Insiders Split Along Party Lines Over Primary's Toll on Romney
National Journal's Political Insiders were predictably split along party lines about how much the GOP primary process damaged Mitt Romney, finally his party's presumptive nominee. Two thirds of Democratic Insiders believed the protracted nominating battle had done heavy damage to Romney, while only six percent believed it had done little damage. Meanwhile, only 16 percent of Republican Insiders rated the damage as serious while more than eight out of ten said whatever harm was caused was low to moderate (ratings of 1 to 6).
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being not at all and 10 being fatal, how much has the GOP primary hurt Mitt Romney?
|Low damage (1-3)||42%||6%|
|Moderate damage (4-6)||43%||28%|
|High damage (7-10)||16%||66%|
Many Republican Insiders said bloodied noses are par for the course during any primary fight and they will be long forgotten by the time Election Day rolls around.
"Every four years, reporters write this story. This will be old news soon, and voters will be focused on the next four years," one said.
"In a few more weeks, this will be long forgotten," another agreed. "The spears thrown between the Obama and Romney camps will make the primary look like a spitball contest."
"It hasn't hurt him any more than a primary hurts any candidate for office," yet another said. "Every candidate has to be prepared to confront their negatives, and Romney is now ready."
Other Republican Insiders also echoed the sentiment that Romney was stronger for the wear.
"A bit worse than normal but repairable and survivable, and he is a far better candidate than at the start," one said.
Only a few Republican Insiders were truly pessimistic about the extent of Romney's injuries.
"Some of this will fade away, but Romney made enough gaffes to enhance the Obama campaign's already-stellar opposition research book," one predicted.
Democratic Insiders meanwhile were gleeful about what they perceived as Romney's damaged prospects.
"Not only was he pulled much further to the extreme right than most swing voters, he was exposed as an elitist and a flip-flopper, all at the same time," one said. "A disastrous trifecta for him and a messaging dream for the Democrats."
"To paraphrase Spinal Tap, this one should go to 11," another observed.
Several Democratic Insiders pointed to the debates over contraception and other social issues that Romney was drawn into -- many as a result of his competitors' rhetoric -- as decidedly troublesome for the GOP nominee.
"In 30 years, I've never seen such a damaging primary season," one said. "Attacking one another is one thing. Attacking contraceptives and college is another."
"Romney has been defined by [the primaries] as anti-woman and anti-minority, and it will now take a major, unexpected turn in the economy or in foreign affairs to get him out of the hole he is nominated into," another said.
Some Insiders, however, agreed with their Republican counterparts, saying that Romney will be able to recover in time.
"Primaries almost always look like they are more harmful in their waning days than they do by Election Day," one said. "This moment, is, in all likelihood, as bad as Mitt Romney will look the entire cycle."
"Despite the 'conventional wisdom,' a longer, tougher primary season makes for stronger nominees and better presidents," another said. "Better to be the victor than the anointed."