Daniel Doherty

As Guy explained last night, the results from Super Tuesday indicate that Mitt Romney will be the 2012 Republican nominee. After evaluating the numbers, it seems evident that the path to the nomination for both Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich will be tremendously difficult, if not impossible. And since Ron Paul has yet to win one primary or state caucus (though he has picked up a handful delegates), his prospects are looking bleak, as well. That said, while Mitt Romney pats himself on the back for squeezing out a razor-thin win in the Buckeye State on Tuesday, a new Gallup poll shows that a plurality of voters have less confidence in the Republican hopefuls today than they did a month ago.

Just 36% of voters think the four remaining Republican candidates are the best options. Forty-three percent (43%) think it would be better for someone else to enter the race. Twenty-one percent (21%) are not sure. But 53% of Republican voters feel the four candidates still in the field are just fine. Voters not affiliated with either major party by a 45% to 31% margin, however, feel it’s time for another candidate to emerge.

In late January, 34% of voters nationwide said it would be good for the GOP if another candidate entered the race, but 31% disagreed. Twenty-four percent (24%) said it would have no impact.

Of course, the vast majority of GOP voters are satisfied with the current field. But what concerns me the most is the question of whether or not enough Republicans will feel compelled to volunteer their time and energy knocking on doors or operating phone banks during the general election. A key to then-Senator Obama’s victory in 2008 was his ability to entice and recruit thousands – perhaps millions – of citizens from all religious, ethnic and economic backgrounds to join his campaign. In short, given the importance of replacing President Obama in 2012 – and realizing what ultimately needs to happen for this to be possible – I personally find the Gallup numbers to be somewhat discouraging.

National Review’s John Fund also reminds Romney supporters – in a sobering way – why they shouldn’t be celebrating his recent electoral successes just yet:

Given his crushing financial advantage, Romney should have done better tonight.

He lost Oklahoma to Rick Santorum, despite the endorsement of the state’s most popular politician — populist U.S. senator Tom Coburn.

He won Virginia, where his only opponent was Ron Paul, by only 59 percent to 41 percent. He lost significant cities ranging from upper-crust Charlottesville to working-class Lynchburg.

Late-reporting urban areas may still give Romney a win in Ohio, but it is striking that he is struggling so much in a state where he carpet-bombed Rick Santorum the way he did. And in Ohio — unlike Michigan — there was no semi-organized effort among Democrats to embarrass him by casting votes for Santorum. Romney won among those voters who saw electability in November as their prime concern; his problem was that many voters had other priorities. Evangelicals continued to resist him, as did many blue-collar workers and the most conservative of voters.

Fund’s essential point – Mitt Romney is unable to win key battleground states despite his enormous financial and organizational advantages – is troubling. President Obama, after all, will have a treasure trove of campaign dollars to spend at his disposal. The question, then, is if Mitt Romney does win the nomination, will conservatives, tea partiers, and blue-collar workers fall in line?

It has been said that the sooner the GOP primary is over (which could last for several more months) the better. At that moment, Republicans – at the very least – can finally unite around their party’s nominee and prepare for the bitter election ahead.


Daniel Doherty

Daniel Doherty is Townhall's Deputy News Editor. Follow him on Twitter @danpdoherty.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography