The Corner

Romney and the Party Establishment

Ben Shapiro flatly predicts that Mitt Romney, if nominated, will lose the general election because conservatives will be too unexcited about him to vote against Obama. Shapiro sees the primary as a battle between the establishment and tea partiers. He concludes, “If the establishment GOP succeeds in nominating Mitt Romney, it will be able to add another black mark to its long record of failure.”

But wait a minute. If Romney wins the nomination, he’ll win it the same way McCain and Dole and the Bushes won it: by getting more primary votes than anyone else. Of their own free will anti-Romney conservatives have elected, so far, not to unite behind any alternative candidate. The party establishment has influence only to the extent primary voters let it, and it is those voters who deserve whatever praise or blame attaches to the choice of nominee.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.