07 February 2008

Mitt Romney Out of Race?

Multiple very credible rumors say that GOP Presidential candidate Willard "Mitt" Romney is withdrawing from the Presidential race today. Observations:

1. Candidates who are credible enough to have real shots at winning Presidential races like Edwards and Romney bow out when it is clear that this goal will not be met.

2. McCain becomes the presumptive Republican nominee. Huckbee's ignorance of foreign policy, populist economic message, and history of liberally granting pardons will deny him support from neo-conservatives, establishment Republicans, small business Republicans and tough on crime Republicans. Evangelical Christian support won't be enough to carry him, even in the South, and even Hucakbee and Ron Paul combined will not marshal enough support to deny McCain the less than 45% of the remaining GOP delegates that he needs. A Huckabee withdrawal could have made Romney a viable candidate, but the converse is not true.

3. The Democratic candidates can now be much more focused in their campaigns against McCain. McCain is the toughest opponent, but equally important, he is one with very different flaws and vulnerable points that the other GOP candidates.

4. The next President of the United States will be Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton or John McCain. This dramatically reduces the uncertainy regarding our nation's future. On points where all three candidates and Congressional Democrats agree, the nation's course is already set. And, given that public policy is not a yes or no affair, there are large number of policy possibilities that have been largely snuffed out now. As one concrete example, our next President will not allow torture in the way that the Bush Administration has allowed and encouraged it. Campaign finance reform is similarly like to receive a shot in the arm.

5. The energy has been sucked out of the Republican race all the way to August and beyond. McCain had the smallest grass roots campaign organization to start with and can't afford to waste money campaigning against Huckabee and Paul to any great degree. Supporters of the other candidates are also likely to be less than enthusiastic in supporting McCain now or in the general, given his history of betraying members of his own party. Few Republicans will now even both to show up to caucuses or primaries.

6. The Democrats will remain highly energized and newsworthy for months to come. This will be up grass root organizations who will readily accept the party's nominee.

7. McCain's withdrawal helps Barack Obama in states where independents can participate in primary elections and caucuses because independents now are very likely to participate on the Democratic side where they can make a difference, and independents prefer Obama to Clinton.

8. McCain is unlikely to have much in the way of coat tails in downticket GOP races, even if prevails in November. McCain Republicans and McCain independents are likely to be split ticket voters in a way that Romney Republicans would not be. In contrast, both Democratic nominees are likely to have coat tail effects by inflating Democratic turnout with new voters, even if they don't win.

9. McCain does not have the unequivocal backing of the party establishment, and has cast into disarray the Republican Party's sense of its own identity. Goldwater and Reagan forged a coherent identity for the GOP that has come to an end.

10. McCain will have interesting pressures in a VP selection. He will be pressured to nominate a woman or a minority member or both, to blunt the identity politics factors in the general election. He will also be pressured to nominate a VP with well established conservative credientials to balance the ticket.

11. Huckabee will probably be out of the race within a month as his defeats pile up.

All this analysis stands even if Romney doesn't drop out today and the rumors are false, because McCain will be the Republican nominee sooner or later.

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