Thingish Things

Making Sausage, GOP Style

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Feb• 24•12

Eye rolls are in vogue these days when talking about the GOP presidential primary. “Boy, how the Republicans are blowing this” is the narrative. “They’re handing the election to President Obama.”

I’m not so sure about that, for a few reasons.

An interesting statistic popped in a poll Wednesday, showing that Mitt Romney’s popularity among Republicans (especially among Republican women) has never been higher, and it’s growing. After the endless hits he’s taken as a Republican light, Mr. Romney is counterintuitively gaining strength within the GOP base. He’ll need that solidity among Republican voters going into the general election (providing he wins the nomination) and he should grow stronger still with Republicans as the specter of a one-on-one race against President Obama gets nearer.

Yet at the same time, Mr. Romney is not prohibitively distancing himself  from the potential votes of disaffected Democrats and independents. He’ll still in play among them — at least among ones I know.  That’s a neat trick, and it comes from an unusual dynamic, one made possible by the stark contrasts available in this primary race.

Two things are happening right for the former Massachusetts governor. He is continuously portrayed in the news media — and by rival campaigns — as a moderate who doesn’t really feel the conservative message. And at the same time, he is standing toe-to-toe with three conservative Republican candidates, representing starkly different factions of the Party, allowing him to systematically address the doubts and concerns of each of those factions.

In running against social conservative Rick Santorum, Mr. Romney is able to quell some of the doubts felt about him on the social right. In running against libertarian Ron Paul, Mr. Romney is able to talk lots of limited government, and in running against velvet-toungued populist Newt Gingrich, Mr. Romney is able to show he can take and throw a punch and think on his feet.

Yet to Democrats and independents, Governor Romney continues to be seen as an approachable moderate because, day and night, everyone keeps calling him that — and because he’s none of the other three, each of whom is seen by centrist voters as extreme. But Mr. Romney is not.

The Republican Primary clearly looks like sausage being made right now. One has to turn his eyes away from the process at times.  But sausage is being made nonetheless, and by the time it’s done it may have just enough flavorings to suit a variety of tastes — only 51% of which are needed, and only in the key swing states.

This whole thing could turn into a bust as a lot of smart people are saying. Or it could turn into a culinary masterpiece. I’m predicting the latter and sticking with it. Stick a fork in me if I’m wrong.

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  1. William J Ryan says:

    Pass the mustard please. As one of those disaffected potential swing voters I considered Sosis ala Mitt palatable at first, but he increasingly leaves a very bad taste in my mouth.

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