(MintPress) – What started as an “Anyone but Obama” rally cry within the Republican Party has quickly dovetailed into “Anyone but Romney” sentiment. But the presumptive battle for the remainder of this election cycle seems to be a showdown between Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama. Enthusiasm for Romney isn’t there, however, as he has a historic lack of support from his own party, according to a recent Gallup poll. So how has Romney come this far against such opposition?
Romney is polling as the preferred presidential nominee within the Republican Party, but with only 42 percent support, according to Gallup. The percentage is historically low for a candidate leading a presidential nomination field, despite Rick Santorum’s exit from the race after he suspended his campaign last week.
“No other Republican winner in the primary era has had as little as 42 percent support in Gallup’s final measure of nomination preferences, with George W. Bush’s 57 percent in 2000 the lowest before now,” according to Gallup.
Therein could lay Romney’s biggest challenge: Generating enough enthusiasm for voters to lose the disenfranchised attitude and turn out to vote. A Gallup poll in March showed that 11 percent of Republican voters have expressed that they plan to stay home and not vote based on their choices in the field. And 42 percent said they would vote for Romney simply because he is Obama’s opposition, compared to the 35 percent who have said they would vote for Romney enthusiastically.
Throughout his 2012 campaign, Romney has been tied with or trailed the likes of Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. He has also tied or trailed Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump, all of which ultimately declined to run for office. It has been clear that the Republican Party has searched far and wide for a candidate it can get excited over. Attention and support has always drifted back in Romney’s favor, however.
Part of that could be Romney’s ability to run close with Obama in head-to-head polls. Currently, according to RealClearPolitics, Romney trails Obama by 2.8 percent, but has been tied with or led Obama in the past. The small percentage gap between the two is far and away the best performance the remaining Republican presidential candidates can muster. Ron Paul trails by 7.2 percent in a head-to-head matchup with Obama, and Gingrich, whose campaign is reportedly cash-strapped, trails by 12.7 percent.
That competitiveness with Obama is something Romney has touted during his campaign, as in February he said he was “the only chance” for the Republicans to defeat Obama in November. In terms of fundraising figures, of which Romney dwarfs his Republican opposition, no Republican candidate is even close to what Obama has raised for his reelection push. As of the end of February, Romney had $76.5 million remaining of his campaign finances, while Obama was roaring along with collections, amassing $172.7 million.
Wading through criticisms
Even though Romney seems to be the best option to combat Obama for the White House according to many Republicans, he has been criticized in every imaginable way, primarily for his not-conservative-enough policies, which earned him the nickname “Massachusetts Moderate” from Gingrich, and for not connecting with middle class voters, who hold his presidential fate in their hands.
But Romney isn’t about answering to critics as much as he is to pointing those critics to Obama’s policies and their impact on America. Whether Romney has a detailed vision for the United States or not probably will not be challenged until he debates Obama, should he actually win the Republican nomination. But, in the meantime, Romney continues to stoke the “anyone but Obama” flames in hopes of garnering support.
On Sunday, Romney leaked details about his economic policy, although they were inadvertent as he was unaware there were reporters around. The policies, reported by the New York Times, were the first time the public has caught wind of Romney’s particular plans should he be elected.
“I’m going to take a lot of departments in Washington, and agencies, and combine them. Some eliminate (sic), but I’m probably not going to lay out just exactly which ones are going to go,” Romney said.
When Romney was campaigning in Iowa and promised not to raise taxes, he did so by also taking a shot at Obama.
“I’m not going to raise taxes,” Romney claimed. “And if you want somebody who is going to raise taxes, you can vote for Barack Obama.”
From the economy to foreign policy, Romney pegs himself as the antithesis of what he calls Obama’s “failed” policies. Recently, while speaking at a National Rifle Association (NRA) convention, Romney focused little on firearms issues and more on a broad picture. Romney mainly focused on government regulations and bureaucracy.
At a formal speech at Lawrence University near the end of March, Romney said Obama’s economic policies could eventually put us in line with struggling European countries and that Obama’s government has grown to become a “government-centered society.”
“President Obama is transforming America into something very different than the land of the free and the land of opportunity. And we know where that transformation leads,” Romney said. “There are other nations that have chosen that path and it leads to chronic high unemployment, crushing debt and stagnant wages. Sound familiar?”
Romney is also keen at getting to the heart of American emotion with calls to action that prompt voters to “stand tall” and be proud because they are American. The emotional appeal has coincided with Romney’s message to “take America back.”
“There was a time – not so long ago – when each of us could walk a little taller and stand a little straighter because we had a gift that no one else in the world shared. We were Americans,” Romney said during his speech. “That meant something different to each of us but it meant something special to all of us. We knew it without question. And so did the world. Those days are coming back. That’s our destiny. Join me.”