The GOP election Tuesday showed us two things paramount to shaping the 2012 Presidential Race: Romney can win where he’s supposed to win, and Romney is a strong enough campaigner to win even when he’s not supposed to win.
The first one is easy and the most obvious. Romney has, in states we expected him to win, performed steadily and posted convincing victories.
In places like New Hampshire, Arizona and Nevada, where we knew he had support, the conservative support of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich didn’t prevent Romney from coming out with comfortable victories.
I bring that up for a number of reasons. First, and perhaps most importantly, the places Romney is losing to Rick Santorum and Gingrich are places where Obama will also likely struggle.
Conservatives in states like Colorado and Missouri, who helped Santorum secure victories, are not voting for Barack Obama. They may just stay home, but my guess is the people politically engaged enough to vote in a primary have strong enough beliefs that anyone is better than Obama and therefore will vote for Mitt Romney.
The second part of Tuesday’s primary wins, though, is even more important.
Yes, Michigan is Romney’s home state, but there’s nothing Michigan about him. He’s a East Coast elitist with hundreds of millions to spare from capitalist endeavors, every bit the kind of guy Michiganders, particularly people living in Detroit, should hate.
He didn’t support the auto bail-out that has helped GM get back on track.
At various points, Rick Santorum was holding a double-digit lead in the Michigan polls and it looked like Santorum would turn this GOP primary on its head with a victory.
Romney fought back through some strong campaigning, including a handful of assertive debate performances, and allowed Rick Santorum to make some major mistakes.
Barack Obama won’t make the mistakes Santorum has made, but what Romney has shown as a campaigner is that he understands how the game is played.
Many political observers have complained that Romney hasn’t spent enough time attacking Obama. It’s almost comical because when the GOP primary started, he was being criticized for not speaking enough about his opponents, preferring instead to address Obama.
When it comes to campaign ads, Romney won’t be able to just outspend Obama; he’ll have substantive issues to throw at our soon-to-be-former President.
What can Obama say about Romney? He’s a good husband? He’s Mormon? He signed a mini-version of ObamaCare?
The only thing Obama can criticize Mitt Romney for is being rich. How far do you think that’ll fly among independents?
Mitt Romney shouldn’t have won Michigan, but he did because he has become a better campaigner. Santorum and Gingrich have too many holes, too many flaws and rough edges for Obama to attack. Romney doesn’t have those.
Of course, attacking Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum isn’t very hard considering all of their issues, but Barack Obama has plenty of flaws as well. It shouldn’t be much harder for Romney to go after Obama with the same ferocity he’s shown in the primary.
The biggest thing Mitt Romney has going for him heading into November: between him and Obama, only one of them has to run on the failed policies of the last three years.
The other simply has to remind the public of that disaster. Romney’s resurgence is providing compelling evidence he can do that and do it effectively.