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Is Mitt Romney Doomed Already? - Spectator Blogs

12 September 2012

12 September 2012

Put it this way: Mitt Romney’s route to the White House is perilously thin. He has little margin for error. Recent polls suggest Barack Obama has benefited from the Democratic convention much more than Romney was helped by the Republican party’s gathering in Florida.

As always, it is worth recalling that polling advantages in late August or even early to mid September are rarely dispositive. Of course Romney can still win but that’s hardly the same as thinking he’s likely to.

The map at the top of this post – compiled at 270 To Win – shows how Romney could squeak an electoral college tie and send the election to the House of Representatives. That result is necessarily improbable but it’s just one illustration of how narrow Romney’s path to victory really is.

To put it simply: even if Romney wins back Indiana, Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina and Virginia he’s still likely to need Florida to actually cross the winning-line.  If he loses Florida winning Ohio and New Hampshire or, even less probably, Ohio and Wisconsin will not be enough. (Wisconsin has voted for the Democratic candidate in every election since 1988. I see little reason to suppose that it will plump for Romney-Ryan this time.)

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In fact, as Nate Silver demonstrates, it is almost impossible to see how Romney can win without triumphing in Florida. By contrast, Obama has more margin for error. Silver’s definition of a “must-win” state is the correct one: “So what we might really think of as must-win states are those that a candidate could not afford to lose even in a close election.”

Viewed in these terms, North Carolina and Virginia are not quite “must-win” states for Obama but they probably are for Romney. That is, if Romney loses North Carolina (I think he’ll probably win it but only just) he’s more than likely to lose Virginia too. And if that happens then he’s probably going to be in trouble in Florida as well.

This is not likely to be a landslide election. Bear in mind, however, that a 54-46 split pretty much counts as a landslide these days. Romney’s strategy is not that adventurous. 51% will do fine, thank you very much.

But to get to 51% he needs to clobber Obama amongst white voters. At the moment – albeit with the Democratic convention still a live memory – that isn’t happening. As Jonathan Chait explains:

Both campaigns seem to be assuming an electorate that is about as diverse as the one four years ago — non-white voters will probably be a little less jazzed to vote, but more of them will be eligible. That assumption, combined with Obama’s steady share of the non-white vote, produces a break-even point of around 60 percent of the white vote, or perhaps a little higher, for Romney. In the [Washington] Post’s likely voter sample, he only leads by 55 to 42 percent among white voters. That thirteen-point lead is nowhere close to the twenty-point-plus margin he probably needs.

If Obama can carry 42% of the white vote it is hard to see how he loses the election. Of course, if black and latino voters make up a smaller share of the electorate than they did four years ago then Obama’s position begins to look pretty bleak.

Nevertheless, there’s no doubt which campaign you’d rather run and it’s not Mitt Romney’s. His best chance of running from the front may have already passed. Ross Douthat:

What the Obama bounce has done, though, is dramatically reduce the possibility that this election will turn out like 1980 or 1992, when the electorate broke hard against the incumbent in the last few months of the campaign. The convention period was Mitt Romney’s best chance to pull substantially ahead of the president and set himself up to pull away. If Romney wins, it will probably be by a whisker, not a lap.

That seems right to me and, as Ross expands upon, it has always struck me as crazy that so many conservatives think Romney should be running away with this election. The GOP’s path to victory has always needed a fortuitous run with the dice and while we can’t rule out such a streak it’s not too sensible to count on it happening either.

Play around with the electoral map yourself and you start to see how daunting – though not impossible – Romney’s task really is. That doesn’t mean he can’t win only that if both campaigns are in some trouble one is in rather more trouble than the other.

 

 


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Show comments
  • rndtechnologies786

    Blog is nice.

  • Beefeater

    We have been reading different conservatives. Rather that a sweeping victory, many conservatives predict an inevitable loss. America has been approaching a tipping point: the economy under Obama has reached the point where the government sector is greater than the private sector. The ideological preference for “compassion” – i.e. the visible open hand of federal redistribution – follows from that and will emerge from the ballot box. The race, class, gender war has been won. White male profit has been condemned and routed. Social non-profit enterprise has been enthroned. We shall in time all get comfy with the idea of being Julia.

  • SirMortimerPosh

    Could he squeak a win? I certainly hope not. He’d be far more uncerebral than cowboy George. He appears to react like my terrier dog. Something happens and he growls and yaps. In power, he’d likely rush in and tear the ar se out of the postman’s trousers.

  • Baron

    Whoever comes first matters only inasmuch as the incumbent is by far more likely to speed up the implosion of the Republic.

  • Kevin

    Is this the most important American news story the day after the murder of US diplomats in Libya?

  • john cronin

    I quote from your article which quotes Chait, which probably quotes another hack:

    “Both campaigns seem to be assuming an electorate that is about as
    diverse as the one four years ago — non-white voters will probably be a
    little less jazzed to vote, but more of them will be eligible. That
    assumption, combined with Obama’s steady share of the non-white vote,
    produces a break-even point of around 60 percent of the white vote, or
    perhaps a little higher, for Romney. In the [Washington] Post’s likely voter sample, he only leads
    by 55 to 42 percent among white voters. That thirteen-point lead is
    nowhere close to the twenty-point-plus margin he probably needs.”

    Er yes but that is assuming the white voters are telling the truth. Remember (admittedly not a precise comparison) the Major victory of 92, when al-Beeb (peace be upon it) was predicting a 40 seat Lab maj the night before the election?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/Z5DQCE7YHKZZWEDZIZLDYUUW5M ninja

    If Romney was an actual leader and rejected the hard-nose foreign policy posturing then he would have a good chance. I would like to think that a Mitch Daniels that hadn’t worked for the Bush administration, wasn’t 5’7″(this matters), and didn’t have wife baggage would be running away with this easily.

    The problem with the GOP is their Reagan worship. Reagan was a man of his time… and these people are neither men nor in their time anymore.

    There was a conservative website called culture11 that was started during the 2008 election and had to close down because of the recession. It was a great site with a lot of good young thinkers on the right. It’s women group blog was much better than Slate’s XX or Jezebel. I think the GOP’s direction would be a lot different today if it would have kept on going.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/Z5DQCE7YHKZZWEDZIZLDYUUW5M ninja

    If Romney was an actual leader and rejected the hard-nose foreign policy posturing then he would have a good chance. I would like to think that a Mitch Daniels that hadn’t worked for the Bush administration, wasn’t 5’7″(this matters), and didn’t have wife baggage would be running away with this easily.

    The problem with the GOP is their Reagan worship. Reagan was a man of his time… and these people are neither men nor in their time anymore.

    There was a conservative website called culture11 that was started during the 2008 election and had to close down because of the recession. It was a great site with a lot of good young thinkers on the right. It’s women group blog was much better than Slate’s XX or Jezebel. I think the GOP’s direction would be a lot different today if it would have kept on going.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/Z5DQCE7YHKZZWEDZIZLDYUUW5M ninja

    If Romney was an actual leader and rejected the hard-nose foreign policy posturing then he would have a good chance. I would like to think that a Mitch Daniels that hadn’t worked for the Bush administration, wasn’t 5’7″(this matters), and didn’t have wife baggage would be running away with this easily.

    The problem with the GOP is their Reagan worship. Reagan was a man of his time… and these people are neither men nor in their time anymore.

    There was a conservative website called culture11 that was started during the 2008 election and had to close down because of the recession. It was a great site with a lot of good young thinkers on the right. It’s women group blog was much better than Slate’s XX or Jezebel. I think the GOP’s direction would be a lot different today if it would have kept on going.

  • Augustus

    Predictions aside, what is clear is that the decision will fall on the boundary between the personal and economic
    dimensions. Even though Obama still holds a clear advantage in his ability to emanate an
    image of sympathy and understanding regarding the hardships and difficulties of
    the average voter, Romney has a similarly significant advantage in terms of
    belief in his ability to steer the U.S. economy safely toward prosperity and
    development. Therefore, if unemployment data published on the eve of the
    election is poor and points to the continuation of economic uncertainty and
    sluggishness, it will overshadow all factors related to the candidates’
    personalities in the voters’ decision-making process before they head to the
    ballot boxes, even if Obama were to come out on top in the three televised debates. Will his hyped-up charisma and velvety voice save him, or will the votes in November be based on more concrete, tangible factors.

  • Augustus

    Predictions aside, what is clear is that the decision will fall on the boundary between the personal and economic
    dimensions. Even though Obama still holds a clear advantage in his ability to emanate an
    image of sympathy and understanding regarding the hardships and difficulties of
    the average voter, Romney has a similarly significant advantage in terms of
    belief in his ability to steer the U.S. economy safely toward prosperity and
    development. Therefore, if unemployment data published on the eve of the
    election is poor and points to the continuation of economic uncertainty and
    sluggishness, it will overshadow all factors related to the candidates’
    personalities in the voters’ decision-making process before they head to the
    ballot boxes, even if Obama were to come out on top in the three televised debates. Will his hyped-up charisma and velvety voice save him, or will the votes in November be based on more concrete, tangible factors.

  • john cronin

    What no one seems to be pointing out is that a lot of whites will vote for Obama cos they’re terrified that if they don’t and there is a Romney victory, da bro’s will have Rodney King style riots ‘cross da country.

    • cg

      I think that a lot of whites may vote for Obama because Romney and his party (currently) are such a disgrace.

      • Malfleur

        See my question above.

  • cg

    I think Romney’s comments about the murders of the American diplomats have proved beyond any doubt that he is unfit for office of any sort.

  • cg

    I think Romney’s comments about the murders of the American diplomats have proved beyond any doubt that he is unfit for office of any sort.

  • cg

    I think Romney’s comments about the murders of the American diplomats have proved beyond any doubt that he is unfit for office of any sort.

    • Malfleur

      And just why is that – or do you think that you don’t have to give reasons when you make a stupid statement?

      • EP

        Here’s a few reasons (from a commentator who can hardly be described as pro-Obama) – I trust they meet your punishing standards for non-stupidity: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/larison/

        • Baron

          and this chap Larison, the one you put your trust in is what, omniscient God with the last word on the issue?

        • Beefeater

          Larison tries to fiddle with Romney’s use of the word “sympathy.” The first statements out of the embassy were indeed sympathetic to the offense taken by (stirred up by) muslims to the film. There is strain in American – as in British – conservatism that is sympathetic to Arab/Muslim hysteria. Foggy Bottom and Chatham House like to think they know how to manage these wallahs: save their faces, you know. The last whimper of paternalism.
          The substance of Romney’s statements were correct. They should have been expressed far more forcefully. As for Obama’s comment that R shoots first and aims later, the riposte surely is that when it comes to foreign policy, Obama aims and shoots himself in the foot unerringly every time.

          • JOETOBY

            JUST THINK, ABOUT 100 YEARS FROM NOW, THIS VERY TOPIC DICUSSION FROM ALL HERE, WON’T BE IMPORTANT! THE IMPORTANT QUESTION IS: WHERE WILL YOU SPEND YOUR ETERNITY? WE ONLY HAVE TWO CHOICES. DON’T MISS THE RIGHT CHOICE!

        • JOETOBY

          WOW!! WHAT A PUNCH!! BANG! BING!!

      • JOETOBY

        Some Important people thinks that, LIke , you know who?

    • JOETOBY

      Amen!!

  • jamerg

    Useful round-up Alex, thanks.

    P.S. Got the new Avett Brothers album yet? It’s cracking.

  • jamerg

    Useful round-up Alex, thanks.

    P.S. Got the new Avett Brothers album yet? It’s cracking.

  • jamerg

    Useful round-up Alex, thanks.

    P.S. Got the new Avett Brothers album yet? It’s cracking.

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