Recently I asked some very conservative friends who are Republican primary voters and “Anybody but Romney” club members to participate in a little poll I devised.
If Romney were the GOP nominee, which of the following would best describe you?
1. Definitely stay home and not vote
2. Might stay home and not vote
3. Fully support Romney as the nominee of the Republican Party
4. Vote for Obama in protest
5. Hold my nose and vote for Romney
6. Try to start a 3rd party (knowing historically that would help re-elect Obama)
7. Happily vote for Obama
To my surprise, answer number 5 was the overwhelming winner. The fact that the “nose-holders” prevailed at all could mean that despite Romney’s steady support from only 25% of GOP primary voters, these “Anybody but Romney” voters could eventually but reluctantly support him in November 2012.
And that is very good news for Romney but better news for the Republican Party, because Romney, at this juncture, is in a virtual tie with President Obama, who leads him by only 1.2%. But most revealing is how Romney out-performs Herman Cain, whom Obama leads by 8.2%, and Rick Perry, whom Obama trounces by 9.6%. Most interesting is that Ron Paul has the second best showing against Obama, who defeats him by “only” 6.2%.
With these general election poll numbers in mind, all Romney has to do is survive the primary process, and even that is looking more promising according to this latest CNN poll of GOP primary voters in the early primary/caucus states.
Under this scenario, in early 2012 Romney would quickly turn into Barack Obama’s worst nightmare as the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party.
Ironically, Obama’s future strategy, like Rick Perry’s now, is to paint Romney as a “flip-flopper,” exactly what President George W. Bush’s “strategery” was against John Kerry in 2004.
Unfortunately for Perry, that is flawed strategy for two reasons. First, Perry should be building himself up, rather than tearing Romney down. But second and far worse, Perry will be supplying the Obama campaign with media content they will use against Romney in a general election.
But the “flip-flopper” label is easier to defend against than “right-wing radical” or “out of touch with main stream America” monikers Obama would use to the fullest extent if any of the viable candidates, except Romney, were to win the nomination. And even worse, in Perry’s case you could also expect a bumper sticker with “Bush 2.0 in 2012” with the Obama “O” logo used in the 2.0.
So if “flip-flopper” is currently the Obama campaign’s best argument against Romney, consider that a gift.
As has been well-documented, Romney is not the perfect candidate. George Will, in a recent op-ed, even goes so far as to call him the “pretzel candidate.”
True, Romney has glaring past and present policy contradictions, not surprisingly some stemming from when he was the governor of Massachusetts. But a former governor of Massachusetts can hardly be expected to have a history of traditional conservative social views as compared to the Republican governor of Texas, or a former Republican speaker of the House from Georgia, or a former conservative senator from Pennsylvania who was defeated in 2006 by 18 points, or a congresswoman from a very Republican leaning district in Minnesota, or even a former business executive who has never held elective office.
And precisely because Romney was the former Republican governor of one of the nation’s ultra-liberal states, he does not scare away independent voters like the rest of the GOP field does.
Romney is not considered part of the “wacky right” and that is why he could attract millions of moderate voters who are fleeing Obama and live in electoral rich states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, Indiana, North Carolina, Colorado, and, yes, even Michigan, Romney’s original home state. All these are states that Obama won in 2008 and will pull many punches to win again.
Romney, who has real business “turn around” experience and a thoughtful 59 point economic recovery plan, could very well defeat Obama in a general election if Republican primary voters would just “hold their noses” and realize a Romney led ticket would be part of a much larger electoral picture favorable to conservatives.
Romney would, most likely, select a conservative running mate and also one who does not scare independents. My choice is Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, who is all of the above and would help Romney in Virginia, a must-win-back state. Together, they would be a formidable ticket and one that conservatives should be able to rally around.
So primary voting conservatives, please “hold your noses” if you must and think big, like Supreme Court nominees big, like winning the Senate big, like keeping the House big, stopping Obama big, and thus sweeping all branches of government big.
And if there are enough primary voters who would “hold their noses” and think THIS big it would start the chain of events that would send President Obama home in January of 2013 where he could help his friend Mayor Rahm Emanuel run Chicago instead of running the U.S. economy into the ground.
But for that to happen, GOP primary voters must seriously consider who has the potential for wide national appeal in blue and purple states enough to make Obama a one-term president. And by “holding their noses” a second time and voting for Romney in the general election, they will be rewarded by breathing in the sweet smell of victory on the evening of November 6th, 2012.