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Posted by on Jan 12, 2012 in Politics | 7 comments

Could the Conventional Wisdom Be Wrong? Can Mitt Romney Lose?

Andrew Sullivan has an intriguing post. He has seen the anti-Romney, Bain Capital film that Newt Gingrich’s camp is touting and says it’s devastating — so much so that he thinks Romney could lose:

I just watched the Bain documentary featured below and being broadcast throughout South Carolina by Newt Gingrich’s SuperPac in full. It’s loaded with out-of-context quotes and heavily biased; it focuses on the specific human suffering of the necessary “creative destruction” of capitalism not its general benefits to the economy. It does so through the voices and stories of ordinary Americans. And, as an emotional bludgeon, it’s devastating.

But what makes it so dangerous to Romney, it seems to me, is that the Bain Brahmin didn’t just fire thousands of working class people in restructuring and in closing companies. He made [an] unimaginable fortune doing it. That’s the issue. Other Republicans can speak about the need for free markets in a sluggish economy. But with Romney, we have a singular example of someone who made a quarter of a billion dollars by firing the white middle and working class in droves in ways that do not seem designed to promote growth or efficiency, but merely to enrich Bain.


Many, many people in, say, South Carolina, have lost jobs. That’s rough enough. But if Romney comes across as the man who made a fortune off this kind of Wall Street maneuvering, he becomes a symbol and a focus for all the roiling populist discontent out there. When he is responsible for someone losing her house, the contrast with his multiple mansions and private beach gets a little de trop. One ad with one victim could be poison.

Of all the jobs he liquidated, moreover, many are in the American heartland. And his response to the people in this documentary – white working class heartland Americans, the GOP base – is that they are merely envious of his achievements. They don’t come off that way in the ad. They come off as bewildered, betrayed and sure that Romney’s goal in all this was merely, solely to make money for himself – the kind of money that most Americans cannot even compute.

I simply cannot imagine a worse narrative for a candidate in this climate; or a politician whose skills are singularly incapable of responding to the story in any persuasive way. This ad is powerful. Romney has already seen a drop in South Carolina. I suspect he’ll drop some more. And I suspect once the potency of this line of attack is absorbed by the GOP establishment, there will be some full, if concealed, panic.

Fair enough. That is a logical case.

However, I still believe Romney is a shoo-in and here is why:
1. He has a huge amount of money behind him, both in his campaign and in “independent” groups. The independent groups are about as totally independent of him as my two cats are totally independent of me. The big difference, is that with Citizens United groups can bury the identities of their contributors in the bankroll sandbox better than my cats can bury the product of several cans of catfood.
2. He continues to get powerful members of the GOP establishment to back him. This includes former UN Ambassador John Bolton. A new report says Jeb Bush will back him: no surprise here, it has been clear now for several months both due to stories about the Bushes and Bush-friend-and-maven Karl Rove that the Bush family prefers Romney, in a year when Jeb doesn’t run.
3. The GOP is increasingly a part of the Talk Show Political Culture and Rush Limbaugh has become the de facto party strategist and also like a God who must bless those let into the true corridors of power. Limbaugh has been sticking up for Romney. Limbaugh wannabe Sean Hannity (the most predictable and tiresome of any talk show host on the right or left) is starting to move to him as well.

Of course there is that little, teeny weeny thing called “the voters.”

Voters shmoters. How much influence can they have?

But all of these strands are coming together and unless Romney loses by a big, fat margin in South Carolina the stage is set for him to win in Florida, where polls show him far ahead.

But all of these analyses mean nothing in the end: conventional wisdom and self-assured analyses are swept under the rug when they turn out wrong. Some analysts, such as Dick Morris, must have to buy rugs in bulk at CostCo.