Winning Was Always a Possibility

Politico’s latest scoop is the discovery, after interviews with party leader and activists, that Republicans think Mitt Romney can win the election:

Margin-of-error polling, fundraising parity last month, conservative consolidation around Romney and a still-sluggish economy has senior GOP officials increasingly bullish about a nominee many winced over during a difficult primary process. Interviews with about two dozen Republican elected officials, aides, strategists and lobbyists reveal a newfound optimism that with a competent, on-message campaign, Romney will be at least competitive with a weakened incumbent. That’s a dramatic shift from the fatalistic view many party stalwarts shared mere weeks ago.

If you have the good fortune to be a major party nominee for president then, by definition, you have a significant chance of winning the presidency. This was true for John Kerry, it was true for John McCain, and it is true for Romney. That doesn’t mean that a win is likely, but it’s silly to think a nominee has no chance at winning, barring something that would obviously disqualify them in the eyes of the public (like cannibalism).

At this point, it’s hard to put a number on Romney’s chances—the conventional wisdom is that he has 50–50 odds for winning the election—but if you assume a floor for the amount of support a nominee receives in the general election (about 45 percent), it’s crazy to think he doesn’t have a chance to win the White House. Republicans have been unduly paranoid about their chances, and if Politico tells us anything, it’s that they’ve seen the error of their ways.

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