Your comment doesn’t match the polling data.

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  73. Conservatives August 31, 2011 at 12:44 am

    This post doesn’t even remotely make sense. Romney gets a quarter or less of the Republican Primary vote in “the polls,” which isn’t comprised of only conservatives.

    There’s a difference between “conservative” and “Republican.” Your comment doesn’t match logic.

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  75. Aaron Jorgenson August 31, 2011 at 1:55 am

    I don’t “hate” him, but Romney is toast. When the primaries roll around Romney will be left in the dust. Just wait a few more months and the poll number you see today won’t matter. I’m not a Perry accolyte but he’ll easily get the nomination.

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  77. rsdcllc August 30, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Interesting article with many good points. Did you ever analyze Abraham’s Lincoln’s resume before he became president? It was very spotty, he had made some great speeches, but not much more. Maybe Mitt’s time has just come?

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  79. Mic August 30, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Right on Jonathan. Reason Romney not liked is that even his website does not allow comments, his money and organization do not work with local republicans and his religion does not let non Mormans attend weddings.

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  81. crazyrightwingmom August 30, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    Oh gosh…more Mormon half-truths. Our “weddings” in the temple are called Sealings. Not all Mormons can go either, unless they are in good standing with a temple recommend. Our weddings are not parties, they are small, solemn occasions. Everyone goes to the party afterward.
    If the Bride and Groom don’t care, why should you care? If it’s special to them, why should you care?

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  83. Aaron Jorgenson August 31, 2011 at 1:57 am

    Ok so non-mormons are not allowed to attend Sealings – Mic’s point is germane, he just didn’t use the right term.

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  85. Gregory Lee August 30, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Wow. Just wow. The thing that dismays me the most about my political party is that we Republicans are only willing to accept thoroughbreeds. It’s not enough to be a fiscal conservative with a strong business background. The cold hard truth is that we’re only willing to accept Protestant candidates from heavily red states. We’re also not willing to accept those whose stances have changed on issues (Keep in mind that Governor Romney is a flip-flopper for taking a harder stance on some issues even though Governor Perry used to be a Democrat.)

    I think the most important thing to remember is that Republicans were ecstatic when Scott Brown was elected Senator from Massachusetts. We were also elated when Romney was elected Governor of Massachusetts. Why must we disown them if the most right-wing views wouldn’t have allowed them a seat at the table. (Quick, name another Republican former Governor of a major liberal State… If you came up with Reagan, good job. If you realize the correlation between being able to establish a big tent and appealing to moderates and even across the aisle, even better).

    If Perry or Bachman is nominated, I will support them against one of the most haphazard Presidencies in US history. However, I still believe that Romney’s understanding of the macro economy, moral values (I’m pretty sure the Mormons helped with Prop 8 in California), and ability to appeal to moderates will make him a very strong and successful US President. While I will support other Republican nominees for the Presidency, I’ll have a Romney bumper sticker on my car.

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  87. Blue Blood, Red State August 30, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    They’re “thoroughbreds,” not “thoroughbreeds.”

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  89. Gregory Lee August 31, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Good point. I apologize for the typo.

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  91. gfaw August 30, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    “The thing that dismays me the most about my political party is that we Republicans are only willing to accept thoroughbreeds.”

    Right. Like John McCain. And George W. Bush. And Bob Dole. And George H.W. Bush. And Gerald Ford.

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  93. Wilburn August 30, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    When Reagan was elected Gov. of California, California was Republican. This race isn’t about religion, Romney can’t decide whether goverment health insurance is good or not. Romney can’t decide whether we are in a period of man made global warming or not. Perry is way more consistent with hard core Republican values.

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  95. Davis August 30, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    What about immigration?

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  97. Gregory Lee August 31, 2011 at 9:11 am

    John McCain = Former Military
    George Bush (both) = Governor of Texas
    Bob Dole = Senator from Kansas (I’ll give you this anomaly)
    Gerald Ford = Never elected to national office

    The Republican Party clearly has no use for Northeastern or Pacific Republicans. It just saddens me to see the Grand Old Party turn into the Party of the South.

    FYI – I live in Florida.

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  99. Aaron Jorgenson August 31, 2011 at 1:59 am

    A born-again Democrat is the best Republican there is. Ronald Reagan for example. They’ve seen the light and there’s no going back for them. On the other hand Romney in general is heading in the opposite direction.

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  101. Wait and See August 30, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    This column was really weak. It acts as if it is trying to pass as political analysis and instead uses past campaigns as predictive proof of what will unfold this cycle.

    The fact is, unlike in 2008, Romney is running a more focused and disciplined campaign that builds where his natural constituencies exist in the electorate. The reason other pundits (not all) see Romney’s strategy as sound is because of the sequence of early states that play in Romney’s favor. I don’t know of anyone other than mainstream news channels who are lending any credence to National Polling at this stage. It is because they don’t begin to correlate with state polls until after the initial caucus/primary events in Iowa and New Hampshire.

    Here is the bottom line: Romney is appropriately focusing on four of the first six states (New Hampshire, Nevada, Florida, Michigan) and is carefully managing expectations in the other two (Iowa and S. Carolina). He currently has leads outside of the margin of error in all of these contests (post Perry entry) and his campaign is now picking up the pace in campaigning. I think he learned a lot from John McCain’s approach in 2008. The fact that he is second in IA and SC without the help of evangelicals and with little to no campaigning is testament to his core supporters.

    The strategy of the Romney campaign, his message, resources, strength in debates, knowledge of the issues, and the sequence of early states are all reasons that Romney is still the man to beat.

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  103. freemkts August 30, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Romney respresents all that has gone wrong for Republicans in recent years. First he creates a healthcare reform in Mass that was a liberal dream. Obama just copy and pasted it on to the rest of the country. Romney should sue for copyright infringement. The results in Mass show it is a disaster.

    Second, the Federal Reserve’s policies have ruined the economy. But who do we have to thank for it? George W. Bush that’s who! He’s the one who appointed Bernanke to the Fed, and Bernanke was one of Bush’s economic advisors. Now Rick Perry comes out criticizing the Fed, but what does Romney think? Well just this spring, when the stock market was at its QE induced high, Romney was singing the praises of Bernanke. He’s as clueless as Bush was.

    Finally, consider the subject of ethonol subsidies. These are about as bad a gov’t policy as you can get. Rick Perry says he’s against them (or at least that he’s not for them). But the subsidies are a sore subject in Iowa which is why they are so hard to get rid of. What does Romney think? He says he loves em!

    This guy would continue every misguided, discredited policy that Republicans have embraced over the years and then act like he’s doing you a favor. He’s not running against Obama. He’s running against Joe Biden to become Obama’s running mate.

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  105. big norm August 30, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    where does freemkt get his information? Romney has plenty of negatives in my mind, but he did not create a healthcare reform in Mass. that was “a liberal dream”. Romney adopted a conservative idea from other parts of the country, which left health insurance in private hands[ something that a majority of Mass. residents opposed] and which rested on the conservative principle that the govt. would not pay for people that didn’t contribute and therefore everyone needed to be a participant in the program. The Mass. legislature[overwhelmingly Democratic] went along to make it bipartisan and achieve the main goal[comprehensive coverage] . Freemkts then repeats the standard Fox News line- ” the results in Mass. show it is a disaster”.Nothing is further from the truth.Mass. now has close to 100% coverage , something we should all be proud of, and all the studies have consistently shown overwhelming support for the plan, including among the medical fraternity. While the law is not perfect, we should all be trying to improve it rather than tear it down. The reforms now needed are at the national level rather than in Mass. itself. Rather than simply repeating right wing talk show talking points, you should study the issue yourself. The truth is not always what you want it to be.

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  107. biggcatt August 30, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    Yes coverage is near 100%, but does that define success. Since the number of people who have access has jumped dramatically without an increase in healthcare providers the waits for an appointment have become numbing. And of course, because demand now outstrips supply costs are skyrocketing and creating budget problems for the state. Coverage was never the goal. Affordability, leading to increased coverage was the goal. Lack of coverage is a symptom. Lack of affordability is the problem.

    The solution is in Lasik Eye Surgery. Its not covered by any insurance or government program and the cost just keeps going down.

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  109. Gnirol August 30, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    I see, the point is how long you have to wait for treatment that is not essential or emergency. We’re talking about convenience. To me, the point is how healthy the people are. With 100% coverage, instead of 80% coverage, seems to me that overall the health of the people of MA is better than it otherwise would have been. And I’ll bet it IS more convenient now than before for people who had no coverage before, perhaps less convenient for you personally. Former Gov. Romney’s plan was, I presume, intended to do the best for the whole state, not for you or just people in your particular position. Perhaps, looking at it from that point of view, it succeeded after all? Sometimes those of us who are better off in bad times have to sacrifice something for those who are badly off even in good times. As for lasik surgery, miraculous though it is, it is not an emergency or necessary treatment. It’s like comparing the price of eggs to the price of caviar. For those who can’t afford eggs, the price of caviar is irrelevant.

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  111. Jaime Hardisty August 30, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    I’ve always wondered who Romney’s supporters were too.

    The guy’s a RINO so he splits the anti-conservative vote within the Republican party with the 4 other RINOs that are running.

    First off, there is no more than 30% of Republicans that hate conservatives – Being Conservative is kind of what their party is about.

    Second, anyone that saw him try to explain his religious position for 30 minutes without ever staking out a position on anything would know there is no core guy there. This is not a Rudy Giuliani or Chris Christie… This guy is rice pudding.

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  113. garyinfh August 30, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    This analysis sums up Romney’s problems very well. One point I’d amplify, although you touched on it when you characterized Romney 2.0 (qua Mass. governor) as “a competent technocrat, ready to fix Massachusetts.” Of course, when Romney ran for governor in 2002, he did so as the rough equivalent of previous MA Republican governor Bill Weld — fiscally conservative, but socially liberal-to-moderate. In 2002, Romney was pro-choice on abortion — perhaps an electoral necessity in MA then and now, but just an example of the difficulties he’s faced since then in trying to run for president in GOP primaries and caucuses as a Reagan/GHWB kind of Republican.

    (Not to mention that it’s hard to have a “come to Jesus” moment when a lot of Christians view Mormons as something other than real Christians — but that’s a separate issue. Although it may explain why Mitt isn’t spending a lot of time and money in South Carolina, e.g., declining to attend Jim Demint’s candidate forum right after Labor Day in favor of yet another day in New Hampshire.)

    Mind you, I agree with JVL that Romney isn’t a bad sort at all, and actually, a conservative Republican president (say, Perry) could make great use of Mitt as a sort of roving [but not Rove-ing] White House counselor without specific portfolio.

    A President Perry could summon Mitt, hand him a copy of the latest US budget, and ask him to find $500 billion dollars to be cut without doing permanent damage to the Republic. Tell Romney to write up a report — detailing which programs should get the ax, in order of how wasteful they really are — and get it back to the White House in 90 days. That’s the sort of thing at which Mitt, with his ability to oversee large projects under time pressure (what else did he do at Bain Capital when Bain bought a company, wrung out its inefficiencies, and made the acquired firm profitable and thus salable?), would excel, all without complaining or hogging the credit. Mitt lacks, for want of a more felicitous phrase, “the vision thing.” That’s why he’s a lot of people’s 2nd or 3rd choice for the nomination, but not too many people’s first choice, particularly given how much money he’s plowed into his campaign.

    As for Mitt’s inability to seal the deal in New Hampshire, I’m reminded of an anecdote from Ed Koch’s first book, Mayor. (I don’t have it in front of me, so I may misremember the details.) Bella Abzug was running for Congress in one or another of NY’s highly-gerrymandered districts, and in a close race, she lost, mostly because she failed to carry her home precincts (Greenwich Village? the Upper West Side?). Koch, who at the time was the congressman from NYC’s “Silk Stocking District,” was asked by a reporter how this could have happened. Koch thought for a minute, and then blurted out, “Her neighbors know her.” Ow.

    By now, New Hampshire voters know Mitt Romney all too well.

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  115. coaldust August 30, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    “+1 for knowing about Mormons and caffeine”

    -2 for not knowing about Mormons and tea

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  117. Keith G August 30, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    This article is a little too harsh on Romney’s past runs, IMO. Granted, the guy hasn’t had a great track record running for political office, and lord knows he has his weaknesses, but the vast majority of those runs came in one of the most liberal Democratic states in the nation. I’d wager that no Republican would have a very good long-term track record running in Massachusetts.

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  119. dwinfield10 August 30, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Romney’s problem is that he doesn’t match the time. For years now both parties have taken the USA on a steady trajectory towards big government. That liberal/statist trajectory was somewhat mild, and so long as the populace wasn’t hurting in their personal lives it was tolerated without many eyebrows raised. Obama/Pelosi/Reid viciously yanked the country to the left to the point that everyone took notice, and many people are hurting financially. For every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction etc. It’s inevitable that many in the nation will demand the antithesis of Obama in the next President, and that, currently, is more embodied in Perry than anyone else in the Republican field that has a chance in the general election.

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  121. Robert August 30, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Finally, a clear and concise piece on why Romney won’t make it. Today, there is fire in the belly of America for something that not only “works” but “sounds right”.

    Romney may work, but he doesn’t sound right. The fire in the belly of America wants tangible meat, hard answers to hard questions. It’s come time that the anger is showing and we are in no mood for centrism.

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  123. SB August 30, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    Read his book, listen to Romney — his answers are specific and conservative. You are mistaken if you think this is not the right man for today. He is the only one that can see waste and inefficiency and know what to do to fix it. There is nothing in his past nor in his vision of the future that has America continuing its outrageous spending. I challenge you to read his book, read or listen to his VFW talk and pay attention to the debates. His answers are all conservative.

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  125. Davis August 30, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    I read his book too (“No Apology”). It is quite impressive. He definitely understands the issues, and represents a strongly conservative position.

    This time I will vote for whoever wins the Republican nomination. I know quite a bit about Romney and I think he would make an excellent President. I’m fascinated with Perry too, but I don’t think we know him very well yet. I’m just finding out things like the fact that he ran up a deficit in Texas, and used to be a Democrat. But you have to like his job creation record in the last few years.

    There are several other interesting candidates, but right now Romney has the best poll numbers against Obama. Some of the other candidates probably can’t win a general election, and that would be disastrous.

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  127. PLH August 30, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    Will Romney win the nomination? I don’t believe he can. But if he did somehow manage to pull it off, could he win the presidency? Hell yeah! Without a 3rd party candidate to split the conservative voting field, the GOP could roll out Bugs Bunny & Daffy Duck, and still win a general election over President Obama.

    Nearly everyone who’s not already in the President’s corner has to know by now that another 4 years of Barack Obama will be expotentially destructive. For that reason alone, 2012 is perhaps the only chance Romney will ever have to grab the brass ring. We know he wants it, we know he’s got the loot and we know he’ll spend it.

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  129. Dennis August 30, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Being from the great state of TX, I will never vote for Perry, wait tell the truth comes out it will be like feeding christions to the lyons.
    People can jump on the perry band wagon for now the the truth will survice soon D

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  131. molonlabe28 August 30, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    Did you miss the day they taught literacy in grade school?

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  133. Rick August 30, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    Being from the great state of Texas I will vote for Perry over any other. He has done one thing very, very well. He has kept the gawdawful state income tax out of our state.

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  135. DC August 30, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    There is only one rational reason that Romney was not the nominee in 2008, and most likely won’t be in 2012: Protestants are extremely afraid that a Romney presidency would legitimize, or even popularize, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Just listen to what the protestant leaders have been, and continue, to say. That may not be what is in the heart of the congregations, but that’s the drum the clergies have, and will continue, to pound throughout the primary.

    Just one example of many:

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  137. RedWhuteandBlue August 30, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    I am not a Govenor Perry fan. The Republican nomination is over folks…Rick Perry will wrap up the nomination by Super Tuesday and then crush that useless idiot presently in the White House. Americans may not openly admit it, but Obama was a mistake and there is no denying it.

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  139. Leonidas Bigalow IV August 30, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    This is an excellent article, Bravo. It’s refreshing to hear a conservative be critical of Romney, who, for reasons that escape my liberal mind, seems to be the darling of Establishment-conservatives.

    Romney tanked in 2008 in part because of his Mormon faith. I think this is a sad commentary on America, but we have to be honest. There are many voters, particularly in the Republican party, who will not vote for someone who isn’t Protestant or possibly Catholic. It’s shameful but true.

    But I think even more than his Mormon faith, the reason why he couldn’t win in 2008, despite being the annointed candidate of the Republican establishment, is because he came off to voters as an oily, unprincipled politician who would say whatever he thought people wanted to hear. No reasonable person could possibly believe that he just “happened” to have change of heart on the abortion issue when it benefitted him politically. Even 2008 Romney supporters like Ann Coulter acknowledged this fact. (Coulter’s explanation was that Romney was pro-life all along, but that he lied to the voters of Massachusetts to win the governorship. Perhaps, but it seemede qually likely that he was pro-choice all along, and was lying to the GOP electorate to win the presidential nomination. This is the problem with telling such obvious lies). Romney’s ability to spin lie after lie during the 2008 campaign struck me as pathological. Whether it was the talk about being a lifelong hunter, or claiming that his father walked alongside Martin Luther King during the civil rights movement, or that he didn’t have any lobbyists on his staff, Romney was unrepentant in his lying, even when caught. This may not have bothered the Romney boosters in talk radio, but it obviously bothered the voting public. He came off as doubletalking politician.

    In 2012, Romney is now going to have to continue to engage in more doubletalk in trying to convince voters why Obama’s health care “individual mandate” is socialism and a government takeover of the medical profession, but Romney’s “individual mandate” was not. Nothing he’s said to date has been at all convincing. It just re-emphasizes his reputation as a slick doubletalker.

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  141. Evan August 30, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Romney’s core supporters are Republicans capable of clear and rational thought, those that aren’t religious bigots (which cuts out about 50% of the GOP), and those that want a competent and capable Chief Executive.

    Last’s look at Romney’s previous elections is nonsense (especially for looking at the state by state results in ’08). As if McCain was anyone’s idea of a “true” Republican candidate. Much is made of Perry’s previous elections, which primarily amount to being a republican and winning in Texas, which might be the easiest thing to do in all of electoral politics.

    Perry is overrated and is loathed in Texas by MANY stalwart Republicans. Let’s see Perry perform in a debate before we being the coronation.

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  143. Robert August 30, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    I would vote for Romney over Pres. Obama. I voted for Romney in my state’s primary in ’08 over McCain, who I could not stand. This time, I think he might make a worthy VP choice for Rick Perry under the theory that balancing the ticket helps. Certainly the mainstream media that is out to savage Perry and build Romney back up could not turn around and claim that Romney was not qualified. I think it would work. Sounds like the ticket to me.

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  145. Jared August 30, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    So you don’t give Romney credit for 8 caucus wins which by the way is a win. Then you mock him for losing to Ted Kennedy in Mass., Ted Kennedy would win now if he ran from his grave. Huckabee hated Romney and had no chance of winning and stayed in the contest to allow McCain to win, couple that with Crist stabbing Romney in the back in Florida and again Huckabee hanging around and that changed the race.

    And although I believe that both Perry and Romney would make a much better President than Obama, I’m not impressed with a Conservative winning in Texas! Perry would have never won one election in the Northeast. I will admit if Romney was (as most Mormons are) extremely conservative he could have walked to the nomination in 08 and again in 2012. (Mormons as a whole are pro-life, pro-military, pro-traditional marriage, pro tax cuts, pro balanced budgets) And if Romney had always been true to those principals he would be a much more attractive Conservative Candidate.

    Let’s not forget that Perry is extremely weak on immigration, education, and balanced his budget with stimulus money…not very impressive, with a conservative legislature in Texas.

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  147. Darin Zimmerman August 30, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    I’ve got no problem with Romney’s religion. Anyone who’s Catholic, Protestant, Jesiwh, or Morman is fine by me.

    My problem with Romney is he is a member of the East coast establishment elites and wants to stay that way. And the way you stay that way is by not rocking the boat. We have a serious, existential threat to the country in the form of out of control entitlements.

    The old age pension portion of Social Security is the most wildly successful anti-poverty program in the history of the universe. Half of this country’s elderly would live in poverty were it not for SS. The problem is, this program is wildly inefficient.

    In order to eliminate poverty among the elderly, the program needs no more than 2% – 3% of GDP. But the program spends 10%- 15% of GDP bribing the middle class with their own money in order to “trick” them into supporting the anti-poverty program.

    No establishment politician will every address this problem. Rick Perry has specifically called for means testing.

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  149. Davis August 30, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    In 2008, Romney was one of the few who was talking about taking on entitlements. He had all of those powerpoints and graphs, and he showed how you couldn’t really address the deficit without entitlement reform. Back then, nobody seemed to care.

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  151. Laurent August 30, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    I voted for McCain in the 2008 GOP primary because I couldn’t stand Romney’s flip-flops and re-inventions of himself. I’m Catholic, I have LDS cousins, and I very much doubt the accusation that half of republicans are biased against Mormons. Let’s see how Rick Perry does in the candidate debates. He sounded pretty reasonable (and more likable than GWB) on Hannity today.

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  153. Leonidas Bigalow IV August 31, 2011 at 10:55 am

    I would like to believe that most Republicans who didn’t vote for Romney in 2008 were turned off by him for the same reasons you were. As Last’s column persuasively argues, Romney was, and remains, a terrible candidate. He deserved to lose on the merits.

    But we can’t ignore the evidence that his Mormon faith was a fairly significant factor in turning off Republican voters. Never had a candidate who had the overwhelming support of the Republican establishment fared so poorly in the primary. Romney had everyone on right-wing talk radio practically begging their listeners to vote for him. And yet, his candidacy went nowhere.

    Take a look at this article from 2007

    Now, if over 16% of Republicans are willing to actually tell a pollster that they would vote for a Democrat over a Mormon Republican in the general election (a figure that is undoubtedly lower than the real percentage), then what do you think Romney’s prospects are in a primary election, when there are other Republicans for Republicans to vote for?

    I have no doubt that your own reasons for voting against Romney were legitimate. But there are a significant number of Romney voters who voted against, and will continue to vote against Romney simply out of a bigotry. Enough to prevent him from ever winning a national election.

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  155. Allan August 30, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    “Combine that with the rest of his runs and you get a 17-year career average of 5-18. I don’t think you could find any other figure in politics who has run this far below the Mendoza line and still managed to get taken seriously as a presidential candidate.”

    That’s not a really great analysis, despite it’s appealing reference to the game of summer. After all, Abe Lincoln was no Tony Gwynn either.

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  157. John August 30, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    Damn you Allan! You beat me to it!
    To be fair to JL here, that was a very different time and the 1860 presidential election was unique. Who was the last President since ol’ Honest Abe to make it to the White House after having such a lousy batting average in previous elections? I can’t think of anybody off the top of my head.

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  159. Westhouse August 30, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    In the 2008 cycle his record was 3-16, as in John 3:16…For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

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  161. Romney Doomed? » Postmodern Conservative | A First Things Blog August 30, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    […] Last argues that Romney is in huge trouble because he is a mediocre-to-lousy campaigner with no real support […]

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  163. FBanta August 30, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    Mitt has always been a non-starter. He has no response to ObamaCare that now 70% of Americans oppose. His argument that it is a valid alternative for a State is true only if the 14th Amendment is ignored.

    Romney has more flip-flops than Jimmy Buffet, including the recent additions of man-made global warming; cap and trade; and evolution.

    Worst of all, we have to presume that his recent contributions to the debt ceiling debacle are indicative of his leadership style: the best that can be said about that is his committment to ‘transparency’: he was absolutely invisible!

    America is desperate for a leader, but Romney isn’t a leader. At best he is a manager

    The only way to restore America is to restore Constitutional governance, and Romney’s history clearly demonstrates that he places his personal agenda above the Constitution. We’ve had more than enough of presidents in that category over the past 50 years.

    Mitt needs to go home and enjoy his wealth and his Grandchildren.

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  165. jeff August 30, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    Using his past election results to determine future elections seems a little spurious. Almost all Republican nominees for president have lost at least once. How many times did Abe Lincoln win before becoming president?

    In the end, the GOP will pick him because he is the least offensive and scary candidate of the bunch. They need a safe choice so they can make the election a referendum on Obama and not on the GOP.

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  167. Fake Herzog August 30, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    For all you new visitors here — I hope you come back regularly to this blog (it’s a blast) and you all subscribe to the “Weekly Standard” to get a regular dose of Last’s wonderful writing. I can barely contain myself when I open the mailbox (I’m old school — I like my paper) and the magazine has a Last piece, and something by Ferguson, Smith, and Epstein (but what the heck happened to the regular pieces by David Gelernter? I miss those). I command the wife to put the girls to bed without my help, because I’ll be busy reading all night…the only question is do I save the Last piece for the end…in other words, the Last for best…

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  169. John August 30, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    Just wanted to say I agree 100%. That “America’s One Child Policy” article by JL was absolutely brilliant and brought me here to this blog for the first time a while back.
    Ferguson’s awesome too. His article on Mary Matalin – and the Washington tradition of failing up – back in 2001 was one of the greatest articles on inside-the-beltway culture I’ve ever read.

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  171. dougx August 30, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Romney also won the most votes in the West Virginia primary, but McCain gave his delegates to Huckabee; so really, that’s 12 wins. By the way, I’m in his core constituency. It’s mostly made up of intelligent people with no fake ideology.

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  173. AzRep August 30, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    Another attack on Romney from someone who does not want to see him running against Obama.

    It’s very simple. No one but political junkies pay attention until after Christmas. This is why Rudy was leading McCain by 17 and Thompson was leading McCain by 6 at this point last time.

    When things get serious, Perry will have a very hard time winning Iowa, because Bachmann has not flip flopped as much as he has, has a better organization and is from there. Romney also has a terrific organization there and has all the non crazy people to himself (generally about 38% of the Iowa electorate).

    Romney stomps Perry in NH (Huntsman? Seriously?) Then sweeps Mormon Nevada the same day Perry sweeps Bapyist SC. That sets up the showdown in Florida – you know, the place that gave Romney/McCain 65% last time and Huckabee 13%. The place where the most popular Republican (using the term loosely) is still Charlie Crist. Romney has a monster organization there and will blanket Miami/Tampa television with “I’m a moderate” ads while his “independent” PAC blankets Tallahassee/Gainesville television with “Perry managed Al Gore’s campaign ads. Romney easily.

    From there, since Perry has positioned himself to the right of Albert Speer, he’s competitive in only 14 states and two thirds of them vote in March, when all delegates are proportional. Romney’s competitive in all but the 6 deep South states and his strong states (Cal., NY, Penn, Mich.) are winner take all. His organization is very tough and he can write a check bigger than all the $ Perry can raise, but in the end, he is just closer to where most people who vote in GOP primaries are (there are more Republican delegates in California than in Texas, by a wide margin).

    Wait, but this is a different electorate right? You’re right – it’s an electoprate that cares more every day about jobs and less about social issues. It’s also an electorate that watched Angle, Miller and O’Donnell get their butts kicked and wants to win this time.

    Perry is perfect for exposing hypocrisy. People who said they wouldn’t vote for Romney because he was a blow dried pretty boy, a flip flopper, who ordered an individual mandate, who wasn’t tea party enough are now rushing to vote for an even bigger blow dried pretty boy, an even bigger flip flopper, who ordered an even uglier individual mandate in Texas health care and who was the deciding vote for the largest tax increase in Texas history. The real reason they won’t vote for Romney is because they hate Mormons or because they hate rich people. Fortunately, you are never going to win the nomination with just those people.

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  175. Fake Herzog August 31, 2011 at 2:47 pm


    1) This post wasn’t an “attack” on Romney — it was political analysis of why Romney is not good at winning elections. Maybe it is bad analysis, maybe the argument is flawed — but Last specifically says at the end of the piece that Romney might be a good leader. Last’s argument is that he’s just not good at winning elections;

    2) Your comment doesn’t speak to Romney’s poor track record. All you argue is that we shouldn’t pay attention to the polls right now.

    3) Your comment also insults those of us who support candidates like Bachmann and Perry. Which is fine — this is the internet and I’m a big boy. But you don’t do your candidate any favors by acting the way you do.

    4) Why is Perry an even “bigger flip flopper” than Romney? Just curious.

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  177. Quotes of the day « Hot Air August 30, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    […] Perry is a ‘career politician’ because he’s been in elective office since 1984. Well, Mitt Romney would have been a career politician too, if only voters would have let him. He’s been running since 1994. His real gripe about Perry is actually, ‘Hey, that guy wins […]

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  179. Mark August 30, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    Romney’s core constituency are country club Republicans that want to be able to support a Republican publicly without being tainted by anything related to guns, gays, Tea Party, etc. I know this because I hang out with country club Republicans. They will vote for Perry too in the end. A not insignificant number of these people voted for Obama last time (or at least claimed to). If Romney wasn’t in the race, these folks would support Huntsman.

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  181. USA: The Bulbagarden Republican Primary August 30, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    […] Re: The Bulbagarden Republican Primary Originally Posted by Master Mew But I enjoy watching Perry's campaign implode on the debate stage! See I really don't think a guy that has the most debate experience of all of them will implode on the debate stage, I could be wrong. Also as one writer pointed out while deconstructing the "Career Politician line" (3) It’s funny that Romney’s line of attack on Perry seems to be that Perry is a “career politician” because he’s been in elective office since 1984. Well, Mitt Romney would have been a career politician too, if only voters would have let him. He’s been running since 1994. His real gripe about Perry is actually, “Hey, that guy wins all the time! No fair!” Ouch… Romney’s “Core Constituency” — Jonathan Last Online […]

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  183. Boston August 30, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    Please consider the fact that Romney won one election in his lifetime before running for the GOP nomination in 2008. The only reason he was in the 2008 race and now the 2012 race is $$$$.

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  185. Fras August 30, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    I cannot understand the hatred for Romney. Reading this article and the comments scares me. Many of your comments are bigoted and most of you are acting like purists. What ever happened to Reagan’s 11th commandment? “Though shall not speak ill of a fellow Republican”. I am a proud African American conservative who supports Romney, but would vote for Perry if he is the nominee. I support Romney because I believe that America’s presidency needs a manager at this stage, A COMPETENT manager!! I don’t believe Perry, Bachman or even Palin fit the bill of competent manager, but I will not tear them down. Many of my liberal African American friends often ask me why I am part of a party that seems so intolerant. Though I am a committed conservative, I am beginning to wonder. How can we attract others to our party if we behave like this?

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  187. Marguerite de Valois August 31, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Toughen up, friend. If you can’t stand the heat of a good ole primary fight, then get out of the kitchen.

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  189. bolsen August 31, 2011 at 12:16 am

    Utah Mormons are very conservative, dedicated spiritual and inspired. If they feel strongly about Romney, people in this nation would be smart to wise up and listen. Never going to happen though, and people will continue to try to use their own thinking and expect something inspired to come out of it…they’ll get the trouble they bring on themselves. It’s all going to come crashing down very soon anyway and mass chaos will takeover. Truly inspired people will be guided daily through it all and will have strong leadership. Good luck to the rest. As far as Perry, too many will be fooled by their own arrogance and extreme ideas (lacking the wisdom of moderation in all things). Blind leading the blind. Again, good luck, I don’t plan to be among them just like I don’t agree with their extremism now, it’s alienating and radical and I’m more conservative than any of the tea parties ever thought of being and so is Romney. Tea Partiers couldn’t live the conservative values Romney lives. They have no clue how to be that clean. Perry looks muddy dirty next to Romney!

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  191. ChuckP August 31, 2011 at 4:11 am

    Let me see if I have this straight. Your argument is that Romney partisans are saying his core supporters will stay with him but that this thinking is fallacious because Romney has no core supporters. If that is the case, who are all these Romney partisans? What are they, chopped liver?

    Could it be that by definition a Romney partisan is a core supporter, which makes your argument that he has no core supporters ridiculous. You may properly argue that he may not have enough core supporters to win an election, but that is not what you argue.

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  193. sheryl August 31, 2011 at 4:49 am

    Rick Perry comes across as a snake oil salesmen.

    He took Obama Stimulus money and then railed against Obama Stimulus money.

    Perry’s prayer event to call out the evangelicals isn’t good for the Republican Party. Some of the religious leaders he associates with say vile, scary, creepy things.

    I like Romney. I like that he isn’t a slick campaigner.

    Romney & Rubio is the best ticket to win back the White House. Both are extremely articulate, intelligent men who will be great statesmen for America. They don’t demonize people that don’t think like them and will try to unite this country.

    Perry the “lets not curry favor with them” has no interest in making Washington work, it’s “seedy” to him.

    He’s negative, I don’t see him as a president.

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  195. sheryl August 31, 2011 at 4:57 am

    “In the end, the GOP will pick him because he is the least offensive and scary candidate of the bunch. They need a safe choice so they can make the election a referendum on Obama and not on the GOP.”

    OMG, this is so true.

    Perry’s personality is a lightening rod and the left will go crazy that we are putting up someone so far right wing, it will become all about Perry and not Obama.

    LOL, Romney’s dullness may become our best assest, love it!

    BTW anyone think that Obama can’t take on Perry’s macho jerk act, think back to when he gelded Trump at the Washington correspondence dinner.

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  197. Mitt Romney wants Lockerbie bomber back in U.S. to face justice. - US Message Board - Political Discussion Forum August 31, 2011 at 7:12 am

    […] Quote: Originally Posted by California Girl Quote: Originally Posted by JoeB131 Quote: Originally Posted by oreo The below video is of Mitt Romney stating he wants the Lockerbie bomber back in the U.S. to finally face justice after killing hundreds in a bombing of a Pan Am air jet. This is the man that claimed he had cancer so they let him go back to Libya–where Khadafy welcomed him with a parade. Good interview with Mitt Romney on the market and jobs also. Romney: Lockerbie Bomber Needs to Face Justice – Fox News Video – So what? Wow, that's an easy call, isn't it? Romney's a sure fire loser… the sooner we get him off the stage, the better. You could not be more wrong about Romney. He's one of the very few Republicans that the independents would vote for. Wanna win? Run a candidate that can win the independents. 22% won't vote for a Mormon, including 18% of Republicans and 19% of independents. And frankly, where does this "electability" thing come from? Romney lost to Ted Kennedy in 1994, a year when the voters were stringing up Democrats on principle. By 17 points. He barely beat a Democratic Non-entity in 2002 and still didn't get over 50% of the vote after spending 7 million of his own money. Then he opted out of running for re-election because he was trailing Devall Patrick by double digits in 2006 polls. In 2008, he spent 43 million of his own money to run for the Republican nomination. He came in third place behind RINO John McCain and Mike Huckabee. He lost primaries in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, California, Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, and Maryland. He won only three states that had primaries. Utah, where the Mormons run things, Massachusetts, where he was governor, and Michigan where his dad was governor and the other Republicans didn't contest it because they were holding an unauthorized early primary. And even there, he only edged out John McCain because he promised he would bail out the auto industry. The only reason why Romney is a formidable candidate his willingness to spend the money he garnered over the years putting working folks out of good paying jobs. (Another reason he is absolute electoral poison.) Good article on the subject here… Romney’s “Core Constituency” […]

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  199. Danny Ross August 31, 2011 at 7:18 am

    Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman are the two Republican candidates who, should they win the nomination, will cause me to vote for a 3d party candidate. Romney because he has demonstrated he has no core beliefs other than that he should be president, and Huntsman because he is running in the wrong party altogether.

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  201. Mitt Romney’s Problem Is That He’s Bad at Politics – Politics August 31, 2011 at 8:56 am

    […] Weekly Standard’s Jonathan Last points out that Romney’s tangible electoral lane record is distant from MVP material—a scanty 5 for 18 […]

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  203. P.T. August 31, 2011 at 11:03 am

    I live in Texas. I am a senior-aged independent, but my values trend more towards the republican values of personal responsibility, respect for others, providing for my family, helping those who cannot help themselves (orphans, physically and mentally challenged, widows/helpless seniors), and living within my means, not your means and mine too. I believe in persons sticking to their word, even if it hurts. I am blessed to have EARNED a pension based on the deal going in, and I expect that the pension deal be honored as promised. I am thankful for Medicare, as it helps a lot on an income that never goes up, year after year. Both Medicare and Social Security would be ok today if the government, both parties, had done what they promised and left the money alone in these programs. I do believe that the super-well-to-do should have means testing applied to both Medicare and Social Security benefits, as they can carry their own load. I have no sympathy for those who, being able-bodied, do not get out and earn their own wage. I think that this is Biblical.

    I like Perry. He’s competent, and I trust him to do what’s right, for all of us. He may not be a “beloved” politician, but he’s trustworthy and shares my core values. Unfortunately, Mr. Obama has not earned my trust. He does not take responsibility for his actions. He blames everyone for the bad, and takes credit for the good, whether he had anything to do with it. He spends my money frivolously. Two buses at $1 million each! Simply a travesty. I have no respect for him.

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  205. Jeff August 31, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    Not to nitpick, but the Mendoza line is generally defined as .200. Romney’s win% is .217, so its actually above the Mendoza line…;-)

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  207. When the Friend of My Friend Is My Enemy? — Jonathan Last Online August 31, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    […] the various comments tick in on the big Romney post, I’m struck by one thing: The Romney boosters seem to be of two camps–people who believe […]

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  209. RB August 31, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    5-18 = The Mendoza Line? When I saw that I stopped reading your article because I needed no further proof of your intelligence. 5/18 = .277. The Mendoza Line is .200. The part before that was pretty stupid too. “I’m counting that he lost to Duval Patrick”. You’re an idiot. Only reason I’m here is because RCP linked to your article. I’m dumber for having read as much as I did but guess what, you’re now smarter because I read it because you now know what the Mendoza Line is!

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  211. Liam August 31, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    About Romney’s term as governor: aside from the health insurance reforms, it wasn’t all that great. He spent a lot of time preparing to run for president. His major form of fiscal asset creation was to defer expenses, especially on public infrastructure, which was, in the end, a penny-wise and pound-foolish thing. He’s not really a gifted manager; he’s a salesman.

    He is not corrupt or venal, I will say that. But his record at running Massachusetts needs to be looked at more critically by the media.

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  213. mujo August 31, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    “career average of 5-18. I don’t think you could find any other figure in politics who has run this far below the Mendoza line”

    That would be a .217 average. The Mendoza line is a baseball reference (for those unfamiliar). “Below the Mendoza line” refers to a batting average below .200, so your reference is faulty.

    Just saying.

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  215. mujo August 31, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    To RB who I just noticed made the same comment, I believe 5-18 refers to 5 wins and 18 losses, which would be 5/23, or .217 win percentage.

    Once again, just saying.

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  217. Fake Herzog August 31, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    RB can’t calculate win/loss percentages, but he feels competent to call Mr. Last an “idiot”. Comment of the day, by far.

    Also, perhaps Mr. Last used the Mendoza line reference as a metaphor not to be taken literally, since politics is not baseball, but metaphorcally, as in “Romney hasn’t won much in politcs to be considered particularly electable at the national level…i.e. he’s not ready for the ‘Big Leagues'”.

    Again, this analysis might be flawed or incorrect, but it is an argument people — engage the argument.

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  219. Yancy August 31, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    Romney criticized Perry for spending too much time in elected office while he, himself, has spent his whole adult life trying and failing to get elected. Hypocrite!

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  221. Mitt Romney’s Problem Is That He’s Bad at Politics | South Carolina News Press | South Carolina Breaking News Headlines | SC September 1, 2011 at 10:07 am

    […] Weekly Standard’s Jonathan Last points out that Romney’s tangible electoral lane record is distant from MVP material—a scanty 5 for 18 […]

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  223. Mitt Romney- the political Mario Mendoza? September 1, 2011 at 10:55 am

    […] Last, a writer for the conservative Weekly Standard, argues on his blog that Mitt Romney, the faltering, formerly presumed GOP 2012 presidential candidate, is a very weak […]

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  226. Everyone’s Got Advice for Politically-Challenged Mitt Romney (The Atlantic Wire) | Elections News September 1, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    […] How can Romney take Perry down? His campaign reportedly wants to portray Perry as a career politician who’s too soft on immigration and too conservative on everything else. But everyone on the Internet thinks that strategy is bad. US News‘ Scott Galupo writes that Romney can’t campaign to Perry’s left and his right at the same time. And the National Review wrote that the “career pol” charge won’t stick either, since Romney’s been running for president since 2006. Conservative writer Jonathan Last agrees: […]

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  228. Mitt Romney is not done yet | Stewart J Lawrence | BRAEKING NEWS 1 WORLD September 1, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    […] according to most pundits, one of whom just pronounced Romney a “loser”. Another, reviewing Romney’s career, notes that he’s never won an outright majority in a single election. And he bailed out of his […]

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  230. Everyone’s Got Advice for Politically-Challenged Mitt Romney (The Atlantic Wire) | Get News | Breaking News September 2, 2011 at 12:37 am

    […] How can Romney take Perry down? His debate reportedly wants to portray Perry as a career politician who’s too soothing on immigration and too regressive on all else. But everybody on a Internet thinks that plan is bad. US News‘ Scott Galupo writes that Romney can’t debate to Perry’s left and his right during a same time. And a National Review wrote that a “career pol” assign won’t hang either, given Romney’s been using for boss given 2006. Conservative writer Jonathan Last agrees: […]

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  232. the deacon September 2, 2011 at 1:54 am

    Going 5 for 18 would give you a .278 average and put you well above the Mendoza Line (.200 or .215 depending on who you ask).

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  234. Fake Herzog September 2, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Were you pulling a bong last night and jumped on this blog to post a comment without reading any of the previous comments?

    Just wondering.

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  236. the deacon September 2, 2011 at 1:55 am

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  239. DYSPEPSIA GENERATION » Blog Archive » Romney’s “Core Constituency” September 2, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    […] Jonathan Last jerks back the curtain on Mitt Romney. Combine that with the rest of his runs and you get a 17-year career average of 5-18. I don’t think you could find any other figure in politics who has run this far below the Mendoza line and still managed to get taken seriously as a presidential candidate. In fact, the only reason Romney gets taken seriously is his money. Strip away the $500M treasure room and the willingness to blow large chunks of his kids’ inheritance, and he’s Ron Paul without the ideological moorings and grassroots support. […]

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  241. Mitt Romney is not done yet | Stewart J Lawrence | Daily Manzar Namaa September 2, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    […] repeat?Not according to most pundits, one of whom just pronounced Romney a “loser”. Another, reviewing Romney’s career, notes that he’s never won an outright majority in a single election. And he bailed out of his […]

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  243. Yes, Dear Leader, More! September 13, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    […] for Romney, Jonathan Last has done a great job combing through Romney’s career as an also-ran. I’ll just add this: if there’s one thing Tea Partiers have sworn never to do again as […]

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  245. Balloon Juice » Thursday Evening Open Thread September 29, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    […] and in each telling his political virginity gets a bit more pure than in the last… I believe Jonathan Last put it best: “Mitt Romney would have been a career politician too, if only voters would have […]

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  247. The benefits of losing elections « Negative Interest October 12, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    […] lot of time criticizing “career politicians” (see here, here, and here) because voters don’t actually like electing him to office. It turns out that losing 13 races out of 18 gives you a pretty solid campaign line when voters […]

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  249. Is Mitt Romney Good At Politics? | My Blog October 21, 2011 at 9:22 am

    […] Jonathan Last argues no. He tallies up Romney’s mixed record of winning elections in Massachusetts with his poor record during the 2008 primaries, and concludes: I’d argue that his electoral prospects are even worse than they look from his won-loss record. Here’s why: (1) Romney made his political career out of his “close” 17-point loss to Ted Kennedy. But keep in mind that to only lose by 17, he spent $7M of his own money. But more importantly, this was the 1994 midterm election—so he got blown out during the biggest Republican wave in half a century. (2) The high-point of his electoral career was the 2002 MA governor’s race, where he took 49.77%. Even in the biggest win of his life, he couldn’t capture more than 50% of the vote. (3) It’s funny that Romney’s line of attack on Perry seems to be that Perry is a “career politician” because he’s been in elective office since 1984. Well, Mitt Romney would have been a career politician too, if only voters would have let him. He’s been running since 1994. His real gripe about Perry is actually, “Hey, that guy wins all the time! No fair!” […]