JONATHAN CHAIT JUNE 24, 2011
My constant premonitions about the death of the Mitt Romney presidential campaign have yet to come true, so perhaps now -- given Nate Silver's handicapping of the GOP field -- is a good time to revisit my analysis. It's certainly true that the last month has been berry, berry good to Mitt Romney. The candidate best positioned to disqualify him ideologically while still garnering establishment support, Tim Pawlenty, bombed his introduction to the party electorate in the Republican debate. Better still, Michelle Bachmann has shot up in the polls, setting up exactly the showdown Romney desires. Huge chunks of the party establishment oppose Romney, but many of them might support him if the alternative is a politically toxic rival like Bachmann.
But the fundamentals have not changed very much. To wit: There is a powerful case to be made against Romney, which will disqualify him in the eyes of most Republicans. There are numerous, well-funded groups ready to make that case. They have not made the case yet, nor have any of the opposing candidates really begun to press it. I have a hard time understanding how Romney survives that process.
Still, the case for the death of the Romney campaign does require some kind of reasonable opposition to emerge. I think it will. Given the failure of that to happen thus far, and Romney's resulting rise in the polls, I am upgrading his condition to mostly dead.