Soft Bigotry, Meet Low Expectations

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney (Getty Images)
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney (Getty Images)

Weighing in on GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s primary win on Tuesday in his home state of Michigan, American Prospect blogger Jamelle Bouie says that it stands as a big victory because everyone anticipated the opposite.


The only way Michigan could not have hurt Mitt Romney's bid for the GOP nomination was if he surpassed expectations and won big. An eight- or nine-point margin would have shown that Romney wasn't as weak as he looked; as with his win in Florida, in which the former Massachusetts governor won by 14.5 percentage points, it would have assured GOP leaders that despite weeks of bad news and worse performance, Romney can still turn himself around.

Last night, Romney won Michigan with 41 percent of the vote to Rick Santorum’s 38 percent—a narrow win, but a larger margin of victory than polls had predicted. This was a godsend for the former Massachusetts governor. Thanks to the three-point margin, Romney will avoid what would have been a hellish week of terrible media coverage in which pundits questioned the viability of his campaign, donors turned their attention elsewhere, and GOP leaders worked to draft a new candidate into the race in an effort to avoid the disaster of a Santorum nomination. George W. Bush coined “the soft bigotry of low expectations” as part of his pitch for No Child Left Behind, but it applies just as well as to what will happen to Romney in the press. Romney’s small win in Michigan will stand as a big victory because everyone anticipated the opposite.

Still, that the disaster scenario was conceivable is a sign of how far Romney has fallen in the last month. Remember, Michigan was supposed to be an easy victory for Romney, who grew up there and whose father was one of the most prominent politicians the state has ever produced.

Read Jamelle Bouie's entire blog entry at the American Prospect.