SALT LAKE CITY, February 6, 2012—It is true that many Republicans aren’t in love with Mitt Romney. It is equally true that he is on the fast track to nominee status.
They don’t have to love him, they just have to vote for him. They will, and he will in all probability beat President Obama.
Two important realities will play in Mitt Romney’s favor over the course of the next nine months. First, the country is more conservative than it was in 2008. Thus, Romney’s natural coalition is much bigger than John McCain’s was.
Much of that conservative voice will be ready to mobilize in the form of Tea Party organizations, whose support Romney will earn. True, there is significant angst about the current field generally, and Romney’s assumption of nominee status in particular.
By summer, that angst will have vanished, for the most part. For one, nearly all Republicans of stature will be singing his praises, his supporters in the conservative media will broadcast the message that his is a legitimate conservative without interference, and former foes will campaign on his behalf.
Moreover, the race will become a comparison between Romney and Obama. For conservatives, the former matches up well. When the president talks class warfare, Romney will articulate free markets. When the presumptive GOP nominee talks about deregulation and smarter government, Obama will be stuck defending Solyndra and onerous EPA regulations.
Even if Obama tries to paint him as a heartless businessman, Romney can point to jobs.
Every issue will put the two men in opposite corners, and Romney’s corner happens to be that of most conservative activists. Unlike John McCain, Romney can run against the president’s record; he can frame the issues in his favor, and he will go on the attack.
Tea Partiers will be his eager allies. They have broken for Romney in the last two states, as have self-described conservatives. His appeal in those quarters will continue to grow.
The second reality that favors Romney is his appeal to moderates and independents. He has walked a tightrope at times during the primary season, and his nimbleness will pay dividends in the summer and fall.
While all the candidates have made relentless assertions of their conservatism, Romney did so the least. Independents will reward him for avoiding to appear so desperate to the Republican base, especially when juxtaposed against Obama’s serial appeasements to left-wing interests.
Romney lost South Carolina because he was unable to match Newt’s aggressive tone. That fact will actually help Romney in moderate precincts, where voters unhappy with Obama will be more inclined to vote for a competent guy who doesn’t appear likely to lose his cool.
As he pivots toward the general election, Romney is in a great position to capture independents in a number of states that are must-wins for Obama. His three primary victories are noteworthy in that they were very big, and they occurred in swing states.
Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and New Hampshire all could go for Romney in November. If any of them do, it would be very difficult for the current president to craft a winning electoral combination.
Conservatives might not be ecstatic about their presumptive nominee. But they will be happy enough when he defeats Barack Obama.
Learn more about the author at Rich-Stowell.com
Rich is a teacher and a soldier. In addition to writing the “Rich Like Me” political column at the Washington Times Communities, he is the author of Nine Weeks: A Teacher’s Education in Army Basic Training; Tunnel Club; and Not Another Boring Textbook: A High School Students’ Guide to their Inner Conservative, which you can follow on Facebook.
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