Gov. Romney’s entire campaign pitch is, “Sure, I’m boring, vacuous, and not particularly conservative, but I have business experience that will appeal to independents, and I’m electable, so I can win in November.”
News flash: Now that independent voters have gotten to know him, Gov. Romney is now losing to Pres. Obama by six points in polling (51% to 45%). His favorability ratings have tanked since New Hampshire, and he is now running with a net favorability rating of minus-18. This number is getting worse, which is incredible, and it is getting worse the fastest among the independent voters he is supposed to be able to carry. Only Gingrich’s electability numbers are worse.
Compare this to Sen. Santorum’s favorability, since he is famously supposed to be the guy whom social conservatives love but can’t possibly get elected president. Santorum’s favorability sits at minus-6, about the same as President Obama’s. Santorum’s number is slowly but steadily improving as he becomes better known, especially among working-class independents — that is, the guys Romney needs to pick off from the Democrats to win November, who happen the guys who hate Romney the most. Romney’s strength is in the coastal states, which Republicans are not going to carry in the fall anyway. Santorum is strong in the Midwest, where Republicans must win in order to reach 270 electoral votes, and there is good reason to believe he can deliver the critical, high-EV states of Ohio and Pennsylvania.
(In fairness, Romney may be able to bring home Michigan and Nevada, and just proved he can perform in Florida.)
The “hold your nose and caucus for the electable one” conventional wisdom was wrong on Bob Dole, wrong on John Kerry, wrong on McCain, and it is looking particularly wrong on Romney. Right now, Santorum seems most electable, but even Ron Paul is doing better on the basic favorability ratings than Gov. Romney.
Vote the guy you’d actually want to see running the nation. Trust the American people to come around to your point of view.