Mitt Romney won. And now he's going to lose

The all-but-certain GOP nominee swung so far to the right to please the conservative base that he stands next to no shot of beating President Obama

Robert Shrum

So the hollow man has finally firmed his fragile hold on the GOP nomination, in another of T.S. Eliot's phrases, "not with a bang, but with a whimper." In the Wisconsin primary, the whimper was Mitt Romney's margin — a derisory 4 percent for someone to whom Republicans should rally overwhelmingly since they know he will be their standard-bearer in November.

But as I've written before, Romney's will be a grudging nomination, requiring Herculean exertion and Midas-like spending to overcome a clutch of rivals who resemble the cast of Monty Python's Flying Circus. Wisconsin, like the rest of Romney's poll-lurching journey down the campaign trail, was a recurring revelation of his relative weakness and his unconvincing, untrusted presence among the Republican faithful. Nonetheless, in the party's 2012 sweepstakes, it's all over but the muted cheering; the sorting out of the predictable denouement of the primary process and the potential melodrama of the Tampa convention; and the rebooting of Romney himself.

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Robert Shrum has been a senior adviser to the Gore 2000 presidential campaign, the campaign of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and the British Labour Party. In addition to being the chief strategist for the 2004 Kerry-Edwards campaign, Shrum has advised thirty winning U.S. Senate campaigns; eight winning campaigns for governor; mayors of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and other major cities; and the Democratic Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives. Shrum's writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The New Republic, Slate, and other publications. The author of No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner (Simon and Schuster), he is currently a Senior Fellow at New York University's Wagner School of Public Service.