For all the kvetching about Mitt Romney's long slog to the Republican nomination, his struggles are as attributable to the party's changed delegate allocation rules as his performance in the primaries and caucuses.
In fact, the Republican primary nomination has unfolded relatively predictably from the get-go, with Romney winning over white-collar voters, suburban Republicans, and more-moderate Republicans, but struggling among evangelicals, Tea Party backers and the working-class voters. The pattern has repeated itself throughout the primary calendar. The only surprise is that Rick Santorum has been the beneficiary of the dynamic, as opposed to a Southerner like Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who looked like the most logical Romney alternative last summer.
But just four years ago, another Republican moderate faced very similar problems as Romney, without getting nearly the amount of grief: John McCain. As this election's establishment candidate, Romney's performance has been remarkably similar to McCain, who had locked up the nomination at this time four years ago.