by Frank Schnittger
Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 07:10:51 PM EST
In The Political Paradox of US conservatism I argued that whenever Romney looked like tying up the Republican nomination, some other more conservative candidate popped up to steal the lead. First it was Sarah Palin, then Michelle Bachmann, then Rick Perry, then Herman Cain and then Newt Gingrich who led the polls. And then Rick Santorum appeared from almost nowhere to win the first caucus in Iowa. Romney recovered to win New Hampshire but was then trounced by Newt Gingrich in South Carolina. Romney then won Florida and Nevada only to be trounced by Santorum in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado.
For all his money, organisation, endorsements and establishment support, the Republican base just can't get to like Romney. Next up is Michigan, which is unlikely to vote Romney (even though his father was a popular Governor there). The reason? Romney's New Yourk Times' Op ed piece "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" is unlikely to play well there even amongst conservative GOP voters. Clint Eastwood's "Half time in America " ad during the Superbowl final couldn't have come at a worse time for Romney. Eastwood, a lifetime Republican voter, didn't explicitly endorse Obama. But he sure endorsed Obama's message that the Auto bail-out worked.
So as Romney, Gingrich and Santorum continue to savage one other with attack ads containing accusations so negative that even Democrats haven't dared to throw at their Republican opponents there has been one clear winner to date: Barack Obama.
Ever since the GOP primaries got going in earnest, Obama's rating has been moving upwards from a near 50:50 favourable/unfavourable rating last Autumn/Fall:
Even his job approval numbers are nearly back to 50:50
Even on the economy, Obama's Achilles heel to date, Obama's numbers are improving as good employment numbers over the past few months are finally putting a dent in the unemployment rate:
Obama has always out-polled Gingrich by a steady 10%, but now his generally slender lead over Romney has widened to over 5%. There's a long way to go until November, but to date Obama has been the resounding winner of the GOP primary process. It would have been difficult for Democrats to have dreamed up a more enticing scenario than having almost equally strong/weak Republican contenders tear strips off one another (and spending huge amounts of cash) all the way to the Republican convention in August. Indeed, if the economy continues to improve, Obama could soon become unbeatable and the prospect of a Democratic victory in the Congressional elections also becomes a distinct possibility.
P.S. the charts above are dynamic and are being updated every time you load this page. Consequently the (static) narrative text may not always be an accurate commentary on the charts. Even in the short time since I published this diary, Obama's relative position has improved further.