Reason Writers Around Town: Shikha Dalmia on Romney's Troubles in Michigan


Many commentators are attributing Mitt Romney's plummeting poll numbers in his birth state to his opposition to the auto bailout. But, Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia disputes that in her latest column at The Daily. She notes:

This is a primary contest, where Romney has to prove his bona fides to conservative voters, not union diehards, although Michigan does not prohibit cross-party voting. And even though more conservatives in Michigan supported the bailout than elsewhere, they did so out of fear and desperation, not conviction — something that no doubt induced a fair amount of cognitive dissonance in them. It is highly unlikely, therefore, that they would turn this issue into a litmus test for their candidates. Indeed, if that were the case, Santorum wouldn't be in the lead, since he is no fan of the bailout either. In fact, like Romney, he is on record saying that he would have let the auto industry fail.

So what is Romney's problem? It's a vision thing, she argues.

Romney seems singularly incapable of articulating broad themes. He comes across as an utterly prosaic man who thinks in concretes, unable to abstract grand principles. When Michigan voters are pining for soaring rhetoric, Romney is rattling off his "private sector" accomplishments. When they want uplifting poetry, he is busy making trite hometown-boy appeals, asking them to vote for him because he is "a son of Detroit."

Read the whole thing here.

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  1. If this analysis is correct, conservatives in Michigan are dolts. Santorum can definitely speak in broad themes, but they’re horribly destructive ones — even from a conservative POV.

    It would be a different story if, say, Ron Paul were eclipsing Romney, but Santorum? Yuck.

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  2. What THE FUCK are you on about?

  3. Romney, like consultants tend to be, is fundamentally reactive. The client provides the “broad theme” or “abstract grand principle.” He then tinkers and reacts. Having been around a lot of people like that (that’s pretty much the business lawyer mode, too), I thought the Reason consultant in chief article was spot on.

  4. I don’t think robots are advanced enough to have a “vision thing”, but maybe they’ll have one developed and installed in Romney before the 2016 elections.

  5. I know several people who are now skeptical of Obama’s handling of the economic crisis but see no answers being put forth by the GOP candidates (including Paul). None have put forth a convincing plan that will drive unemployment down to, say, 5%. Oh, they say their plan will but people are skeptical. So they say they will stick with Obama because they can see the number moving in the right direction. Paul says he’ll slash a trillion in spending; the others claim a little less. Libertarians might intuitively understand why cutting government spending and corp. taxes will generate jobs, but it is counter-intuitive to many folks. Which candidate can explain it best? Otherwise, voters will remain skeptical of all solutions and will tend to stick with the “horse” they are riding. Obama doesn’t have to convince people he has “the plan” he just has to convince people that the others don’t either.

    1. The flip side is that people might think whatever Obama’s doing isn’t working. The “going in the right direction” has been happening for what, 2 months (and very questionably given LFP)?

      I guess it’s a situation where your existing attitude toward BO determines which hand-waving reasoning you choose.

  6. I’m really depressed about the political landscape right now. The congressional GOP just caved on the payroll tax/doc fix thing for pretty much nothing in return, presumably to keep from getting in the news again. The latest polls have BO winning by 10-point margins against all four remaining GOP candidates. Romney’s campaign has been extremely disappointing in their inability to bury the absolutely pitiful Santorum, and they seem to have not the faintest idea what to do now that RS is in the lead. Conservative voters are off their friggin rocker to be voting for Santorum, who will probably lose so terribly to BO in the general that Obama could claim a “mandate” going forward (baaaarrrrrfffff).

    In short, I’m really depressed. I’m going to search for suicide prevention websites just in case.

  7. people who are now skeptical of Obama’s handling of the economic crisis but see no answers being put forth by the GOP candidates

    Yeah, well, that part just before “and they all lived happily ever after!” has proved to be somewhat tricky.

    People (on both TEAMS) who think a President can “fix” the economy are not readily persuaded by any argument not based on magic.

  8. He comes across as an utterly prosaic man who thinks in concretes, unable to abstract grand principles.

    Yeah, that’s what the voters are reacting too – the inability to abstract grand principles. 90% of the voters make their selections based on completely unimportant criteria like charisma, skin color, etc.

    Romney comes off as a coastal elite and unemployed Midwesterners resent it. Obama does too but 99% of the black voters didn’t go beyond skin color for their choice. Santorum is going to win the preacher circuit states. He might have trouble in Utah because he isn’t Mormon, but if Romney weren’t running he’d probably take that state too.

  9. I dunno. This whole GOP race has been so unpredictable, that I’m loathe to make strong predictions. I don’t see a lot of genuine enthusiasm among non-evangelical conservatives for Santorum, but he’s almost the last one standing now that Gingrich has talked himself out of the race.

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