So, Mitt Romney might not win Florida tomorrow. It's being suggested that, if McCain wins, Romney is finally cooked. But I don't think this is true. Romney is the evil* Energizer Bunny that will just keep robotically rolling forward, methodically and relentlessly picking up delegates, even after it looks like he should be crushed for good. The tortoise in this classic Tom Toles cartoon? Should be labelled "Romney."
Today he released his official support committee for Virginia, a state that votes on February 12. It's a smart addition to his potentially genius delegate-amassing project.
The Romney endorsers make up quite a "substantial list" that heavily represents the "very conservative element of the [state] party," as a friend of mine in Virginia GOP politics puts it. And it's a list that boasts big-name activists in the state's hottest electoral topic of late: immigration. Romney co-chair Corey Stewart is the infamous county pol who pushed through one of the most extreme resolutions to deny services to undocumented immigrants in the country. Delegate Jackson Miller, another Romney co-chair, designed the Virginia bill to strip charities like the Salvation Army of funds unless they verified they were not providing services to illegal immigrants. Bob FitzSimmonds, a Romney Steering Committee member, made a name for himself by running for state Senate last year on a hard-line immigration stance.
It's easy to say endorsements like this don't matter. But in a state like Virginia that's not used to making any difference in presidential primaries, it's the hardcore conservatives and dedicated activists that are more used to voting -- people Stewart, Miller, and FitzSimmonds can probably turn out handily.
And at the micro level, I think these kinds of endorsements do matter. Look at South Carolina. Romney lost. It seemed like the big-name endorsements he got in S.C. -- say, Bob Jones III -- made no difference for him. But look at the 27th precinct in Greenville County, the precinct directly serving Bob Jones University. Romney got 29% there compared to only 17% in the county as a whole. It's hard not to conclude BJ3's endorsement did make a difference at ground zero.
Picking up a lot of very conservative, activist-y endorsements throughout Virginia -- to create as many of these little "ground zeroes" as possible -- strikes me as a good strategy.
* Evil as in can't be turned off, like in a science fiction movie. I actually share Jon's sympathy toward Romney.
-- Eve Fairbanks