(Week of 4/7/2012) As former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum suspended his campaign Tuesday, he admitted that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was the only remaining Republican presidential candidate who could gather enough delegates to clinch the nomination. Republican voters may be getting used to this.
In the last week, before Santorum dropped out of the race, but after Romney’s triple primary victories in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Wisconsin, Romney’s lead over former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum jumped from three points to 18 points in the Economist/YouGov Poll. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who also admits that Romney is the party’s likely nominee, trails badly, behind Texas Congressman Ron Paul.
Romney also holds a 16-point lead over Santorum when the two are matched head-to-head. Last week, the two were even.
While Republican voters are less willing to support Romney’s GOP opponents now, that doesn’t mean they are any more enthusiastic about the prospect of Romney’s nomination. Just 11% say they are excited about Romney as their party’s nominee. It may be more that many simply want the race to end. This week, even before Santorum’s announcement, 38% said all the other candidates should drop out now, leaving Romney to focus on the general election. Last week, just 26% thought this. However, 37% — nearly as many as last week — believed all candidates should stay in until someone has enough delegates to clinch the nomination.
Most Republicans voters (66%) say Romney cares about people like them, but even more (89%) say he cares about the wealthy. Another Romney weakness remains the perception—even among GOP voters—that he does not hold fast to his views or even express what they really are. 46% of GOP voters think Romney does not take positions on issues "and sticks by them;" just 37% think Romney "says what he really believes."
Romney is still not seen as a conservative by his very conservative party. Just 36% of GOP voters see him that way.
Romney will have to win over is the 42% who favor Santorum over Romney when the two are matched head-to-head. 60% of them are dissatisfied or angry that Romney will be the nominee (though most are more dissatisfied than angry). Most of the non-Romney supporters have doubts about Romney’s authenticity (73% think he says mainly what he thinks people want to hear) and about his conservatism (only 18% think he is a conservative).
Photo source: Press Association