So goes the old adage about the nominating process for both parties. It means that Democrats go beserk over a candidate, totally falling for who the newest cool kid on the scene, without regard for electoral prowess. Witness: George McGovern in 1972, Dukakis in 1988, Howard Dean in 2004, and Obama in 2008.
Republicans, being the well-mannered country club party that they are, put their partisan differences aside, and coalesce behind the consensus candidate, which is usually the guy that’s put in the time in the previous primaries, and who has the greatest claim to the nomination. Not so with Democrats, a notoriously disagreeable bunch who adore internal bickering.
And for once, that old adage seems to have been turned completely on its head. True, we Democrats have an incumbent to fall in line behind, and the Republicans do not, but what strikes me at this point is that even though Romney’s won both Iowa and New Hampshire, a feat that no Republican nonincumbent has ever pulled off, and there’s still a vast reservoir of antipathy against him. That at this stage, he still faces even nominal opposition within his own party is very telling. It speaks to deep undercurrents in the rank and file Republicans who are fundamentally uncomfortable with him.
Romney’s likely going to make a strong showing in South Carolina, and even if he does, the same question that’s been haunting Republicans will be plaguing them: Is this really the guy we have? If they’re not comfortable with Mr. Economic Fix-it, it’ll show. And as the economy continues to improve, he’s going to look like every other flawed candidate that seems to come out of Massachusetts, which, aside from the Kennedys, seems to give us the most tone deaf nominees (Dukakis, again, and Kerry) we’ve ever had.
But, I’m not going to complain about that. Good for us, and even better for the country.