From the American Prospect: “However, the media couldn’t predict how bad a candidate Romney would be.”
Look, there are plenty of perfectly good reasons to have supposed–and even to suppose today–that Romney had/has a fair chance to win the nomination. (I’ve always thought his odds were somewhere in the neighborhood of 2-in-5.) But anyone who has ever spent 30 minutes watching Romney interact with voters on the stump will have noticed how bad he is at retail politics. It is, literally, the second thing you notice about him in such settings.
The first is the hair, obvs.
He may be great in a board room and awesome with donors and really good with advisors and other professionals. On paper, he’s amazing. And that’s why the people who have tended to see him as inevitable have tended to be analysts who don’t do much reporting from the field. What has struck me since 2008 is that Republicans like to bag on John Kerry, with good reason. But on the stump Kerry was an infinitely more gifted campaigner. This isn’t to say that I’d prefer Kerry to Romney for anything–president, dog-catcher, neighbor. Only to suggest that if you believe that native political skill is an important predictor of electoral success (which I do), then it is difficult to watch Romney up close and believe in his inevitability (which I have not).
One other note, per Ben Domenech at Ricochet: If Romney loses the nomination and if the eventual GOP nominee loses to Obama, there will indeed be recriminations from the three Republican die-hards who were not on the Romney payroll. But I don’t think they’ll carry much weight for the following reason: The primary case made by most, though not all, of Romney’s media supporters was utilitarian. They argued not that Romney was uniquely qualified for the presidency and that his election would advance unique, important agendas of policy and ideology. No, instead they argued that Romney’s electability was his chief credential. Well, if Romney can’t beat Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, then it will mean that this primary rationale–”electability”–was a mirage.
That’s the problem with arguing on such practical grounds: If it turns out the candidate can’t deliver, then his supporters have no one else to blame.