It's no accident that Mitt Romney has done so well during this election cycle. He has excellent name recognition, he's extremely well organized, he's a great fundraiser, he's become a polished debater, and he's not gaffe prone. His business experience doesn't hurt either, although it is worth noting that the only reason he's able to brag that he's not a "career politician" is because he lost to Ted Kennedy for the Senate and probably would have lost in 2008 had he run for governor of Massachusetts again.
All that being said, there's a reason why Mitt Romney has been unable to walk away with the nomination despite all of those advantages. It's because Mitt is a deeply flawed candidate. Yes, he would certainly be better than Obama (and I will vote for him if he gets the nomination), but this IS NOT someone conservatives should want as their nominee.
1) Romneycare: One of the biggest issues the Republican Party has to run on in 2012 is Obamacare. Although Mitt Romney does oppose Obamacare, it's purely a political calculation because he still supports Romneycare in Massachussetts. Sure, there are a few differences, but it's also fair to say that Obamacare is just Romneycare on a larger level. Even Mitt's consultants on Romneycare, like Jonathan Gruber, have admitted that Obamacare is just Romneycare writ large,
The truth is that the Affordable Care Act is essentially based on what we accomplished in Massachusetts. It’s the same basic structure applied nationally.
In 2008, when Romneycare was still in its infancy, Romney might have been able to sell his experience with healthcare as a plus to the American people. However, we now know that his signature issue has been a miserable failure that has increased insurance rates in Massachusetts to the highest level in the whole country. Moreover, are the American people going to buy that the GOP's opposition to Obamacare is anything more than politics as usual if we have a nominee who still supports "Obamacare 1.0?" Can we even trust Mitt to really fight Obamacare since he obviously supports the basic principles behind it?
2) Mitt Romney is pro-Tarp and open to more bailouts: Like Herman Cain, Mitt Romney was in favor of TARP. However, Herman Cain admits he made a mistake in backing the program because he didn't like how it was implemented and he's against more bailouts. On the other hand, Romney is still in favor of TARP and worse yet, he noted at the last debate that he is open to doing EVEN MORE bailouts, which should scare the living hell out of people.
The dirt hippies, anarchists, and Commies at the Occupy Wall Street protests would have already been laughed off the national stage already except for one thing. There's widespread agreement across the political spectrum that the Wall Street bailouts were a crock. Do we really want to take that issue off the table for 2012 by running a pro-TARP Republican against the President who was just as responsible for the Wall Street bailouts as Bush was? Are we okay with having a nominee who's open to funneling even more of your money over to corporations that are treating capitalism as a "heads, we win; tails, the taxpayers lose" game?
3) Mitt Romney's not a conservative: It's hard to criticize Mitt Romney's position on the issues because he shifts around so much you never really know where he stands on anything. One day he's pro-amnesty. The next day, he's not. One day he's pro-choice; the next day he's pro-life. One day he believes humans are the cause of global warming; the next day he's not sure about it. One day he's pro-gun control; the next day, he's a staunch advocate of the 2nd Amendment. One day he's disassociating himself from Ronald Reagan and the Contract with America; the next day he wants to assure you that both are close to his heart. While it is okay for politicians to change their mind from time to time and conservatives are sometimes too unwilling to “take ‘yes’ for an answer" from a politician, in Romney's case, his positions have shifted so much, on so many issues, that it's impossible to take anything he says at face value.
George W. Bush was more of a Country Club Republican than a movement conservative, but in fairness to the man, you did always know where he stood. In Romney's case, you really have no idea where he stands on anything because like Obama, every policy position has an expiration date. If I had a dime for every time conservatives complained about politicians like Romney -- who talk a good game about conservatism when they're running for office and then turn right around and sell us down the river once they get elected -- I'd have enough money to give Mitt Romney a campaign contribution so I could qualify for the next round of bank bailouts.
4) He'll run weak in the South: Slick moderate northerners like Mitt Romney generally don't do well in the South and given his poor poll numbers in the southern states during the 2008 primaries, there's no reason to think Romney would be an exception.
Could we see Romney lose states like Virginia, North Carolina, or maybe even Georgia that other candidates like Perry or Cain would probably pick-up? Absolutely. Of course, it might be worth it if Romney could pick up northern states that those candidates couldn't, but so far there's no evidence that Romney could put any new states in play, including his home state of Massachusetts.
5) Romney's not likable: Here's a little not-so-secret secret: Very, very few people get excited about the idea of Mitt Romney becoming President. His strong poll numbers are almost entirely a result of high name recognition and uncertainty about whether his competitors in the race are ready for prime time.
Of course, there are big Mitt fans out there, but personally, I don't know any conservatives who aren't professional political operatives who seem to be excited about the idea of having Mitt as our candidate -- and why would they be? A soulless, plastic Ken doll whom nobody trusts because he'll say anything it takes to get elected isn't going to get anyone's blood pumping.
This is a little frightening because if you go all the way back to at least 1972, the more likable candidate has won every presidential election. Who's more likable, Mitt Romney or Barack Obama? At best, that’s a toss-up at this point, which doesn't bode well for Mitt's chances to win.
6) The Mormon Factor: Mitt Romney's religion has been an insignificant factor in the primaries. It has come up here and there, but no one has made a really big issue of it. That won't be the case if he gets the nomination.
If Mitt Romney becomes the nominee, there will be a non-stop, year-long campaign run by the mainstream media and Hollywood to convince people that Mormons are dangerous, magic-underwear-wearing, multiple-wife-having, racist, potentially violent, scary, kooky cultists. The Obama campaign will never have to touch the issue, which is good, because Jeremiah Wright's America-hating, anti-Semitic, Black Liberation Theology church isn't an example of mainstream Christianity either.
But, getting back to Mormons -- in large swathes of the country, they're not looked at any differently than Jehovah's Witnesses or Scientologists. In other words, they are not considered to be part of a mainstream Christian religion. Although Americans have been perfectly willing to vote for Mormons in Congress, there will be Christians who are worried that having a Mormon president might draw people away from Christianity into what they regard as a cult. The poll numbers on this issue previously have been austere and there's no reason to think things have changed during this election cycle.
For example, a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll back in June of 2006 found that 37 percent of Americans said "that they would not vote for a Mormon presidential candidate." Similarly, in a February of 2007, USA Today poll, 24% of American adults flat out said that they would not vote for a Mormon who ran for the presidency.
Those numbers, which are none too cheery for Mitt backers become even more grim when you consider the very real possibility that many of the people who say that they won't vote for a Mormon may be Christians who typically vote Republican, but won't cast their vote for someone whom they consider to be part of a cult. This survey of Christians at ChristiaNet.com would seem to support that theory. 59% of the 2000 Christians surveyed "claimed they would not vote to elect a Mormon for president."
Would those numbers hold up if Mitt ran? I doubt if they'd be anywhere near that bad, but what I don't doubt is that Mitt Romney's religion will cost him votes in the general election. Given how close two of the last three elections were, I don't know if we can afford to throw away a few hundred thousand votes and still win. Fair, not fair, it's just how it is and however you feel about the Mormon religion (I have some fantastic friends who are Mormons), this is something people should take into consideration before they vote for Romney.