Eric Kleefeld at TPMCafe notes the Tsongas vote in his post on Gov. Romney’s three donations to Democrats in the ‘92 cycle.  There was something rather funny about the phrase “and even voted for Tsongas,” as if voting for a relatively moderate Democrat were such a far-out thing for Romney to have done in a decade when he derided Reagan and Bush and declared that his commitment to securing gay rights was stronger than Teddy Kennedy’s.  By comparison with some of his other decisions in the ’90s, his vote for Tsongas might be one of his redeeming features.  At least he didn’t vote for You Know Who.  That might have been the final dealbreaker.

These new donation revelations are a mixed blessing for Romney.  On the one hand, it blunts the McCainiac attack that he puts his fellow Mormons ahead of the GOP (which would actually have been a mark in his favour, as far as I’m concerned), but it helps advance the purpose of the McCainiac attack, which was that he has not been a reliable supporter of Republicans in the past.  However, this merely confirms something we already knew, so I’m not sure how damaging it really is.  If voters believe that Romney’s views have genuinely changed, they will dismiss all of this as irrelevant.  If they don’t buy his “conversion,” it wouldn’t matter to them if he had donated a million dollars to the RNC every year since 1992. 

The donations hurt him in that, as Mr. Kleefeld showed, his pattern of donations seem to track awfully well with the relative popularity of the two parties.  For the period 1990-92, his donations to the GOP vanish after reliable donations to the state committee throughout the ’80s.  In 1994, he rediscovered enthusiasm for the Republicans in his run against Kennedy (trying, one would assume, to get in on the anti-Clinton backlash that was already evident from the start of the year).  The old pattern suggests somebody who wants to be aligned with the winning side.  Arguably, he has broken that pattern simply by remaining Republican in this horrendous political environment.  Nonetheless, it contributes to a general sense of uncertainty a lot of Republican voters will have about him.