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Posted at 3:25 PM ET, 11/16/2010

Why Mitt Romney may not be the Republican nominee in 2012

By Ezra Klein


You often hear that Republicans will definitely nominate Mitt Romney in 2012 because he's next in line, and they always nominate whoever's next in line. But as Jonathan Bernstein notes, "always," in this case, really only describes three elections that are even remotely similar to 2012:

The 2012 cycle will be only the third truly open nomination without a serious heavyweight in modern GOP history. Now, it may well be that Republicans are simply inclined to follow hierarchies (although don't ask Lisa Murkowski about that!) and that they saw Bush in 2000 and McCain in 2008 as more "next in line" than the others. But that doesn't really tell us that Romney or Palin will (necessarily) be helped by that tendency; it implies only that whoever does benefit will seem, after the fact, to have been the logical next in line.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin.

By Ezra Klein  | November 16, 2010; 3:25 PM ET
Categories:  2012 Presidential  
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I would be surprised if Romney could make it through Republican primaries. Only about 20% of the country is Republican. Over 5% is Tea Part zealots, and that 5%+ you could see as more than twice as likely to make the effort to vote in a primary, and especially a caucus.

So more than half the voters could be Tea Party zealots, and to them Romney is a communist who implemented a death of freedom individual health insurance mandate on Massachusetts.

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | November 16, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

It is true that Romney will say anything to get elected -- What's your position? What a coincidence, mine too! -- but these Tea fanatics have long memories.

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | November 16, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I think Romney will be mauled by the Tea Party over his ties to the Massachusetts health care plan. If Palin runs, the anti-Palin forces of the GOP will have to find another person to rally around. Assuming Jeb Bush doesn't get in, my money would be on a relative unknown at this point, perhaps Thune, or Barbour.

Posted by: Jasper999 | November 16, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Ok, I should be more solid with the numbers:

Here's from a 2004 USA Today article:

An estimated 201.5 million U.S. citizens age 18 or over will be eligible to vote Nov. 2, although many are not now registered.

Of these, about 55 million are registered Republicans. About 72 million registered Democrats.


So about a quarter of eligible voters were registered Republicans in 2004, and it's fluctuated since then (I remember seeing 20% a few years ago).

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | November 16, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

I've never quite understood how Bush was "next in line" in 2000, since he was a non-entity in 1996. Plus, the Republicans also failed to choose the next in line in 1964: Nixon refused to run, and then Lodge dropped out.

Posted by: tomveiltomveil | November 16, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

They may not pick him in 2012, but I contend that the Republicans wanted Romney in 2008, but Huckabee spoiled it in favor of McCain.

Winner-takes-all plurality voting--which the overwhelming amount of Republican primaries are--doesn't do well with three choices.

Posted by: mudlock | November 16, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

I consider myself an Independent and in voting for 50 years have voted both parties; however, I do like some of the ideas the Tea Party stand for. The Democratic Party has changed so very much in the 50 years I have voted that I no longer vote for their candidates as they seem to all be so screwed up and can't seem to do anything but run this country in the ground. While I like Palin and most all her ideas, I do not want to see her run for President as I do not believe she would be a good leader for our country. Perhaps the Republicans should look at some of the newly elected members of Congress. I am so far very impressed with the new Senator from Florida.

Posted by: libertymeanslife | November 16, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse

This is the first time I've ever seen George W. Bush described as next in line, which is particularly odd given that there are three other examples to pair with McCain: Reagan, Bush pere and Dole.

Posted by: AaronSVeenstra | November 17, 2010 12:10 AM | Report abuse

Answer: Because the last episode of LOST left a bad taste in people's mouths and they've had just about enough of Jack Shephard.

Posted by: klautsack | November 17, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Romney can not energize the extreme right wing Evangelical Christianists because of his Mormon beliefs. He can not mobilize the extreme right wing anti-government TEA Partiers because he's a second generation Politician who, despite his corporate background, probably believes in Government. Moderate Republicans are scared by "say anything" flip flopping, all documented on video.

So what does he say? Trust me, I'm a flip-flopping Mormon businessman who believes in government?

Posted by: thebobbob | November 17, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Romney for Treasury Secretary in 2013!

Posted by: gfberhitoe | November 17, 2010 11:41 PM | Report abuse

If Palin didn't have a gravitas problem, I don't think the primary would be even slightly competitive. Even if she runs, she could win .

Romney is the "comfortable choice" (often conflated with next-in-line). Hillary was for the Democrats in 2008 but that party is more open to newcomers. Or was. The rise of the Tea Party's influence has created a more Jacobin atmosphere in the GOP than we've seen in decades (or ever?) which makes Romney more vulnerable than he'd be in other cycles. Then again, the GOP has little trouble trading in hypocrisy: (screaming about the deficit while pushing for permanent Bush tax cuts). So I don't think it's impossible they'd nominate the father of ObamaCare on a "Repeal ObamaCare" platform. He's cleverly citing States Rights in his defense. Maybe he'll come out for repealing Social Security and Medicare in favor of state plans. He's very flawed but the field is weak enough for that to be enough.

Posted by: birchbeer | November 19, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Despite the many uneducated's the economy, stupid!

And Romney has a sophisticated understanding of challenges faced in both national and global economies. Currently he may be the only one running who really has the experience and expertise in the area of business and world economics, as well as proven successes, that could turn this country around economically.

Yes, he made money by turning around struggling companies such as Monsanto, Dominos Pizza, Burlington, Corning, and others, saving thousands of jobs. Later he ran a venture capital firm which provided money to numerous startup companies such as Staples Office Supplies, enabling them to expand and create thousands of more jobs.

As Gov of MA Romney worked hard with both sides of the political spectrum to get a consensus from the extreme blue state, to get anything accomplished, least of which was getting MA from a deficit to a surplus during his term.

He worked again with a very Democrat Legislature to try to fix a major issue in MA... people "raiding" medical care without paying for it, making it the burden of the MA Taxpayers. He joined with these Democrat law makers and required people to pay for their own Medical Care via a mandate to acquire Private Health Insurance (aka... the same requirements we find in most states for Auto Insurance). In short, he employed the 10th Amendment which provides for states to enact laws to deal with their own specific issues. MA health care coverage reached almost 97%, however costs did start climbing after Romney left office and the MA Legislature widened the eligibility requirements, HELLO!

And yet he never took a salary during his time as Gov. MA residents liked him or hated him. Even still the polls in MA shows he is considered to have been doing a better job than his predisessor as well as that of the gov who followed him.

When the 2002 Olympics struggled under scandal and financial disaster he went to Salt Lake, took over for a one ($1) dollar salary and lead it to be one of the most financially successful Olympics in US history.

He believes in family & country. He supports a strong military. He is concerned about illegal immigration and what it means to the security of the United States. He has always been Pro-Life, he just took a neutral stance with the MA Legislature rather than fight with them. He may have flipped a little but never flopped. Everyone, and that means everyone in politics makes mistakes, gets to change their mind at least once after gaining more knowledge, and most politicians seem to change more than once. When the time comes, stand all of the candidates up next to each other in a direct comparison of what they really have done and then vote for the best person to make good change and run the country in the right direction.

The Tea Party & extreme Evangelicals will either learn from the past or will be one of the factors for OBAMA getting another term.

Posted by: dcdinnell | November 20, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

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