The Republican base remains desperate for a not-Romney candidate and Herman Cain remains the top not-Romney following the collapse of the brief leads held by Michele Bachmann and then Rick Perry. Cain has even moved to a lead nationally in the latest Public Policy Survey, leading Romney 30 percent to 22 percent. Newt Gingrich has managed to move ahead of Perry.
National polls have their limitations in evaluating primary battles. The real question is whether the far right can deny Romney victories in the early contests. A Romney victory in New Hampshire would not help if the right wing can keep him from winning elsewhere. David Frum discussed why the far right does not want Romney to win:
Why is it that the GOP base seems not to care a whit about Mitt? Perhaps it’s because he is the anti-Tea Party, anti-talk-radio, anti-anti-government candidate.
Romney will never be able to appeal to those who want “limited government.” He fundamentally cannot; he is, at bottom, a center-right candidate who believes that government, when run effectively and efficiently, can produce the best results for the most people. It’s a noble view—one that the GOP base seemingly hates him for.
Anti-Romney sentiment is clearly connected to the idea that if Romney wins, the Reagan Revolution somehow loses. A Romney presidency could actually restore the average American’s faith in the competency of Washington—a notion that GOP base voters find intolerable.
Conservatives and Tea Partiers were supposed to put an end to people like Romney. They had convinced themselves that the era of the Bush 41-style Republican was over and done with, and that the GOP would now and forever be controlled by the purebred conservatives, the ideological offspring of Reagan and Goldwater, the true believers who would finally cut Washington down to size and starve the statist beast until you could see its ribcage.
If Romney becomes the GOP nominee, it will prove that the Tea Party project was an abject failure, and that the momentum of 2010 was only temporary.
Romney doesn’t represent “taking the country back.” To the contrary, he represents taking the country forward, and recognizing government’s appropriate role in doing so.
It is tough enough for the Tea Party now that they are being eclipsed by the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has a major advantage over the Tea Party in at least recognizing were the problems are. The Tea Party, which is made up of ignorant pawns of the top one percent which seeks to replace American democracy and capitalism with plutocracy, would be seen as especially meaningless if they cannot prevent Romney from winning the nomination.
At this point it looks like the primary race will play out one of two ways. Most likely, without credible opposition, Romney will gradually accumulate delegates until he is unstoppable. The second most likely alternative is that one not-Romney candidate will peak early in the primary battle and, with the support of the GOP base, manage to defeat Romney. The manner in which different conservatives have peaked at different times raises a third possibility. Perhaps different conservatives will win at different times and in different states, preventing Romney from getting enough delegates to win, leaving an open convention battle between a large Romney delegation and multiple conservatives whose total delegates outnumber Romney’s. While unlikely, it is possible that it will be left to the Republican convention to choose the not-Romney candidate.