February 15th, 2008 by Rightsideup

Lots of speculation at the moment about what Romney has planned next, with the most obvious option being running again in 2012. Some have suggested that 2008 was the equivalent for Romney of Reagan’s 1976 campaign, when he lost but then came back four years later to win the first of his two terms. Others have rightly pointed out that there are a lot of differences between 2008 and 1976, and the biggest is surely that Romney hasn’t proven himself as a conservative champion. Although he belatedly became the conservative standard bearer as it became clear McCain would likely win, this was mostly a victory with the conservative radio hosts, not the public (or Republican primary voters) in general.

As such, Romney now has to spend a good chunk of the next four years burnishing his conservative credentials so that he is well positioned in 2012. There are several risks with this strategy:

  • If his Mormonism was a major obstacle this time around, it will be again in 2012, especially if there is an evangelical Christian running with otherwise similar (or better) conservative credentials
  • Other well-regarded conservatives who weren’t quite ready this time around will have four more years of experience under their belts as Senators or Governors in 2012 and could make a strong showing. Some of them at least would have more consistent conservative records in both campaigning and governing / voting
  • There will be two elections between now and then – this November’s presidential and Congressional elections and the 2010 Congressional elections. It is possible (though not necessarily likely) that there will be a backlash against conservatism during that period and that the Republican party will go through a period of low self-esteem similar to what the British Conservative Party has been going through since the early to mid 1990s.

None of these is a foregone conclusion. Polling will answer the first question one way or the other and ought to be taken very seriously. No more “would you vote for” questions but lots of “why did/didn’t you vote for” questions. Get to the nub of what it was that people liked or didn’t like about Mitt Romney in 2008.

Secondly, he has to really put in a lot of work over the next four years, and the best suggestion is funding and leading a MoveOn.org for the right wing crowd. An organisation that ordinary conservatives can really rally behind, that will campaign for their causes, and that will provide him with a natural base which can rally around him in 2012 as it didn’t in 2008 (at least until the last week of the campaign). Hold regular events, champion conservative causes, build a consistent conservative platform and hold politicians accountable by rating them against it, and so on.

Doing that is still no guarantee that someone else won’t show up by 2012 who seems a more natural fit, or that McCain himself will win in 2008 and decide to go for a second term in 2012. Romney doesn’t need the age question on top of the other questions but it would undoubtedly be asked if he had to wait until 2016.

Lots to play for, and lots of money to do it with – that’s the good news. The bad news is that, as Harold Wilson once said, a week is a long time in politics. If that’s the case, four years is an eternity, and anything can happen.

February 13th, 2008 by Rightsideup

This video is so much better than anything we’ve seen in this campaign – the quality of Reagan’s speeches (and of course his delivery) was just way beyond what’s on offer today. And there are so many examples of them. The music and “Yes We Can!” chants are of course a reference to the Barack Obama video that’s doing the rounds, but ignore those and focus on the Gipper.