Sealing the Nomination Early Is Not Ideal for Romney


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Polling results continue to indicate that Mitt Romney should win the New Hampshire Primary tomorrow, which would put him in position to likely wrap up the Republican nomination for President should he win in South Carolina on January 21.

Putting aside whether or not Romney can win in South Carolina, it’s worth wondering whether or not it would be good for Romney and Republicans if he were to seal the deal so early in the process. As “The Fix” explains:

Regardless of whether Romney could handle a short primary season, a longer one is likely to help more. Although more primaries mean more money spent and more time expended on a fight within one party, it also means scads of news media attention – the press would much rather cover an active race than one in which the ultimate vote won’t come for nine months or more – and the chance to run a series of real campaigns in states that will be competitive in the general election.

In practical terms, Romney and his team don’t care when they win the nomination – as long as they do win it. But a look at recent presidential history suggests that a quick victory may provide short-term gain in exchange for long-term political pain.

“It’s like sitting your starters in football,” Matt Bennett, who was a Clinton administration official, said of a short primary. “The rest may feel good and prevent injury, but it doesn’t steel you for the championship.” (Ask the 2009 Colts or John Kerry).

We don’t normally subscribe to the idea that Primaries are good for candidates. Heated primaries in Congressional or Senate races are often more harmful than good because local media no longer has the size and capability to really provide serious coverage; the winning candidate gets all the downside of a tough Primary (negative ads, etc.) without the benefit of significant earned media coverage.

The race for President is the exception to that rule, in our minds, because a protracted primary fight really does generate tons of free press. If Romney wraps up the nomination by February, Republicans no longer will get the lion’s share of the political coverage because the media will immediately turn its attention to the matchup with President Obama. We don’t disagree that Romney just wants the nomination however he can get it, but the best-case scenario for he and his party would be a few more months with the spotlight to themselves.

What Do You Think of a Long Presidential Primary?

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52 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. And I’ll certainly eat my words if Romney does win the GOP nomination, but with all my disagreement against the GOP, I am not a hater and I hope the GOP finds its way back to classical conservatism, because that will make America better

    That said….

    Do the Caucus/Primary voters of the GOP seriously not question Romney’s sincerity??? Do they seriously take him at his word, to the point that success in the GOP is merely a function of just telling everyone what they want to hear (and dismissing every opinion one has held in the past) instead of demonstrating character by being yourself and defending it???

    When the GOP elected Ford in 1976, the majority of the Party preferred a de-tente with the Soviet Union

    When Reagan won in 1980, he CHANGED the Party into supporting potential nuclear annihilation over peace – it was a huge change that was a result of a talented candidate, with a tremendous ability to communicate, along with an electorate that was open to new ideas

    What to make of the current GOP voters?

    Tell them whatever they want to hear, in addition to berating your own past, and celebrate the extreme positions of everything they hold dear?

    I’ll just end it this way – haven’t any of these GOP voters ever shopped at a Used Car Parking Lot?  

      • Fidel's dirt nap says:

        Whatever Tebow is doing, keep doing it !

        My wife and I woke up my kids screaming at the TV last night and jumping up and down.  Just completely awesome when they iced the Steelers 11 seconds into overtime.  Kabloom !

        Sorry, off topic, but I had to say it.

        • I watched it at Loaded Joes in Avon with a group of Colorado friends – we were biting our nails for 3 straight hours

          When the last pass to Thomas was caught, we all cheered…. then as he kept running, everyone in the bar, one by one, got off their stool, cheering louder and louder, exploding when he scored

          One of my favorite Colorado moments ever

    • BlueCat says:

      Who else do you think will get it?  How? Certainly not your disgusting (sorry but he really is) “Uncle” Newt!?! Peacenik racist Paul?  Now there’s an odd combination of attributes. “Blah” people(?) critic Santorum? Immigrant loving, secessionist Perry? A last minute rescue from somebody entirely different?  

      • My dearest BC…

        I will eat my words because, while I am deeply critical of the GOP (and a proud Democrat), I at least thought that there was convictions behind their bigotry, homophobia, and totalitarian desires

        I am starting to realize that there are, in fact, no convictions behind the GOP

        • Diogenesdemar says:

          Has something happened to, “I got mine . . . “??

        • BlueCat says:

          Once again, since you say you say you’ll eat your words if Romney is the nominee, that would seem to mean you don’t think he will be.  So, to be clear:

          Do you think he will not be the nominee?

          If so, who do think will be?

          Does your comment mean something else?

          If so could you be a little more clear?

          • I’m saying that, if Romney becomes the nominee (which could definitely happen) then it means that the GOP has no convictions – and that surprises me  

            • BlueCat says:

              Don’t quite understand it but…got it. Of course you’re much too young to remember what the Republican party used to be which was nowhere near as exclusively far right or as devoted to big government in your private life as it is now. Romney would have been more than conservative enough for the really grand old GOP. The convictions you must be referring to would have been considered pretty extreme.

              On the other hand, in an era in which a Catholic president was almost a bridge too far, Romney would never have been spoken of in connection with that office, so there was that. Of course the idea of a black president would have gotten you laughed out of the room. But that wasn’t a left/right convictions thing. It was just the way things were in the “good old days”.

  2. Gilpin Guy says:

    The purpose of primary is to the vet the candidates and this primary has already weeded out Trump and Cain so you’ve gotta give a thumbs up that the primary has lasted as long as it has.  Bonus points for seeing Perry go small in the debates.

    • Craig says:

      In fact, I think you are just plain wrong.  An end to the primary early is a huge victory for Romney.  Then the press will stop the focus on all these absolutely idiotic ideas and just plain craziness spouted by all of these Republican candidates.  It will allow Romney a time to go dark and become the moderate that he really is and it will allow Romney to put the light being shined on the extermeism of the Republican Party under a shade and hide from what his party really believes.  That’s his best hope for having any chance in the general election.

      I say that Santorum and Gingrich should go the next two rounds and then all the right wingers except the winner between those two should drop out giving the nomination to the winner between these two.

      • BlueCat says:

        In Romney’s case a long primary will not be his friend.  The sooner Rs stop attacking him and rally behind him to face Obama, the better.  

        This might be true if the situation was a vote is divided among too many popular candidates with Romney needing  more  exposure for name rec.  Instead it’s because he’s completely familiar and what most GOPers see in him is not what they want.

        Don’t see how constant reminders of why they don’t like him help. Newt’s thing is that Romney’s just as bad as Obama. If that message gains more traction with unhappy GOPers in an endlessly Romney bashing primary season, there’s less reason to rally behind him to beat Obama and more to go third party to register displeasure.  

      • Middle of the Road says:

        Allowing Romney to win early and lie low does his campaign no favors. It takes him out of the news cycle and forces him to spend time and dime to get any MSM’s attention. His best hope is that this thing drags out for awhile, the way Obama and Clinton’s primary did. It was the news every single day in every single news cycle for months. It sucked all the air out of McCain’s campaign.

        If Romney wins the primary early, he cedes the spotlight to Obama for the next 6 months (provided he wraps things up by March.)

        If all he does is run commercials during that time period, (and he will be forced to in order to keep his name front and center) he’s going to burn out and bore most voters right back into Obama’s corner.

        And being endorsed by McCain only makes Romney look like McCain light, another candidate that didn’t exactly stir enthusiasm among the Party faithful.

        Sometimes bad attention is better than no attention at all and in Romney’s case, he needs all the attention he can get in order to ignite Unaffiliateds to become enthusiastic enough to pull the lever for him in November.  

        • ParkHill says:

          The long primary really helped Obama and the Dems, as both candidates articulated core Democratic values. The Dem advertising machine is so weak, that they really, really needed this.

          The Republicans have Fox News, so they don’t have a built-in channel for free advertising. The utility to the Republican Party of the long primary is that they get to massage all parts of their base.

          Concern Trolling: The benefit for the Democrats is that the constant focus on the crazies destroy the Republican brand for the foreseeable future.

          May that happen, and the country will be a much better place.

        • Diogenesdemar says:

          and there’s no shortage of living, breathing right wing super PACs.

          Romney will get all the GOPers, hell, Perry or Cain would get the GOPers, but he’s going to need the independents to win this. What’s going to influence the independents more, a stealth-Romney or letting them see that today’s GOP is 95% dangerous wackos?  Romney needs to get the family skeletons back into their closets as quickly as he can.  

        • VanDammerVanDammer says:

          Santorum in 2008 from PRNewsWire

          “In a few short days, Republicans from across this country will decide more than their party’s nominee. They will decide the very future of our party and the conservative coalition that Ronald Reagan built. Conservatives can no longer afford to stand on the sidelines in this election, and Governor Romney is the candidate who will stand up for the Conservative principles that we hold dear,” said Senator Santorum.

          “Governor Romney has a deep understanding of the important issues confronting our country today, and he is the clear conservative candidate that can go into the general election with a united Republican party.”

          About same time, Santorum was on Laura Ingraham’s radio show to say:

          … Romney is “”a guy who has gone through that pressure cooker, who has developed a passion, who understands why he’s a conservative and understands the issues, how they weave together.”

          Santorum added that conservatives are “about traditional values and a traditional way of American life” and that Mitt Romney “understands that, it’s not just in his head anymore, it’s in his heart.”

          Now Santorum fears Mittens will “destroy this country” and spews shit like “We want someone who’s gonna stand up and fight for the conservative principles, not bail out and not run and not run to the left of Ted Kennedy.”  

          The sooner Mittens can stuff these hypocritical clowns back into the car the better.  Mitt will find a way to stay in the news.  It’ll likely happen that a 3rd party TeaBaggin’ candidate will show up & give enough fodder for press to pay attention the next 6 mos.  

        • BlueCat says:

          Romney will get plenty of attention, and can focus all of his effort on bad attention to Obama instead of having to counter bad attention to himself from so many in his own party.

          There was very little policy difference between Obama and Clinton.  Dems were highly energized to be in it to win it whichever turned out to be the nominee. Most Dems who preferred one didn’t despise the other.  This is an entirely different situation.  

          Instead of  two competing candidates with  very like-minded constituencies, it’s an unpopular candidate at the top who can’t improve his numbers no matter how many rivals, the most powerful with big policy differences, crash and burn.  He needs grudging acceptance and solidarity more than he needs attention to his continuing inability to  improve on an unimpressive ceiling.  So far he has no more supporters than in 2008, a year in which he lost to the guy who lost the general.

          Prolonged primaries aren’t good for getting more attention when you are already such a completely known and not much liked quantity.  

        • Craig says:

          Money is a non-issue for Romney.  He and Obama are both going to spend over a billion, we all know that.  The side groups will also spend billions too.  Money is no issue for either candidate.  Both of them will wear out their welcome with voters.  He’s tech savvy enough to come close to Obama.  So, if he wins right now, he avoids all the negative impressions his opponents are giving him in the primary.  The reality is that the country already knows Romney.  And from the polls I’ve seen he’s only something like 3-5% behind the President.  His message about the President is getting lost in all of this BS with his Republican opponents, none of whom have a prayer of beating the President.  

          Also, you’ve got to remember that the American public has a very short memory span.  There are lots of my folks (the country club Republicans) who voted for Obama last time that aren’t going to do it this time.  And trust me, watching these bozos only discourages them and makes them think about voting for any “Republican” at all.

          • LakewoodTodd says:

            Romney has been trying to turn and face Obama for months. But the “anyone but Romney” momentum has caused him to keep defending himself from within his own party.

            As soon as he can say that he has comfortably locked up the nomination, he will be able to stop engaging the right wing rhetoric and go full force at the President while reinventing himself as a moderate.

  3. Early WormEarly Worm says:

    the sooner he can move to the center.  He wants the nomination as soon as possible, so he can present himself as a moderate to the American poeple.  Although, having Ron Paul and Rick Santorum around, as contrast, is not going to hurt him.  He can claim that he is not a right wing economic nut (thats Paul), and not a right wing social nut (thats Santorum).

    • ParkHill says:

      The Tea Partiers aren’t the only crazies running the asylum. Before them and larger in numbers, we have the religious right.

      Over and above all of them are the super-wealthy, hard-right ideologues. Some of these are Republican Establishment, but many are to the right of Joe Coors, namely the Koch brothers who are hard-core Corporate Libertarians.

      I would guess Coors-style corporatists want a “responsible-dependable-conservative” Republican Party that’s good for business. The big money behind Gingrich is more extrmist and fighting to keep the Republican Party as hard right as possible.

      I think the real civil war in the Republican Party is the one within the Conservative Establishment.

    • BlueCat says:

      a Republican presidential primary these days with a shred of credibility as a candidate who can appeal to the middle.   Everything that would help you take a few steps back toward the middle is anathema in the primary.  For instance:

      The statement, made by the Manhattan Institute’s Josh Barro to Buzzfeed, directly contradicts what Romney’s top spokesman Eric Ferhnstrom told the Huffington Post on Sunday. Barro, who served as an intern on that campaign, explained that on Pride weekend in 2002, the campaign sent about a half-dozen interns to a “post-parade festival on Boston Common” to hand out flyers proclaiming that “all citizens deserve equal rights, regardless of their sexual preference.”

      “The thing was organized by a full-time staffer,” Barro added

      .

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

      What’s a Romney to do?  

  4. VanDammerVanDammer says:

    the main takeway time & again was Mittens seeming presidential compared to the rest of the buffoons on stage.  Hell he just had to shut up to stand head & shoulders against raging idiots like Bachmann & Parry.

    The only suspense remaining after FL (if we even have to wait that long) is who will round out the ticket.  Christie sure has his dinghy tied up to the SS Mittens but could a tru Nor’easter ticket really play?  And Stay-Puft Christie’s disdain for Occupier “sweethearts” make Mitt seem almost non-Stepford but still a bit to much of the 1% for the heartland.

    So who’s gonna ride shotgun on Mitt’s bumperstickers in ’12?

    Marco Rubio … Nikki Haley … Bob McDonnell … Bobby Jindal … Jeb Bush …

    or Guv Cristie?  This bit of suspense deserves a poll vs. any Palmetto odds …

  5. …with the guts to jump in so late is Palin, but I doubt she does

  6. Gray in Mountains says:

    OFA,or a 527, can run ads on TV with folks who Romney caused to lose jobs

  7. ParkHill says:

    I think a lot of these candidates are auditioning for Vice President, and or building their names for 2016. (Or trying to keep their name in the game for bool tours or FOX News shoes.

    Frankly, if Romney wins, he’ll probably select Huckabee, who has been keeping his head under the umbrella.

  8. VanDammerVanDammer says:

    Mitt Romney Blowout Could Help Senate Democrats, Memo Says

    HuffPost broaches idea that with an early Mitt win only the die hard righties will turn out in the later primaries.  Any of those featuring a TeaBagger vs. a mod GOP match up could result in splitting Senate races and giving a Dem an advantage.  An idea worth paying attention to.

  9. VoyageurVoyageur says:

    but had spent all the money he was allowed to spend prior to the nomination.  Clinton, with no opposition, spent months tarring him with the “Dole and Gingrich” brush.  campaign rules may be different  now, especially Since I don’t think Romney has taken matching funds.  But assuming the Mittster wraps it up for all practical purposes in Florida late this month, that gives a long time for Team Obama to run ads establishing Bain Capital as a tool of Satan or the Oakland Raiders (but I repeat myself;-))

    • Craig says:

      Dole took Public funds. Romney didn’t so he has no limit pre-primary and of course in Dole’s time there were no “SuperPACs.”  This isn’t an issue this year.

      • VoyageurVoyageur says:

        I assumed not, but wasn’t sure.   But there is still a long time from the Florida primary to the convention in which he is only the presumed nominee.  Team Obama can poison the wells since most voters, as opposed to gop primary voters, don’t know much about the man.  In contrast, there isn’t much to say about Obama that hasn’t been said.

  10. MADCO says:

    It’s better for Romeny to lock it up early and distance himself from the loons.

    It’s better for him to have an extended primary (June) so that the media attention can build and more voters can get comfortable with him.

    Short is also better because it provides more motivation for 3rd party candidate (whatever their motivation) to enter.  Any 3rd party candidate is likely to be …more extreme and help Flopney look more normal.

    Of course, what would be best for Romney as candidate would be for the economy to tank next September, right as the president starts lying about having an affair with an intern.  In short, whether the primary is long or short, the best thing for candidate Romhey has nothing to do with  when he gets the nomination nor even himself.

  11. BlueCat says:

    how much does the fact that Romney is a Mormon affect his chances? The base may not have been wild about McCain but he was sufficiently vanilla Christian to at least not be weird to the evangelical right. If young voters are less enthusiastic about Obama this time and evangelicals are less enthusiastic about Romney is it pretty much a wash in that department? It’s not just about bothering to vote.  It’s also about passion, bothering to write generous checks, volunteer and really work it.  

    • ParkHill says:

      It is absolutely for-sure that the VP will be someone respected by the Christian Right.

      Perry proved to be a bozo. Palin is an idiot. Gingrich is self-destructing. Santorum is Catholic and hates contraceptives. Paul is just a crazy States-rights racist, not really a libertarian.

      We’re working down a process of elimination, which is why I suggested Huckabee… Unless Huck is the compromise last white hope selected at a brokered convention. He’ll run to the left of Obama on the economy, and far to the right mixing religion with the Constitution women’s issues.

      • BlueCat says:

        He’d have to give up his lucrative gig at Fox. Much easier way to make a living. And I don’t think there really are very many GOP pols to choose from, besides the Mormon ones, who aren’t suitably Christian so that doesn’t really narrow it down much.  

        Ooo…I know. How about a Mormon and the only remaining Jewish Republican in congress, both houses, Eric Cantor? The Christian right likes pro-Israel (too bad, Ron Paul) don’t they? Wouldn’t that be a fun ticket?

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