The Nominee Will Be Romney and the GOP Will Like Him

Written by Eli Lehrer on Tuesday November 1, 2011

Although I'm hardly optimistic that he'll take the presidency, there's every reason to think that Mitt Romney is going win the Republican nomination and attract the votes of his own party members.

Thus, while I would still bet on Obama to win reelection, I disagree with David Frum's contention that Romney's current level of support in his own party ought to be a topic of concern.

In a very large nominating field where only residents in a few states will cast primary votes anytime soon, primary candidate preference polls are roughly the equivalent of asking a sci-fi geek to pick between Star Trek, Star Wars, and Battlestar Galactica. All of the choices are pretty good and saying that you like one doesn't exclude a deep and even geeky affection for the others.

The fact that Romney is a slightly bland individual--Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachman are all a lot more fun to watch--probably depresses the number of people picking him as their first choice a bit further. With the possible exception of Ron Paul's supporters (many of whom may stay home or vote Libertarian on election day) almost all primary voters will rally around the party's eventual nominee.

The polling firm Rassmussen Reports--generally pretty accurate although known to lean a bit towards the R side--estimates that 33.9 percent of the electorate self-identifies as Republican. And the number of people who will vote R almost no matter what is higher than that. Barry Goldwater, the worst-performing post World War II Republican candidate, still landed just about 40 percent of the vote.

For Romney this means he's still the true frontrunner even if others briefly surpass him in the polls. If he can avoid being utterly embarrassed with finishes below third place in closely watched primaries, his well oiled fundraising machine and the organizational resources he built up in his last run for the presidency will likely let him win the nomination the same way they did for plenty of other people (e.g.John McCain) who stumbled in early contests.

This still doesn't mean that things are going to be easy for Romney. Anyone taking on an incumbent has an up-hill fight. But, unless the rules of American politics get rewritten, Romney shouldn't have to worry much about what Republicans think of him. They'll come around.