Tuesday, April 05, 2011


Lately I've been thinking that the GOP presidential primaries are, alas, going to end with the least crazy, most electable, most obvious candidate getting the nomination -- Romney. I say this because Huckabee seems reluctant to run, Palin is doing so poorly in recent polls that she's likely to experience a Thompson/Giuliani-style flameout even if she does run, Pawlenty is far less inspiring to the base than his own videos are, and Bachmann and Gingrich don't seem able to connect with voters outside the Bible Belt, e.g., in New Hampshire, which means that Romney will probably trounce the motley field of God-botherers and tea types in the big cities of Florida and the bigger urban states that are part of the Super Tuesday pack, thus establishing unstoppable momentum.

I thought that, and then I saw this, from Public Policy Polling:

Mitt Romney's still the clear early front runner to take the Republican primary in New Hampshire next year but for the first time in our polling of the race PPP finds someone within single digits of him...Donald Trump.

If Trump actually run 21% of New Hampshire GOP voters say they'd vote for him, compared to 27% for Romney. The key to Trump's relatively strong showing? He does well with birthers and Tea Partiers, two groups he has seemed to actively court with his public comments of late. 42% of primary voters firmly say they do not believe Barack Obama was born in the United States to 35% who believe that he was and 23% who aren't sure. Trump leads Romney 22-21 with the birther crowd....

No, I don't think Trump is actually going to run. But now he's demonstrated the way to deal a mortal wound to Romney in what's practically his home state -- just go birther. Months from now, long after Trump has announced that after careful thought he's decided not to run, don't you think some other candidate will have absorbed the lesson and made birtherism (if only of the "I'm just asking the question" variety) a major part of his or her campaign?

And if that limits Romney to a victory in New Hampshire that's a single-digit squeaker, while a birther/teabagger/Bible-thumper package of messages by his opposition sends him to defeat in Iowa and South Carolina, can Mitt possibly pull through?

I don't know who's going to pick up the Trump birther mantle -- Gingrich? Bachmann? Cain? Rand Paul? But if this poll is right, birtherism could be the deciding issue in the race, knocking Romney out.

Unless, of course, he goes birther or semi-birther himself. Hard to imagine, but it's not as if he has a moral compass, right?

No comments: