Mitt Romney has run an Obama style campaign with a NASA space launch level of attention to detail. By comparison, most of Romney’s opponents, who insist that they are the “real” conservatives remaining in the field, seem to be organized just well enough to become the student body president at a large state university. The Republican Party’s most prominent members would just about swear to you that they invented the term “survival of the fittest” if you asked them. There is nothing more pure, they are quick to declare, than the ability people have in a capitalistic society to earn what they are worth. So why are Republican Party malcontents so bent out of shape about Mitt Romney’s lead in the GOP presidential nomination race? What is behind this childish infatuation with the idea that a real conservative should be the party’s standard bearer when no one who is considered a real conservative can cut the mustard when it comes to actually winning the Republican presidential nomination?
The media is complicit in this charade, with columnists who are ready and willing to promote the idea that Romney, despite his penchant for planning ahead and being extremely well organized, is somehow lacking when it comes to those intangible qualities they insist the base of the Republican Party have to have in a candidate in order to really get behind him. The media is ready and willing to give Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum all the airtime they want to talk about how the Republican Party needs someone who can “beat Obama”, while all three of these guys have the kind of campaigns that are set up to beat Jimmy Carter.
The Democrats ended up with the less electable presidential candidate the last time around too, according to conventional wisdom. But it didn’t happen because of affirmative action. It didn’t happen because white Democrats felt guilty and decided to push the button for the black guy. And it didn’t happen because Barack Obama ran the most attack ads. It happened because Barack Obama’s political operation out strategized, out hustled and out campaigned his opponents. They ran the closest thing to a 50 state campaign to become the Democratic presidential nominee America has ever seen. The Obama organization methodically identified and subsequently energized the largest number of volunteers to a national political campaign in the history of this country. And once they won the nomination, instead of asking the Democratic election establishment to take the reins and provide the bulk of the infrastructure the way past candidates normally have done, the Obama organization supplanted them.
Maybe in 2016 or 2020, if the next Democratic presidential candidate goes back to the way Democratic candidates used to run their presidential campaigns, back when they relied on their personality or the mistakes the Republican candidate might make or a third party candidate to eke out a victory, real conservative candidates who aren’t thoroughly prepared from Day One of their presidential nominee campaigns to run a national race might be relevant. They can charm a few pundits, ear hustle a few voters, and gain access to the levers of the Republican get-out-the-vote machine. But right now, in primary after primary, it appears that the candidate most likely to be the Republican nominee based on actual votes is Mitt Romney.