No matter whether Mitt Romney finishes first, second or third in the Iowa Republican caucuses tonight, he “wins” and becomes what he has been all along–the presumptive GOP nominee.
Those Democrats who believe the parade of horribles in GOP debates and endless rounds of television interviews have helped President Barack Obama’s re-election chances are doing that hopey-changey thing again. The argument that conservative discontent with Romney, or a split that will necessarily (because there are still many candidates) emerge in caucus returns, demonstrates a fractured and weak GOP misses the mark.
Expect a united and energized Republican Party going into the general election. The tea party-ers and other hard conservatives are united in their contempt for Obama, just as Democrats were against George W. Bush. Maybe more so.
These are the same folks who created the “death panel” scare, who believe Obama is a Muslim and probably was not born in the United States. Need I go on? Supporters of Ron Paul or Rick Santorum or any other momentary candidate of the crazies will be just as crazy in November, and their passions will be directed at defeating Obama.
In truth, Republicans are likely to be more united than Democrats next fall. Obama has disappointed, if not alienated, key constituencies in the party’s base–women, rank-and-file union members and other working-class voters who trusted a Democratic president to improve their lives and have instead experienced more of the same economic malaise and political maltreatment they endure when the GOP is in charge.
So tune out, or at least discount heavily, most of the television analysis you will hear tonight. Romney is the GOP’s guy, with wide appeal to independents and critical reservoirs of support in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and New Jersey that should not even be in play. The ugly truth still is ugly: Obama enters 2012 weak, and Romney will offer swing voters a pretty alternative.