Political Animal


April 25, 2012 10:58 AM Minds But Not Hearts Won Over

By Ed Kilgore

I don’t know if this is a significant finding at all, but it’s worth hearing: despite Mitt Romney’s “sweep” of five primaries yesterday, he’s still showing some notable weakness among GOP voters as compared to previous “presumptive nominees” at similar junctures. That’s the judgment that Eric Ostermeier of the University of Minnesota’s Smart Politics site reaches after examining primary results in previous cycles dating back four decades:

Over the last 40 years there have been nearly 80 contests in which the presumptive Republican nominees played out the string after their last credible challenger exited the race.
In every one of these contests, the GOP frontrunner won at least 60 percent of the vote, even when ex- and long-shot candidates remained on the ballot.
But on Tuesday, Romney won only 56 percent of the vote in Delaware and 58 percent in Pennsylvania, home to Rick Santorum who dropped out on April 10th.
While Romney avoided the embarrassment of winning with a mere plurality, never has a presumptive nominee won a primary contest with such a low level of support at this stage of the race with his chief challenger no longer actively campaigning.

In Romney’s defense, his relatively poor performance in Pennsylvania was mainly attributable to the 18% drawn by former candidate and Pennsylvanian Rick Santorum. And in Delaware, Newt Gingrich decided to test Woody Allen’s adage that “90% of life is just showing up,” figuring First State votes would reward him for all but camping out there. He didn’t win, but did well enough to hold Mitt below 60%.

With 14—that’s right, 14—primaries still left on the calendar, we’ll have plenty of evidence to determine if PA and DE are just outliers, or if Ostermeier is on to something and Romney really is struggling to win over the hearts if not the minds of party conservatives.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • stormskies on April 25, 2012 11:40 AM:

    If I am remembering right buffoon Romney in all previous states only actually 'won' with those making $200,000 or more a year: even among Repiglicans.

    Given that that correlates with the 1% of our population it's hard to imagine, from the point of view of actual reality, how the buffoon can be so close in the corporate generated polls that tell us so.

    But, of course, those a corporate/Repiglican polls who use the methodologies they choose in order to get the results that they want. And then issue them as if they are real. In reality, they are nothing more than propaganda statements in order to mislead our population.

  • sick-n-effn-tired. on April 25, 2012 11:49 AM:

    Stormskies FTW
    "the corporate generated polls that tell us so."
    We need a horse-race to sell Pharmaceuticals and Cheerios so it shall be so.

    I live in the Redneckistan portion of Florida and had a Good ol boy tell me .
    "There is no choice in this election other than Obama" , which means he'll vote for Obama or stay home.

  • ashton on April 25, 2012 12:15 PM:

    For some reason,that even I don't understand, I was reading through the results of many precincts in PA (slow morning I guess). They were rather interesting. I didn't even know that the Democrat's Primary was yesterday; however in most cases Obama got more Primary votes than not only Romney, but all Republican candidates combined and usually with half to a quarter of the turn-out from Democrats.

  • HelpThe99ers on April 25, 2012 12:16 PM:

    Fourteen primaries to go?

    Hmm. Add that to the 43 that Governor Romney referred to in last night's speech and you get... 57.

    Where have I heard that number before...?

  • stormskies on April 25, 2012 12:22 PM:


    "I didn't even know that the Democrat's Primary was yesterday; however in most cases Obama got more Primary votes than not only Romney, but all Republican candidates combined and usually with half to a quarter of the turn-out from Democrats. "


    I wonder how much we will here of such facts from our ever helpful corporate media ?

  • Matt on April 25, 2012 12:45 PM:

    Just to clarify this a bit, this isn't a situation where Romney is simply failing to get landslide/coronations. It's a situation where Romney, as the (genuine) presumptive nominee, is still having to contest primaries.

    Romney spent the last week in Pennsylvania. Officially, because it's notionally a swing state. In practice, because he wasn't sure he could break 50% against the corpses of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich otherwise.

    Great golfers frequently find themselves having to tap in 2-inch putts. If you see someone practicing their 2-inch putts, chances are he's not a great golfer.

  • dweb on April 25, 2012 2:45 PM:

    Voted in yesterday's Democratic primary for the first time in suburban Pittsburgh after two decades in CA. Some quick observations:

    1- PA sucks when it comes to voting by mail. In CA you just sign up to have a ballot mailed to you, fill it out by the deadline and send it in. Happens every election and a major portion of CA voters today use this easy option. Not available in PA and my understanding is that you really really have to be away to be able to vote absentee here.

    2- As of 1 in the afternoon yesterday when I went to the polls, numbers were way down and while the Republican primaries called for party members to chose a Presidential and US Senate candidate and some hot battles over redistricted Congressional seats, Dem turnout at that poll was about a third stronger than Republican. Granted Romney wasn't really "battling" any opponents of any strength by this point.

    3- CA does a WAY better job of informing voters with its pre-election "Guides." You get details on the pros and cons of propositions (much more common in CA) and listing of candidates who will be on the ballot in your area. Being in Metro Pgh, TV was awash in an tsunami of useless primary advertising, but you had to really know your district to know whether any of them were seeking an office in which you would have a say. The ads themselves were a steady litany of "I'm the true conservative" and "My opponent violates road kill in his spare time." So much money wasted to the benefit largely of campaign consultants and TV stations, neither of them major contributors fo the public good.

    I fortunately was able to locate the League of Women Voters website and got the info I needed on which candidates were competing in this area. But if you look at Florida, LWV could become a dinosaur given new voter registration legislation designed to effectively make it a criminal offense to even try to register a voter.