Any discussion of a Mr. Romney presidency lands on three key questions: Will the Republican former governor of Democratic Massachusetts, who has never served in Washington, be able to navigate the complexities of Congress, even with Republican majorities? What did Romney learn from his experience in Massachusetts, particularly in enacting health-care reform? And what do his struggles as a politician – a diffidence and opaqueness acknowledged even by his supporters – mean for his ability to build support for his agenda once in office?
Republican strategists unaffiliated with the campaign say Romney's biggest hurdle is to get elected in the first place. Once in office, they say, he'd deploy his considerable analytical and problem-solving skills – honed in a successful career in private equity.
"His challenge has been in being a superb political candidate, not in being a superb political leader," said Republican pollster Whit Ayres, speaking before the Oct. 3 debate, which Romney was widely seen to have won.
The need to communicate effectively doesn't end with the election, says Mr. Ayres, but campaigning and governing are dissimilar enterprises: "Romney's ability to analyze a situation and find points of agreement is critical for governing effectively. Being a candidate is more about drawing distinctions and highlighting differences, as opposed to finding areas of agreement."