In numerous posts going back to 2011, I made the prediction that a Romney nomination would make it far more difficult for Republicans to take the Senate gavel from Dingy Harry. Here’s an example from January of 2012:
The deeply unpopular ObamaCare will be neutralized as an issue by the existence of RomneyCare, and Obama’s dismal employment record will be obfuscated in a blizzard of negative Bain Capital ads designed to paint Mitt as an out-of-touch multimillionaire who likes to fire people. Fair or unfair, does anyone doubt such a campaign will work against the patrician Romney? If he’s the nominee, as appears all but inevitable, conservatives should concentrate their resources on re-taking the Senate and holding the House as both tasks are going to be far more difficult with the Romney ball and chain at the top of the ticket.
Keep in mind, at that time a Republican takeover of the Senate was almost a foregone conclusion. Intrade pegged the odds at close to 80%. Today? About 19%. The Real Clear Politics “no toss up” Senate map is now indicating the GOP will gain a whopping one seat. What happened? Well, as Erin McPike notes, Mitt came to town:
But through swaths of the Midwest and mid-Atlantic, where the Obama and Romney campaigns are running hard, you might say that rising tides lift all boats.
Democrats Bill Nelson and Sherrod Brown are running comfortably ahead of Republican opponents Connie Mack and Josh Mandel in Florida and Ohio, respectively. Democrat Tim Kaine is running even or slightly ahead of Republican George Allen in Virginia. And in Wisconsin, the GOP is worried that Tommy Thompson — the popular former governor who seemed headed for the Senate — is falling farther behind Democrat Tammy Baldwin. In each of those states, the president has been putting some distance between himself and Mitt Romney in the presidential battle.
The question circulating in Republican circles now is does Mitt Romney have to turn his fortunes around in order for some GOP Senate nominees to eke out victories? Romney officials believe those candidates need the national campaign to win, whereas some Senate campaign strategists are trying to figure out how to outperform the top of the ticket and help win control of the Senate.
A GOP Senate strategist in Washington was blunt: “Mitt Romney is killing [Republican candidates] in Ohio, Wisconsin and Virginia. In Florida, Connie Mack is just killing himself.”
He explained: “Barack Obama is not campaigning nationally, but Mitt Romney is running a national campaign. This is a state-by-state race, and the proof is in the pudding.”
Obviously the race isn’t over yet and, however unlikely, Romney could knock ‘em dead at tonight’s debate. (We’ll know in a few hours, though I’m not optimistic.) But if things continue on their current trajectory, Republicans will be lucky to retain the House, forget the Senate and White House. Indeed William Kristol has suggested a horrific possibility: the return of “Speaker Pelosi”. While I’m not that pessimistic, the election’s still five weeks away and that’s a lifetime in politics.
Make no mistake, if this election ends in disaster, the very people in Washington responsible for said disaster will attempt to place the blame on everyone but themselves: The Tea Party, the conservative base, the mainstream media, Governor Palin (bet on it), perhaps even the Loch Ness Monster. But in reality, the blame will rest solely with the GOP Establishment: those inside-the-beltway operatives, insiders and consultants who gave us this dismal candidate and provided the “experts” who are running his equally dismal campaign. Don’t forget that.