WASHINGTON (3/21/12)--Political analyst Charlie Cook said he expects Mitt Romney to win the Republican presidential nomination, and he believes the general election against President Obama will be close.
Cook told an audience at the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference Tuesday that Romney's
challenge is that he must move to the right--probably more than he would like to--in order to get the nomination. But historically, victory in presidential elections usually is decided by a more centrist, independent, voting coalition.
"The middle is the place to be, and we will see how long it takes for Romney to move there" he added.
Cook said the 2012 presidential race likely will be determined by future economic numbers such as unemployment statistics and oil prices, which will have a profound impact on President Obama's approval rating.
"So far, we have seen a completely bizarre political year, during which there have been seven different front-runners among Republican candidates," he said.
But Cook pointed out that Romney now has 48% of the 50% of delegates needed to win the nomination, and that it is simply impossible for candidate Rick Santorum to close the gap.
Cook had some suggestions for convention attendees interested in tracking the ups and downs this political year.
"My advice is don t listen to the gas bags on TV," he said. "Do your own research. Stay with the facts and leave the commentary out."
He conceded some TV analysts offer useful appraisals of political trends, but he said the average citizen would do better by resorting to a more personal approach.
Cook is editor and publisher of The Cook Political Report
and a political analyst for the National Journal Group and NBC News.