How Romney Can Still Lose
Even though Mitt Romney has recently re-emerged as the Republican frontrunner, Nate Silver provides a useful reality check to the new narrative which considers Romney a lock for the nomination:
Still, Mr. Romney’s numbers are not those of a traditional frontrunner. He’s at only about 25 percent in national polls, which is improved from two weeks ago but only barely. He’sstill an underdog to win Iowa. His favorability ratings with Republican voters are adequate but not more than that. A lot of Republican voters remain dissatisfied with their choices. Usually, those numbers improve as the actual voting draws nearer, but if anything they’ve been getting worse lately. [...]
As I frequently remind our readers, the momentum that candidates get out of the early states has historically had as much to do with expectations as the actual results. Even a third-place finish in Iowa, much less something worse, might now be viewed as disappointing for Mr. Romney, increasing the risk of either a loss in New Hampshire or a close call that made Mr. Romney vulnerable heading into South Carolina and Florida.
The yearning for a not-Romney is very real among Republicans. However implausible it may have seemed over the summer for candidates like Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich to pull ahead of Mitt Romney in national and early state polls, the fact is that they were both able to do so for weeks on end.
Given that Romney's numbers remain relatively weak with Republicans around the country, there is plenty of time for either the emergence of a new not-Romney or the re-emergence of a former one. Even something as simple as Romney failing to meet expectations in Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina could be enough to make it happen.