UPDATE 12:45: Fresh numbers out of Rasmussen:
A 10-point lead is impressive, but Romney below 40% may be the telling number. And again, that’s from Rasmussen.
In a normal presidential political cycle, fatally flawed politicians such as Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum would not be viable candidates for a major-party nomination this late in the process. So what explains their continued presence, not to mention Santorum’s current status as a fragile frontrunner in the polls?
In effect, they are filling a large and growing vacuum, as the latest Purple Poll documents in startling fashion. The poll surveys voters in 12 swing, or purple, states* that are expected to decide the 2012 election, and the telling numbers are in the table to the right.
Look at the favorability numbers for the supposedly inevitable GOP nominee, Mitt Romney. Just 27 percent view him favorably, while 57 percent view him unfavorably. Again, these are the states likely to decide the outcome in November. And while Romney’s favorable numbers have dropped by 5 points since September, his unfavorable numbers have jumped by 18 points, a swing of 23 points.
Even within his own party, Romney isn’t doing well. As the Purple Poll report points out, “Among Republican voters, the results are dramatic: Santorum is much better liked (58%/24%) than is Romney (42%/41%).”
That’s pretty amazing, and it’s hard to imagine a means of reversing that trend. In fact, the data suggest that Romney may be trapped in a political death spiral. As his numbers drop, they give Santorum and Gingrich continuing reason to keep the campaign going. And the longer the GOP contest goes on, the longer Romney’s collapse continues.
The poll also shows some problems for President Obama — these are, after all, swing states. But to a candidate such as Romney, whose prime attribute is his supposed electability, its findings strike very close to home.
– Jay Bookman
*Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.