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Romney may be a weak frontrunner, but Obama is a weak incumbent

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:57 am - March 18, 2012.
Filed under: 2012 Presidential Election

Just read two pieces in the Weekly Standard which, in different ways, provide good insight into the upcoming presidential election, the first, linked by Hugh Hewitt, was Jay Cost’s post explaining why Romney hasn’t “locked up” the GOP nomination the way McCain did in 2008, the second which I chanced upon by reading the aforementioned piece was Michael M. Rosen’s review of Sean Trende‘s The Lost Majority: Why the Future of Government Is Up for Grabs – and Who Will Take It.

Some, Cost among them, may bill Mitt Romney as a weak frontrunner, but, as Rosen reminds us, Obama is not as strong a presence as some of his followers suggest:

While Obama’s champions heralded his election as ringing in a permanent progressive majority, they ignored the fact that (as Trende puts it) “in the midst of probably the most favorable election year environment for a party since 1952—if not 1932,” Obama won by a smaller margin than George H. W. Bush in 1988 and Bill Clinton in 1996.

Little wonder, then, that the Democrats in 2010, after governing for two years from the left, sustained the worst midterm losses of any party since 1938, losing the most seats precisely among those suburban, working-class white, and Southern districts Clinton and company had so assiduously pried from Republican hands two decades earlier.

It wasn’t just a favorable environment for Obama, with the market meltdown and the ineptness of his opponent’s campaign, it was also his masterful use of easily manipulated media and his sizable campaign war chest, his expenditures dwarfing McCain’s.

Obama won over many independent voters by promising to end the profligate ways of the Bush Republicans, with his much touted (and never realized) “net spending cut.”   That is perhaps why, with the mainstream media trumpeting an anemic recovery as the equivalent of the Reagan boom, his poll numbers barely reach 50% — in surveys which oversample Democrats.

He is not going to win back some of the voters he won over in 2008, the only question remaining is whether the eventual Republican nominee can convince those inspired by Obama’s promise that he can undo the Democrat’s mistakes.



  1. Romney might well be playing a crafty game of pragmatism. He is casting his net for voters who find him a reasonable alternative to Obama without the scare factor they feel for Paul, Santorum and Gingrich.

    Once he secures the nomination, he will have the party network out in force because even the toughest conservatives are geared up and ready for anybody but Obama.

    The TEA Party is concentrating on Congress and local elections. It will back Romney will vigor, because it has already considered the alternative and there is nothing whatsoever that Obama can do or say that would establish a milligram of trust with the TEA Party.

    If Obama goes off to war with Iran or brings gas prices down to $1.09, it will be for naught because the TEA Party and conservatives are totally fed up with his shenanigans and 24/7 politics and corruption.

    Obama is going to be forced to steal his votes by crooked dealings at the ballot box and Chicago political chicanery.

    Comment by Heliotrope — March 18, 2012 @ 10:36 am - March 18, 2012

  2. Romney is certainly doing the best he can to help Obama out with comments like “I believe we’re in a recovery.” Nice sound bite for Obama to use in the Fall Campaign.

    Comment by V the K — March 18, 2012 @ 12:03 pm - March 18, 2012

  3. Being the incumbent gives him a leg up to return to the Oval Office. Incumbents have lost before, In 1992 Clinton had Ross Perot run interference for him. In 1996 he wasn´t much of a factor since Senator Dole was the weaker candidate. Ronald Reagan was a strong candidate running against a terribly weak and flawed incumbent. Rick Santorum is no Ronald Reagan, nor an Abraham Lincoln. I had hopes that Newt Gingrich would have been able to emerge as the Reaganesque candidate. Losing Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi took him out of the running. Maybe we will luck out and have brokered convention that will draft a candidate like, Governor Mitch Daniels or GovernorChris Christie.

    Comment by Roberto — March 18, 2012 @ 3:51 pm - March 18, 2012

  4. Hi Dan,

    Romney may be a weak frontrunner, but Obama is a weak incumbent

    Yep, I agree with that statement.

    Hi HT,

    Romney might well be playing a crafty game of pragmatism. He is casting his net for voters who find him a reasonable alternative to Obama without the scare factor they feel for Paul, Santorum and Gingrich.

    I think that indeed is the strategy. Unfortunately, this prmary season has provided more than enough sound-bites to paint him as a conservative who will not appeal to the centre. For example, Dems will recycle Romney’s core strength (capitalist made good, living US dream) as the “Plague of Bain.” It proved effective for Gingrich in SC. And with more money and organization, Dem strategists will swift boat that strength right up the guts. Romney will be painted as some version of Simon Legree, fo sure. And I think it will stick long enough to lose Romney the election.

    Comment by Cas — March 18, 2012 @ 4:11 pm - March 18, 2012

  5. I’m just as afraid that Romney (or Republican X) will win the election, as afraid that Obama will.

    I know we have to fight for America, fight for good things to happen, etc. But good things aren’t going to happen to the next President… no matter who he is. Not unless he possesses a strength of insight, character, temperament and principle that none of the 4 remaining Republican contenders have revealed, IMO.

    The economic/financial “roof” is going to crash on the next President’s head, no matter who he is, caused by 8 decades of left-wing philosophy. To the extent that both parties have been infected by left-wing philosophy, both are to blame. But the Republicans have been pikers with it; Democrats, the kings. And Obama has done all the most recent damage (including some of the worst damage). In that sense, Obama deserves to inherit the collapse.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 18, 2012 @ 6:06 pm - March 18, 2012

  6. ILC,

    I will see your cynical forecast and raise you an additional six tons of sour pickles.

    The Republican not only must take an axe to the budget and entitlements, but he must purge the regulatory code and the weasels of obfuscation and the obdurate moles and fifth columnists who are undermining the Constitution in all of the department offices and government agencies.

    I can not, however, see Obama having one extra day in office. He has brought so much damage to America and our economic system and republic that to think what he would do as a lame duck with four more years is beyond my worst nightmares. This man has ignored the legal process of governance and cowed any resistance with the promise of riots and turmoil by playing the race card.

    He is far from done tearing the roots of this nation from the soil. Even if he is defeated in November, he will work 24/7 at every form of destructive “fundamental transformation” that the Podesta group, the Tides Foundation, etc. and Trumka, Soros, Rathke, Stern, Sunstein, Holder, et al can pump out. The communist/socialists have a lot of agenda left and they will use whatever time they have remaining to pound it into place.

    Comment by Heliotrope — March 18, 2012 @ 7:22 pm - March 18, 2012

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