About as shocking as the weather forecast in Seattle, a new Washington Post/ABC News poll reports large black clouds hanging over GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney’s campaign.
Romney, who notched his second consecutive victory Saturday by easily winning the Nevada caucuses, continues to solidify his position as the front-runner in the race for the GOP nomination. But as the contest has grown more negative, public impressions of the top Republican contenders have soured, as has the former Massachusetts governor’s standing as a general-election candidate.
As President Obama took a 9 percent lead over Romney (52 to 43) and saw his job approval rating jump to the highest it has been in eight months, the former Massachusetts governor actually lost support.
By better than 2 to 1, Americans say the more they learn about Romney, the less they like him. Even among Republicans, as many offer negative as positive assessments of him on this question.
Add the less-than-uplifting news of subpar voter turnout in every Republican primary except South Carolina—the state Newt Gingrich won—and you get a preliminary picture of the trouble ahead for Romney.*
Sprinkle a little bit of Obama’s charisma, energy, and grassroots campaign mastery on top of that and you’ve got a recipe for Republican implosion.
If Romney can’t get Republicans to the voting booth in the primary races, his trouble riling the base will only be compounded in the general election, when he will be expected to tone down the conservative rhetoric in order to appeal to moderates and Independents.
Nate Silver of the New York Times projects that Obama has 217 electorate college votes on lock-down. That excludes a dozen states Obama won in 2008. If Obama were to win only the states he won by more than 7.5 percent in 2008, then he would win re-election. (Six of those seven states currently report unemployment rates well below the national average of 8.3 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.)
That doesn’t include North Carolina, where 15 electoral votes are up for grabs and where the Democratic Convention will be held. It doesn’t include Virginia, which Obama won by 6.3 percent in 2008. And it doesn’t include Ohio, which Obama won by 5 percent in ’08.
Romney is the presumed nominee by default—because the rest of the GOP primary field proved incapable of balancing passion and sanity. But without a personality makeover, Romney’s in trouble.
A pomposity tuck here, an Average Joe injection there, and a few hours a day in Dale Carnegie’s likeability gym would do him well.
If he doesn’t do something soon, Roseanne Barr could surpass Romney as the most exciting non-Obama candidate since Donald Trump.
* Voter turnout among Republicans was down 26 percent in Nevada, according to ThinkProgress; 16 percent in Florida, 15 percent in New Hampshire, and 11 percent in Iowa, according to The New York Times.