Mitt Romney will reach the magic delegate number in Texas tonight to clinch the nomination, and you'll be forgiven for stifling a yawn. But while his victory is a foregone conclusion at this point, Steve Kornacki at Salon looks back to just a year ago when it was anything but—at least as conventional wisdom had it. That was when Rick Perry began making noises about entering the race, Romney's health care reform in Massachusetts dominated coverage, and the candidate himself was having trouble staying ahead of Donald Trump and Herman Cain.
Perry, of course, turned out to be a disastrous communicator, Romney put to rest the health care critics by attacking ObamaCare while "spouting gobbledygook to claim he'd done something completely different in Massachusetts," and the fringe candidates faded. What's more, the Tea Party had pushed things so far to the right "that there really was never going to be an alternative to Romney who was both ideologically pure and credible as a national candidate," writes Kornacki. Romney was never a sure thing, but it's now clear that it was foolish to sound the death knell. The lesson for 2016? "If a front-runner seems wounded and vulnerable, don’t write him or her off until there’s a truly credible alternative on the stage." Read the full column here.