With 50% of the vote and a clear-cut victory in Nevada on Saturday night, Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, looks set to become the 2012 Republican Presidential Nominee and face Barack Obama in the general election in November. The Massachusetts Moderate, as he has been dubbed by his nemesis, self-styled conservative Newt Gingrich, has now won 3 out of 5 states and collected 101 convention delegates. 45 states have yet to vote and he needs 1, 144 convention delegates in total to secure the nomination which will take place at the Republican Convention in Florida in August 2012. Newt Gingrich, his nearest rival, has only 32 convention delegates.
Though Mitt Romney may win the battle for Republican Presidential Nominee he appears to be losing the war against Barack Obama. An ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted amongst the general population last week showed him trailing the President 43% to 52%. In a similar poll taken last month Romney had led Obama by 47% to 46%.
The drawn-out negative campaigning between Republican candidates has provided plenty of ammunition to the Democrats. The longer it continues the more time voters will have to mull over Romney’s verbal gaffs, financial skeletons and 180 degree turns in policy. Only last week he stated on national TV that he was ‘not concerned about the very poor’ whilst earlier in the campaign he tried to make a $10,000 bet with Rick Perry during a live TV debate – comments that make him appear uncaring and frivolous. His recently released tax returns confirm that he pays everything he legally should but with a tax rate of only 14% on an income of $27 million in 2010 his contributions don’t seem fair especially as Bain, a company he headed-up, poured huge sums of money into lobbying Congress to reduce tax rates for the rich. Whilst Governor he enacted pro-abortion and Obama-like health care reform policies which he says he would now reverse at the federal level.
Meanwhile, with the US economy slowly improving, Barack Obama has several reasons for optimism on the election front: unemployment is dropping, Bin Laden is dead, the troops are coming home. What’s more, Obama wins hand-down on the like-ability factor. In a January 2012 Economist/Yougov poll 66% of those asked said they liked Obama personally – as opposed to agreeing that they would vote for him or supported his policies. Only 44% liked Romney.
However, hope remains for Romney and the Republicans. Not only is the economy under Obama fragile at best, a USA Today/Gallup poll taken at the end of January shows that in 12 swing states – ones that are usually considered neither Republican nor Democrat - Romney ties with Obama for votes. Since these states often decide the result of the general election (think Florida when George W. Bush ‘beat’ Gore), perhaps the Republicans should consider themselves ‘down but not out.’