Many voters we’ve met on the campaign trail say they support Mitt Romney because he seems to be the most electable. And when you look at the Republican Party presidential nomination delegate count, the math is in his favor. Romney aides point out that with Super Tuesday behind them, Romney needs to win 48% of the remaining delegates to secure the nomination as compared to 65% for Santorum and 70% for Gingrich.
But when you have to point to a state-by-state breakdown of delegates and default to technicalities to show why you are most electable, something is missing.
The New York Times called it Mitt’s “missing magic,” which has lead to what they call an “excitement deficit.” Others have called this the enthusiasm gap. It basically means that Romney is liked by people who think he is competent and effective and believe his skills as a businessman will aid him in office, but it boils down to one thing: they don’t love Romney.
I have met very few passionate, definitive supporters of Romney. I have heard voters in our state, at a rally in Pasco last week, say that Rick Santorum is “the only Republican candidate,” and that he is “the hero that will fight for our families.” At a Seattle caucus, a Ron Paul supporter went so far as to say he would lay down his life for Paul and his cause. Voters believe in these candidates.
But for Romney, there doesn’t seem to be the same inspiration or spark driving voters to believe in him. Sure, they will vote for him, but there’s a reason why Romney’s campaign slogan is “Believe in America,” and not “Believe in Romney.” Conservatives want and do believe in America, and many on the campaign trail have said that they believe Barack Obama is damaging the America they love. They think that any of the Republican candidates would be better than Obama. So yes, they believe in America and in their respective visions of a future America with a Republican in office, and if that means settling for Romney then so be it.
And whatever one’s feelings toward Sarah Palin, she put it straight yesterday in an interview after she cast a caucus vote in Alaska for Newt Gingrich, “There will be that zip-a-dee-doo-dah after the nominee is chosen. I guarantee there will be that enthusiasm. But to be brutally honest, with all due respect to governor Romney, who is obviously the frontrunner… he’s not garnering a lot of that enthusiasm right now.”
Romney appears to have the math to win the nomination and Republicans will most likely rise to the occasion to support and defend their nominee. In the end, like their feelings toward Romney, that may be “good enough.”