Wednesday, March 7, 2012

GOP Primary: Despite the media narrative, Mitt is winning 2 to 1

The tale of the 2012 Republican Presidential primary season is increasingly one of two divergent realities: the true one, in which most of the world lives, loves, and goes about its business, where Mitt Romney is winning quite handily. And the media's fever dream narrative, in which the Republican contest is hotly contested between the "establishment" Romney and the "conservative upstart" Santorum (or Gingrich, or whomever).

Here's the headline on a bit of other-world "analysis" by's Glen Johnson this morning: "Romney fails to change 2012 nominating dynamic despite Super Tuesday gains."

Rolling in Reality
And he's right! Just not in the way he means.

As was the case before last night, Mitt Romney has won twice as many states as his next-closest rival (14 versus Santorum's 7).

As was the case before last night, Mitt Romney has amassed more than twice as many delegates as his next-closest rival (415 to Santorum's 176). The only difference here is Romney's margin has grown.

As was the case before last night, Mitt Romney has won nearly twice as many popular votes as - and more than 1.2 million votes more than - his next closest rival (3.2 million to Santorum's 1.9).

By any measure, then, in the real world Mitt Romney is winning this thing handily, by roughly a 2-to-1 margin. And yet the press coverage, by and large, still insists upon trying to drag us into that alternate reality, where numbers mean nothing and the bloviations of well-agendaed pundits trump all else.

Last night he won (yes) twice as many states as Santorum, increased his overall delegate lead, and in two weeks closed a huge polling deficit to narrowly win in Ohio, the media-proclaimed "most important state" of the night.

The National Journal's headline this morning? "Romney Survives Super Tuesday..."

At some point the merely ridiculous crosses into the ludicrous.

The truth is quite simple - there is no great mystery here: because of significant changes this year in the Republican delegate allocation formula, a protracted primary season was all but guaranteed. Everyone knew this, and Romney planned for it from the outset.

Mitt has been the "front-runner" from the beginning, not because he is the "establishment" pick (although he is), but because he is consistently viewed by the voting public as the Republican who is most likely to win the nomination, attract independent support, and beat President Obama in November. With all of the volatility in the week to week national polls, that measure has remained more or less constant.

And the press hates that. Not because they dislike Mitt personally (though some of them clearly do), but because a short, neat primary would be both "boring" and immensely damaging to their profits. That isn't criticism, it is fact.

Imagine if the broadcast networks were able to control the scoring in the Superbowl. Or the World Series. What would they give us? A first quarter blow-out? A 4 game sweep? Of course not. We'd get Vinatieri in the closing seconds. We'd get the 2004 ALCS.

Of course the press cannot control the score in the 2012 Republican primaries - not completely. So they are doing the next best thing.

They are trying to alter reality.


  1. GREAT points made here. This has always buged me when I watch the news. They said Michigan (his home state 45 years ago) is a make or break state and he wins but headlines make him out to lose. Then it was Ohio, he wins...but still loses in the medias mind. How about the headlines where Mitt gets more than 70% of the vote in his REAL home state of MA? Why don't they report on that or expect the same from Gingrich in GA? Very biased and thankfully most voters are seeing right through it all. Mitt 2012!

  2. Thanks for the comment, Anonymous. Yeah, the shifting standards can be dizzying to watch. You pointed out some good ones. In any given election, a three point margin can be a blowout or a squeaker, depending on who the media was rooting for. Iowa was called a victory for Santorum, when he won by fewer than three dozen votes. Michigan was called a tie, though he lost by tens of thousands of votes. It is media self-parody - or it would be, if anyone noticed.


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