A few thoughts on the passing scene:
1. Now that Mitt Romney won the CPAC straw poll, I guess it counts again.
2. Rick Santorum is accusing Romney (and Ron Paul in years past) of “rigging” the straw poll, the standard complaint of candidates who lose such contests. It’s impressive when someone can do as well as Santorum did at CPAC without spending much money. But the ability of a campaign organization to identify supporters and turn them out to vote is precisely what large straw polls measure. Romney beat Santorum fair and square.
3. Romney’s performance in Maine is less impressive. He barely eked out a win in a low-turnout New England state where he took 52 percent of the vote four years ago. His main opponent there exploded from 18 percent to 36 percent. If Romney hadn’t made a late push, he may well have lost Maine. He got the W, but concerns about his candidacy remain well founded,.
4. Paul supporters are undoubtedly disappointed to come up short in their best opportunity for a first-place finish since Iowa, but he did well enough to validate his campaign’s decision to bypass CPAC (which awards no delegates) in favor of Maine. The narrow loss does reinforce what I have deemed a flaw in their caucus strategy: Paul’s best states are states where Romney can be expected to do well too and Romney, unlike Hillary Clinton in 2008, is contesting most of the caucuses.
5. On the Sunday talk shows, the White House is pushing the line that Senate Democrats haven’t passed a budget in eons because they fear a Republican filibuster. There is just one problem: the budget can’t be filibustered and needs only a straight majority vote to pass. White House chief of staff Jack Lew is a former head of the Office of Management and Budget, so he surely knows this.