Friday, February 3, 2012

Latest Line: Mitt Romney to Win Big in Nevada

GOP Nevadans caucus tomorrow, with 28 delegates up for grabs. The proportional allotment gives outliers like Ron Paul a chance to pick up a few more delegates, and a strong Tea Party presence might give Newt Gingrich a boost, but we predict Mitt Romney will chalk up an easy victory.

Ron Paul performs better in caucus states than primary states. His relative success is partially self-fulfilling prophecy – he spends more money and time in such states. Mostly, though, his supporters are committed and vocal, always a plus in the interactive nature of the caucus format.

Mr. Gingrich also hopes for a decent showing. The Tea Party is strong in Nevada, which won’t particularly help Mr. Romney. How much it will help Mr. Gingrich is uncertain, as Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle has endorsed Rick Santorum. The former GOP Senate candidate might still have a bit of clout in the Silver State, though her poor showing against obviously beatable Harry Reid might make her maunderings dismissible in this new election cycle. She ran a campaign against Reid that married in monumental fashion equal parts ineptitude and hubris, which seems an accurate description of the Tea Party in general.

Mr. Romney sees the Angle endorsement and Trumps it with the Donald. We wonder how thrilled he actually is to receive Mr. Trumps’s endorsement, Kiss of Death in a sane world, almost as devastating as an endorsement from that other most toxic of Republican assets, George W. Bush. (Ah, George W. Bush. He whose name must not be spoken. Never seen, but always present, as the grown-ups still endeavor to clean up his messes. Whither hides he? Does he lurk on his Paraguay plantation, thumbing that $9 billion pallet of cash that went missing in Iraq? A freebie for Republican strategists: Convince Mr. Bush to endorse Barack Obama. Your side might have a chance in November.)

And what of Mr. Santorum? Will his religious separatism find a home in the vast landscapes of the west, where a Religious Zealot can homeschool his brood of Future Zealots without the complexities of 21st century life intruding? We don’t think so, Ms. Angle’s endorsement notwithstanding.

Nevada belongs to Mr. Romney. He has quite a bit of cash. The state has quite a large Mormon population. We predict a solid first place for him, with the other three splitting roughly evenly the remainder of the vote.

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