Monday, February 6, 2012

Midwest U.S. “immune” to Romney charm? Or will we “clinch” it for him?

It will be intriguing to see the next pair of states where voters will express their opinions about which Republican should get the chance to face off against President Barack Obama.

Not only do they provide significant amounts of drinking water, the Great Lakes states voters also tend to influence who wins presidential elections.

For we’re talking about a pair of our sister states at work. No more of these Anglos out west who like to think they’re descended from the original settlers or these Southerners who are a breed in-and-of themselves.

FOR ON TUESDAY, voters in Missouri will participate in elections, and there will be caucuses in Minnesota and Colorado.

I couldn’t help but notice a New York Times commentary whose point was that the Midwestern U.S. was the one region of the country where Mitt Romney hadn’t managed to win anything (his Iowa “victory” by 8 votes is now believed to be a “loss” by 23).

The newpaper seems to think that news fit to print includes speculation that those two states could provide victories for another campaign (perhaps even Rick Santorum) that could make the GOP a suddenly-competitive fight all over again.

I’m not sure I buy into that theory. But I am curious to see how competitive the campaigns are in those states – particularly since they are ones where people can draw some comparisons to the types of people who vote in Illinois.

SINCE IT IS uncertain whether there will still be competitive primaries by the time Illinois comes about on March 20 (despite Newt Gingrich’s promise to pull a Hillary Clinton of ’08 and stay in the campaign to the bitter end), Tuesday might be the closest we get to seeing how we’d vote – for those of us who would be inclined to pick an “R” ballot, rather than a “D,” for Election Day.

For the record, Minnesota has been one of those states in recent presidential election cycles where Republican candidates have been competitive, but ultimately lost out to Democratic alternatives.

Missouri is just the opposite – a place where the GOP picks have won, but by narrow margins. Close enough, in fact, that I’m sure Democrats there are optimistic that they can ultimately put the state in line with Obama come the Nov. 6 general elections.

Will either state give any of the GOP dreamers a large-enough margin of support to be able to claim a definitive victory? Will Romney finally be able to come to a state where there is a mix of urban and rural (rather than domination by one faction or the other) and be able to claim a solid margin of support that would justify the belief that he really is the inevitable Republican pick to run for president?

I WONDER IF Missouri could be the place that could finally give him that 50 percent-plus vote that he so desperately needs to get in a state. For as long as all of his opponents gather more votes combined than he does, it doesn’t matter how Mitt spins it.

The truth will be a political party whose hard-core wants Anybody But Mitt to run for president – no matter how laughable any of those “anybodys” would appear to be in a head-to-head campaign against Obama.

I’m also going to be curious to see what voter turnout is like in the states of the Great Lakes region of the nation. Tuesday could be our first glimpse on what real Midwesterners think about this whole situation, particularly in Missouri. I can’t help but think that caucuses – while cutesy – only tell us what the most hard-core of political geeks think about an election; rather than real people.

For I recall the Obama campaign of 2008 being one that unified the Midwestern U.S. We all came together to back the senator from Illinois for president over the guy from Arizona whom even his own political party wasn’t really that enthused about (just like this year, it seems).

HECK, EVEN INDIANA fell into the Obama column for the general election that year – which was a first since 1964, the year that Barry Goldwater (another Arizonan) did his ideological number on the nation.

I expect the Hoosier State will revert back to its GOP leaning ways come Nov. 6. But can a Republican presidential hopeful manage to split up the rest of the Midwest? Or will a sense of “unity” for a regional counterpart remain in place?

If one of them can stir up the interest of Midwesterners and get people to the polls, then perhaps the Republican challenger (whichever one of the GOP goofs it turns out to be) can manage to make Obama an observer on Inauguration Day in 2013.

Otherwise, we’ll get “four more years” of Obama, and we’ll see how long it will take (personally, I’ll place my bet on “one week or less”) after that date for Republicans to shift into a mode where they try to “Impeach Obama!” (just like Earl Warren) during a second term in office.


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