Mitt Romney Will Endorse John McCain

In the world of presidential politics, the focal point of attention of course has centered around the Democratic race given that John McCain has an insurmountable lead in delegates over Mike Huckabee while Obama and Clinton are locked in a tight battle.

But, of course, that’s not to say there aren’t any interesting goings on on the other side of the aisle.

The most interesting thing, to me anyway, is the refusal of the conservative base to line up behind the presumptive nominee.  I talked a little bit about this yesterday when we were taking a look at the Gallup Daily Tracking Polls–Mike Huckabee’s rise in support, in my opinion, can be used to guage the level of conservative dissatisfaction with McCain.  But, as anyone who has been following the dynamics of the Republican race from the beginning should be able to tell you, the conservative constituency that follows Huckabee falls short of tracking the opinions of the full conservative movement.

It is this shortcoming in accounting for the conservative base that just may make Mitt Romney’s upcoming endorsement of McCain an important factor not only in the primaries, but also in the General election.

Huck captured the hearts of the socially conservative movement, more specifically, the evangelicals and “values voters”.  Before dropping out, Mitt Romney earned the loyalty of a different brand of conservative; the intelligencia and the fiscal conservatives.

As is it is so often characterized, the conservative coalition can be represented as a three legged stool, with each leg of that stool representing one of three major factions in the conservative movement.  In this nomination race, McCain best represented the Foreign Policy/National Security or neoconservative leg of the stool, Mitt Romney, the fiscal leg, and Huck the socially conservative leg.  Unlike in elections past when all three legs would eventually come together to support the nominee, there has been much evidence to suggest that this time around these three legs would remain separated.

Romney’s endorsement could feasibly help at least bring together two of them.

There’s no doubt that the opinion makers of the conservative movement have largely backed Mitt Romney, and even after his retirement from the race, they continued to assail McCain on his conservative credentials.  It is possible that with Romney endorsing and even campaigning on McCain’s behalf, he can get those voices to quiet down.

It’s too late for this to have any kind of an impact on the nomination race, that’s all but over.  However, this could be vital in the General Election where McCain will have to face a Democratic nominee who has been raising significantly more funds and attracting far more voters with greater enthusiasm than he has seen during the primary season.

On the other hand, Romney’s endorsement could mirror the effect of endorsements on the Democratic side of the aisle which is to say have no effect at all.

Or worse, there is the possibility of blowback amongst the socially conservative wing of the party which has boosted Mike Huckabee to political stardom.  It’s no secret that Romney’s mormonism and status as a Yankee resulted in a sort of revolution in the South that has so far staunchly kept its support behind the man from Hope.

Putting McCain and Romney together may only stir up more animosity amongst this politically potent and powerful constituency.

In the end, I do think that Romney’s endorsement will help McCain a little bit–the part of the Republican movement that Romney represented is far too intelligent to think it will get anywhere if they don’t hold their nose and vote for the Arizona Senator.  But the other thing to think about is that in sheer size, Romney also represented one of the smaller factions in the three legged stool.

Romney will in no way impact the socially conservative movement for McCain–at least not positively.  And that’s still a group that McCain has to find some way to make amends with, or else he has no shot at winning the General Election in November.

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