It’s Time for Mitt Romney to Save the Day

Dan Scotto

Dan Scotto lives and works in New Jersey. He has a master's degree in history, with a focus on the history of disease and the history of technology.

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120 Responses

  1. notme says:

    Sorry, I’m not clear on how Mitt is supposed to save the day. Why/How is Mitt a better candidate now than he was before?Report

    • Michael Cain in reply to notme says:

      In response to this — and some of the other comments below — Mitt now looks better because the opposition is not as good. There seem to be a fair number of people who think that Clinton isn’t nearly as good a candidate/campaigner as the incumbent Obama was, me among them. I’ve said for some time that I thought she would win the White House, but the Republicans would hold the House and Senate.Report

      • Morat20 in reply to Michael Cain says:

        Have you not taken a close look at the Senate map? It’s a bad, bad, bad year for Republicans Senators.

        The House, of course, is solidly Republican and will remain so absent a huge wave.Report

        • Kolohe in reply to Morat20 says:

          The GOP is defending more marginal states this term, but the various crystal ball people have only 2 of the 6 as lean Dem, 1 as lean GOP, and the other three pure toss up. So it’s a coin flip with the cumulative probability of them losing 3 seats and keeping the Senate and losing 4 seats and losing the Senate (with Vice President Castro giving the Dems control of a 50 50 Senate).

          This calc goes away with Trump at the top of the ticket, (and the Dems get their wave) but I don’t think it goes away for Cruz.Report

        • Michael Cain in reply to Morat20 says:

          Like @kolohe says. The Dems need to net four Senate seats. Five or six would be better so they don’t need quite so much discipline for something controversial like dumping the filibuster on SCOTUS nominations. At the top of the ticket they have a candidate who seems tone-deaf on how things will be perceived, and out of touch with this year’s Zeitgeist. Plus the Dems seem to be getting worse at state-level elections.

          Should Trump get the nomination, I’ll be curious as to how many Senate candidates suddenly become economic populists.Report

          • Morat20 in reply to Michael Cain says:

            At the top of the ticket they have a candidate who seems tone-deaf on how things will be perceived, and out of touch with this year’s Zeitgeist.

            I’m on record stating what I think of this year’s zeitgeist.

            I think people are seeing a unique Republican phenomenon (and one a long time in the making) and filtering it through a handy lens.

            And the Clinton tone-deaf thing…*shrug*. More tone deaf than remaining member of the GOP field? More tone-deaf than the man she just beat?

            I tend to question conventional wisdom when Clinton is involved, because there’s such a mess there that people project a LOT. Myself included, although I try not to.Report

      • notme in reply to Michael Cain says:

        So the answer is Mitt is the same but them Dems are worse? I’m sorry but that won’t convince me to jump on the Mitt wagon.Report

  2. Jaybird says:

    Can we save the people (I mean white people) in flyover country? No, not really.
    Can we save minorities in the same area? Heh. No.
    Can we save jobs from being outsourced? No.
    Can we save companies who outsource jobs from having to pay more in taxes? Probably.
    Can we save the party? YES! YES WE CAN! WITH MITT!!!!

    Why are we saving it, again? From what? And to what end?Report

    • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

      Right. I’m fascinated by the Romney fascination. I mean in these circumstances with the current dynamics we’d have to invent a new word because “obliterated” wouldn’t cover how badly he’d lose.

      As a foil to force Cruz/Kasich to play nice in the cat poop of the Republican sandbox? Sure, I suppose. But Cruz/Kasich is merely obliterated in the general… but at least we could stick with the ordinary usage of the word.

      The answer to Trump is to recognize that the Republican party’s base ideology/brand is broken and needs fixing. I’d like to see it fixed in one direction, many folks here perhaps in another direction, but absent a change of direction, the followers won’t follow.Report

      • Kim in reply to Marchmaine says:

        It’s the same thing as people for Gore/Kerry. (Kerry was particularly puzzling, imnsho).
        Sunk Cost Fallacy.Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to Marchmaine says:

        This is the thing — the GOP has needed to make a choice about what its base is going to be, and has needed to do so since about the sixth year of the Bush (II) Administration.

        The basic coalition Reagan got mastered way back in the early 1980’s has been flippantly described as Jesus!, Guns!, and Money!. As it the way of things, coalitions like that gradually drift apart as over time their common goals for policy changes overlap less and less.

        The real problem is that Republican leaders in Reagan’s wake have devoted their housekeeping to trying to keep that coalition forged together because it was really awesome when that coalition worked. Or so their memories tell them. Can this coalition stay together? People who are serious about Jesus! have become a bit skeptical about ideas advanced by the Guns! and Money! crowds because those policies neither boosted public morality nor evidence the “compassionate conservativism” they were sold on. Alsotoo the Money! people got really sour on the Guns! folks during the Second Iraq War because it cost a trillion dollars and that money wasn’t used to stimulate out of the recession that was going on at the time.

        So the search has been on for a long time for either a magic policy bullet or a charismatic savior to be Reagan II who would get Jesus!, Guns!, and Money! back together again like a Crosby, Stills, and Nash reunion. And like a Crosby, Stills, and Nash reunion, the reality of it happening now wouldn’t be as good as the fantasy that it would be as good as it once was long ago, as proven by previous times that it really did happen.

        The point here is not to cast Mitt Romney in the role of that conservative savior to be Reagan II. For that, look to Paul Ryan (who just today got a float from John Boehner who didn’t he retire or something?) if the convention gets brokered. Nor is the point for Romney to actually run to win — it’s for Romney to run as a way of keeping the dream of the revived tripartate coalition alive during the Interregnum of Trump, a way to avoid the ultimate implication of a Trump candidacy which is that the Republican Party has morphed into the contemporary equivalent of the Andrew Jackson Democrats, something which the Money! wing finds more than a little bit distasteful because it means that they’re cast out of the coalition and have to instead double-down on their efforts to corrupt the Democrats.Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to Burt Likko says:


          I keep on thinking of Williamson’s sneer in the NRO about the WWC going for Trump and how their communities just need to be paved over and destroyed.

          I think the money side has always held the guns and Jesus side in contempt. There are some crossovers between money and Jesus sides but not much. The money side never really cared about the social issues that animated the Jesus and gun sides.

          The two problems seem to be that money fooled itself that Jesus and Guns really cared about Capital Gains. The other issue is that the GOP pundits and hacks just can’t admit that Trump is a creature of their own creation. They are falling over themselves to find a way to blame Trump on liberals and Obama. It is kind of rich (in a I am filled with contempt way) to see Erik Erickson call Trump a vulgar demagogue. The same Erik who tweeted against Asians on Pearl Harbor and called Justice Souter, a goat fucking child molester.

          The GOP made trump and they can’t lie with him.Report

          • Barry in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            “The two problems seem to be that money fooled itself that Jesus and Guns really cared about Capital Gains. ”

            Other way around. The GOP has succeeded spectacularly at making life better for the Money crowd. That crowd fooled the Jesus and Guns crowds (many of whose leaders were really Money people).Report

        • Marchmaine in reply to Burt Likko says:

          Great observations with which I agree; except I don’t think Humpty can be put back together. And that’s what fascinates me.

          Flippantly I’d note that the pillars have morphed somewhat to Jesus!, Wars!, and Wall St! which maybe looks the same, but really isn’t. This was the Rubio?! gambit that Douthat just today euologizes.

          My sneaking suspicion is that Wall St! will find it cheaper to appease the Democratic party than a reconstituted Republican party… but that’s a hunch that is more than a com box with single word archetypes could withstand.Report

          • Morat20 in reply to Marchmaine says:

            Well yeah, it’s not like the Democrats are anti-market or anything. Wall Street might not get the hooker and blow they want, but even an unhappy Democratic majority is going to be fairly reasonable as far as it goes.

            Yeah, they might face more regulation or Tobin taxes or something, but nobody is going to nationalize anything. Even during the Great Recession, the most hard-core left idea was to nationalize the underwater banks just long enough to stabilize them and then break them up and privatize them again.

            Nobody wanted the government to keep them. Literally the worst they’d be looking at is higher capital gains taxes, some regulations that, bluntly, will probably benefit most of them — and the ones it won’t are the troublemakers who keep trying to trigger a world-wide market meltdown — and maybe the occasional whacks on anti-trust violations and trying to keep markets competitive.

            It’s not what they want, but they can live with it. Whereas, with the GOP, you never know when those idiots will decide to destroy the US’s bond rating, or drop a nuke on Iran and screw the oil market six ways from sideways. Less oversight and lower taxes are less and less worth it compared to the potential catastrophe on the GOP side.Report

            • Marchmaine in reply to Morat20 says:

              That’s something along the lines my calculus runs as well.

              Naturally, they prefer to hedge their bets and right now both the Democrats and Republicans offer friendly packages…so the motivation to change or unbalance the equation is low. But, add in an sort of real trade reform (what ever that might be) and pretty quickly the Dems look mighty fine. Regulation vs. Redefining supply chains will win everytime.Report

        • Morat20 in reply to Burt Likko says:

          Dubya, for all his flaws, managed to straddle the gap quite successfully. Most of the groups accepted him as one of their own, and he had a lot of post-911 leeway and a lot of support.

          He even had a plan (compassionate conservatism). But even he couldn’t get his own base to go alone. They killed his immigration reform ideas dead, and the full support of his base and the 9/11 boost wasn’t enough to let him hit the GOP Holy Grail (SS privatization).

          I think it unlikely the GOP will find a candidate that can sell himself to all three legs of the GOP stool as successfully as Dubya did, which makes internal reform….difficult. If the guy everyone liked and trusted couldn’t update your fundamentals, who can?Report

          • Barry in reply to Morat20 says:

            “Dubya, for all his flaws, managed to straddle the gap quite successfully. ”

            No, he had 9/11. That gave him a couple of years to accomplish something; he and his devoted it to looting and destruction. And his accomplishments aside from looting and destruction were not much.Report

            • Morat20 in reply to Barry says:

              He had an actual chance of changing the GOP’s approach to a number of issues that are currently killing them. And at least, early on in his campaign, it looked like he might actually try it.

              It stopped being anything but a campaign slogan as soon as Dick Cheney picked himself as VP, though.

              That killed off any chance at fixing their numbers with Hispanics, of doing some repair to their image on issues like safety nets — by 2004 and 2005, he had decided to play tag with the third rail, had given up on immigration reform, and had decided to trash decades of Republican advantage on foreign policy.

              Dubya would never have been a great President, but he might have unwedged the GOP from at least one of the cracks they’re currently stuck in. Unfortunately, it seems pretty clear that we actually voted in Dick Cheney.Report

        • Burt Likko in reply to Burt Likko says:

          Also, like a Crosby, Stills and Nash reunion, there’s every possibility that the younger folks would respond to an announcement about it by saying, “Meh.”Report

  3. Michael Drew says:

    Is it really the case that Romney was literally prevented from running by Bush’s fundraising etc. (not that that’s your claim, but that’s the media narrative)? Couldn’t he have been in the race the whole time, if he was only willing to run under conditions in which the carpet wasn’t simply rolled out for him like it was for Bush? Mustn’t he be thinking that he could be winning this campaign now if only he’d been in it, no matter what the conditions were he’d have had to run under? I guess he might also be thinking he could well have suffered losing to Trump like the others did which would be a real mark on his legacy (whatever that is), and that he likes his options right now better than if that had happened. But I guess my point is, I don;t really get this blaming Jeb for running, forcing Mitt out. Everyone knew Jeb was interested in running again, or at least you had to figure. I can;t imagine a lot of people were expecting Mitt to turn around and run again right away. No one knew what was coming. I don’t really get criticizing Jeb for doing what he was certainly always planning to do. The majority of people he talked to about it I’m sure were gung-ho going in (maybe he talked only to the wrong people).

    (By the way, I apply a similar critique to Joe Biden, though slightly less harsh. I think he finally determined he couldn’t run a campaign with a real path at all, given Clinton’s hammerlock on party support (not funds, so much, but that too). There was nothing similar to that that Mitt was looking at on the GOP side, plus Biden faced the constraint of having a job to do, and therefore having to finance the use of Air Force Two for large portions of any campaign he would run. Ultimately, though, if Biden wanted to run he probably could have run. The way Bernie blew up, you have to figure Biden gets a health share of people who voted for Bernie only because that was their only option. Anyway.)

    I guess I’m not as convinced that the incentives are as strongly against Cruz-Kasich as you say. If it’s the case that that’s the only way to stop Trump, then I don’t see why Cruz wouldn’t go for it, since it means him getting the nomination. And getting VP slot has to have been one Of Kasich’s better-case outcomes all along. Is it really the case he couldn’t stomach that being as Cruz’s f the party was telling him in unison that he’d be doing a service to the party?

    But I suppose if Mitt wants to nudge it that way, why not? Being on the ballot could help lay the predicate for other paths the party could eventually take, too.Report

    • Kim in reply to Michael Drew says:

      the media is just saying that because they don’t want to admit how much of the GOP is funded off the Kochs.Report

    • Michelle in reply to Michael Drew says:

      Punishment of the innocent. I don’t see why Kasich, who seems like a decent guy, should be forced to carry water for that odious weasel Cruz. Kasich is the better general election candidate. He has more actual governing experience, doesn’t repel everyone who has to spend more than five minutes in the same room with him, and doesn’t carry the baggage of a batshit crazy religious zealot father whose Christian dominionist views Cruz likely shares. Playing second fiddle to Cruz is an awfully large shit sandwich for Kasich to eat in a likely futile attempt to save the GOP from itself.Report

  4. Roland Dodds says:

    I think Dan’s thesis in the last paragraph is actually getting to be likely:

    “So, Romney should call Cruz and Kasich as soon as possible and offer a very simple message: either you join a Cruz/Kasich ticket, or I run as an independent and guarantee your defeat. Romney has nothing to lose; he’s not running for elected office again. And after March 15, Trump likely becomes the nominee anyway if Cruz and Kasich don’t collaborate.”

    If we get to a contested convention, I can not see the party throwing support behind a non-runner like Paul Ryan, but I can absolutely see them forcing Cruz/Kasich to join forces to solidify enough delegates after they are freed up from the first unsuccessful vote. Not sure Romney has much pull as a 3rd party candidate to push someone like Cruz towards this deal, but if enough of the party brass makes a similar threat, it might be a successful approach.

    Then they all lose in November and the Trump voter festers for 4 years…Report

  5. Saul Degraw says:

    Does Mitt Romney really have this power in the GOP? I thought the lesson of Romney losing in 2012 was another version of “Conservatism can’t fail. It can only be failed.” Also Trump is a direct reaction against the kind of Republican Party that Romney represents. The WWC base of the GOP might have fallen in line in 2012 but I don’t see that happening now. Romney would lose against Trump’s brand of economic, herrenvolk populism.

    Cruz/Kaisch is also probably a pipe dream.Report

    • Roland Dodds in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I think the Commentary/Weekly Standard crowd will definitely put weight behind Romney, even if they know he can’t win. I can not see those folks getting behind a Trump candidacy even tangentially.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I disagree about Cruz/Kasich. They aren’t that far apart ideologically and Cruz is obviously in the superior position politically.

      So while he wouldn’t like it, it’s totally plausible to see Cruz agreeing to that. After all, he gets to be the nominee, and President should the ticket win, and he’s more than smart enough to see that he can only defeat Trump in the primaries by running the table from here on out, which he can’t do if the votes are split. So it’s gonna have to be this way or no way at all.

      The issue is really what’s going to make Kasich stop chasing waterfalls. He’ll probably have to get not only the #2 spot but also an assurance that he’ll play a principal role in budgetary policy, which allows him to stick to the rivers and lakes that he’s used to.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Burt Likko says:

        How about the fact that the GOP politicians hate Cruz? Even Bush II disliked Cruz. I think Cruz scares the GOP elite more than Trump because Cruz is a true believer in the culture war. Plus his dad doesn’t like lots of people.Report

        • Burt Likko in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          A high “asshole quotient” is an impediment, but not a barrier, to gritting their teeth and making deals. You already know the one about “strange bedfellows.” Indeed, it may be the case that Clinton has a high A.Q. as well, although I don’t believe she has a reputation for that the way Cruz does. Trump, though, it goes beyond that. A.Q. is basically sadism, taking pleasure in the pain of others. Trump goes beyond that: I’ve got to think that a psychologist would at least suspect narcissistic personality disorder. Trump’s core political platform is an avowed refusal to compromise on anything at all even a little bit with anyone. Kind of hard to do politics with someone who actually means that. Worse, Trump’s obviously poor impulse control and absence of any filters whatsoever between his id and his vocal chords will drag down the rest of the ticket. That makes him not just an unpleasant negotiating partner but an overt enemy, even if he’s technically in the same party. Make ready the long knives.Report

          • Kim in reply to Burt Likko says:

            And, you know, he’s not HALF the disaster that Sanders would be for the Democratic Party if Sanders ever got to be President.

            Sanders is competent, and knows where enough of the bodies are hidden.
            The words “anti-trust” would figure prominently.Report

            • Burt Likko in reply to Kim says:

              A Sanders candidacy is simply not going to happen. Given her commanding lead in superdelegate endorsements, and her superior ratio of getting “earned” delegates out of the elections held to date, I don’t see a realistic path for Sanders to secure the nomination at all.Report

              • Kim in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Of course there’s not a real path.
                But wouldn’t it be fun to see the Democratic long knives…again?

                (bit disappointed I didn’t get any of the liberals howling at me about how Democrats love Bernie… which they do, of course. It’s the Party that loathes him.)Report

              • Yes, absent Ms. Clinton being indicted for felonies related to her e-mail server. That seems extraordinarily unlikely to me, but it’s a possibility. I do still think it was a serious lack of judgement for someone contemplating a run for President.Report

              • I believe the whole email thing needs to be filed under “any day now™” and ignored just like all of the other (many) Republican sponsored ratfucking expeditions. Even though I’m convinced that the GOP has inherited the stupid party label from the Democrats, I think that an honest-to-god smoking gun would be recognised as such and only brought be brought out after the convention to take out Ms. Clinton in the runup to the general election.

                If pretend scandals were an obstacle to running for president, no Democrat would ever run.Report

          • Morat20 in reply to Burt Likko says:

            FWIW, the stuff I’ve read indicates that Clinton has the opposite of a high AQ. The people that have worked with her and for her are incredibly loyal and sing her praises.

            Loyalty from your subordinates, long after they’ve stopped working for you, is a pretty good sign your AQ is really low.Report

            • Snarky McSnarksnark in reply to Morat20 says:

              My reading of the “Clinton literature” is that she is wonderful as a member of a team, but is lacking in a couple core qualities that make for effective leaders: most specifically a fear of direct confrontation, a tendency towards secrecy in her dealings (hence the email server and the closed hearings on ClintonCare), and a certain rigidity in outlook (it was Hillary who chose to stonewall the Senate Whitewater committee’s subpoenas, leading to the appointment of the special prosecutor).

              While she seems like a nice person, I’m rather disappointed that she became the consensus candidate of the Democratic Party Establishment.Report

          • Saul Degraw in reply to Burt Likko says:

            Interestingly Cruz strikes me as a grand stander who never compromises. Also culture war breakdown.Report

          • Michelle in reply to Burt Likko says:

            Trump is the poster boy for Narcissistic Personality Disorder.Report

    • rmass in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Something to consider is mitt running as the “true spirit” of the republican party has better appeal than Mittens 2012.

      Does not have to dogwhistle. Can present a realistic economic plan. And mitt knows how to kill fellow republicans quite well I think. He crushed the everloving snot of every flavor of the week by not screwing up. He’s competent, and has more money than god. And to preserve the story and history of his party he might.

      Doubt it though. Mitts got walking away money. Nothing’s going to really ruin his life, not even president TRUMP.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to rmass says:


        Maybe but that strikes me as having just as much appeal as a Bloomberg run. I think the number of people craving for an old school Country Club Republucan are gone. The elite want more and more tax cuts and deregulation. The Trumpists want what they want. The social cons want to unrealistically turn back the clock. Plus Romney can be damaged by his own campaign in 2012. Who votes for Romney at the risk of giving HRC the White House?Report

      • Snarky McSnarksnark in reply to rmass says:

        47% was not a dog whistle?Report

    • Dan Scotto in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I don’t think Romney has much formal power, but he basically has the ability to hold a gun to Kasich’s head and prevent him from being president under any circumstances by simply getting on ballots and siphoning some votes away. That is, essentially, what I am asking him to do, my feelings about the relative merits of Kasich and Cruz aside. (I say Cruz at the top of the ticket because of the current delegate counts.)Report

      • I suppose Mitt can hold the same gun to my head. I mean, at this point Kasich’s chance and mine are about the same.Report

      • Barry in reply to Dan Scotto says:

        “I don’t think Romney has much formal power, but he basically has the ability to hold a gun to Kasich’s head and prevent him from being president under any circumstances by simply getting on ballots and siphoning some votes away.”

        IMHO, if he were still able to get on some ballots, all that he’d get is the humiliation of Trump squishing him like a bug.Report

  6. Damon says:

    Yeah, let’s get the guy who lost the last time to run again, sucked at it. That’s sure fire success.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Damon says:

      Nixon and Grover Cleveland managed to pull it off.Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I see what Damon’s getting at — Romney is not Nixon, who legend holds lost to Kennedy in 1960 only because of voter corruption in Cook County, Illinois; Romney is not Cleveland, who got more popular votes than Harrison in 1888.

        Rather, it looks like Romney would be a closer analogue to the likes of William Jennings Bryan or Adlai Stevenson II or perhaps closest to the mark, Thomas Dewey: capable of commanding the respect of the party because, damnit, he should have won and we really don’t like that other fellow — but for some inexplicable reason, the rest of the population at large just isn’t going to fall in love with him like the party honchos did, even given a second (or third, in the case of Bryan) bite at the apple.

        But @damon misses the mark of the OP: the maneuver wouldn’t really be aimed at winning the election. It’d be a form of surgery to remedy an ailment within the GOP.Report

        • Damon in reply to Burt Likko says:

          As I read Dan’s article, it’s Romney’s threat of entering the race and actually being a contender. If he’s weak and he can’t win, the threat is meaningless, so it all comes down to whether or not he actually would be viewed as a threat and have a decent chance at winning. I’m saying Romney has no chance of making a legit run or even contending.Report

          • Marchmaine in reply to Damon says:

            Plus, how does spoiling the Trump run reset the table for the united party in 2020? If that’s *really* the goal?

            It would look like (and would in fact be) Wall St! defecting from the Republican party to prevent Main St! from having nice* things (again).

            *your definition of nice may vary.Report

            • Burt Likko in reply to Marchmaine says:

              Well, yes, that’s exactly what it would be. And I’m not saying that it would work, only that I can see Romney and his fellow-travelers in the Money! faction thinking it would work. As we’ve all noted elsewhere, they’ve been wrong in these kinds of calculations before.

              But of course it would be a suicide run.Report

            • CK MacLeod in reply to Marchmaine says:

              The question is whether the Trump revolt is merely conjunctural and, if so, whether the conjuncture is a matter of political-geological epoch or age: If it’s merely a rejection of Bushism – as per Douthat on Rubio – or perhaps the true nadir of the post-Bush period, then the Reagan coalition in some modified form can still be expected to restore itself eventually.

              If the Trump revolt represents or is a symptom of a broader and deeper crisis of the system, one that must eventually envelop both coalitions and produce a true re-alignment, then many things are possible, and we might have to ascend to even higher levels of historical abstraction, up from the political ages to the eras and eons.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                Agreed, and I’ve said as much in other comments.

                Mr. Scotto sees the glass half-full, I see it half-empty… but, per my comments here, I’m not seeing how any action by Romney puts more water in the glass rather than shattering it.Report

              • CK MacLeod in reply to Marchmaine says:

                On the narrower question of Dan’s proposed Romney stratagem, I think it’s the kind of thing that makes more sense in pixels, but that might speak to what is really going or what really must happen even if the particulars cannot take the form he describes.

                “Romney” represents something like “functional unity of the pre-existing party,” or the Bush-Reagan concept. Trump represents a kind of trade: Throw the neo-conservative and movement conservative intellectuals out, replace them via crypto-fascist populism with a larger number of anti-intellectuals – aka the white working class – and hope that enough of the remaining largest mass of habitual and swing Republican voters rally round the team pennant, perhaps because sufficiently repelled by the other team, as historically, and especially by its post-Obama manifestation under Her Royal Clintonness.

                If polls can be trusted and major events do not intervene, it seems like a bad bet, and the Rs will be slaughtered in the Fall, with their Senate and even possibly their House majorities endangered – and for good reason: A party that nominates a Trump must be punished.

                So, Dan wants Reagan-Bush-Romney, the last known nationally viable Republican-conservative-right concept, to consolidate in time in order to avoid additional, potentially life-threatening injury. If it did so effectively, then it might even compete in November in something like its familiar form: “Cruz-Kasich” = re-consolidation. The spoiler threat is the least credible part of the stratagem, it seems to me: It’s hard for me to imagine Romney or anyone mounting a hugely costly nationwide campaign merely for the sake of making good on a very unlikely threat – to deny Cruz or Kasich the presidency if either is somehow nominated. Frankly, that’s absurd. The only reason for Romney to carry through would be if Trump is nominated. The main reasons for him or anyone else to begin the process of forming a 3rd Party now are 1) to dissuade Republicans who may want to believe that giving into Trump preserves the hope of keeping the party together looking toward the Fall, 2) to give anti-Trump conservatives more of a reason to turn out in the Fall and vote for down-ballot Republicans.

                I think it’s still possible that there will be some kind of breakaway party if Trump is nominated. How credible it can be is impossible to estimate: Among other things, it’s not yet clear that Trump can privot from insurgent to nominee-in-waiting and then nominee successfully. As for Cruz and Kasich in the short term, I think they’ll most likely keep out of each other’s way, and see how the next few contests – some of which may be difficult for Trump – play out.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                Yes, well I have bravely planted my flag on the supposition this is more than conjecture but somewhat less than a realignment of the eons. Actually, I think we’re going to look back on this as a failed realignment.

                More specifically, I think Trump is going to set back realignment for a cycle or two. But Fusionism is dead.

                At least that’s what my updated Android prognosticator app says – but like every other app in the Android store, it only has 3.5 stars… so make your stock picks accordingly.Report

          • Michael Drew in reply to Damon says:

            The threat has nothing to do with winning. The threat would be to spike the GOP’s chances to win by pulling 5 to 10% or more of the vote from the GOP ticket.

            Which, now that I think about it again, is a frankly shocking thing to picture Mitt Romney even threatening the party that gifted him their nomination with. I just don’t see it.

            if he thought he could win, that *would* be a different story.Report

          • Michael Drew in reply to Damon says:

            Where I’d agree with Damon in questioning is, Romney would be saying that he’s doing it to force the only course that could deny Trump the nomination. But then if that’s true, isn’t the threat against Trump, since it would be carried out if Cruz & Kasich didn’t get together, which per Romney would result in nominee Trump?

            Is the idea that this would work on Cruz & Kasich because they wouldn’t want the GOP to be spiked out of party loyalty, even though it would be Trump running – effectively leveraging their wanting Trump to win? Would they actually want Trump to win? Mightn’t they say, “Well, sure, Mitt, if it’s Trump, run! See if you can win! Otherwise, we think you’re wrong that what you’re trying to force is our only way to the nomination.”Report

            • Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

              …At which point (is this the point?) Romney would say, “Yeah, even if one of you proves me wrong, I’ll be spiking your ticket, even though you will have accomplished the critical task – averting nominee Trump, though not my way – and will then be trying to run a semi-normal race against Hillary Clinton! Because I need this threat to be credible!”

              Mmmm… not seeing it.Report

              • If a Trump nomination does get spiked, then Romney withdraws his third party bid. He doesn’t need to be subtle about his intentions, just posture as if he believes he can actually win.

                I’m declaring my third party candidacy because, as I announced several weeks ago, Donald Trump is a wildly unsuitable choice to be President. If the Republican Party nominates a candidate for President who is not Mr. Trump, then I shall withdraw this candidacy and back my party’s choice. I suggest and hope that Senator Cruz and Governor Kasich work something out between themselves to make that happen, and it can, because there has not been a single state’s primary yet in which Mr. Trump has earned a majority of Republican votes. But if Mr. Trump does become the Republican nominee, then for the good of the country, then I will run against both Secretary Clinton and Mr. Trump because either of those choices would lead America to a very, very bad place, and the voters will see and understand that.

                I can see it. Admittedly, it’s not the most probable scenario. But it’s not implausible, either.Report

              • Michael Drew in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Yeah, but where’s the threat to Cruz or Kasich? If Mitt runs, it would be against Trump. But is the answer to my question – would he tell Cruz & Kasich that he actually would run in a general election in which Cruz had denied Trump the nomination? – yes? If you were Cruz would you believe he would do it? He’d be the immediate past nominee running to spike the chance of the next GOP nominee – who had just successfully slayed the dragon threatening the whole village!

                Maybe Romney would make it about Cruz not taking Trump as VP, and maybe that is Cruz’s plan. Maybe the point of forcing Cruz-Kasich is to prevent Cruz-Trump. But that, to me, seems to increase the likelihood of Trump-Somebody compared to leaving Cruz (or Kasich for that matter) that option. Not that it’s desirable.

                But otherwise, unless Romney tells them he’d run against them, there’s no threat to them (unless you think they’ll feel like his running against Trump is a threat to them via the party, or maybe to one of their VP bids). And if I’m Cruz I don’t think I’d believe him if he told me that.

                Still don’t see it.Report

              • Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

                …Mitt would be better off just getting in there and seeking to advise these guys to do it, if it’s thought to be so important to prevail upon them to. I honestly think that would be his better bet over issuing poorly thought-out threats. Especially if Kasich is the sticky part of the hinge – he might actually still carry some weight with him. Cruz… eh.Report

              • Yeah, that seems right. Gets to the same place, at least. @dan-scotto ‘s maneuver described in the OP would be a way to leverage a Cruz-Kasich deal; we’re really disputing the effectiveness of such a bid for leverage here.

                But if Romney can get both Cruz and Kasich to recognize him as an honest broker, maybe that’s a better (and quieter, which is how Money! likes things) way to go.Report

              • rmass in reply to Burt Likko says:

                That’s more or less my thinking. But prettyfied up there counselor.Report

          • Dan Scotto in reply to Damon says:

            I don’t think he needs to be particularly strong for the threat to work. He just needs to be strong enough as an independent candidate to risk tossing a close election to Clinton… and, of course, to be willing to follow through with the threat. At this stage, I simply want to prevent Trump from being the nominee, and am willing to support any legal maneuver I can think of to make it happen. The general election, to me, is essentially a lost cause at this stage.Report

            • Francis in reply to Dan Scotto says:

              Dan, I don’t think you’ve made the case that anyone would find the threat credible. I play out the scenario in my head and it just doesn’t make any sense:

              Romney to Kasich: John, Mitt here. You need to sign on now as Cruz’s VP for the good of the party.

              Kasich: No way. I hate that prick and the feeling is mutual. Even if we won, he’d lock me in a closet and throw away the key. Anyway, there’s no way to stop Trump now. Trump is going to get the nomination and get hammered by Hillary. By 2020 Hillary will be old and people will be tired of Democratic rule. Everyone hates Cruz and the Dominionist stuff will kill him in a head-to-head competition with me. I’m primed to be President in 2020.

              Romney: John, I’m serious. If you don’t sign on, I’ll run as an independent and split the party.

              Kasich: Mitt, go right ahead. You’re jammed on filing deadlines and you got crushed by Barack. Trying to split off the establishment vote will just remind everyone how much they hate your supercilious attitude. What’s your message — I’m here to save the GOP so please vote for me as an Independent? You’ll get 1%. Your time as the head of the GOP is over; I’m a much better nominee in 2020 once Trump gets beaten.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Francis says:


                On top of that, Kasich’s very self-consciously emphasized distinction with all the candidates, including the establishment GOP candidates, is that his policies are grounded in reality. Personally, I think he has an entirely different frame of reference on this stuff than Mitt or anyone else. He’s actually sincerely – rather than opportunistically – appealing to the better angels of conservative’s nature.Report

              • Dan Scotto in reply to Francis says:

                My perspective: the presidency is lost already, period. Or, if not “lost,” then “so close to lost that it’s not worth trying to maximize the chances of winning it.”

                The most important thing is to prevent Trump from becoming president. Every other challenge can be dealt with later; this is an existential crisis.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Dan Scotto says:

                @dan-scotto Existential to the party, or the nation? Or both?

                Could you see yourself voting for Clinton if Trump gets the nod?Report

              • Dan Scotto in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                To answer your questions: I see Trump as a danger to both the party and the nation, and I would vote for Clinton over Trump without hesitation, assuming that there is no plausible third party or independent option.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Dan Scotto says:

                I see we stand in pretty much the exact same spot.Report

              • Barry in reply to Dan Scotto says:

                “…assuming that there is no plausible third party or independent option.”

                Please note that the last time that there was that, it was – what? Before WWI? Never?Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Dan Scotto says:

                It kind of makes me glad to not live in a swing state. I can vote for whoever I want and without consequence. And my protest may be better registered voting for Johnson (or the Federalist nominee!) than voting for HRC. If I lived one state over, I’d have to vote for Hillary. Bullet dodged.Report

              • Francis in reply to Dan Scotto says:

                Your Romney threat is no threat to Kasich. He has no upside to joining with Cruz.

                If you want Romney to save the country, then he should just run. But he didn’t seem to me to much enjoy campaigning; to me he just expected to win.

                Anyway Bush III, Rubio and Perry already tried this year and got no traction. What does Romney have to offer?Report

              • Dan Scotto in reply to Francis says:

                In a two-way Kasich-Clinton race, Kasich’s odds would be pretty good. Maybe not >50%, but at least in the realm of possibility. If Romney were on a bunch of ballots, he could play spoiler by stealing a handful of votes here and there. Kasich’s odds would drop quite a bit.

                But *more* critically, I think Kasich’s odds of winning the nomination basically go to zero if Romney is already putting together a robust independent bid. The conservatives that would need to hold their nose to vote for Kasich at the RNC would stop fighting on the floor and take their fight to the three-way Clinton-Trump-Romney race. That’s a likely loss for BOTH Romney and Trump, and it also leaves Kasich on the outside looking in, entirely.

                If he joins with Cruz today, Cruz/Kasich has a reasonable chance of taking down Trump at the convention.Report

              • Francis in reply to Dan Scotto says:

                If Kasich somehow gets the nomination, both Cruz and Trump supporters will be outraged. He’s won, what, just one state? How does the GOP hold together with such a betrayal?

                And you still haven’t explained why Kasich would take the VIP spot. No promise that Cruz makes would be worth the weight of the handshake (Cruz would be nuts to put something in writing) and they have an utterly different governing style. He’d finish out his career playing golf and making appearances. If he lets the GOP flame out, he has a credible chance to be the favored candidate in 2020.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Francis says:

                Here’s my thinking on it: if it goes to a less-than-1237 convention with Trump at 1 and Cruz at 2, and they’re going to nominate someone else, there’s no reason it has to be or even should be Kasich. At that point they’ve flouted every norm imaginable for purely cynical reasons.

                I mean, is anyone gonna look at that decision process and conclude Kasich is the one that deserves the nom? Not to mention the apparently serious proposal to run third party against Trump and Hillary a deny either a majority of EC votes thereby throwing the election back to Paul Ryan…

                This whole GOP flameout isn’t as fun as it was a while ago, prior to complete meltdown mode. Now they’re basically intending to destroy not only their own village in order to save it, but the surrounding towns and countryside as well.

                Well, it’s still pretty fun, I gotta admit…Report

              • Dan Scotto in reply to Francis says:

                First, I should concede that it doesn’t seem like Romney is going this route. So most of this is now theoretical.

                Kasich might prefer not to be VP, preferring instead to go big or go home, perhaps with an eye to 2020. So, here’s my basic frame:

                If a Romney threat spurs a Cruz/Kasich ticket, excellent. Trump’s odds of becoming the nominee (and president) drop. Cruz would be nuts to put something in writing–unless Romney demanded it as a condition for not sabotaging the bids.

                If Kasich *doesn’t* join with Cruz, Trump is likely to be the nominee regardless of what anyone else does. (See: Kasich running into Utah, hoping to knock down Cruz’s delegate haul.) If Trump is the nominee, I would like Romney running as an independent. Because of ballot access deadlines in many states being before the convention and requiring signatures, Romney will need to get started to put together a credible anti-Trump independent bid soon, sooner, certainly, than before we would know for certain that Trump is the nominee.

                Trump and Romney running national campaigns likely results in a Clinton win.

                So the likely outcomes are a win for anti-Trump advocates. Either Romney faces off against Trump in a 3-way race, or Cruz-Kasich run a unified ticket against Trump. In both cases, Trump’s odds of winning the presidency drop lower than they are now.

                If on the off chance Cruz or Kasich wins the nomination in a floor fight *without* teaming up, and Romney is also on the ballot in a bunch of states, then the maneuver will have backfired–but Kasich knew the risks in failing to join Cruz, and I’m willing to take that risk for the sake of the country.

                I acknowledge that there are likely costs to this in terms of the future of the Republican Party, but I think that an intraparty war probably coming regardless of what happens between now and July.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Grover Cleveland won the popular vote all three times.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Damon says:

      And, as I said earlier, back in 2012 it was Just Obvious that Romney was a doof. Now suddenly he’s who should have been on the stage all along?Report

  7. dragonfrog says:

    If the party machinates and manipulates and manages to get someone other than Trump nominated, despite the increasingly clear preference among registered Republicans for a Trump candidacy – is that saving the party, or dooming it by openly declaring its contempt for its members?Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to dragonfrog says:

      I’m not sure I agree that there’s an “…increasingly clear preference among registered Republicans for a Trump candidacy”. Trump has not won a majority of votes anywhere. Combining Trump, Carson, and Fiorina against traditional officeholders has not won a majority of votes anywhere. Only if you combine Trump and Cruz as “outsiders” do you get a majority of Republicans casting their votes in that direction — and while he isn’t particularly popular personally, it’s hard for me to say Ted Cruz is anything but an insider who portrays himself as an outsider. The man is an incumbent, elected United States Senator, after all.Report

      • Kim in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Being an incumbent elected senator means jack shit.
        Sanders isn’t even bloody blackmailed, and he’s a Senator.
        In this day and age, you don’t get much more “outsider” than that.

        (I’ll grant you, I would be surprised if Cruz wasn’t blackmailed…)Report

      • Autolukos in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Ah, but you’re forgetting Trump’s crushing victory in the Northern Marianas. 73%! 341 votes!Report

      • dragonfrog in reply to Burt Likko says:

        That’s assuming that there is a first-order division of preference between “traditional officeholders” and “mavericks who can’t spell ‘policy’ but are good at yelling slogans”, and that second order preferences are almost entirely transferable within those first-order groups but not outside.

        But is it the case? Do we know that the vast majority of current Rubio fans will transfer their votes to Cruz or Kasich (or, as mooted, Cruz-Kasich), and a vanishingly small percentage will transfer them to Trump or the snooze button?

        If I’m reading the Wikipedia lists right, it seems a non-trivial percentage of voters seem to cast their ballots for candidates who have already withdrawn. Like, almost as great a percentage of Vermonters voted for candidates who weren’t in the race anymore on March 1, as Alaskans voted for Kasich. All of which suggests to me that this analysis might be misreading the priorities of Republican primary voters, so the distribution of votes from Rubio to anyone-but-Trump / Trump / sleep-in / screw-it-I’m-voting-Rubio-anyway might not be an easy call.Report

        • PD Shaw in reply to dragonfrog says:

          Do we know that the vast majority of current Rubio fans will transfer their votes to Cruz or Kasich

          I’ve closely looked at the Illinois returns and based upon how different types of candidates have fared in different political areas of the state in the past, I believe Kasich could have won Illinois if Rubio had left a few weeks earlier. Its a little more complicated than moving all Rubio votes over to Kasich. Cruz did best in some of the white collar and large university cities that traditionally vote establishment Republicans like Romney. They don’t vote for people like Cruz that hold rallies in mega-churches. In my opinion, a good portion of that Cruz vote was simply an anti-Trump vote expressed within the context of believing Kasich was not competitive.

          I can see Kasich making similar backwards-looking assessments and think he has a good shot in a lot of states going forward.Report

          • Marchmaine in reply to PD Shaw says:

            This will sound worse than I intend it, but… Kasich is a jumped-up Mayor. Only beloved by friends and neighbors. He doesn’t have what it would take to win a National election, not in 2016 anyway.

            I don’t mean it to cast aspersions on any particular thing you like about him or his policies.Report

            • PD Shaw in reply to Marchmaine says:

              I am a registered independent, but a jumped-up mayor appeals to me. Illinois is a difficult state to get on the ballot (you have to do it for each Congressional district) and Kasich failed to submit enough signatures for several districts, but Trump’s campaign let it slide because they wanted more names on the ballot. Kasich wasn’t ready for this campaign, and its no doubt too late now.

              Still, if he had been ready and Rubio wasn’t occupying the presumptive establishment spot, I think Kasich wins Illinois (and even if he doesn’t he might win the delegate count because the allocation rules favor the more densely populated areas of the state).Report

        • Autolukos in reply to dragonfrog says:

          There are two main reasons to think Rubio dropping out helps Cruz and Kasich over Trump:

          1. Trump has shown a pathetically weak bandwagon effect in the race so far. In polls, he hit the mid-30s in RCP’s national average back in December, and he hasn’t been able to improve on that in past field narrowings. In actual contests, his high water mark other than the Northern Marianas from yesterday is still Massachusetts, where he hit 49% on Super Tuesday. He does seem to have gained a bit (his worst performance yesterday was 36% in Ohio, better than his NH and SC wins and in the middle of his Super Tuesday results), but his opponents have gained more at every consolidation.

          2. In polls that ask about a Cruz-Trump race, people say that they would tend to rally to Cruz. ABC’s most recent national poll has about a 70-20-10 break between Cruz, Trump, and neither/don’t know, which would leave Cruz ahead nationally 54-41 when their current supporters are included. This comes with some caveats beyond the normal caveats about asking people about future behavior: it’s a national poll, while delegates are won state-by-state; the question includes Kasich supporters as well as Rubio, so we could well see a split between Cruz and Kasich that keeps Trump in first even if he gains few supporters; and, as you note, there will be some number of voters who vote for candidates who have dropped out (sometimes early voting is the culprit here, sometimes pure dead-ender stubbornness).

          Trump is probably going to pull this out, but he is not a very strong frontrunner at all for this stage of the primary.Report

    • Dan Scotto in reply to dragonfrog says:

      The party may already be dead, essentially. For my purposes, at least, what is most important is to defeat Trump. I can worry about the other stuff once that is done. (Perhaps I’m being shortsighted. But I genuinely think that the only thing in American politics that would be worse than a Trump nomination is a Trump election.)Report

  8. Morat20 says:


    Is this even a legitimate threat? I’m pretty sure lots of state deadlines have passed. An independent run would be effectively a write-in run, with his name on few ballots. Trump might have the raw numbers to, say, hijack an already existing third party already on the ballot (who, I don’t know but at least he’s got lots of actual voters and supporters whereas Romney is purely theoretical) if he started today

    But if the threat is “Do what I say, or I’ll ask voters to write in my name” — why would Cruz care? What leverage would that entail?

    Even Trump, should he be maneuvered out at the convention despite a plurality, would most likely do his damage by convincing his supporters not to vote — not running third party. Unless he can actually hijack one.

    Just calling yourself a candidate doesn’t get your name on the ballots in November, you know.Report

    • Roland Dodds in reply to Morat20 says:

      Agreed. I think it is in the #notTrump crowds best interests to just have Trump fail as a candidate. Then they can claim that he was flawed all along (you think?) and try to reposition the party in a way beneficial to them. They would surely destroy the Republican Party if they actually run a candidate against their own standard-bearer.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to Morat20 says:

      I’m given to understand that the earliest of these deadlines is in early May, in Texas. So there’s about six weeks’ worth of time, starting now, for a team of lawyers and campaign staff to make that happen. If they were to attempt it at all, and again, the idea is to make a credible threat of doing so rather than to actually do it, so that Cruz and Kasich consolidate and the vote-splitting-to-Trump-advantage ends.Report

      • Right. The whole “it’ll be too late for a third party run” has been talking about Trump, and waiting until after the convention in July.Report

      • Francis in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Aren’t there third parties that still get on the ballot in all 50 states or at least most of them? Like the Constitution Party? I would think that the easiest path for Romney to run would be to nominated as the candidate of a third party.Report

        • Burt Likko in reply to Francis says:

          Well, the Libertarians won’t have him. I doubt the Constitution Party or the American Independent Party would, either and I doubt he’d want to associate with their likes.

          You know who’d be the right guy to ask about third parties? @rtod.Report

          • Tod Kelly in reply to Burt Likko says:

            There is no real existing third party that would have truck with Romney. And really, there are none that wouldn’t carry the kind of baggage (or worse) that he’d be trying to oust out of his current party. Were he to go Dan’s route, he’d have to go the Perot route and just make one up out of thin air.

            That being said, I don’t understand how Dan’s solution helps anything.

            Forget about Romney for just a minute. If Kasich and Cruz hooked up* to tag team Trump** for the Good Of The Party, that gets you to just about the exact same place as you’d be if the party leaders declare him persona non grata at the convention and just picked whoever they wanted. What is it, like, 20 million votes cast in the GOP primary so far? And about 8 million of those for Trump? Not 8 million “I could live with Trump I guess,” but 8 million who say “Trump is my guy?” That’s a pretty yuuuuge chunk of your party and your base to declare null, void, and The Enemy. And if you have Romney or the party leaders push for that to happen, the fallout will only be that much worse.

            The problem with Dan’s solution, I think, is the same problem with all the other Trump solutions I’ve heard tossed about over the past 4-5 months. It assumes that the issues with the party are somehow some kind of technicality of rules, and that if you simply change some procedure somewhere, flip some simple switch, everything will hum the way it did back in 2000-2004.

            I think the problem is far more fundamental. I think in the next four years, the GOP is going to have to develop a strategy to jettison it’s Romneys or its Trumps. It can’t have both.

            * eew.

            ** EEEEEEWWWWW!!!!!Report

          • Glyph in reply to Burt Likko says:

            I hate to say it, but after the Bob Barr debacle, the Libertarians MIGHT take him, just for the name recognition and $$.

            Wouldn’t be the right thing to do, but I could see it happening.Report

  9. North says:

    It’s a mess is what it is. I don’t know how they’re going to square this circle and not end up with Trump on the ballot. I assume they will, I assume it’ll be messy, I hope Trumps supporters are Furious.Report

  10. LeeEsq says:

    Most Republican voters are not buying into Romney’s brand of conservatism anymore. Trump voters want white populism. Cruz’s supporters a very conservative Protestant politics. Most are turning sour to military adventurism. Nobody wants tax cuts for the wealthy, red meat conservatism rhetoric but no meaningful action, foreign adventurism for foreign policy conservatism is not popular. Non-Republicans hate it even more.

    The Republican Party has two options. They can stay the course and not really change their ideology. This will make them increasingly unable to win Presidential elections but the structural features will most likely give them control of Congress and several states for a long time. They can get a lot of what the want done on the state level and stymie the Democratic Party on the Federal level by this strategy. The other solution is that they could recognize that the demographics of the United States are changing and that a new conservatism is necessary to reflect these realities. This is going to be hard for them for several reasons including that they will have to risk the wraith of reliable Republican voters and that most Republican officials still believe in what they are selling even though Americans are increasingly not buying it. The latter strategy has the greatest rewards and will likely be better in the long run.Report

  11. DavidTC says:

    Here’s a question that, oddly, everyone seems to have ignored:

    Why on earth would Romney go to all that trouble?

    I’ve never gotten any sort of impression Romney seriously cared that much for the Republican party. He’s not deeply involved in the party, and almost certainly is never going to attempt to run for anything via the party ever again.

    And, frankly, the party sorta let him down last time. I don’t mean the Republican voters on election night, although they did also, but the party itself took a really long time to choose him, despite the fact he was really the only serious candidate. (Although it’s possible that *this* election has made him realize he was a bit lucky, and there’s no actual rule they *do* pick a serious candidate.)

    I mean, yes, they managed to convince him to do an ad against Trump, but that was not a lot of work. He, like all losing presidential candidates, can step forward and pose as a sort of semi-elder statesman in the party, in an ad or two. But that’s a bit different than going to all the trouble of pretending to set up a presidential run he, and everyone else, knows he’s going to lose if he actually tried.Report

  12. pillsy says:

    OK, the way it looks to me, Cruz is a hella longshot even if he does pull out the GOP nomination. He’s smart, but beyond that he seems to have essentially zero virtues as a general election candidate. I can’t see a quixotic Romney run shifting that enough to really affect his calculus.

    On the other hand, I think Kasich has a fair number of virtues as a general election candidate, but is like, I dunno, a better Mitt Romney. “Establishment” and “centrist” cred aside, he’s guilty of less serious heresies than Romney was[1], he’s a better natural politician than Romney[2], and he’s governor of perhaps the most important state in play in the coming election. What constituency is going to prefer Romney to him?

    [1] Nothing like Romney’s conspicuous flip-floppery on abortion, and “accepting the Medicaid expansion” seems like less of an issue to “implementing the model for Obamacare”.

    [2] A low bar to clear, sure, but HRC isn’t exactly electrifying either.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to pillsy says:

      Kasich also has one other thing that Romney doesn’t: class-warfare vulnerability because Kasich is not nearly as personally wealthy as Romney.

      That said, I’m given to understand that Kasich is thin-skinned even by political standards, and periodically unable to control his sarcasm, where Romney was much slicker and better-polished, only occasionally dropping malapropisms like the 47% remark. Maybe this is something that can be overcome or bypassed with sufficient handling.

      Kasich’s real problem is that, at least at present, because he doesn’t have a whole lot of votes in his column, he doesn’t have any sort of claim to legitimacy as the GOP nominee. What’s he’s really got is a general acknowledgement that yeah, he’s got the right sort of C.V. and temperament for the job — maybe that’ll parlay out into more votes in future primaries, but as of today that’s a question mark.Report

      • Kim in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Kasich is running for a different party’s nomination.
        I could see myself voting for Kasich, even.
        He knows how to talk with Democrats, and how to be effective.
        And he doesn’t eat his foot the way Walker does.Report

        • J_A in reply to Kim says:

          Kasich is running for what used to be a very coveted position: the “next in line” first runner up. (Bush ’80, Dole ’88, McCain ’00, Romney ’08)

          And in a normal year in which Jeb! would have been crowned, it was not a bad strategy.

          And it’s still good. Let Trump or Cruz crash in the general and you are ready to sweep the 2020 primaries. After all, it’s your turn.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to pillsy says:

      Once upon a time, I would have said that Cruz’s strength is that he would turn out the base, which was the thing that got Bush II his second term. Base turnout on one side vs turnout powered by a candidate people like but are not excited about makes for some close contests in key states.

      But that was once upon a time. Who and what are the base these days, and what they’ll do with either Cruz or Trump leading the charge is a mystery to me right now.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Kolohe says:

        Cruz has the downside of coming across as a more sincere and crazier version of GWB II after GWB was in office. There are too many demographics groups that could imagine themselves suffering under a Cruz administration. Women, LGBT, African-Americans, Hispanics, and Muslims have reasons to vote against him in droves.Report

        • Kolohe in reply to LeeEsq says:

          I wouldn’t overestimate the turnout to vote against a person because they suck (except for DJ Trump)

          In the Virginia Gov race last time, the outgoing GOP was on the cusp of indictment, the GOP nominee made his bones as AG as being a radical pro-lifer, and Terry McAulliffe and superpacs ran ads constantly on how radical Cucinelli was.

          In the end, Terry did win, but barely. His 5 to 7 point polling advantage that he consistantly possessed throughout the campaign wound up to be a point and a half victory. (And the libertarian got 6 and a half percent)

          So, I don’t think going boogata-boo on a scary candidate works as well as people think it does.Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to Kolohe says:

        There’s at least a legitimate question if the screw-the-center, just-pump up-the-base strategy is viable in 2016.

        Granted, there’s nothing particularly novel about a party out of power running a campaign well-calculated to win the previous election.Report

    • Michelle in reply to pillsy says:

      Kasich doesn’t give off the same soulless used car salesman kind of vibe that made Romney so unappealing. Instead, he comes off as inherently decent, albeit awfully hawkish.Report

  13. Aaron David says:

    RCP has Cruz beating HRC. with Kasich knocking her flat. K-man doesn’t have enough weight to bring this together, while the Cruzer does. So, he’s got that going for him, which is nice.Report

    • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Aaron David says:

      RCP has a tendency to forget certain polls as HuffPost shows Clinton up by an average of 4.4

      Morning Consult 3/11 – 3/13 3,016 RV 46 38 16 Clinton +8
      YouGov/Economist 3/10 – 3/12 1,645 RV 45 42 – Clinton +3
      Ipsos/Reuters 3/5 – 3/9 1,594 RV 43 35 13 Clinton +8
      Morning Consult 3/4 – 3/6 1,510 RV 46 39 15 Clinton +7
      NBC/WSJ 3/3 – 3/6 1,200 RV 47 45 2 Clinton +2
      Ipsos/Reuters 2/27 – 3/2 1,381 RV 47 32 11 Clinton +15
      Morning Consult 2/26 – 2/27 1,224 RV 46 38 16 Clinton +8
      CNN 2/24 – 2/27 920 RV 48 49 2 Cruz +1
      Ipsos/Reuters 2/20 – 2/24 1,246 RV 44 33 14 Clinton +11
      FOX 2/15 – 2/17 1,031 RV 45 46 2 Cruz +1Report

  14. j r says:

    Does anyone here think that there is a Republican candidate not named Trump who has a legitimate shot at beating Hillary in the general election?Report

    • Stillwater in reply to j r says:

      I don’t.Report

    • Dan Scotto in reply to j r says:

      I think Kasich would stand a chance, and if there’s a recession or terrorist attack, all bets are off. But otherwise? Very slim odds.Report

      • j r in reply to Dan Scotto says:

        Kasich coming off a strong primary performance and tacking to the center out of a united convention, maybe. But Kasich coming out of any jury-rigged convention process, not so much.

        I know that your ultimate point is that the consolation prize of anybody but Trump is still better than Trump, but it is cold comfort. The Republican Party had the biggest role in creating Trump, soa victory defined as we let him crash the primaries, run away with the election, wreck the convention, and ruin all hopes of winning the general, but at least he wasn’t the nominee, that ain’t much of a victory.Report