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Republicans against Mitt Romney are doing Obama campaign's work

Murraypatrick120909_optBY PATRICK MURRAY
COMMENTARY 

[Acknowledgements: The data for this analysis was made available by NBC News, where I was an exit poll analyst on primary night.]

Mitt Romney pulled off something no non-incumbent presidential candidate has done before: won both Iowa and New Hampshire. Victories in South Carolina and, more importantly, Florida could pretty much set the seal on this year’s GOP contest.

However, the New Hampshire exit poll indicates some potential challenges that lie ahead if Romney does indeed emerge as President Barack Obama’s opponent.

The first challenge is rallying the base behind him. The good news: two-thirds (66 percent) of New Hampshire GOP voters said they were satisfied with their choice of candidates. Back in 1996, when Republicans were preparing to take on President Bill Clinton, fewer – 54 percent – said they were satisfied with the field.

The bad news: 6-in-10 Republican primary participants voted for someone other than Romney. And as reported on MSNBC last night, 55 percent of those voters said they would be dissatisfied if Romney ended up the nominee. [As a side note, many more Romney supporters would be upset if their guy lost the nomination to Rick Santorum (60 percent), Newt Gingrich (64 percent), or Ron Paul (72 percent).]

This is not particularly unusual since the competition is still active. Partisans tend to get behind their nominee after the dust settles. The real issue is whether less resolute Republicans – i.e. libertarian-minded voters – will do the same. According to the exit poll, the problem may not be winning over supporters of Gingrich, Santorum & co – these voters are about evenly divided on whether they would be happy with a Romney nomination. The bigger challenge would be convincing Paul voters, 68% of whom who would be dissatisfied if Romney was the Republican standard bearer. The threat of a libertarian third party candidate poses real trouble.

One positive sign for Romney is that he did well among independent voters in New Hampshire. This group was larger than in past contests. A whopping 44 percent of voters on Tuesday said they were registered independent – or undeclared as it is called in New Hampshire. In 2008, this group’s share of the Republican primary vote was lower at 34 percent. And before anyone claims that this is because many independents voted in the Democratic primary last time around, note that undeclared voters made up just 27% of the New Hampshire GOP primary electorate in 1996 when the Democratic primary was uncontested.

It’s important to remember that independents who vote in a Republican primary – no matter how large a group they may be – are not representative of independent voters in a general election. It is still good news for Romney, though, that he did well among these non-partisans – getting 32 percent of their vote to 30 percent for Paul. In Iowa, Paul won the self-identified independent vote outright at 43 percent.



 
Comments (1)
The candidate must be able to sway people's hearts and minds and not be riddled with controversy in order to win a general election. Good competition in the primaries exposes these short comings before it is too late and the two party competition is in full swing.

Furthermore, this article is in direct opposition to free choice, speech and reason based democratic process. Instead it supports mass psychology based propaganda, i.e. "we have to beat the evil Democrats at all cost." This policy is especially abhorrent as both sides tend to bow towards corporate interest groups and lobbyists. When you vote on a candidate you should believe in what they say and agree with their standings (at least what you consider to be the most important ones) and you should find out in what ways they may be both lying to you and if they truly believe what they say. You're sole goal should not be to defeat an opponent of which you know little about. That is exactly what democracy is NOT about. It is this kind of reasoning that had led us to the previous elections where each person is merely trying to choose the lesser of two evils based on trivial statements that will have little to no impact on the economy, our freedoms and war (such as religious views, abortion, stem cell research, etc.). We should be focusing on the obvious problems we are facing, such as the untenable debt, war on two fronts, the loss of our civil liberties (2011 NDAA, NAFTA, Patriot Act), the control of politicians through corporations via the Citizens United Decision and the fact that rich corporations of our country can commit the most heinous of economic crimes and go unpunished. In fact the cutting of the SEC budget (who's revenue comes solely from collecting fines on Wall Street and thus has nothing to do with the general budget) has only served to make Wall Street more powerful.

We are supposed to discuss the issues in a reasonable, logical manner, free from Soviet Union Style/big brother propaganda, which aims to distort reality in order to concentrate the power in the hands of the few, rather than the masses. The reason we created a system of free speech and political competition is to allow the most sensible person to rise to the top. Votes for Mitt Romney are votes for rich interest groups and corporate America, not for a Republican or Democratic Party. Besides, Mitt Romney is hardly a Republican by any traditional meaning of the word. He, as well as Santorum, is for big government and spending, just like Obama! I thought that was exactly what the Republican party purported to oppose. It is as if George Bush showed Republicans they can get filthy rich off of big government and drastically increase their stranglehold on the American people and the party has fundamentally changed.
Furthermore, Romney is of the ludicrous opinion that corporations are people and is guilty of the typical corporate restructuring acts which aim to cut the bottom line at the sacrifice of longer term goals of customer satisfaction and employee-employer relationships for short term profits, making him smell like roses while the company slowly rots away.

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