I’m not saying that Mitt Romney is the weakest front-runner in modern times (Hi Walter Mondale!) but he certainly has some trouble closing the deal. It looks like this see-saw battle is going to continue to Super-Tuesday, if not beyond. Mitt Romney just can’t seem to dispatch his three opponents (Sweater vest, the Statepuff marshmallow man, and America’s wacky grandpa). Not only does this show a weakness in Romney’s ability to deliver votes in the general, but this long primary is actually showing deep problems with how the Romney campaign functions.
Let’s start with a quick reminder of 2008. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton battled it out in 58 primary contests (territories like the American Samoa, Guam had their contests bringing the total number to 58). Just like the current struggle, this protracted contest caused both candidates to spend a great deal of money however the difference was in how they spent their money. Obama and Hillary spent their money, energy and time on recruiting neighborhood volunteers, building lists of supporters, opening field offices and generally putting feet on the ground, while Romney and Gingrich are using the “nuke it from space” approach where they cruise in for some public rallies, some serious fundraisers and then carpetbomb the media market with attack ads. While this is effective for quickly changing people’s minds, there is little long term effect and no campaign infrastructure for the general election. So while the long campaign benefited Obama’s team for the general by forcing him to set up shop all over the United States, this battle royale is just dragging down Romney’s chances unless he changes how he fights.
Looking for some proof? Here’s a smattering of polling in swing states showing the change.
|State Polling for General||Nov 2011||Feb 2012|
|New Hampshire||Romney 50, Obama 42||Obama 50, Romney 40|
|Florida||Romney 46, Obama 42||Obama 47, Romney 42|
|Ohio||Romney 46, Obama 46||Obama 49, Romney 42|
|Virginia||Romney 45, Obama 44||Obama 47, Romney 43|
Now, this is just a cross-section and there are a few states where Romney has strengthened his hold in the last few months (Arizona and Utah, for instance). But it is hard to see a path to victory for the Romney campaign without them taking at least two of the states I listed above.
P.S. You can catch me on The Joe Show at Noon today on AM930 KBAI!