In a sure sign that reporters are eager to start writing on the 2012 Presidential race, but have very little so far to write about, much is being made about Mitt Romney’s plurality win of a straw at a meeting of New Hampshire Republicans.
According to the Boston Globe, the breakdown of the poll results, which took place at a meeting of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee in Derry, is as follows, “–Romney at 35 percent. Trailing him were Representative Ron Paul (11 percent), former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty (8 percent), former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (7 percent), and Representative Michele Bachmann (5 percent).”
The results are somewhat less than meet the eye, for two reasons.
First, Romney, who has maintained a home in New Hampshire, which borders his home state of Massachusetts, and has been actively campaigning for state candidates, making donations, and otherwise lining up support. Yet, he only got 35 percent, another way of saying that 65 percent preferred some other candidate.
Second, while some of the people at the New Hampshire Republican meeting were voting in the straw poll, they elected as the head of their state committee Jack Kimball, the tea party candidate, over the more traditional establishment candidate Juliana Bergeron. Some analysts have suggested this means Romney must have picked up some tea party support. Again, one has to look at the flip side of his straw poll numbers. 65 percent wanted someone else. Romney has pretty much written off the tea party.
In any event, straw polls of small numbers of party about a year before a primary may be all be meaningless. No one has actually campaigned on their own behalf in New Hampshire, yet.
Romney, like Rudy Giuliani to some extent, is casting himself as the safe, sound establishment candidate who can raise money and go toe to toe with Barack Obama in 2012. He does have certain advantages. He is telegenic, rich and experienced. He has corporate CEO credentials that would bode well as a man who can fix the nation’s problems.
Romney also has disadvantages. He has a reputation of being a RINO (Republican in Name Only) and has to make torturous about Romneycare in Massachusetts. And, sadly, some social conservatives (and many liberals) still have a problem with his Mormonism.
In any event, safe, sound, nonthreatening candidates rarely win the Presidency. Think about Gerald Ford in 1976 or Bob Dole in 1996. Safe and sound is the equivalent of boring. Boring almost never wins.
Source: Romney wins straw poll in NH as Tea Party candidate takes GOP chairmanship, Matt Visier, Boston Globe, January 22nd, 2011