A Repeat of 2006 – Mitt Romney is NOT Electable

Mitt Romney has been running on the idea that he is “electable”. The idea is that he’s so clean cut and well spoken that he was able to win the governorship in one of the most liberal states in the country. And while his narrative has taken a bruising lately, it still holds because he’s claiming to just be more electable than the other candidates. This is utter nonsense, and the notion needs to be dispelled.

Mitt Romney is in fact the least electable candidate in the race. His past performance in Massachusetts indicates as much. The only thing required to understand this is a touch of knowledge about Massachusetts political history.

When Mike Dukakis left government after attempting to run for President, he left state government in shambles. He lied about having balanced the budget, and the people of Massachusetts were fed up with him and the Democrats. Into this environment, the people of Massachusetts elected Republican Bill Weld as governor, and gave him enough of a minority in the legislature so as to be able to sustain a veto. That was in 1990. Bill Weld was re-elected in 1994, and grew bored with being governor, and resigned in 1997, leaving the office to his Lt. Governor Paul Cellucci. Cellucci was a real local (locals would call his sort a “townie”), who ran up an extraordinary amount of personal credit card debt, calling into his question his ability to be a good manager. Nevertheless, he managed to get elected to the governorship in his own right in 1998. Cellucci resigned in 2001 to become the US ambassador to Canada, leaving the office to Jane Swift, who gave birth to twins while serving as acting governor, and chose not to run for the office herself.

It was into this string of Republican wins that Mitt Romney threw his hat into the ring. In other words, he was the third Republican governor in 12 years of continuous Republican governors in the state. So his win was not nearly as impressive as he made it sound. Massachusetts had Republican governors for 12 years running before he showed up. So they were used to it.

But really, he provided no reason for people to vote for him in 2002. He ran a similar campaign to what he’s running now, that he’s a good manager who can help fix problems. The real reason why he won was because his opponent, Shannon O’Brien imploded after likening teenage abortions to getting a tattoo, and then tried to make light of it by offering to show her tattoos on the campaign trail. In light of such rank idiocy, Massachusetts opted for Romney.

I’m going to skip over how he governed, except to point out that Romney made a real effort to get Republicans elected to the state legislature, and his effort was a complete and utter failure. Republicans lost seats while he was governor.

After being governor for four years, Romney could see the writing on the wall. he would lose re-election. And so he made the preposterous argument that he’d accomplished everything he’d wanted to accomplish as governor and that as a result he was going to go. And he set up his Lt. Governor to be the next Republican nominee, a woman named Kerry Healey.

Now Kerry Healey was someone few had heard of prior to Romney picking her to be his Lt. Governor. She’d never held political office before, but she’d had a good showing in some race or another before Romney tapped her. She held a PhD in criminology and married a centimillionaire. She was a caricature of herself and of a pearl wearing country club Republican. In fact, she was such a caricature that she was donned the nickname “Muffy”, not from her adversaries, but from the state’s premier right-of-center columnist, Howie Carr.

But that is not all, oh no that is not all. See Muffy had what would have been a primary challenger, a man by the name of Christie Mihos. Mihos was a self made businessman in Massachusetts, having started a chain of convenience stores from scratch. And he had been active in Republican politics for some time. He deserved a spot on the primary ballot. but Romney’s henchmen played games with the Massachusetts State Republican convention, refusing to let Mihos’ supporters in. As a result, he didn’t get the requisite 15% of the vote required to get on the ballot. In response, Mihos went apoplectic.

But before we get to Mihos’ response, let us recall that much the same thing has been happening in this current race. Romney’s cronies got the FLorida primary moved up in contravention of Republican Party rules, as a firewall of sorts to stop any possible challengers. And they are rumored to have had a hand in keeping Perry and Gingrich off the ballot in Virginia.

When you win a primary legitimately, opposing candidates tend to get in line and endorse you. But when you win by dirty tricks, you engender permanent opposition. Which brings us to Christie Mihos’ justified jihad against Mitt Romney.

Mihos ran an independent candidacy, running exclusively against Muffy, ignoring the Democrat in the race (whom we’ll get back to). Mihos ran what has to be one of the most outrageous ad campaigns in the history of televised politics. His ad literally depicted Beacon Hill politicians sticking their heads up their own asses, in cartoon form. And not just generic representations of politicians, literally, Mitt Romney and Muffy. See for yourself:

I shudder to think what newt Gingrich is going to do to this man in the general election once he has nothing left to lose.

So back to our story. Muffy’s real opponent in the general election was a man named Deval Patrick. He was a well spoken black lawyer, who had served on some major corporate boards and has been in Clinton’s justice department for a period of time. He ran on a theme of “Yes We Can!” If that sounds familiar, it should. His campaign manager was David Axelrod and the campaign he ran for Deval Patrick was a dry run for the one he would eventually run for Barack Obama. Which is to say, 2012 will not be the first time that the Romney and Obama teams will have faced off. They faced off in 2006, and the result was NOT pretty.

The key to understanding Massachusetts politics is to know how much of the vote is really up for grabs in any election. In Massachusetts, 30% of the voters will vote for the Republican candidate no matter what, and 40% for the Democrat. This leaves 30% up for grabs, the independent vote so to speak. While at first glance it doesn’t seem like that big of a difference, if you do the math you will see that a Republican needs to win 2/3 of the independent vote to win an election. This is what Scott Brown did. So that fact that Muffy lost and Deval won shouldn’t be a serious concern, at least if the independent vote was reasonably split.

But it wasn’t.

Here’s how the vote broke down:

  • Muffy: 779,807 35%
  • Mihos: 161,012 7%
  • Patrick: 1,230,065 56%
  • Green: 43,032 2%

Let’s translate this. Assume that Mihos’ votes were really republican votes, and the Green Party’s votes were Democrats and run the percentages. We get:

  • Muffy/Mihos: 42.5%
  • Patrick/Green: 57.5%

And to get the independent vote breakdown, we subtract 30% from the right and 40% from the left:

  • Independents voting right: 12.5%
  • Independents voting left: 17.5%

Or put differently, the independent voters split as follows:

  • Independents voting right: 41.6%
  • Independents voting left: 58.3%

If Republicans lose the independent vote 58% to 42%, they will lose. And that’s not even considering the fact that Mihos in fact took 7% of the vote for himself. I think we could expect similar results if Gingrich goes rogue and runs third party.

So I hope you’re a bit more informed about Mitt Romney’s electability now. Nominating Mitt Romney will, I believe, lead to a massive loss in November. My hope is that is doesn’t have an effect down ticket.

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2 Responses to “A Repeat of 2006 – Mitt Romney is NOT Electable”

  Jay Says:

My understanding when I worked for Christy’s Markets was that Christy’s dad named the store after his son when he started it, and that Christy and his brother(s) ultimately ended up running it, with Christy the obvious figurehead. Now, he may have been good at running it, and may have had a lot to do with its wide expansion and all that, but my understanding was that he did not start it from scratch, his father did. That said, good analysis, and I loved that ad.

 
  Doug Says:

The Presidental race is toast. We need to start looking at what’s going on down ticket.

 
 

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