In case either of my readers was wondering, I have not changed my view on the Republican presidential primary; Mitt Romney is still the inevitable nominee. Even when Rick Santorum has his biggest victories, as was the case last Tuesday, Romney still gains more delegates.
The reason that Mitt Romney is the inevitable nominee is that he is the only candidate that is competent to do the job. Newt Gingrich, while both highly intelligent and entertaining, is an egomaniacal loose cannon who does not have the temperament to be leader of the free world. Rick Santorum is the least electable politician in the history of either major party to make it this far in a primary contest. While the Tea Party lunatics get most of the attention in the press, the Republican Party still contains a silent majority of sensible people who want more limited government but don’t agree with Mr. Santorum that people having sex for reasons other than procreation is a problem that politicians should concern themselves with. It is these sensible Republicans that have helped Mitt Romney amass a large lead in delegates. It may sound strange, but the time may have come for these sensible Republicans to reconsider their voting strategy.
The longer this campaign goes on the clearer it is becoming that Mitt Romney, while a smart and decent person, is a terrible campaigner. He actually thought he could endear himself to Nascar fans buy telling them that several of his friends “own Nascar teams”. The focus of his campaign has been on the economic issues, but with the economy improving he is going to have a difficult time winning over swing voters. As this primary has shown, he will not have the luxury of a united Republican base behind him so unless something catastrophic happens to the economy he is likely destined to a respectable but certain defeat at the hands of President Obama in November. If that happens, the lunatic wing of the Republican Party will be even more determined next time around to elect a kindred spirit rather than an electable moderate and we will have to go through this circus again in four years. The best option for the long term health of the Republican Party may actually be to offer up Rick Santorum as a sacrificial lamb to the President in November. While that may allow the President to win every state but Mississippi and Alabama, it would also allow the Party to discredit and purge the pitchfork and torch carrying Tea Partiers.
If Romney loses to Obama, the Tea Partiers will argue that simply nominating the most “electable candidate”, such as Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney, is pointless and that if you are going to lose you might as well lose with a candidate you really believe in. The sensible wing of the Party should make a tactical retreat in 2012 and allow Rick Santorum to embarrass the Party in a national election. That way they will be able to unite around an electable conservative candidate in 2016 and have a reasonable chance of winning.