Stormin’ Mormon: why nobody’s first choice might still wind up winning

President Willard Romney. It sounded ludicrous a few weeks ago as the former Governor lost Primaries and Caucuses and national popularity polls to Rick, “my-name- is-now-a-sex-term” Santorum. I mean if Romney couldn’t beat THIS guy? C’mon…
Now that the nominating contest is drawing to a close however, there are many reasons for President Obama and his supporters to avoid overconfidence.

1. Bottoms up
Romney has hit his lowpoint for the campaign. Count on it. It’s not a coincidence that it’s coming as Obama is polling more strongly. All the Republican firepower that has been trained on Romney as the second choice, the un-conservative, the designer-in-chief of Romneycare/Obamacare is all about to be ratcheted around and aimed squarely at the President.

2. Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammo
That aforementioned firepower is potent. And it has unlimited ammunition, thanks to the Citizens United decision (an ironic name considering its divisive effect). Romney’s primary campaign burn rate is irrelevant now that wealthy Republican donors like Sheldon Adelsons and Foster Friess will be able to make massive unregulated donations to pro-Romney SuperPACs. These groups are dedicated to one thing: unseating the President by any means. Truth may be the first casualty of war, but it’s also the first casualty of TV advertising.

3. Onward Christian Soldiers
Republicans are loyal . They will arm themselves with Party talking points and blogger bullshit (bloshit?) and they will line up behind the nominee, even if he IS a pathologically eager to please, ideologically spongy member of a religion that many consider one rung up from Scientology. Republicans have a remarkable history of being able to slough off rough primary fights and coalesce into a unified front. In 2012 that will happen for many reasons, but chief among them: they hate Obama.

4. The Great Satan.
No, the other one. Right-wingers don’t seem to like the President. Ok that’s not true – they abhor him. After all, he’s a Socialist-Communist-Liberal-Fascist-Muslim-Atheist. And it’s not race – they loathed Clinton too. Republican voters seem to writhe in uniform agony from contact with the Left. They have become so intolerant that to even suggest an iota of compromise brings storms of howling protest more intense than the audiences who saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. This unflagging hatred will motivate them to slide their optical scan ballots for the Anybody-But-Obama, aka Mitt Romney. It won’t be an enthusiastic turn-out, but it will be large.

5. Petroleum Jelly
Gas prices matter. And Mitt’s minions are fond of reciting with great relish the statistic detailing the massive climb in the price of gas from $1.81 on Inauguration day, 2009 to its current high of over $4.00+. Here’s the thing – prices are almost EXACTLY where they were in the summer of 2008 when George W. Bush was president. And if memory serves, there were no discussions about ineffectual leadership and lack of drilling permits back then. Prices crashed from roughly $4.12/gallon to $1.61/gallon in the span of 3 months as stocks, commodities and banks nose-dived during the meltdown. So, in a word, this argument is bullshit. In fact, drilling permits have quadrupled under President Obama, a rate far higher than under President Bush. Alas, as Bill Clinton so aptly said: “Strong and wrong trumps weak and right.” And they are strongly hammering this point home day after day. Memories are short and as long as prices continue to go up, Romney will employ this poisonous meme to continuously dig into Obama’s hide.

6. Lies, damned lies and statistics
Unemployment is another ick factor for the Obama team. If things go well in the next few months, the unemployment rate may yet dip below the magic number of 8%. However this is far from certain and will depend mightily on events out of the President’s control. Iran may burst into conflagration. The recovery may stall. Gas prices may spike above $5.00 even without war in the Middle East. Add to that the fact that a large swath of voters won’t begin to focus in earnest on the race until after Labor Day and you have an eternity of time ahead. There are over 5 long months for Karl Rove and American Crossroads GPS to do lasting damage to Obama’s fledgling popular resurgence. And they will.

7. Math matters
Electoral math is tricky… ask Al Gore. Governor Romney is certain to re-capture Indiana and North Carolina (Democratic Convention in Charlotte aside). He is polling well in Pennsylvania, a must-win state for President Obama. New Hampshire and Virginia are toss-ups. So is Wisconsin (only more so if Romney picks Paul Ryan as his running mate). If Romney can peel off Pennsylvania, Virgina and either Ohio or Michigan, that’s the ball game. And that’s not inconceivable.

Governor Romney is a plausible Presidential contender who has emerged from the primaries bruised but confident that he can take a punch. Say what you will about John McCain – McCain had a moral core that kept him from crossing certain lines when it came to disparaging Obama’s character and upbringing. Don’t expect the same from Mitt or his minions. Romney is a cipher, whose true beliefs remain shrouded in a miasma of rhetoric and good hair. He has proven again and again that he will say whatever it takes to get elected.
In other words – all this is far, far from over. In fact… it’s barely begun.


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