My experiences during the Florida Primary left me doubting a Republican win for the Presidency. This morning, Romney reassumed his role as the inevitable nominee. Newspapers called it his “Big Win” in Florida. Taking 41% of the vote in the Sunshine state, with a close Iowa and New Hampshire in the bag, his victory in the primaries does look more likely than any of the competing candidates. But a win in the White House might not be in the cards.
Romney took off hi nice-guy face in Florida, throwing himself and all his money into an unabashedly negative campaign. And like my mother says, “You can’t drag someone through the mud unless you’re already down there yourself.” The ads in Florida were brutal and constant, bombarding voters with twists, speculation and outright lies, from all sides.
Palin told Fox News that this kind of campaigning hurts the image of the Republican Party. “A lot of that negativity didn’t paint the party and cause in very attractive colors. I think that hurts the electorate, diminishes the energy to head into a general. Hopefully everybody will start to focus on what is important as we go forward.” It turns off Independents and Republicans alike and gives fuel to the opposition. (Don’t think the Democrats aren’t taking notes.) And it might have been this behavior that will hand Obama the presidency.
Despite Romney’s flaws, before yesterday, I would have said Romney was still electable. In the end, conservatives would vote for whoever had an R behind his name just to get rid of Obama. But this morning, my confidence is badly shaken. As I stood outside my polling location yesterday, I got the first wave of doubt. A group of Gingrich supporters had gathered to wave signs. They confided to me, “I just can’t vote for Mitt.” The reasons varied from his behavior in Florida (a strong contributing factor), to Romneycare, to his inconsistencies as a conservative, to overall electability. They told me they would consider protest voting for an independent or maybe not voting at all. Only a handful responded that they would absolutely vote Republican no matter who won the nomination.
These answers surprised me. But then, after Romeny’s numbers started coming in, I saw the response from my conservative connections online. Paul, Gingrich, Santorum and none-of-the-above supporters slammed my Twitter/Facebook/Blog feeds with anger and resentment. Many of these people came right out and said they would do the same as my sign-waving friends: not vote for Mitt, one way or another. Instead of the Big-Tent Republican feeling, they swore revenge on the Party by refusing to vote for a candidate they couldn’t believe in.
There aren’t numbers on this reaction. The numbers we do have, look like this: Romney won Florida, but over half of voters wouldn’t put him on the ballot. Romney topped at just over 40%. And a little over 50,000 Republicans (about 3%) didn’t even vote for a candidate still officially running. The overall turn out in Florida was depressingly low, with only 40% voting, the majority of Republicans didn’t even bother.
This leads me to believe that Romney’s victory for America looks farfetched and many Republicans will choose to sit at home rather than vote for him. I don’t have a poll to back up this claim, I’m basing it off of what I heard from connections in my town, my state, my organizations and my political party, and what I heard came through loud and clear: “We won’t vote Romney.”
Welcome to another 4 years of Obama; reset 2016.