Michigan, Arizona and even Washington (a Romney win, with Paul edging Santorum for second) are now behind us. So, with Ohio being the Big Enchilada on Tuesday, amongst these others:
Alaska Caucuses 27 delegateswe have a just released NBC Marist poll, MoE plus/minus 3.4, with the following:
Georgia Primary 76 delegates
Idaho Caucuses 32 delegates
Massachusetts Primary 41 delegates
North Dakota Caucuses 28 delegates
Ohio Primary 66 delegates
Oklahoma Primary 43 delegates
Tennessee Primary 58 delegates
Vermont Primary 17 delegates
Virginia Primary 49 delegates
Wyoming Caucuses 29 delegates
Rick Santorum 34Note also this Ohio result, .pdf (Obama's lead over Santorum in Ohio is 50-36):
Mitt Romney 32
In Ohio, a majority of likely GOP primary voters view Romney as the Republican candidate with the best chance of defeating President Obama in November. And a plurality sees Santorum as the true conservative in the field and as the candidate who best understands their problems.
What’s more, Santorum performs better with the most conservative voters (Tea Party supporters, evangelical Christians, those describing themselves as “very conservative”), while Romney does better with more moderate voters and those who aren’t Tea Party supporters.
Yet by a 57 to 36 percent margin, these likely GOP primary voters prefer electability over ideology.
As it happens, Obama has an even bigger lead in Virginia (17 over Romney and 22 over Santorum):
Campaigning in Ohio, Rick Santorum pushes social agenda and worries some supportersHe just can't hold himself back.
...Cincinnati-based conservative radio host Bill Cunningham, who like Santorum is Catholic, raised the same concern directly with the candidate during a broadcast Friday.
“When my wife goes to bed at night, and she has rosaries in her hands, I pray as a practicing Roman Catholic you win the presidency,” Cunningham said, suggesting that Santorum’s focus on social issues would limit him to being a “niche candidate” at best. “I want you to win, but I think the tactics you’ve employed are not going to result in victory.”
Santorum fired back that Cunningham was falling victim to the “media hype.”
That leaves us with a guy no one likes (Romney's fav/unfav numbers are 34.4/47.5, meaning that when he hits 50 it'll be a fact that most people don't like him) and a guy with doubts about his social agenda and electability—and that, from Republicans.
Now one question we've asked ourselves repeatedly is why would anyone vote for any of these people? As it turns out, there may be a consistent reason: primaries remove the
Voters care about leadership, trustworthiness, compassion and intelligence, although being too intellectual can hurt a candidate, says political science professor Jon Krosnick of Stanford University. They get hints about that from watching televised debates and campaign events, he said.Bottom line is that most people hate politics and don't pay attention to it unless they have to. Without the D vs R label, it's harder for them to choose.
In fact, debates have become more influential as their number increases and clips show up on YouTube, he said. Some of their punch comes from news media conclusions that a certain candidate performed strongly or weakly, judgments that can sway voters without a strong preference, said John Geer of Vanderbilt University.
Similarly, a poorly known candidate can pick up support by winning primaries, because that attracts news coverage, usually positive, Geer said.
Still, as this ABC News report notes (Analysis: Why Are GOP Primaries Such a Mess?), there have been enough counting errors (see Iowa and Maine), messed up caucuses, ineligibilities due to lack of candidates filing on deadline (see Virginia) ans infighting as to timing of primaries (with final delegate counts to be determined at a later date), that it's nearly impossible for the average voters to keep track of what's going on, other than to get a sense of a Republican party in disarray.
That makes debate and primary night news coverage (see Super Tuesday) more important than ever. Voters need something, some visual, some piece of knowledge, to choose between, for example, the Republican conservative, the Republican conservative, and, in third place, the other Republican conservative. It's what makes the idea of gaining momentum from a win semi-real, although this year, bumps haven't lasted long.
And that makes coverage of Santorum's 13th century values all the more important. If the only thing you know about the candidates is that Mitt is rich, and Santorum thinks you're damned, well, that's a helluva choice to make on Tuesday.
“This is a very unhappy Republican electorate,” [Marist polling director Lee] Miringoff says.Given the above, maybe it's no wonder Ohio is close between Republicans and not close between Obama and the opposition. Obama's hitting his 2008 numbers, whereas the GOP vote has not yet coalesced. It will, and these leads will shrink.
Still, I'd rather be in Obama's position. As it happens, voters actually like him. That's more than can be said about his opponents.