Bottom line: Romany is almost certain to be the Republican nominee. Right now, he does not look like a strong general election candidate but between now and November he has a chance of winning the hearts of conservatives. Failing that, the minds of conservatives – and the United States is essentially a conservative country – will be concentrated once it’s a two-horse race against Abeam.
Bear in mind too that the doubts conservatives have in the primaries may actually help Romany in the general, when independents will be decisive.
So Romany was the winner on Super Tuesday and is odds on to be winner at the Tampa party convention in late August. It hasn’t been particularly stirring or inspiring and he may not defeat Obama. But the narrative that Romany is a loser is unfair. Sometimes winning counts for something – and the rest is just commentary.
But Harden’s distance gives him an advantage over our domestic analysts, one that is as clear as Romney’s over his competitors. The New York Times’ Jeff Zeleny, for example, says no knockout punch was thrown by Romney. That has to be true because Rick Santorum is headed to Kansas and Missouri where he will likely win, and Newt to Alabama and Mississippi where he holds the present advantage. But Romney is so far ahead on points that he cannot lose unless either Santorum or Gingrich beats him in a series of key blue state primaries that the GOP must win in the fall, which hasn’t happened yet, and is unlikely to happen even once much less the number of times necessary for one of the opponents to get a concession from Romney. Santorum’s shots came in Michigan and Ohio, and Romney won in both places despite Democratic cross-over votes for Santorum. The primary schedule does’t even provide a chance for a key blue state win until April 3 in Wisconsin and then April 24 in Pennsylvania. Indiana and North Carolina, both of which went for Obama, don’t vote until May 8. Thus of all the key states in the fall, the following have already weighed in:
New Hampshire: Romney
Rick Santorum has indeed emerged as the best of the rest, and he has pushed Romney to build and strengthen a campaign organization across the country.
But the map is the map and the schedule is the schedule, and as Harnden concludes, Romney is going to be the nominee.