Wednesday, March 7, 2012



During last night’s CNN coverage of the “Super Tuesday” primaries, one of the staff Democratic pundits opined that one of Mitt Romney’s and, by extension, the GOP’s, problems is that Romney is winning where Democrats normally win (the large metropolitan areas) and losing where the Republicans normally win (rural areas and/or the South).

Two points deserve to be made on this observation. The first is that it is not right, or at least not precisely right. Mitt Romney is winning in major metropolitan areas, but Democrats don’t normally win in major metropolitan areas. Democrats win in the cities, but “major metropolitan areas” are composed of both cities and suburbs. The suburbs are generally the battleground of any election with a tendency to swing between the parties but which, under normal circumstances, generally go Republican unless the Republicans blow it by running candidates whose appeal is limited to the true believers. This trend has softened in recent years as city dwellers emigrate to the suburbs, and especially the close-in suburbs, and take their voting habits with them, but the GOP lean in the suburbs remains. With the cities normally going Democratic and the suburbs being the swing vote that still leans Republican, it is a stretch to say that, by winning in metropolitan areas, Mr. Romney is winning where Democrats normally win.

The second point is that, even if the pundit’s observation were exactly on point, it would seem that Mr. Romney’s winning where Democrats win and losing where Republicans win would be a salubrious development for the GOP. The areas where Republicans normally win will go Republican regardless of who the candidate is, especially this year. As Republican voter Omar Fernandez, a 41 year old pharmaceutical salesman from Marietta, GA, put it yesterday

We don’t have great choices, but it’s anyone but Obama for me.” (Wall Street Journal, 3/7/12, page A8)

Mr. Fernandez’s opinion is, to say the least, widely and deeply held by all Republicans. Most Republicans just want Mr. Obama out of the Oval Office, and the true believers, those least favorably disposed toward Mitt Romney, despise Mr. Obama and will support anyone, yes, even Mitt Romney, who can retire the President early. If here were the GOP candidate, Elmer Fudd would carry the most loyally Republican states. (Mr. Fudd may look pretty good compared to most of the GOP field, but that is grist for another mill.) Maybe Mr. Romney will not carry the traditionally red states by as large a margin as would a more conservative candidate, but, given the nature of the electoral college, it doesn’t matter.

Given that anyone other than, perhaps, Dennis Kucinich, would beat President Obama in most of the red states, wouldn’t it be to the GOP’s advantage to have as their candidate someone, maybe Mr. Romney, who can attract voters in the larger metropolitan areas that went Democratic in 2008 by virtue of Mr. Obama’s ability to do well in the traditionally Republican, but moderately do, suburbs? Wouldn’t it make sense to have a candidate with a record of winning where, according to the CNN pundit, the Democrats win?

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