Mitt Romney is playing the long game in his bid for the GOP presidential nomination, which is pretty smart for a couple of reasons:
1.) His top two challengers, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, both have high probability of doing and saying stupid things that would cause their self-destruction.
2.) He really has no other choice. He knows he’s not the hot date that Republican primary voters dream about as their escort to the big dance. He just hopes to be the steady, nerdish, boring guy — the one who shows up driving his mother’s Audi — that they’ll settle for once other options are no longer available.
Two new polls demonstrate the wisdom and necessity of that approach. Gallup, for example, reports that 29 percent of Republicans now favor Perry as their party’s nominee. Romney, who drew 27 percent as recently as June, has fallen back to 17 percent. Ron Paul, at 13 percent, and Bachmann, at 10 percent, are the only other two in double digits. (Herman Cain, a previous flavor of the month, has declined to 4 percent.)
A poll by Public Policy Polling produces a parallel prognostication, putting Perry at 33 percent. Romney draws 20 percent and Bachmann 16 percent. You have to think that as Bachmann fades, most of her hard-core tea-party support will gravitate to the man from Texas, not the man from Massachusetts.
So patience, Mitt, patience. Be the Audi-driving tortoise, not the Texas jackrabbit.