For the record, I believe Romney will win next Tuesday; and he will do so in a fairly convincing fashion. Put on the spot, I would say he collects 285 electoral votes to President Obama’s 253. That said, there is also a possibility that a slow building turnout wave quietly overwhelms President Obama, allowing Romney to win an unthinkable 337 electoral votes. I would not bet my house on it (though you can have my underwater mortgage if you wish), but the possibility certainly exists.
Given my prediction, you can treat what follows as a preemptive strike against a hypothetical scenario that won’t happen.
In the event of a hypothetical Romney loss, the reaction from the Republican Establishment would be swift. The party elders would immediately direct their ire at conservatives, who pushed the Party to embrace policies, solutions and rhetoric that the Establishment would contend alienated a majority of the electorate.
The wise old men would point to the contentious primary process. They’d claim it forced Romney "too far to the right," making him unable to pivot during the general election and thus unelectable. And lest there be any doubt, they’d place the blame squarely on conservatives and the tea party for making the primary process a “race to the right" instead of a concerted effort to oust an incompetent president.
Every single claim made by the Republican Party Establishment would be demonstrably false, and conservatives would rebut each with vigor. The problem is that the media – whose disdain for Republicans is only trumped by their disdain for true conservatives – would gladly latch onto the narrative that Romney lost because he was severely conservative. The media would then create an echo chamber, encouraging Republicans to moderate their “extreme” positions. To stroke the GOP's crippled ego, the media would applaud their newly discovered love of bipartisanship and compare them to Ronald Reagan.
What would this hypothetically inevitable moderation look like? Well, we can look to recent history (i.e., pre-Tea Party) for some indications.
With hypothetical losses in high-density Hispanic states such as Colorado and Nevada, and too-close-for-comfort wins in states like Florida and North Carolina, the Republican Party Establishment would re-open the door to a sweeping amnesty plan. Remember, the wise ones championed a similar plan during the Bush years. They claimed "compassion" (i.e., ignoring the rule of law) was essential to creating a permanent governing majority.
The same misguided political analysis would be applied to elderly states (think Florida, Pennsylvania, Iowa and even Ohio) when it comes to Medicare. Never enthusiastic about the party-wide embrace of Paul Ryan’s budget, the party elders would banish "premium support" from their policy binder. Instead, they would be content to merely tweak around the edges of our massive entitlement state. Similarly, they may even accept the inevitability of Obamacare, leaving the monstrosity intact while offering only token critiques.
After months of defending theoretical cuts to Big Bird, NPR and Planned Parenthood, long-time GOP strategists would backtrack on spending, too. They would claim the party was too bogged down in the smallness of the politics and failed to make the case to the American people; so instead of fighting to cut spending, they would give mere lip service to spending restraint. Sadly, such a pivot would likely accompany an abandonment of the earmark ban.
But perhaps the most damaging hypothetical reversal would come on taxes. Tired of defending small business owners and successful Americans from the left’s class warfare rhetoric, the party’s statesmen may quietly allow Taxmaggedon to strike a certain segment of America -- pledges be damned. In fact, unnamed GOP aides are already suggesting as much, even as Romney gains momentum.
Again, I believe Romney will prevail next Tuesday; in fact, the stakes are so high that he must prevail. Not only is the future of our country at stake, but an Obama victory would cause panic among the old-school Republican kingmakers. In an attempt to save the Party, they would "moderate," blurring any real distinction between America's two major political parties.