The Washington Post

Can Romney really win?

The Romney communications secretariat did a great job yesterday spinning their boss’s mathematical inevitability despite his continuing inability to close out the race. And the media found it convincing. Chuck Todd, who is as respected as they come, led the nightly news with a story straight from Boston, which contained this key Romney talking point: In order to get the nomination, Rick Santorum will have to win two out of three delegates from here to Tampa, an unprecedented and impossible feat.

Good spin has to be true, but it is a highly selective form of truth. There are many ways to counter the Romney argument, but here are two: one specific, one general. The specific: In the exit polls from Ohio, which Romney won, more voters (34 percent) said Santorum understands the problems of average Americans than Romney (22 percent). This standard poll question is often one of the strongest indicators of voters’ preference, and the answer is very troublesome for Romney within his own party, to say nothing of independents and Democrats.

My more general critique: Delegate math is not a compelling narrative for a presidential candidate. The more interesting narrative is one in which all the old questions about Romney, questions that have driven his negative ratings above 50 percent — incredible for a likely party nominee — are front and center and continue to drive his coverage. Is he authentic, can he connect, does he understand me and so on. In other words, can he win, and not just on a spreadsheet in March.


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