I think it’s safe to assume that there will remain a certain non-trivial segment of the electorate that isn’t so much “for” anything as they are, to put it in plain words, “against President Obama.”
Their numbers will fluctuate some, and their fervor (which is to say, willingness to make noise) is likely to increase as the November 2011 election approaches. Nikki posted a great dissection of the Trumpster’s disdain for Mitt Romney yesterday, and it got me thinking about the GOP’s problem.
Short-term, the most pragmatic of these “anybody but Obama” folks currently star-struck by man with the gravity-and-wind-proof hair will be searching for any hint of a strong candidate on the GOP side, and tending to support whoever they think has the best chance of defeating the incumbent. Donald Trump is the dazzling new celebrity in the game. He’s simply bound to catch their eye, since their hopes aren’t very high.
Romney, on the other hand, the ostensible front-runner, particularly in light of how poorly the two Minnesotans are fairing in the polls in neighboring Iowa (where people are always following politics, both nationally and in this case regionally) and the fact many still dismiss Trump as a novelty candidate more interested in the attention than running for office, seems to lack any real enthusiasm for the campaign at this point. Possibly it’s because he’s trying to figure out how to separate RomneyCare from ObamaCare before really engaging with GOP-leaning voters. He’s taken a few shots, but when the elite GOP message gurus are relying on “I’m not President Obama” that health care reform he passed really works against the former Governor.
Romney’s problem mirrors the chaos in the GOP as they try to woo both voters and money. Romney’s problem isn’t the size of Donald Trump’s hair, business empire, or even ego.Mitt Romney’s health care reform wasn’t unpopular, but his problem is that the strategists triangulating the GOP message decided to go after the President by tying his name to the Affordable Health Care Act: it resonated with some focus groups, and extremism gets noticed, but more importantly at this stage: the large, corporate donors that will open their checkbooks don’t care if the voters at large like, or even understand, the efficiencies, cost-savings, and improvements that moving to a single-payer, inclusive system creates.
No, the big money that opposes President Obama thinks that their “ObamaCare” label is the iconic three-syllable chant that will rally anti-Obama voters enough to help the GOP because it will keep them from thinking about reality. So even if Obama was, in fact, more vulnerable, Romney faces an epic challenge convincing the folks tuned into the GOP message outlets that he’s viable atop the ticket – despite having the best credentials of anybody the GOP has been able to convince to run in what’s likely being seen as a “take one for the team” election cycle while their strategists are already turning to preserving the 2010 gains in lower-level elected offices nationwide.