In her Wall Street Journal column of June 25, 2011, Peggy Noonan again expresses hope for the Republican Party in the presidential race of 2012. She is still dying to find a good reason.
In her April 14 column, entitled “Obama Is Likely to Lose,” Peggy cited polls showing the effect of the economy on Obama’s numbers. All the GOP has to do is nominate someone who is not “strange, extreme, or barely qualified.” She was sure Republicans would eventually come to this position, as they have always done so in the past. That week, the Republican frontrunner was Donald Trump.
In her May 13 column, Peggy chose to highlight three potential candidates, Chris Christie, Mitch Daniels, and Newt Gingrich. She pushed Christie, nudged Daniels, and relegated Newt to future cabinet status, where he will clearly be useful given all of his genius ideas. Christie and Daniels have since refused to run, and while Newt is still in, it is only for the cheap advertising to sell his books and DVDs.
On June 11, in her column entitled “Someone Had a Good Week,” Peggy reluctantly resigned herself to Romney’s eventual victory in the primaries. She predicted he would overcome his health care past by boring the electorate with detailed analysis, and assured us that his religion would not be a problem. Since that time, a Gallup Poll showed that 18% of Republicans and 27% of Democrats say they will never vote for a Mormon.
The following week, Peggy saw hope in own her sigh of relief after the New Hampshire debate. In her column “Republicans Return to Reality,” she said she was pleasantly surprised that the candidates did not embarrass her. She was especially relieved about Michele Bachmann, who did not come across as obviously “strange, extreme, and barely qualified.” And when T-Paw did not measure up, Mitt held on to his image as the middle-of-the-road frontrunner.
This week, Peggy is hopeful because a Gallup Poll shows that 50% of Republicans are strategic voters, i.e., they favor a candidate who has the best chance of beating Obama, while only 44% favor a candidate who matches their views on the issues. Why this poll gives Peggy comfort is a bit mystifying. Here is Gallup’s “Bottom Line.”
Americans' reluctance to support a Mormon for president has held close to the 20% level since Gallup first measured this in 1967, and long after historical biases against voting for blacks, Catholics, Jews, and women have dwindled.
Currently, 18% of Republicans say they would not vote for their party's nominee if that person happened to be Mormon. This may be less troubling for Romney in the GOP primaries, where the vote could be highly fractured anyway, than in the general election, where -- should he win the Republican nomination -- he would need nearly complete support from Republicans to be competitive with President Obama….
Does anyone seriously believe Romney will get “nearly complete support from Republicans” after adding in his record on health care, abortion, and gay marriage? While it is true that he has held the “correct” positions for a while now, can he convince almost all Republicans that he is true Red? Will the 44%, who prefer a candidate who is unlikely to beat Obama, vote for the candidate who is most likely to beat Obama, because he is most like Obama?
If we slice this poll another way, only 27% of the “strategic voters” think that Romney is the one most likely to beat Obama. Sixteen percent think that Sarah Palin has the best chance, 9% think Cain is the man, 6% favor Santorum, and 4% each for Newt and Bachmann. In other words, according to that poll, about 40% of the Republicans think that a “strange, extreme, or barely qualified” candidate is better strategically than Romney.
I would like to remind Peggy of the town hall meetings which were infected by Tea Baggers in 2009. The “debates” were very close to physical fights. Were any of those people fighting for Romney Care? Under what scenario do these people become Romney supporters in the general election?
Michele Bachmann gave the Tea Party response to Obama’s State of the Union address, because she thinks the author of the Ryan Plan is too moderate. If Romney is the Republican nominee, I see a tea party candidate.