Is the growing conventional wisdom correct? Is Republican nominee Mitt Romney fated to be mentioned with tepidly received candidates doomed to defeat such as former Sen. Bob Dole (R) and former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis (D)?
One of my favorite, most-solid political analysts is Marc Ambinder, who now writes an excellent blog on the equally excellent news magazine The Week (yours truly, my late father, my nephew and my sister all have been huge fans and subscribers). In this post he summarizes in non-talk show, non-ideological cable network style (i.e. standing back and analyzing without peddling a favorite) five ways in which Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney can win.
It’s worth noting his conclusion first:
There is no linear path to victory right now for Romney. That has reality-based Republicans scared out of their wits. It has others, like Tim Pawlenty, scrambling for the exits (gracefully). For now, the rest can only grin and bear it.
But here are some tidbits from the five ways:
1. Romney has a stellar first debate, which galvanizes his campaign and allows late-breaking independents to finally see the man that Ann Romney so loves dearly. Likelihood: 60 percent. Every Romney route to victory has to include a great first debate, because the first debates tend to matter the most, and because Romney will have a relatively unfiltered opportunity to try to make his case, probably his last…..
2. Romney has a human moment. Likelihood: 40 percent. Yes, I know he is a human being, and I’m one of those reporters who has seen him when the camera is off and I can vouch for the fact that he isn’t weird and stilted. But he is so cautious on the campaign trail, so full of anxious energy, that even his scripted soft moments come off as somewhat silly. So he needs someone to give him a bear-hug, or to shed a genuine tear, or to tell a dirty joke — something entirely spontaneous that expands the comfort zone. From the start, the Obama campaign has tried to portray Romney as too darn unusual to be the president, and that strategy has worked. Clint Eastwood’s talking chair routine is not going to cut it….
3. Convince Democrats that they’re going to lose. Likelihood: 30 percent. The more Democrats think they’re going to win, the more enthusiasm their base will have, and the easier it will be for Obama to get to 270 electoral votes on the strength of only marginal independent turnout. Romney needs to somehow juice the game to scare Democrats into thinking that they’re going to lose, which will set the ball rolling in the opposite direction…
4. Iran does something stupid and dangerous; Israel attacks Iran unilaterally. Likelihood: 40 percent. This is a huge unknown, and it’s unseemly to speculate about anything that would involve death and destruction….
5. The Medicare argument works. Likelihood: 10 percent. President Obama’s $716 billion Medicare … call it an adjustment … remains a viable political opportunity for Romney, albeit a very risky one. Though the Affordable Care Act cuts payments to hospitals and to private insurers that subsidize special add-on plans to Medicare (Medicare Advantage), it could well persuade a number of doctors to stop accepting Medicare in the first place…
How dire is the situation to many GOPers? I think Booman nailed it:
According to Nate Silver’s model, if the election were held today, Obama would have a better than 95% chance of winning. That is something you would not know if you looked just at national polling outfits like Gallup and Rasmussen. And it shows you how important it is to have Nate Silver at the New York Times. It’s true that I liked it better when he was working independently in the new media, but his influence can’t be exaggerated. I do not believe that the Republicans would be stabbing each other with forks and knives if they thought the election was a dead-heat. But they don’t think that because they know Nate is a smart man, and they know those national polls from Gallup and Rasmussen are better used as toilet paper than accurate reflections of that state of the race. Nate has taken one of the Republicans’ strongest tools and he has blunted its effectiveness by applying cold, hard analysis to the problem. The Republicans don’t just think they are going to lose. They know it.
But, again, it is vital for partisans and non-partisans to keep in mind that she will not sing until election day.
Even so, if you add the always-perceptive and professional Ambinder’s analysis with Booman’s take, and then you toss in this exchange on NBC’s Meet the Press it’s clear that many Republicans don’t buy the spin that all is well.
Mitt Romney had a good week even as his “47 percent” comments dominated the headlines, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said Sunday.
“I think that we had a good week last week,” Priebus said on ABC’s “This Week.” “I think in retrospect, in that we were able to frame up the debate last week in the sense of, what future do we want and do you want out there.”
That came after Priebus said, earlier on in the interview, that Romney has been clear his “47 percent” remark “probably wasn’t the best-said moment in the campaign” and, ultimately, this was “probably not the best week in the campaign.”
That comes even as many high-profile Republicans, including Wall Street Journal columnist and former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan, have begun arguing that the Romney campaign needs a turnaround and that, even more fundamentally, the Republican Party needs to change.
Still, there will be spin (particularly on Fox News and some of the new media Internet sites) that will contend that Romney is only be dissed by that mean, old, bad news media — when a good chunk of the strong criticism is coming from conservative Republicans who (a) want to win and (b) want conservative ideas articulated with specificity.
Proof of that is this segment from NBC’s Meet the Press that pits a hapless, spin-spouting Romney surrogate Bay Buchanan against some conservatives who are actually trying to analyze the campaign rather than do talking points for Romney or against Barack Obama. MUST VIEWING:
There seems concern here — genuine concern here — that time is running out and the campaign can’t be waged the same way.
And there are already indications Romney is about to make a major campaign style shift.
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Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.