Prolonging the GOP race could come at heavy price
For the last several months, conservatives have rebelled against idea of Mitt Romney winning the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. The reasoning various, but the substantive concerns are that he has no core convictions given the frequency in which he changes positions and also that his core legislative achievement, RomneyCare, served as the blueprint for ObamaCare.
During the course of the campaign, several candidates have been driven by conservative and Tea Party support, but have all fallen back to Earth for various reasons, including lack of experience, understanding of policy basics or uninspiring campaigns. Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, and Rick Perry have all been a vehicle for the anti-Romney vote. However, we’re now in February, four states have gone to the polls, and that trio is longer in the race.
Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have been vying for conservative support, but neither have been able to win over enough support long enough to do any significant damage. And while Romney doesn’t have the nomination locked up, there is little doubt that he is the frontrunner. That’s not to say his nomination is inevitable, but it certainly seems likely.
For their part, anti-Romney conservatives, a significant chunk of the Republican base, continues to fight back against this in hopes of dragging out the primary process until the summer. However, conservatives are running into a couple of problems that may be a recipe for disaster come November.
Politico noted yesterday that so-called Super PACs backing presidential candidates are raking in money while congressional PAC are struggling to raise funds to buy ads or mailings in states or districts where vulnerable candidates/incumbents are running. Moreover, several solid fiscal conservatives reported less than stellar numbers in the most recent fundraising period.
Remember, the presidential race isn’t the only thing that matters this fall. While odds are against the GOP losing control of the House of Representatives, it certainly isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that Democrats could win back control. And while many political observers concede that Democrats may well lose the Senate, it is anything but a certainty.
Many are quick to point out that Romney isn’t likely to beat Obama. I tend to agree, but it’s absurd to suggest that Gingrich or Santorum have a better shot — in fact, polls indicate that they would lose soundly). The only other candidate besides Romney that performs well against Obama is Ron Paul, but his non-interventionist views are, unfortunately, too much for most conservatives.
Gingrich and Santorum, like Romney, are far from being advocates of limited government. It’s hard to understand why fighting against Romney — ostensibly for the equally unprincipled Gingrich and/or Santorum — is hill any conservative would want die on.
Getting too caught up in the presidential race, prolonging it by any longer than necessary, may well put many principled fiscal conservatives behind in very important congressional bids and threaten to undo many of the gains made in 2010.
I’m not saying that conservatives shouldn’t care about the presidential race, but House and Senate races on the ballot this fall should be the most pressing concern since they will have a much more important role to play, either by keeping Obama in check should he win re-election or steering the new Republican president towards sound fiscal ideas.
This obsession with destroying Mitt Romney in the name of conservatism may well be suicide for the Republican Party in 2012.