The Corner

The Limits of Election-Night Spin

There is some pretty silly spin control online and on cable right now from people who really ought to know better. Whatever you think of the ideas, character, or electoral prospects of Mitt Romney, tonight’s New Hampshire results are greatly to his benefit. Not only did he win the primary by a comfortable margin in a crowded field, but the second- and third-place finishers pose no threat whatsoever to his nomination. The candidates who still pose at least somewhat of a threat — Newt Gingrich because of his national stature and allied resources and Rick Santorum because of his Iowa showing and conservative support — did poorly in New Hampshire. Indeed, Gingrich has performed poorly in both early contests, while shredding his reputation by desperately attacking Romney’s business career from the left.

It is conceivable that Romney won’t be the nominee. Perhaps he will commit a major error. Perhaps something will come out about him that voters don’t already know. But if you tie in Iowa and win in New Hampshire, lead the polls in South Carolina and Florida, and possess far greater resources and organization talent than your rivals, who continue to fight amongst themselves, you are the presumptive nominee.

Look, I enjoy political spin. I practice political spin. I helped create and work on a 14-year-old TV show with “Spin” in the title. But there are limits to spin. It has to have some connection to facts that readers and viewers can readily see for themselves. Downplaying the significance of Romney’s early victories is foolish.

John Hood is a syndicated columnist and the president of the John William Pope Foundation, a North Carolina–based grantmaker.

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