Analysis of media issues, politics and current events.
Romney’s net result was a win. An eight point win. But by tearing down the numbers, it clearly wasn’t. Here you had a candidate with 1) the most money and best financed 2) the robust ground team and organization in Iowa for over 2 years and 3) the backing of the Republican establishment 4) support of SuperPacs that hit Iowa with millions in advertising in the last two weeks while other candidates could not spend 5) and Romney is almost undisputed in his argument to Iowa voters that he’s the most electable. All this, yet he won the Iowa caucus by just eight points and didn’t increase his support.
Romney’s problem is the same as McCain in the 2008 election. He may talk the talk of new conservatism, but his record says he a moderate Republican. Plus, he doesn’t connect with Evangelical voters. For McCain it took Sarah Palin to bring evangelicals on board and energize the campaign. For Romney, his Mormon faith is looked upon with suspicion by many of those voters. And it creates an image they likely can’t be excited about: the prospect of having the vote for President of the United States come down to a person who they don’t think is real American (“Kenyan/socialist” Barack Obama and a person they don’t think is a real Christian (Mitt Romney). What to choose. What to choose.
If you break down the Iowa vote, it my be really less about Romney personal and more about voter philosophies. And it’s the same as the 2008 Republican primary breakdown. Romney represents the pragmatist/mainstream Republican voter that McCain represented. Santorum represents the “values” and “true conservative” voter that Mike Huckabee connected with. And Ron Paul represents the libertarian and disaffected Republican win he represented last go ’round.
The factions really haven changed. If anything, the conservative and Ron Paul factions have just gotten bigger and more formidable. And all are actually at war for control of the party. And they represent Romney’s true challenge. Will the other factions eventually break down enough for him and get on board for a Romney candidacy. And even if they do, he’s likely too mainstream for Ron Paul voters and “not Christian enough” for other voters to make them enthusiastic supporters. The good news is, unlike last year, he likely won’t be facing President Obama almost hallucinogenic, fanatic supporters as a significant amount are dispirited if not angry with the president.
Even though every Romney operative will be out in force today to pain his eight-point victory positively, this morning’s win for Romney is not so much of a win. It’s a warning. That, right now, his biggest rival is not the current president. But a party at odds with itself for its own soul and how it defines itself.