By Alex Deane

Mitt Romney - Larry Downing Reuters - banner Having been bullied encouraged by our own Tim Montgomerie (@timmontgomerie) into signing up to Twitter (@ajcdeane, since you ask), I read with interest this good article over at The Atlantic on the US election, linked to by Will Straw (@wdjstraw – oh, I'll stop). It's about the case for Mitt Romney's proto-candidacy for the GOP Presidential nomination in 2012. It suggests that Romney is

… a very different kind of Republican front-runner. He's not a commanding leader of the pack like Ronald Reagan in 1980, who could afford to sit out straw polls and candidate forums. He's not George H.W. Bush, a sitting vice president climbing atop the ticket in 1988. He's not Bob Dole, the GOP's elder statesman, making his third bid for the presidency in 1996. He's not the financial and organizational juggernaut that was George W. Bush in 2000.

It's worth reading the whole thing – but I would stress the deeply conservative nature of the party, not just in ideology but in selection. It seems to me that, whilst excellent, the Atlantic piece ignores the fact that since the war (apart from when faced with an incumbent, who is invariably renominated, attempts against Ford notwithstanding) the Republican Party has always nominated the man it felt it should have nominated the last time the nomination was contested, but didn't (except when offered the even more old-school option of selecting a born-to-rule candidate born of a previous President). I don't pretend that this is sophisticated analysis,but it's my not-very-sophisticated analysis. Consider this:

  • 2008 McCain – should have been selected in 2000 instead of Bush
  • 2004 Bush – incumbent
  • 2000 Bush – son of prior President
  • 1996 Dole – should have been selected at at least one of his three prior attempts
  • 1992 Bush – incumbent 
  • 1988 Bush – incumbent Vice-President
  • 1984 Reagan – incumbent
  • 1980 Reagan – should have been selected in 1976 instead of Ford
  • 1976 Ford – incumbent
  • 1972 Nixon – incumbent
  • 1968 Nixon – should have been selected last time (and was selected the time before that)
  • 1964 Goldwater
  • 1960 Nixon – incumbent Vice-President
  • 1956 Eisenhower – incumbent
  • 1952 Eisenhower – wildly popular General who "won the war" and could have run for either party

By this analysis, unless there's a Goldwater to be nominated (far from unwelcome IMHO, though more electoral success would be great), isn't it Romney's "turn"..?