We come here, every week, this is the week he'll close the deal, as we say.... It's not the campaign. He's got good people. He's got the biggest super PAC of them all. He's got good ads. He's just not very good at this. I mean, look what we've got. He's just not that talented a politician.Is this fair? I mean, I haven't been particularly impressed with some of his Mr. Burns-esque gaffes or his tepid response to Limbaugh, but it's hard to demonstrate that those have really hurt him. But he keeps getting criticized for failing to "close the deal." This strikes me as a case of unrealistic expectations.
As Nate Silver observes, Romney has been averaging between 35 and 40 percent of the vote in the contests so far. That puts him right about on par with Carter in 1976, Mondale in 1984, and Dukakis in 1988 -- in other words, well on track to become the nominee and have the party unify behind him.
Why hasn't he "closed the deal"? Because this year's calendar and delegate allocation system are a major departure from what we've seen in previous years. As Matthew Dickinson points out, by Super Tuesday in 2008, more than half of the Republican delegates had been allocated. And that was in early February! As of today, only 36% of the delegates for 2012 have been awarded. The contests are simply more spread out than they used to be. And while the Republicans haven't gone full-proportional for the most part, they're not exactly winner-take-all in most of these states, either, while
So when you consider that it's harder for any candidate to amass delegates quickly and that the Republican calendar was designed for a prolonged battle, just what are people expecting Romney to have done? Also, given that his nomination is virtually a mathematical certainty at this point, perhaps we could cut the guy a bit of slack on this narrative.