Or more accurately, it’s the revolt of the liberals. Personally, it’s none of my business whom Republicans nominate for president, but, to me, Romney seems to be a strong electoral candidate (albeit one disliked by the Tea Party/theopolitical base). Why?
Hunh? Let me explain.
I’ve been talking to liberals who have non-overlapping circles of friends in Virginia, one of the closely contested swing states (thanks to Google+, the ability to use the phrase “circle of friends” is rapidly drawing to a close. But I digress). As I far as I can tell, there are enough liberals who would not vote for Obama if the GOP ticket were deemed non-threatening–that is, didn’t have Michele Bachmann or Rick Perry on the ticket (apparently, God is trying to convince Perry to run or something. I always thought God was supposed to be rather clear about these sorts of things). Anyway, with a Romney ticket, some liberals will hold their noses and not vote for Obama.
Twenty percent of the 2008 electorate identified as liberal. Even if battleground states have a lower percentage of liberals (let’s say fifteen percent), if five or ten percent of liberals decide to not vote in the presidential election, that’s enough to tip the balance in a close election (Got 2000?).
But candidates like Perry terrify the liberal base: they’ll rally and vote against someone they see as worse than George Bush. But my impression is that a small sliver will not vote the top of the ticket if the GOP nominates Romney. Many liberals don’t really see that much of a difference between Romney and Obama, and enough are pissed off that they’ll not vote for Obama. In a close state, every vote counts, even the liberal ones. If five percent of liberals stay home, in VA, Obama will probably lose 0.5% – 1% of the vote.
In 2012, that might finish Obama. Consider this from a Democratic polling group (by way of Susie Madrak):
Obama’s poll numbers are worse in Pennsylvania than they are in places like Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, and New Mexico, all states that went Republican in 2004 even as Pennsylvania voted Democratic. The President’s persistently poor numbers in a state that’s gone Democratic in every Presidential election for the last 24 years probably make Pennsylvania the place where Obama should be most concerned about his current standing.
It does though look like the Republicans are going to need to nominate Mitt Romney to take advantage of Obama’s weakness in the state. He fights Obama to a tie while all the rest of the Republicans, including home state candidate Rick Santorum, trail him by at least 7 points. Obama and Romney run even at 44% with the former Massachusetts Governor picking up 18% of the Democratic vote and holding 80% support from GOP voters. None of the other Republicans get more than 15% of the Democrats and Romney’s the only one who gets 80% of his own party’s vote.
They note Obama is doing better in typically more conservative states, which should tell you how much trouble he currently is in.
Like I wrote at the outset, Republicans should elect whom they want to be president. But Romney could encourage enough liberals to sit this one out. In close states, that could very well be enough and cost Obama the election.