It’s hard not to notice that despite his win in the Nevada Caucuses on Saturday, aggregate statewide turn-out seems to have been substantially down. This follows a decreased turn-out in Florida, causing many to wonder if the current crop of candidates simply is not exciting the Republicans’ conservative base. It seems there’s an increasingly fatalistic segment of the conservative base looking at the nomination process and giving up in disgust. This isn’t going to help the Republicans, whomever their eventual nominee, and i think I understand it perfectly well, but more, I’ve seen its expression in the turnout but also in social media like Twitter and Facebook. Conservatives are thoroughly discouraged, and if that’s what the party wanted it, they may yet get more come November.
On Sunday evening, as I checked in on Twitter, I notice Byron York had tweeted the following:
By itself, this may not seem stunning, but the truth of the matter is disturbing to me. The fact that with nearly 90% of the vote in, that votes for Romney in 2008 were greater by more than six thousand votes is significant. It hints at the direction in which the electorate sees things goings, and of course, I retweeted his message before responding:
I wasn’t trying to stir things up, but within a matter of moments, I was retweeted a number of times as some of those who follow me spread what I had tweeted in a seemingly approving fashion. There’s something afoot, and it’s a sense of dissatisfaction with the entirety of the field, but also the presumptively “inevitable” nominee in particular. Even in exit polls, roughly two in five Republican voters would like to have other choices, and that is by itself perhaps the greatest harbinger of electoral doom for Republicans in 2012.
To see voter turn-out in this GOP nomination process so thoroughly depressed speaks volumes about the perceived quality of the field. As I suggested as early as last summer, Mitt Romney isn’t the front-runner because he exhibits virtues cherished among conservatives or Tea Party folk, but only because nobody else seems to be able to vanquish him. I then called him the front-runner-by-default, and even at this late date, that is still largely true.
This should be a relatively easy argument to have within the country, but the problem is that Romney can’t make it because he exhibits some of the same basic ideological flaws as the current President, multiplied by his completely uninspiring personality. The Republicans need to nominate somebody who can make the case against Obama while also making the case for conservatism with a straight face, and Romney simply isn’t that guy. If this continues, Romney will not be able to win or even challenge for the presidency in November, and Obama’s increasingly dictatorial administration will go on unfettered.
Are there none who can step up to carry the conservative mantle? Rick Santorum is a nice fellow, but I don’t think he will pull this out, and Newt Gingrich has a good command of the issues, but as if the demonizing of Gingrich in the 90s by Democrats hadn’t been enough, Romney has so thoroughly hammered him that even if you could debunk all of it, how would Gingrich spread the news against such a tide of negative ads?
We’re looking at a potential GOP doomsday scenario, as Coulter described last year before she hopped from the Chris Christie fan-club over to the Romney tour-bus: Romney will get the nomination and lose to Obama in a land-slide, and except for the fact that Coulter is now a Romney sycophant, I don’t see anything that offers to change her original and then perfectly reasonable formulation.
Let’s do the math: If like Romney in Florida, you must outspend your opponent by a margin of five to one in order to defeat him, but unlike in Florida, your opponent is going to have some one billion dollars at his disposal, you’re going to need to spend five billion, and there is absolutely no chance Romney will have available even a small fraction of that amount. As I said Sunday, Romney’s cash advantage against his Republican rivals does not translate into general election victory against Obama. It simply cannot, and the pathetically low turn-out in Florida and Nevada is all the evidence you should need to know that he will not turn out the base, and that his tactics to win the nomination will have virtually no application once he’s secured it.