From Michael Memoli at the L.A. Times:
But looking at the state-by-state results, there are some troubling signs for the Romney team in Boston. For starters, Romney won both of last night’s caucus states in his 2008 bid for the GOP nomination, when he was seen as a more conservative alternative to John McCain. And Tuesday’s third-place finish in Minnesota was especially embarrassing, both for Romney and his national co-chairman, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
The kind of person who votes in a meaningless primary or goes to a party caucus in February is the same person a nominee will need this fall volunteering to make phone calls, go door-to-door and rally others to vote in the general election. In other words, the base.
So even as the narrative was that Romney was getting closer to locking up the party’s nomination, hundreds of thousands of the party’s core supporters turned out and voted for someone else.
Up until yesterday, Romney was doing as well — if not better than — anybody else with self-described conservatives, Tea Party voters, and even SoCons. That’s still true this afternoon, only less so. And a chink has appeared in his armor. But then there’s this:
That being said, the fundamentals of the Romney campaign are still strong. He’s got a decided advantage in fundraising, and a super PAC ready to fuel an air war ahead of Super Tuesday contests. Those resources were notably not deployed this week.
He’s got an organization that can wage a multi-front campaign, while rivals Gingrich and Santorum won’t even be on the ballot in some states, like delegate-rich Virginia on March 6.
If he wins the nomination, as still seems likely, then Romney’s general-election strategy would seem to be a mirror-image of Obama’s: Just absolutely smear the other guy with everything and everything and hope your base remains slightly less dispirited than his base.
It would make Election 2000 look absolutely wholesome.
I need a drink.