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I guessed wrong

- December 31, 2012

A year ago, I wrote:

I wouldn’t be surprised if, once he has locked up the Republican nomination, Romney takes a big lead in a head-to-head matchup with Obama.

After the primary contests are over, supporters of the other Republican candidates are likely to shift to Romney (just as Hillary Clinton voters had no problem voting for Obama once the 2008 primaries were definitively over). At the same time, Romney will have defined himself to the general public as the moderate opponent of unstable ultraconservatives like Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum.

So I expect Romney will start the general election campaign with a healthy lead. . . .

If my scenario comes to pass, I expect we’ll be hearing a lot in the spring and summer about Romney’s political savvy, and then when the inevitable narrowing of the polls comes in the fall, we’ll hear all about the ineptitude of his campaign. Really, though, it will just be voters working out where he stands on the issues. . . . The same thing happened with Jimmy Carter in 1976. He started the general election campaign as everybody’s acceptable choice, 30 points ahead of Gerald Ford, but by November, the candidates were essentially tied. . . . the situation now seems ripe for Romney to begin his campaign against Obama with a large, temporary lead in the polls, a gap that should neither drive Democrats to despair nor lull Republicans into complacency.

I was careful to present this as speculation, not a prediction. But, still, I did get it wrong.