With the results from Illinois, it has become even clearer that Mitt
Romney will now become the 2012 Republican nominee. There are quite
a few primaries yet to be held, including some from the states with the
largest number of delegates, but there is no reasonable scenario left in
which Mr. Romney will fail to receive the necessary 1144 votes on the first
ballot in Tampa.
As I wrote previously, there is no need for any of the remaining three
candidates to withdraw until they feel it is appropriate. In 2008, Mr.
Romney withdrew in favor of John McCain when he realized he could not
win that year. Mike Huckabee remained in the race for a longer time.
Nontheless, when losing candidates withdraw, and even more importantly,
HOW they withdraw, are of some importance to how they and their campaigns
will be remembered, not only by voters, but by history.
Mr. Romney has not been a media favorite, and some of this is by his own
hand, that is, his reluctance to reach out to the media. The conservative
media will now, however, need to treat him and his campaign with more
respect, if not affection, as the primary season comes to an end and the
preparations begin to take place for the autumn campaign between Mr.
Romney and President Obama. I believe there will be a new appreciation
for the campaign strategy so far, especially in light of the necessity of the
Republican nominee to face the whole electorate, including the critical and
huge group of non-aligned and independent voters in the political center.
Rick Santorum may yet win Louisiana and Pennsylvania (although regardless
of the popular vote in the Keystone state, its unique direct election of delegates
who are not identified by the presidential candidate they will vote for, thus
making it likely that Mr. Romney will win most of the delegates in Mr.
Santorum's home state) plus a few more states. Mr. Gingrich might even win
one or two. Those who study the history of primaries and caucuses know that
it is quite common for voters in individual and late-voting states to vote for
someone other than the presumptive nominee. (Believe it or not, Jerry Brown
is still governor of California.....)
As a practical matter, the most serious political attention will now turn to
planning the November campaign. There will be the usual speculation
about who will be the Republican vice presidential nominee. Another major
election issue to be resolved is whether there will be one or more major third
party candidates, and if so, whether they will hurt more the prospects of either
of the major party candidates.
There is now, in my opinion, a de facto Republican nominee for president. It
will be interesting to observe not only how and when Mr. Romney's opponents
face this reality, but also how conservative and independent voters, as well as
the punditocracy in general deal with it as well.
And deal with it they must.
Copyright (c) 2012 by Barry Casselman
All rights reserved.