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Romney Won Big, But He’s Way Behind

April 5, 2012

For Mitt Romney, these are the best of times and the worst of times.

On Tuesday, Romney scored a Maryland – D.C. – Wisconsin trifecta.  FiveThirtyEight has Romney a tick ahead of Santorum in Pennsylvania, Santorum’s home state and his last hope, until his next last hope in Texas.  Romney is so far ahead in the Republican convention delegate count that the media punditocracy has resorted to its quadrennial “all-but-certain nominee” formulation.  What’s left of his primary opposition is turning on each other – today Rick Santorum met with “conservative leaders” to figure out how to get Newt Gingrich to quit the race.

It’s time for Romney to take on President Obama.  So how’s that going?

A Washington Post – ABC News poll found Romney to be “far behind” Obama in popularity.  Obama was viewed favorably, 53 – 43 percent, whereas Romney was viewed unfavorably, 50 – 34 percent.  In other words, Romney’s favorability was 19 percent lower than Obama’s, and his unfavorability was seven percent higher.  As the Post noted, Romney’s unfavorability rating has risen as he has become better known throughout the campaign – as it did during Romney’s 2008 campaign.  Even RealClearPolitics, which isn’t known for leaning left, says that Obama is polling four points ahead of  Romney.

There were a couple of really interesting points in the Wisconsin exit polling.  For example:  Romney won 47 percent of the votes of married women, but only 32 percent of single women.  Among the female electorate at large, Obama is out-polling Romney by as much as 20 points.  That suggests to me that Democratic and Independent married women vote like Republican single women, which is to say not for Romney.

Here’s another Wisconsin exit polling factoid.  Santorum beat Romney among voters who thought that Romney’s positions are not conservative enough – no surprise there.  But Santorum also beat Romney among voters who thought that Romney’s positions are “too conservative.”  That’s right – 39 percent of voters who thought that Romney is too conservative went to his right, to Santorum.  Another 28 percent of those voters went to Ron Paul.

This suggests to me that Republican primary voters in Wisconsin are a little confused, a little frustrated with their choices, and not all that wild about Mitt.  Romney won 68 percent of the voters who agreed that the most important candidate quality was the ability to beat President Obama.  Romney voters aren’t charmed by his charisma or conned by his conservatism.  They are Romney voters because, well, he’s the best we got.

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