GOP Voters March To Polls, Dissatisfied

Today the GOP presidential nomination contest is very likely to reach the point of no return, with Mitt Romney poised for a victory in Florida that will make his nomination almost certain. PPP’s final tracking poll of Florida Republicans shows Romney with a solid eight point lead over Gingrich. More significantly, he leads 45-32 among the one-third of voters who have already cast ballots.

But while Republican voters nationally may decide to do what their Establishment instructors have told them to do by “settling” for Mitt, they seem to have all the excitement of a child looking at a serving of broccoli. According to Pew’s occasional assessment of voter “satisfaction” with the president field, only 46% of GOP voters rate their options of candidates as “excellent” or “good,” compared to 51% who call the field “fair” or “poor.”

This finding shows a slight deterioration in voter satisfaction with the field since the last survey earlier this month, and a pretty bad scene as compared to 2008, when at this point 68% of Republican voters had positive opinions of their field.

Democrats should not take too much pleasure in the lukewarm attitudes of Republicans towards their field: lack of excitement is not always directly translatable into ambivalence about voting. As I’ve always said when people focus too heavily on “enthusiasm,” you only get to vote once, and when that threshold is crossed, it doesn’t much matter how you feel about it. All the evidence I’ve seen indicates that in 2012, Republican “base voters” will choke down that broccoli because they really, really want dessert (driving Obama out of the White House). But in the long months before November, you can expect them to whine and complain and make constant demands of their candidates, and their nominee, to make them happier.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.