Mitt Romney, the frontrunner in the Republican Presidential race, has formed an exploratory committee, the traditional pre-official entrance into the contest. He has a number of obvious strengths and some obvious weaknesses, which will make it interesting to see how he fares, once the more unusual candidates begin drifting to the wayside. Here’s my analysis of his nomination prospects, along with the most recent polling numbers comparing his support to the other Republican Presidential hopefuls.
Background – Romney comes from a powerful political family. His dad was Governor of Michigan and was a leading Presidential candidate himself until his candidacy imploded over some ill-chosen words. He received his undergraduate degree at Brigham Young, then got a law degree from Harvard. After his schooling he went into management consulting. After making a fortune in equity investing, he decided to enter politics. He ran, and narrowly lost to Teddy Kennedy for the US Senate in 1994. After losing that, he organized the Salt Lake Winter Olympics, which surprisingly was a financial success. He returned to Massachusetts, ran for Governor and won in 2002. He decided not to run for re-election in 2006, and tried for the 2008 nomination.
Mitt has been married to his wife, Ann, for over 40 years. They have five sons. They are both members of the Church of Latter Day Saints.
It is probably doubtful that Romney will be able to use his tenure as Governor to his advantage in the upcoming campaign, since there is something that occurred that will likely impede his progress (spoiler alert).
Strengths – Romney begins this campaign with a number of strengths. Probably most importantly, he is probable favorite of the Club for Growth crowed. This group is usually first among equals when the Republicans decide who to nominate for President, and it is almost impossible to gain their support once they turn against you. Another strength is that he has a business background, which should stand him in good stead. Also, he has high name recognition from his previous run. As well, because of his religious ties, he has a number of volunteers across the nation who will work tirelessly for his nomination.
Weaknesses – A Presidential campaign may well come down to the fervency of his supporters. Mitt is unlikely to have many Republican voters who will fight hard for his nomination in the early states, until we get to Nevada. This is because he tries to make a point of not saying anything controversial. He may have this tendency because of his dad’s ‘brainwash’ remark, or it may just be something that naturally comes to him.
It will be difficult for Mitt to ingratiate himself with many of the Tea Party adherents, I think. They seem to like candidates who say what they think, regardless of whether they agree or not. Mitt is sort of the anti-Tea Party guy; he seems to think about things a lot before he says anything. As I wrote earlier, Romney is a Mormon, which doesn’t matter in a lot of the country. However, in the Deep South and in the Border Region (states like WV, KY, TN, AR, and MO), generally his religion is regarded as something strange.
His most difficult weakness to overcome, though, will be the Massachusetts health care law. Obamacare is likely to be the Republican hole card in the 2012 campaign. It can be expected that the other nominees will jab him with this stick throughout the fight. He needs to come up with a better counter than he has recently, namely the beauty of federalism. This works with people like me, who think federalism is the greatest gift among the many Madison provided us. Unfortunately, it’s unclear to me that many voters are able to see the beauty of the argument.
Best VP Choices – I think that, given Mitt’s weaknesses, he is likely to choose someone like Bobby Jindal of Louisiana or Haley Barbour of Mississippi. Both of these governors would be completely loyal to his campaign, are both smart, have been working for this nod for the last 4 years, and want it so bad that they can taste it.
|Presidential Polls, Republican Primary Election Match-Ups|
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Here are the latest polls from Real Clear Politics. We can see that there has been quite a bit of change since the beginning of March. Some notable things are that since Trump has begun his media tour, he has taken quite a bit of support from most of the other candidates. Also, none of the lower name recognition candidates has been able to make much of an inroad in the polling. We’ll be updating on the polling pretty regularly during the next year or so, so stay tuned.