Mitt Romney's Measuring His White House Drapes

2012 candidate hits swing states as if he's got the GOP nomination locked up

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Mitt Romney told donors in Virginia Beach Tuesday night that three guys are on his short list for vice president: Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Bearing Drift reports. Aside from the amusing thought of the Tea Partying Rubio being No. 2 for Romney--whose state's overhaul was a model for President Obama's--the list feels like one more instance of Romney counting his chickens before they're hatched, NBC News' First Read observes--"he’s acting like someone who’s already wrapped up the GOP nomination, or even the White House."

Romney told New Hampshire voters that he'd be back in four years--with Secret Service in tow. As he did Tuesday night, he's visiting swing states that don't have early primary elections--Pennsylvania, California, and Virginia. Politico's Alexander Burns reports he'll be hitting Obama on jobs in Ohio on Wednesday, after securing the endorsement of former Sen. George Voinovich and more than a dozen state Republicans. First Read writes, "Romney is starting to resemble a gambler who's up $500 at the blackjack table and is already counting the ways he's going to spend his earnings--but before he walks away from the table."
And why shouldn't he? Romney's led the polls for months, and he's raised a lot more money than any of his 2012 rivals. But polls analysis from The New York Times' Nate Silver should give him pause. When poll numbers are adjusted for name recognition--how many of the respondents have actually heard of the guy--Romney is merely a co-frontrunner with still-undeclared Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
An average of the seven most recent polls of Republican voters ... finds Mr. Romney with the lead, with an average of 22 percent of the vote. After that, there's essentially a four-way tie between Ms. Bachmann (13 percent), Sarah Palin (13 percent), Mr. Perry (12 percent) and Rudolph W. Giuliani (11 percent in the polls in which he is included). ...
The results tighten up a bit, however, once we adjust for name recognition based on the latest Gallup numbers. (Dividing a candidate's polling average by his name recognition can somewhat improve the predictive power of early-stage polls.) In particular, Mr. Perry is recognized by only slightly more than half of Republican voters. Of those who recognize his name, 21 percent list him as their first choice, just slightly behind Mr. Romney at 25 percent.
Perry hasn't yet had to endure the scrutiny that comes after a politician officially declares his candidacy--look at what happened to Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman, for example. Still, Silver writes, if Perry's "roll-out goes well... the Republican campaign could well develop into a heavyweight battle between the two rather than the Lord-of-the-Flies scenario that had seemed more likely before."
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