Never Mind Those Election Results

Expectations-management is a familiar part of the political game. But it was raised to a new level today by a “senior advisor” to Rick Santorum:

“We have already won,” Santorum adviser John Brabender told CNN. “No matter what the results are, we’ve won. This is Romney’s home state.”

Now to be fair, there is a plausible strategic theory embedded in Brabender’s anticipatory spin: Team Mitt has had to spend a lot of money in an effort to win two states (MI and AZ) tomorrow that were earlier assumed to be Romney strongholds. This will reduce his firepower going into Super Tuesday. But Brabender does carry the that-which-does-not-kill-us-makes-us-stronger POV to some remarkable lengths:

“We have survived the Romney attack machine,” he said. “Romney and Ron Paul have tried to hurt us jointly, but the polls still show us tight with Romney. We have certainly survived it to a much bigger extent than anybody else has so far.”

The other way to look at it, of course, is that conservative voters have given try-outs to an amazing number of non-Romneys in this cycle, and they keep crashing and burning, sometimes repeatedly.

Carried to its logical conclusion, Brabender’s argument would make all the primary results irrelevant, insofar as Romney has already undershot the repeated elite GOP expectations that he would cruise to the nomination and then to the White House. Problem is: the only beneficiary of that perpetual demonstration of Mitt’s weakness would be Barack Obama.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.