With all the huffing and puffing among Tea Party Republicans about how they’re going to “take back” America and rid the nation of emperor Obama, you want to know which candidate keeps the White House and Democrats up nights? Mitt Romney, that’s who.
Seriously, assuming he could actually emerge from what would be a grueling and bitter primary race – dubious at best – Romney is the only Republican at the moment who can defeat Barack Obama in a general election. And here is the reason why:
Not since Reagan, has the GOP had a presidential candidate who could appeal to more than one or two geographical areas of the country. As of now, the leading traditional contenders – Tim Pawlenty, Mike Huckabee, Haley Barbour and Michele Bachmann (spare me with Trump) – while all scoring solidly in the South and Plain states, as well as a couple of Midwestern states, do extremely poorly in the Northeast and west coast, and are running below par in the mid-Atlantic states. Translation? If Obama manages to win at least two Midwestern states and either Virginia and / or North Carolina, as well as Colorado, it’s lights out for the GOP.
So how does Romney change this paradigm? As far as the South and the Plain states go, while there is no great love for Romney in those areas, the antipathy for Obama is so great, I’m thinking a pet rock could win against him in 2012. In the end it’ll come down to who they hate less, the black socialist or the liberal RINO. In a toss up, the RINO wins by a nose.
But here’s the monkey wrench, the random element if you will, that gives Dems agida. A Romney candidacy in the general election not only wins those regions of the country that Republicans traditionally win, it puts in play areas that haven’t been in play since the ‘80s. Right off the top, Romney would win Massachusetts and maybe even New Hampshire and Maine. While Obama would hold New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, his prospects in the Midwest, with the exception of Illinois, have now been thrown up in the air. As for the mid-Atlantic, moderates and independents who have grown a little leery of Obama, but not inclined to vote for an extreme candidate like Bachmann, would find Romney’s middle of the road approach far more appealing. It is not inconceivable that Republicans could sweep the whole region. And even if he takes the west coast, Obama could well come up short on election night. By my math, Romney would win by anywhere from 20 to 40 electoral votes, and that’s being kind.
Scared? You should be. While the Republican Party continues to swim in the polluted waters of birthers, conspiracy theorists, race baiters, death panel proponents, and pseudo Constitutionalists who tend to drive away independent voters, the potential winning lotto ticket continues to be ignored and scorned. And so long as that remains true, Obama and the Democrats can breath easy.
But there is still that slim possibility that the Republican Party could wake up in time and nominate the former Massachusetts governor. While Romney does have his own baggage to contend with, his resume is considerably stronger than any of the other candidates in the GOP tent. And because Romney is not by nature an ideologue, he would be seen by many as someone who could bridge the gap between Left and Right. Truth be told even some Democratic voters might be tempted to vote for him. Another George W. Bush? Hardly. More likely another George H. W. Bush or perhaps Gerald Ford.
Go ahead, laugh if you want. But in the White House and at the DNC, they are not laughing. They are holding their collective breaths and hoping and praying with all their might that the crazy train that is currently rambling down the tracks of the GOP continues on its sorry trek for the next eighteen months. But history has shown that, sooner or later, even the most insular of movements eventually runs out of steam and relinquishes its grip on its hitherto moribund surrogates. And while I’m no mind reader, I’m betting Obama would prefer later rather than sooner.