Heilemann: “What Huckabee, McCain, and Giuliani have in common is that each of them, unlike Romney, has a bona fide, albeit limited, constituency”
… “The truth is that, should Romney lose in Iowa, McCain, Huckabee, or Giuliani could smite Mitt down in New Hampshire and beyond. Giuliani and McCain have long commanded greater support outside Iowa and New Hampshire than Romney, who has struggled all year to break out of single digits in the national polls,” writes John Heilemann in a New York Magazine article titled Mr. Perfect’s Slip; Mitt Romney did everything right to win the Republican nomination—so why is he drifting? Maybe it’s the party that’s changed
And the fact that Huckabee, still a largely unknown commodity, has swiftly moved past Romney gives the lie to the long-espoused argument from Mitt’s camp that his anemic support is merely a function of low name recognition. What Huckabee, McCain, and Giuliani have in common is that each of them, unlike Romney, has a bona fide, albeit limited, constituency: for Huckabee, social conservatives; for McCain, foreign-policy hawks and immigration doves; for Rudy, tough-on-terror types and anti-taxers. (Last week, please note, our former mayor garnered the closest thing to an endorsement anyone is going to get from Grover Norquist, the Washington ayatollah of tax-cutting zealots.) What they also share is that each is running an unconventional campaign: ignoring supposedly unignorable constituencies, opting out of allegedly unskippable caucuses and primaries.
In the past, of course, none of these campaigns would have stood a chance in the GOP: the orderly party, the disciplined party, the party of primogeniture. What the old Republican Party would have done is anoint a front-runner and let him run the table. Someone who’d touched all the bases, ticked off all the boxes. Someone like Mitt, that is. But instead here he is, mired in such desperation that he believed he had no choice but to undertake the boldest act of his candidacy—a what-the-fuck, double-down wager whose biggest conceivable payoff might be the elimination of just one reason why a small segment of Republican voters might have voted against him. (As opposed to, you know, giving them an affirmative reason to vote for him.) Pity poor Mitt, a capable guy, a plausible front-runner, now on the verge of seeing his fondest dreams dashed because his party started acting like … well, Democrats.
We concur. And we have harped on this string for months: Romney has no base, no constituency.