I found the map referenced in Peter Lawler’s below post to be striking. I went over to Real Clear Politics to look at how Romney’s polling against Obama compared with John McCain’s polling against Obama. According to Real Clear’s average of head-to-head presidential polls, Obama leads Romney by 3.7%. On this date in 2008, Obama led McCain by 3.3%. September 25, 2008 was almost two weeks after the collapse of Lehman Bros.
Romney is (narrowly) running behind McCain at this stage even though circumstances are far more favorable for a Republican. I think this is an argument for the “Romney is a terrible, terrible candidate” thesis. I still think that Romney was the most electable of the Republican candidates that ran and made it past the Summer of 2011. I don’t think we would be doing any better with Rick Santorum. Gingrich would have been an epic disaster. At least Romney is within striking distance.
This does remind us that McCain beat Romney soundly in the 2008 Republican primaries. You could argue that this is largely the result of Republican primary voters going with the established name. McCain’s name recognition surely helped, but I wonder if, even if we put that aside, McCain was just better candidate than Romney. New Hampshire knew Romney pretty well in 2008, but still went for McCain.
I’m not to twitter, but I sometimes follow Ross Douthat’s feed on my computer. At one point he said that he was convinced that a Mitch Daniels-Mike Huckabee ticket would be winning this race. I’m not sold on Huckabee, but it sounds plausible.