Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Can Mitt Romney Succeed as President? (And a Note on Terrible Titles)


Over at the Atlantic, I have a long essay applying Stephen Skoworonek's theories to a Mitt Romney presidency. I conclude, consistent with Gerard's view on this blog, that a Romney presidency would find itself in a very weak position politically. Romney would either be an affiliated president who would find it hard to keep his fractious party unified, or a disjunctive president who would preside over the end of the Reagan regime. For the full analysis, read the whole thing.  (Also see Justin Peck's very interesting analysis from last month, which reaches a similar conclusion.)

Unfortunately, you don't get to choose the titles when you write for a major magazine, and the editors at the Atlantic chose two pretty awful titles for the piece. The first is "Does the GOP want a Romney Presidency?" Well of course they do!  Would they rather have Barack Obama running the government and picking the judges for the next four years? The second title, which in its way is even more egregious, is "Political Science Says: A Romney Presidency Would Be Doomed." This is the sort of headline that should make any serious scholar cringe. Of course, political science says no such thing. There are lots of theories about the presidency, and even if one starts from Skowronek's premises, it's not certain what the result will be. All we can do is engage in educated guesses based on historical analogies, which are never perfect. My best guess is that Romney would be in a whole lot of trouble if he wins, but I don't think that political science has proven this. Again, read the whole thing and decide for yourself.

UPDATE: The editors have now changed the title to the more plausible "Why the GOP should fear a Romney Presidency."  The point is that the old Reagan coalition is nearing exhaustion, the contemporary GOP is in a quandary, and the party will soon have to change, whether it wins this election or not. Of course, even if Republicans have reason to fear that Romney will be an ineffective president, I suspect they probably fear Barack Obama more.

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