Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Frothy Mix Of GOP Candidates

Shows how much I know.  I assumed that Rick Santorum was only staying in the race so that he could garner enough publicity to alter the Google rankings and get his name back.  But Creepy Rick has now won four states, including two -- Minnesota and Colorado -- that Romney won in 2008.  Maybe his latest surge stems from Pat Boone's coveted endorsement.  More likely, it is because the base of the party continues to look for a more conservative candidate than Mitt Romney, but a less toxic one than Newt Gingrich.

The common wisdom is that Romney has the money, the organization and the GOP establishment support to eventually secure the nomination.  But the possibility of defeat remains a risk he can't afford to ignore.  If Santorum does well on Super Tuesday, things could get very interesting.

Here's what Nate Silver has to say:
Mr. Romney has had deep problems so far with the Republican base, going 1-for-4 in caucus states where turnout is dominated by highly conservative voters. Mr. Romney is 0-for-3 so far in the Midwest, a region that is often decisive in the general election. He had tepid support among major blocks of Republican voters like evangelicals and Tea Party supporters, those voters making under $50,000 per year, and those in rural areas. Instead, much of his support has come from the wealthy areas that Charles Murray calls Super ZIPs — few of which are in swing states in the general election.
And so Romney and his uncoordinated Super PACS must continue to devote their resources to slapping down Santorum and Gingrich, rather than honing in on President Obama.

In addition, the interminable primary battle (remember when Michele Bachmann won something in Iowa and Rick Perry was taken seriously?) with its fifty or so debates (but who's counting) has not sparked much excitement from the Republican faithful.  On the contrary, as Silver notes, "polls show that a large number of Republicans have tepid enthusiasm for their field. And this has been reflected in the turnout so far, which is down about 10 percent from 2008 among Republican registrants and identifiers." 

Bill Clinton once said that "Democrats fall in love, while Republicans fall in line," but the distaste among the Republican rank-and-file for Romney has got to be deeply worrying to the Grand Old Party. 

Greg Sargent wonders "whether Romney’s weaknesses as a general election candidate have been papered over by the far more glaring weaknesses of his rivals."  And really, if Romney can't handily beat these clowns, how does he have a chance against Obama?


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