May 2011 Update: Romney remains the frontrunner for me. He is choosing his battles by only participating in a few forums (he, I think, wisely skipped the exercise in South Carolina), writing op-eds (opinion editorials) for key newspapers and giving interviews with friendly media. Romney has also posted some strong fundraising numbers (raising more than $10 million in a single day). He even tried to confront his weakness in the primaries: Romneycare, the Massachusetts model for Obamacare. I think he did a weak job of it: he said that an individual mandate to buy health insurance is ok on a state level but not the federal level and that states should decided how best to address health care on an individual basis. Time will tell if primary voters buy this argument; President Obama has already said that states can opt out of the federal plan if they propose a way to cover the same amount of people as the federal plan with the same or less cost and Republicans aren’t buying that.
March 2011 Update: Romney spent the month taking care of behind-the-scenes business. He began to defend his health care program in Massachusetts by taking a states’ rights position. But as front-runner, Romney doesn’t have to get invovled in every conference or event, he has the name ID, money and experience to wait a while longer before seriously engaging.
Romney has the advantage of having received the second most votes last time around. How is this an advantage, you ask? In several recent contested nomination battles on the Republican side, the runner-up of the previous cycle has been nominated (Reagan in 1980, Bush 1988, Dole 1996, McCain 2008). Romney is the de facto frontrunner of the 2012 cycle. He has the name ID, access to funds (raised or personal) and the staff and personal experience of having been through a presidential campaign before. His business experience should also be a plus for him as many Americans cite the economy and lowering unemployment as thier top concerns.
One drawback for Romney that has been reported anecdotally, is a resistance to his Mormon faith. While this may hamper his ability to garner votes from some Republican primary voters, it could prove beneficial in the West should he get the chance to face President Obama. Another weakness that I consider in Romney is his change of policy positions when he sought the 2008 nomination. I’m all for people examining their ideas and having genuine changes in thought and feelings, but it seemed as if he cravenly changed his positions just to win. That characteristic continues this cycle as he has been an outspoken critic of Obama’s health care overhaul. This is not unexpected for a candidate seeking the Republican nomination, but it is difficult for Romney because the national plan is similar to the one that he himself instituted in Massachusetts while governor there. (I put a star by Romney’s homestate, because while he was governor there, he currently has homes in California and New Hampshire).
I think that if the political environment remains largely unchanged, a matchup between Governor Romney and President Obama would be close. Romney could do very well in New England, having been a governor there, though he could become only the 2nd major party candidate in a half century to lose his homestate* (Gore in 2000). I think Romney could also do well in the Mountain West. What do you think? Join the Discourse.