It is all but certain that the frontrunner Mitt Romney will be the eventual nominee, but the party's voters simply haven't warmed to him: Too elitist for working-class voters, too moderate for conservatives, too Mormon for evangelical protestants.
Sign up to The World Outside Westminster to receive our weekly email covering the biggest stories from around the world
After last night’s sets of votes towards deciding who will be nominated as the Republican Party’s nominee for President, the so called Grand Old Party (GOP) faces the political torture of a leader it does not really want but cannot get rid of.
It is all but certain that the frontrunner Mitt Romney will be the eventual nominee, but the party’s voters simply haven’t warmed to him: Too elitist for working-class voters, too moderate for conservatives, too Mormon for evangelical protestants.
Despite spending far more than any other candidate, the former Massachusetts Governor, essentially won five of the ten states on offer, drawing the crucial Ohio with Rick Santorum – a man who was ejected from the Senate after losing his re-election campaign by almost 20 percentage points.
The real danger for Romney is, given his own party’s cold embrace last night, he continues to pander to them on social issues and the economy, surrendering the centre ground to Barack Obama in the November election.
Romney simply can’t turn his conversation to the country yet.
As the impeccably conservative National Review put it, he still needs to win over his own party:
“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 per cent to 41 per cent. 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 [They did], 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.”
Conservative blogger and Obama fan Andrew Sullivan described the Republican death spiral thus:
“We have, perhaps, the worst of all possible worlds for the GOP: a front-runner who cannot be stopped, but who is losing altitude against Obama with every vote, and being slimed by Republican rivals for at least another month. Even his stump speech has deteriorated. And his unfavorables [ratings] continue a relentless rise.”
This is almost a textbook case of how not to defeat an incumbent president.
Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by becoming a Left Foot Forward Supporter today.
• GOP enters the Santorum Quagmire as a brokered convention looms – Daniel Elton, February 8th 2012
• Romney bizzarely pleased that Donald Trump has endorsed him – Alex Hern, February 3rd 2012
• The World Outside Westminster – Oh, Carolina – Tom Rouse, January 22nd 2012
• Mitt Romney wins New Hampshire: Press round-up – Alex Hern, January 11th 2012
• Iowa 2012: Meet the candidates – Chris Tarquini, January 3rd 2012