June 7, 2011 Leave a comment
Ed Kilgore has an interesting piece in TNR about how the faltering economy might actually be bad for Romney. I happen to think his analysis is spot-on. The crux:
If Romney wins the Republican presidential nomination, bad economic news will, of course, help him against Barack Obama, though that would be true of any GOP nominee. Perhaps it would help Romney even more, however, because his background makes him a plausible economic “pragmatist” who takes ideological oaths with a wink and crossed fingers. But will bad economic news help Romney win the Republican nomination? Don’t count on it…
Finally, continued bad economic news could undermine Romney’s most important asset (aside from money) in the nomination contest: the possibility that early caucuses and primaries could create a fight between Romney and one or two opponents perceived as being “unelectable” against Barack Obama (e.g., Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, or Herman Cain). To put it bluntly, any development—including a struggling economy—that weakens Barack Obama’s standing going into 2012 also reduces the willingness of conservatives to accept a nominee they really don’t like in the name of electability. Romney will do best if Republicans think they must have him to win. In a worsening economy, it will be much easier for them to vote with their hearts, none of which belong to Mitt.
I think that’s exactly right and one of the reasons I consider Bachmann to actually be a credible candidate this go-round. Truth is, if the economy is bad enough, pretty much anybody can beat Obama, and on some level Republicans know that. Of course, what I’m hoping is that they overlearn this and nominate Bachmann (or someone similar) who goes on to lose in an economic scenario in which Romney (or Pawlenty) would have won.