Monday, January 12, 2009

Will Romney run?

Over at Race 4 2012, Adam Graham has a nice analysis of whether Mitt Romney will run. He looks at four factors: desire, campaign/personal finances, family, and oxygen, ultimately concluding that if Obama's beatable, Mitt will do it.

Two comments:

1) Normally, when you hear a potential candidate mention something about "I'll have to discuss it with my family", it's b.s. You can bet that by the time the candidate's actually addressing the issue on television, he's spoken with his wife. You don't just forget to tell your wife that you're thinking of running, and spring it to her on the late, local news.

But as Graham notes, family does seem to be an important factor for Mitt, especially with his wife's health problems.

2) Graham lays out the following state-by-state strategy for Mitt:

Romney could try to focus his campaign on winning New Hampshire and then focus on winning big states like New York, California, and Florida.

However, making a political strategy based on the result of the New Hampshire Primary is going to be tricky. While Romney narrowly won Republicans voting in the New Hampshire Primary, Independents play a huge factors and there will only be one primary for them to vote in. New Hampshire’s Independents are incredibly unpredictable, going for Pat Buchanan in 1996 and then splitting between John McCain (R) and Bill Bradley (D) in 2000.

It's true that Romney's most viable, or only, shot at the nomination runs through New Hampshire. But at this point, it's difficult to pick a 2012 candidate more well-suited for New Hampshire. Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee will thrive in Iowa and South Carolina. But don't expect a lot of independents and moderate New Hampshire Republicans to jump aboard the Palin/Huckabee tractor. That leaves Romney.

Once Romney's taken New Hampshire, he can easily afford to lose South Carolina. Any loss there would probably be small, since Palin and Huckabee would split the socially conservative base. After that, it's the big, delegate rich Super Tuesday states, where Romney would be better positioned than Palin and certainly, Huckabee. He could afford to lose the South (just like McCain), and still come out the nominee.

A wildcard is how Romney's sworn enemy would react to an imminent Mitt victory. In 2008, Huckabee sunk Romney's ship by staying in the race and siphoning off social con votes. In 2012, he could be the same iceberg, only this time, not by staying in the race, but by getting out and leaving Palin to go woman-to-man against Romney.

Of course, all this assumes Huckabee/Romney/Palin will be the three, gun-toting musketeers. A pretty reckless assumption.