The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Mark Levin and the Omens of Doom

Posted on | April 4, 2012 | 101 Comments

“If Romney is indeed now the ‘inevitable’ nominee, it is a status he has obtained by crushing conservative opposition in an astonishingly expensive and negative campaign . . .”
Robert Stacy McCain, “Predictably Predictable,” The American Spectator, April 4, 2012

This evening, Mark Levin led his nationally syndicated radio show by reading key excerpts from that column. It was evident that “The Great One” sees the same ominous signs that concern me, that he knows what these omens portend, and that he would like to alert his listeners to the fact that they are being propagandized and indoctrinated.

Unfortunately, judging from the reactions by Levin’s callers, there are a lot of people who don’t get it. They misunderstand what Levin is saying — what I am saying — about the obvious weaknesses of Mitt Romney’s campaign. The uncomprehending callers seemed to think that this is merely a matter of personal opinion, and that their admiration for Romney or their disdain for Rick Santorum are the most relevant facts to be discussed.

Some people can’t see the omens or lack the experience to interpret what these auguries signify. When we try to point out to them the portents of impending doom, these people respond, “Well, that’s your opinion.”

It’s a waste of breath to argue with people who think that way. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong, but we’ll have to wait and see, and there’s no point getting in arguments with people who are merely trying to belittle my intelligence, my knowledge, my experience and my judgment.

Let’s just suppose that you don’t know me from Adam’s housecat, OK? Go ahead and decide that, because I’m telling you something you don’t want to hear, something that contradicts your own opinions, then I must be wrong. Fine: No sweat off my nose and, in the present case, if Mitt Romney actually proves to be a triumphantly successful candidate who clobbers Obama in November, then I will be overjoyed that the Reign of Error is ended.

But . . . what if I’m right?

Never mind. Rule out that possibility. I’ve never been right about anything before, so far as you know. How about Richard Viguerie?

As Bloomberg’s Heidi Przybyla noted, the “defining feature of the 2012 Republican presidential primary race” has been Romney’s relentlessly negative campaign. According to Przybyla’s research, “Since the contests began, Restore Our Future has spent $35 million on commercials attacking Santorum and Newt Gingrich” and “just $1.1 million promoting Romney.” . . .
Romney’s negative ads, many of them factually questionable, have carpet bombed the conservatives in the race. . . .
However, these attacks have done nothing to build support for Mitt Romney, especially among movement conservatives, and to the extent that Romney can claim front runner status it is because he has come to be seen as the “least worst” alternative by rank-and-file Republican primary voters. . . .
Even if one accepts the fuzzy math that Romney claims puts him half way to the 1,144 delegates he needs to clinch the Republican nomination — and we don’t — his negative campaign has left him with a substantial enthusiasm deficit, and no real base upon which to mount a winning campaign against Barack Obama.

But you don’t know Richard Viguerie from Adam’s housecat, either. He’s just some dude you never heard of before. How about Stu Rothenberg?

The bottom line, of course, is that nobody — not his critics and not his allies — really believes Mitt Romney. . . .
The question is whether, in November, Romney may be in a similar position as Obama was or whether the fact that nobody actually believes Romney will destroy his presidential bid completely.
Is Romney such a mass of contradictions that voters can look at him and project their positions on him, allowing them to support him? Or is his credibility so shot that too many voters will simply conclude that they can’t trust him, making it impossible for them to support him?

But never mind that: Who is this Rothenberg guy, anyway, huh? You’re waaaayy smarter than him — and Viguerie, and me, and Mark Levin.

Now the Romney campaign is threatening to “destroy” Santorum in Pennsylvania. And Debbie Wasserman-Schultz says Mitt’s Mormonism is “off limits” (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

Like I said, some things are predictably predictable.

UPDATE: Romney supporter Cindy Cooper is upset with me. Since I filed my column (I sent it to The American Spectator about 1:30 a.m.) there were evidently late returns that changed Romney’s margin of victory from 4 points to 7 points, and boosted Romney’s total vote to more than 340,000, whereas it had been about 300,000 with 98% of precincts reporting.

OK, so that fact is corrected. Now, what about turnout?

In 2010, in the Wisconsin GOP Senate primary — held in September — Ron Johnson got more than 500,000 votes, and then got 1.1 million votes in the general election to defeat incumbent Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold.

That was a mid-term campaign, and you see that Romney got a substantially lower total in this year’s presidential primary than did Johnson in 2010.  In the 2008 presidential election — turnout is always higher in presidential elections than in mid-terms — John McCain got 1.26 million votes in Wisconsin, but that was only 43 percent of the vote; Barack Obama won with 1.68 million (56%).


This means that any voter — Democrat, Republican, independent — can vote in any primary. In 2008, “Super Tuesday” was Feb. 5, and Mitt Romney quit the race on Thursday, Feb. 7 (I was reporting it live at CPAC when the news broke), effectively ceding the nomination to John McCain. However, the Democratic race between Obama and Hillary Clinton that year continued to be hotly contested into the spring.

So, when Wisconsin held its open primary on Feb. 19 — two weeks after McCain sealed the deal for the GOP nomination — 1.1 million people voted in the Democratic primary, while only 395,000 people voted in the GOP primary, which McCain won with 55% (225,000) to Mike Huckabee’s 37% (151,000).

All of this I note, because Cindy Cooper is angry at me for saying that turnout in this year’s Republican primary was “phenomenally low,” when Eric Ostermier of the Humphrey Institute writes:

Wisconsin Republican primary voter turnout surged more than 91 percent in 2012 from 410,607 voters in 2008 to over 785,000 on Tuesday. . . .
In terms of the raw number of votes, the 2012 GOP primary was the second largest on record in Wisconsin behind only 1980 when the three-way battle between Reagan, Bush, and Anderson brought 907,853 individuals out to vote that April.

So, clearly the phrase “phenomenally low” was an inaccurate description of the turnout but — but — these numbers are still important, if you keep in mind that Wisconsin is an open primary state. The cycle-to-cycle “surge” from 2008 to 2012 is explained entirely by the fact that the 2008 GOP campaign was effectively over, while the Democrats were still going tooth-and-nail.

The best recent comparison (insofar as any such comparison doesn’t suffer from an apples-to-oranges problem) is to 1980, when there was a Democrat incumbent (Jimmy Carter) in the White House, and the GOP primary was still competitive. Turnout in 2012 thus represents a 14% drop from 1980. And keep in mind that Wisconsin’s population has grown 21 percent (from 4.7 to 5.7 million) since 1980.

Despite all that, I clearly got some facts wrong, and I’m correcting the record here. Far be it from me to attempt a “fake but accurate” defense. But the data still indicate that Mitt Romney is a much weaker GOP candidate than Ron Johnson or even John McCain.

We will have to wait and see what happens to know whether the omens and portents accurately foretold events.


101 Responses to “Mark Levin and the Omens of Doom”

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