Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Romney's path to the GOP nomination

... seems considerably more difficult today. And perhaps impossible.

He can't win the Iowa caucuses, now just a month away, and he may not win NH by much, or even at all. Then comes SC and FL.

But the larger point has more to do with whomever the Republicans select as their presidential standard-bearer, be it Romney or Newt Gingrich. A vital part of the conservative coalition, the Christian fundamentalists, increasingly have no candidate to turn to. Their Chosen One was Rick Perry, and he was replaced by Herman Cain as Flavor of the Month in October.

Personally my observation of the evangelicals is that they are less prone to bald-faced hypocrisy than the rest of the party. That translates into not 'forgiving a man who has repented his sins'. It seems that some can and some can't; they're divided. Never mind Romney's flip-floppery on every issue, it's Newt's nuanced positions on immigration and abortion that have them flummoxed.

For those who will never go to Mitt -- he's not a Christian, of course -- and who can't support Newt the Adulterer, it's a real quandary. The Tony Perkins/Richard Land caucus and its members have the potential to be the most disillusioned come next November. Just imagine how the Charismatics will react if the eventual nominee picks an anchor baby like Marco Rubio as a running mate.

Two hard-bitten conservatives on the ticket, likewise, alienates the "moderate" wing of the GOP, which has gone on the attack against Gingrich in recent days (note Karl Rove's consistent pimping of Romney on Fox News, to which even the likes of Michael Berry is reacting badly).

Either the Tea P is going to be very unhappy if Romney does stumble to the nom, or the establishment gets sour-pussed with the selection of Gingrich. Romney and a TeaBagger as V-P is nothing but a replay of McCain-Palin. Newt is NOT going to take a Jon Huntsman or Gary Johnson ... even though that would be a formidable matchup. He'll take a Latino/a and gamble that his softer immigration stance coupled with a brown token will win him Florida, New Mexico, Colorado, and some other blue-in-'08 states. This political calculus disregards the dampening effect a (for example) Gingrich-Rubio ticket would have in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Virginia, North Carolina ...

And this is exactly the kind of division between conservative factions that not only makes it increasingly likely that Obama wins, and wins easily*, but also helps Democrats down the ballot. And it could present the Democratic Party with electoral opportunities in places they would not normally exist even in a presidential election season ... such as in the South.

Maybe even, heaven forfend, Texas.

* no discounts factored in for worsening economic conditions, terrorist attacks, bad reactions to natural disasters, or fresh scandals

Update: Additional reading.

Can social conservatives forgive Gingrich’s messy personal past? Note this article's focus on the gender gap between evangelical women and men with regard to forgiving the Speaker's sins.

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