There is a breaking point for even the most committed Republican voter. There are candidates whose conservative credentials are so flimsy that they give pause to pause to even the diehard supporters of the GOP. Candidates like Wendell Willkie, Thomas Dewey, Bob Dole, and John McCain do little to drive GOP voters to the ballot box. Yet, the major commonality of all four of the aforementioned Republican candidates is that they were the “establishment” candidate and none were considered “conservative” Republicans. Looking at the Republican field of 2012, are there any candidates who are a risk at keeping Republican voters home on Election Day?
The group has seemed to be much more broadly appealing than the last Republican field in 2008. Social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, and most other niche groups seem to be represented in this collection of candidates. Even neoconservatives in the mold of President George W. Bush and Dick Cheney can support one of several of these candidates who are tough talkers when it comes to foreign policy. I wouldn’t claim that any of these candidates is 100% pleasing to the electorate but they seem to be much closer to what most Republicans are looking for than what we had in 2008. I wonder if there is even one of them that could kill the excitement about the next election that Republican voters currently enjoy.
Mitt Romney has somehow morphed into his father, George Romney, and become the candidate that should be popular but somehow – just isn’t. Mitt seems to suffer from many of the same problems his father did, he is just too moderate for the average Republican voter. The saving grace for Romney just might be his 2008 campaign for the nomination when he was the candidate so many Republicans hoped would save the party from John McCain. Perhaps on the day the nomination takes places in your state, voters will remember that Mitt Romney – the one who was the conservative alternative – instead of the one who now seems so squishy.
Newt Gingrich was once beloved for his Contract with America, then reviled for his disastrous end as Speaker of the House, then he made millions in the private sector. In this nomination season he has been D.O.A., then been heralded as the conservative savior from Romney, and now he seems to be Romney 2.0. More Republicans are starting to remember that Mr. Gingrich is much more akin to Mr. Romney than either candidate wants to let on.
Is Ron Paul the candidate who could turn off the average Republican voter? Poll after poll give the President a fairly strong lead against the longtime Texas Representative and one has to wonder, why? Electorally, Ron Paul’s strength is his appeal to Independents and even some Democrats… so is his weak polling position due to a lack of Republican support? While a staunch fiscal conservative, Dr. Paul’s foreign policy planks do little to engender most orthodox Republicans. With the state of our economy and the passion Ron Paul exhibits for cutting taxes, spending, and reforms could his foreign policy positions keep Republicans from the ballot box?
Governor Rick Perry has endured some trying times over the last few months and yet it seems that one of his biggest weakness within the party is his stance on immigration. If Perry can move the electorate back into his corner, he may well be able to energize the party to come out en masse on Election Day. Rick Perry’s problem will have more to do with debating a well spoken and articulate President. He will have to go face to face with the President and convince Independents that the President is wrong and that the Republican Party is the better bet to fix the economy. How will that turn out? Either way, Republicans will come out in droves to vote for Governor Perry.
Michelle Bachmann loves the base and the base loves Michelle Bachmann. True she may be polling in single digits, but that likely has more to do with primary voters’ ideas about “electability”. She has made herself into more of a caricature with her dogged attacks on Rick Perry and Gardasil, and Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan . However, she has also been a punching bag for the liberal mass media and that can do nothing but continue to endear her to the base voter. A candidate Bachmann would most assuredly not hinder Republican turnout.
I have often been perplexed by the candidacy of Rick Santorum. On its face this would seem to be a good matchup for the Republican Party as a Presidential nominee, but there may be some underlying problems. Santorum does not seem to energize the base the way Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, and Rick Perry have. He has experience as both a member of the House and as a Senator from Pennsylvania. He won his first election to the House in a District that was heavily Democratic, and throughout his time in Washington proved to be an effective legislator and an even more effective soldier for conservative causes. While a long-shot Santorum doesn’t hold any views that would be contrary to most Republicans, in fact he is about as orthodox a Republican as they come in this Republican field. He can count on a healthy turnout if he is the eventual nominee.
The other nominees polling numbers are too low to seriously consider right now, but if there numbers improve it will likely be because the party is becoming more excited about their candidacy. What seems ironic is that the candidates who may have the most problems getting out the Republican vote on Election Day may actually be the candidate most likely to be nominated! Between here and Election Day these candidates need to not only, assuage the fears of the base, but actually get them excited about their candidacy. The key to Republican victory in 2012 is an electrified base and a candidate who is able to convince the Independent voter that our ideas are better.
What about you, dear reader, is there a candidate(s) for the Republican nomination that you just cannot support? If so, why?