Mitt Romney is a weak frontrunner

Mitt Romney may be leading in the polls, but his status as the GOP “frontrunner” is fragile at best.

For all the talk of Romney’s “did-what-he-had-to-do” performance in the Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire, it’s widely accepted that the former Massachusetts governor is an uninspired choice for the GOP nomination. Of course, he’s saddled with a state health care reform plan that still sharply divides conservatives. But more than anything else, it’s Romney’s wooden presence and seeming lack of imagination or vision that makes him vulnerable.

Historically, Republicans have nominated the runner-up from the previous election cycle, and Romney was the runner-up in 2008. But his second-place finish was exceedingly narrow — and in the end, closely contested. Once John McCain beat him in New Hampshire and South Carolina — after Mike Huckabee had upstaged him in Iowa, despite Romney’s enormous investment in the Hawkeye State — Mitt was already a beaten man. Huckabee collected eight primary wins, 20% of the primary vote, and finished almost in a dead heat with Romney.

Many observers also forget that Rudy Giuliani was far and away the GOP frontrunner until he unwisely chose to skip the early primaries and cede his huge polling advantage. If Giuliani had run a better campaign and Huckabee had won a few more votes, Romney would have finished fourth.

Compare that to McCain’s commanding second-place finish in 2000, when he beat George W. Bush in New Hampshire and only a concerted effort by the Bush team, which included a horrible smear campaign against McCain in South Carolina, kept the Arizona senator from claiming the nomination himself. Romney, who failed to win any of the critical early primaries in 2008 (except for Michigan, the state his father once governed), never came close to matching McCain’s 2000 performance, which is what rightly made the Arizona senator the “heir apparent” in the last campaign cycle.

But forget about history: just look at Romney’s numbers now. Sure, the latest polls show him pulling in roughly 25% of GOP voters and he’s the only GOP candidate currently leading Obama in a hypothetical head-to-head contest. But most of Romney’s support is exceedingly soft. For example, according to a USA Today poll, only 30% of his supporters in New Hampshire say they’re firmly committed to him. And 40% of GOP voters nationally say they would like to see another candidate run. If that’s frontrunner status, it’s a slender reed, indeed.

And consider some other recent surveys, including a CNN poll released just last weekend that’s been largely ignored in the mainstream media. The poll, which surveyed a cross-section of the electorate (including Republicans, Democrats and independents), found that Giuliani has the highest approval rating of any likely GOP candidate (55%), with Romney far behind at 39%. And Giuliani’s net favorability ratio (55% – 25%) comes in at a whopping 30%, compared to just 10% (39%-29%) for Romney.

And if you drill down further into the poll, there’s more good news for Giuliani — and ambiguous news for Romney. While both men poll well with conservatives, Giuliani scores much higher than Romney with voters when asked to rank who they find is the most decisive leader, best embodies conservative values, and is the one they agree with the most. And yet, Giuliani, alone among the potential GOP candidates, does well with self-described Democrats and with non-white voters. Giuliani also has a 34% net favorability rating with independents, compared to just 12% for Romney.

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  • Rocketman

    “Compare that to McCain’s commanding second-place finish in 2000, when he beat George W. Bush in New Hampshire and only a concerted effort by the Bush team, which included a horrible smear campaign against McCain in South Carolina, kept the Arizona senator from claiming the nomination himself.”
    – Stewart Lawrence

    And then you had to go and spoil it all by repeating a nasty, hateful, left-wing, McCain-aided lie. The incident you cite was a canard. I would think that someone writing an article about this ‘n that would at least be proficient in reporting the facts. If Google is not your friend, then e-mail me and I’ll provide you with the facts as they transpired.

    By the way, Mittens isn’t going to get the GOP nod. This garbage about “it’s my turn” has damn near ruined the GOP. And don’t try to tell me about how Mittens saved the Olympics from ruin in Salt Lake City. All Mittens did was tell his Mormon bros that they would be in big trouble with their stake, ward, and the cult-like “church” itself if they didn’t straighten up and fly right or get out of the way. Much like ‘gelicals, Mormons are all about appearances.
    Been there, seen that, helped some get into prison. (grin)
    Just the facts, Stew, just the facts.


    • stewlaw2009

      Maybe you’re working with a different Google?

      It is WIDELY accepted that the Bush campaign waged a sleazy smear campaign against McCain in the Palmetto State in 2000 – the only issue still in (some) doubt is whether Bush’s people were behind the specific claim that McCain’s wife had given birth to an illegitmate non-White child.

      Here’s just one of many, many stories on the Bush effort, decried by many GOP politicians at the time –

      Canard? Please.

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  • jlmealer

    Just for political knowledge and poke in the eye fun… Please read my note:

    I will be placing myself on the ballot in as many states as possible NOT TO WIN (because ‘they’ would not allow that, but simply to spread the Mealer Economic Plan and hopefully force a slice of common decency into whichever candidate actually wins the presidency. We truly MUST NOT have a politician elected as POTUS in 2012.

    As far as US Debt holders, especially those who are proudly and defiantly touting above our heads, the fact that America has been wholly mismanaged and controlled by transnational conglomerates.

    RE: US Debt to China which is also part of our American unemployment issues… This simple solution is part of the “over-all” Mealer Economic Plan.

    China and the Federal Reserve can be paid off through Article I Section 8 of the US Constitution with coins. By minting several trillion-dollar coins and few 100-billion-dollar coins a US President with the cajones to do it, can flip them at the gathered debt holders and pay them off in full.

    WHY would Congress mint these coins by Presidential Directive alone?
    Simple… Through Executive Order, the national debt and severe American unemployment would be declared a Nation Emergency and the President would put the CIA, FBI, NSA and other military powers (along with the elderly pushing brooms to clean up their mess) under orders to secure those politicians who constitute and prolong this National Emergency through their perverted transnational-conglomerate controlled and lobbyist pay-offs.

    The FDA, EPA and FTC would be put on Port-a-Jon raw sewage-siphoning duty until they can become legitimate organizations and void of lobbyist funds… No more USRDA food poisoning with lobbied additives and toxins! As far I am concerned the Pork Industry and their hazardous ‘food’ products can be shipped to feed America’s enemies. (There is a reason America is getting fat while eating less!). We are being force fed poisons after the lobby groups force the politicians to allow misleading labels and make us fatter to eat more.

    FDA allows sugar to be placed into our milk? When did that happen? MSG in baby food?

    IN FACT, the threat alone of this style of coinage debt pay-off would ‘figuratively speaking’, place the gonads of the ill-willed lenders in Americas soon to be iron grip… Meaning, it’s time to be the greatest nation on earth and lead the way, rather than apologize.

    Would you be willing to read and spread the Arizona based Mealer Plan? This would work so much better on a national level, but I have no federal connections except Arizona’s Sen McCain and Sen Kyl.

    You can read it here

    Please keep in mind, that the Arizona Mealer Economic Plan is outlined for the state where I live.

    Further, I truly believe that an immediate presidential tour of the world called the “Strong American Arrogance Tour” is in order. As IF I were President that is. Hell, after Mealer v GM, I’d take a few bullets just to see this Plan and the ‘Article I, Sec 8- Trillion Dollar Coin debt pay-off’ through!

    One never knows with my peculiar yet oddly blessed life.

    JL Mealer


  • steebo77

    Apparently, he’s not even the frontrunner:
    Economist/yougov Poll: Palin Leads Romney 20% to 14%

  • writeblock

    Rudy is consistently underestimated as a player in 2012, mainly because of his disastrous 2008 primary run. But it’s a huge mistake to consider him a spent force. He was a major player, for instance, in 2010 special elections. In FL he campaigned for tea party favorite Rubio. In MA he campaigned for Brown. In NJ he campaigned for Christie. There was a reason all three asked Rudy, and only Rudy, to help them out–he has a powerful following in many states. Far from being a has-been–like Newt, for instance–he is a tea party favorite, widely recognized as competent, an achiever–and somebody outside the establishment.

    There’s a reason both Perry and Christie met privately with Rudy today. Perry asked for the meeting. He was a big supporter of Rudy last time around. It’s conceivable that if he jumps in, he would want Rudy’s support. A Texan won’t need it in a red state. But he’d need it in places like PA and FL. He knows Rudy has the capacity to deliver too. Why? Because Rudy’s immensely popular in those–and other–blue and purple states, states with huge concentrations of loyal Italian-Americans.

    This is what makes Rudy a major player. He has the most powerful political leverage of all–countless millions of voters who admire him and would vote for him–or for his surrogate–if they got the chance. And there’s a second reason: look at who his political allies are. Not the establishment but players like Palin and Christie and Rubio. Perry is also an ally. So this makes him both powerful and credible.