This group assured us it was holding its major firepower for the 2012 elections. Yet 2012 is here, and they still seem reluctant to bring out the heavy artillery. They are giving their full-throated support to Mr. Caution himself, Mitt Romney, once again saying we can’t afford the risk of putting our support behind someone more conservative.
It appears they believe that national elections are a zero-sum game with a fixed number of voters in both the Democrat and Republican camps, and that whichever candidate attracts more independents (who are always presumed, in this static analysis, to constitute 20 percent of the electorate) will win.
This reasoning strikes me as flawed because: a) twice as many people self-identify as conservatives than as liberals (this is different from party ID, but still); b) history invalidates the theory, --e.g., Reagan; c) no one really knows what the amorphous term “independent” means; d) with a president as extremist and destructive as Obama, independents are much less likely to fall his way, and more likely to be receptive to conservative ideas, because they represent the opposite of Obama’s failed policies, and e) it discounts the various aspects of voter intensity: 1) certain candidates will energize their base more, 2) certain ones might alienate some in their base so badly they stay home, and 3) certain ones may scare the otherwise apathetic independents and even members of the opposite party to vote for the other guy.
The first group, generally speaking, is falling into Romney’s camp, arguing that he is the safest bet and that we can’t afford any risks, given the enormity of the stakes. I’m just not so sure. So many number-crunching Republican analysts said he was a shoe-in for the nomination in 2008, but their static analysis failed. Romney does not energize the base, especially the tea party, or anyone else for that matter. His appeal is not that he inspires, but that he supposedly doesn’t repel. But in fact, to the contrary, he does repel a good number of conservatives, because they don’t trust him in general and/or don’t trust he’s a conservative.
Ironically, many who’ve laid claim to sober, adult political analyses the past few years and have scolded others for their alleged harshness in attacking Obama are the very ones who have thrown caution overboard in their relentless, unmeasured scorched-earth savagery of Newt Gingrich.
Though recognizing his weaknesses, I prefer Newt Gingrich over Mitt, and Rick Santorum and maybe Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann over both. But without hesitation, I’ll vote for Romney should he get the nomination. Can the Romney supporters say the same about Newt?