Romney’s passion deficit

If you listen to “establishment” Republicans the race for the 2012 GOP nomination for president is a done deal. Mitt Romney has had one GOP official after another join the Romney bandwagon, be they governors, congressmen or senators, yet there are many that say, “not so fast.”

Romney in Colorado

Romney is benefitting from an air of inevitability after running for president for more than eight years, building a solid national organization and perhaps the most important credential these days: deep pockets. Yet there are some serious chinks in the ex-Massachusetts governor’s armor, not the least being a significant lack of enthusiasm.

Romney has had strong showings in three states: New Hampshire, Florida and Nevada; however digging into the numbers the lack of passion becomes clear. Turnout in all three Romney wins was less than in 2008.

Registered GOP voters stayed away from the polls in large numbers in New Hampshire (-15 percent from 2008,) Florida (-16 percent) and Nevada (-25 percent.) One interpretation of the numbers may reveal as much about the entire GOP field as it does about Romney. None of the four remaining candidates is stirring the GOP base to come to the polls or caucus sites or the campaigns are doing a poor job of getting out the vote; either case does not bode well for the fall election.

The one exception to the GOP apathy was South Carolina primary where Newt Gingrich won handily and turnout was up 35 percent over 2008.  Gingrich pummeled Romney in the “Palmetto State” however Newt’s Florida campaign buckled to Romney’s $17 million juggernaut.  Romney has money if not passion.

Romney indifference could be Obama’s winning ticket

If the GOP electorate isn’t enamored with Romney they may be buying into the inevitability argument and believe voting for their preferred candidate is fruitless or they simply don’t particularly care for any of the choices. While much of Washington is clamoring to hop on the Romney bandwagon, much of the country is uninspired, Gingrich, Santorum and Paul should be primed to tap into the Romney “malaise,” but with 2 of the 3 splitting the anti-Romney vote Mitt might have a clear path to the nomination

At this point the GOP field is more notable for who is absent than who is present. Calling Mr. Daniels, Mitch Daniels? Mr. Rubio? Mr. Huckabee?

If Romney wins the nomination and the Republican electorate remains apathetic Mr. Obama might just pull off what not so many months ago seemed impossible.