Top political analyst Jay Cost: ‘I’d much rather be Romney than Obama at this stage’

One of the best political analysts in the country thinks that Mitt Romney‘s odds of winning the presidency are pretty good.

“My read of the polls suggests that [President] Obama is struggling to move much beyond 40 percent of the independent vote, which is really the only bloc of the electorate that is up for grabs,” Jay Cost, who writes a twice-weekly column for The Weekly Standard, told The Daily Caller.

“Nobody can win the presidency if they lose the independent vote by 10 to 20 points, which is where I reckon things are headed. Things could change of course, but I’d much rather be Romney than Obama at this stage.”

Besides writing for The Weekly Standard, Cost is working toward his Ph.D. in political science at the University of Chicago. He is also the author of the recently released book, “Spoiled Rotten: How the Politics of Patronage Corrupted the Once Noble Democratic Party and Now Threatens the American Republic.”

Though Cost is unsure whether any possible vice presidential selection would help Romney electorally, he says the former Massachusetts governor should make the choice with an eye toward the future.

“Think of it this way: Ronald Reagan picked George H.W. Bush to be the veep nominee in 1980, and the Bushes are still a powerful force in GOP politics some 32 years later,” Cost said. “Romney should pick a nominee with an eye to the future — will he be a good steward of the Grand Old Party for the next generation?”

As for November’s election, Cost says that “as usual,” the race will likely come down to Florida and Ohio, but the GOP shouldn’t discount the possibility of flipping Pennsylvania.

“If either Romney or Obama carry both, they will likely win the whole election,” he said. “Pennsylvania is going to be a battle ground this year too, as will New Hampshire.”

Read the full interview with Cost below where he discusses his new book, the political implications of Obama’s support for gay marriage and much more.

Why did you write the book?

I thought there was a good story to tell here. I was watching the 2009-2010 Congress very carefully and was appalled at how President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid curried favor with special interests on all of their big bills — stimulus, cap-and-trade, health care, financial reform were all loaded up with payoffs to well-placed groups (labor, feminists, the environmentalist left, government workers, big businesses, etc). And it got me thinking about the original Democrats, who formed the party precisely to stop this kind of nonsense. So, I wanted to tell a story about how the party has fallen away from the ideals of its founding.

What does your title mean, “Spoiled Rotten?”

It’s a reference to the old “Spoils System,” or the pay-to-play form of patronage politics that characterized the federal bureaucracy up through the 1880s, and basically defined urban political life in the big cities (up until very recently in some places). The basic premise of it is that you reward your core supporters with jobs, contracts, licenses, all at the taxpayer’s expense. The argument of “Spoiled Rotten” is that FDR and the New Deal Democrats basically exported the old machine-style, spoils system from the big cities and into Washington D.C., which is what has ruined the Democratic Party.