During election season, political websites will occasionally steal a page from magazines like Cosmo and offer multiple-choice quizzes to help you find your perfect match. The latest one, from Reason.com, is even titled, “Find Your True Love! A quiz to match you to your perfect sweetheart GOP presidential candidate,” and puts a heart-shaped frame around your supposed poli-soul mate at the end.
It goes without saying, of course, that these things are HIGHLY unscientific and fraught with selection bias. Someone at Reason had to choose the statements representing each candidate for each of the nine topics, and there’s bound to be a perspective at play — in this case, a libertarian one. Still, I found my results instructive about the election, in an unexpected way.
My match was, to my surprise, Herman Cain. (I should say that I probably would have been surprised regardless of the result, given that I’m far from making up my mind about the candidates.) The quiz doesn’t tell you which of your chosen statements belong to which candidate, so I had to look at each of the eight profiles — including, for some reason, non-candidate Sarah Palin — and then do a little extra Googling to figure it out.
I found that I’d picked three of Herman Cain’s statements out of the nine topics, and no more than one statement by any other candidate. I’ll spare you the SAT-style reasoning (”If there are nine questions, and eight candidates, and one of the candidates is chosen three times…”) and reveal that those facts mean I didn’t pick a single statement by one particular candidate.
And his name is Mitt Romney.
The topics were wide-ranging: government spending, economic policy, foreign policy, drug war, personal freedom, immigration, education, energy and religion. Somehow, even the likes of Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman found a way to be most appealing to me once. But Romney, still the betting man’s favorite to win the nomination, did not.
I agreed with most of his statements, and only outright disagreed with one or two. I didn’t attempt to rank the statements and come up with some kind of score for each candidate — by the time I thought about it, I already knew the speaker of pretty much each statement, and so the blind-taste-test aspect of the quiz was gone. I’m pretty certain, though, that Romney wouldn’t have finished even close to eighth out of eight.
While I certainly won’t suggest that my results will mirror those of every other conservative, here’s what I do think is true: A lot of conservatives and GOP voters feel essentially the same way about Romney.
They don’t dislike the guy. They don’t find him particularly objectionable, except on perhaps one or two issues.
On the whole, in fact, he may well come closest to representing the majority/plurality of views for the majority/plurality of them. But, for many conservatives or right-leaning independents, he isn’t the No. 1 GOP spokesman on any one issue.
There have been several reasons given for Romney’s inability to pull away from the field and the other candidates’ inability to sink him: Romneycare, his past flip-flops and so on. But we knew about all that before this race began. And yet here is Romney, almost at the one-year-to-go mark: still pulling, on average, between one-sixth and one-fourth of the GOP primary vote in opinion polls…better even in his worst showings than most of the other candidates have been at their best…but unable to salt it away as of yet.
There’s still time to go, and most GOP primary voters haven’t made up their minds — except to know they’ll eventually vote for Anyone But Obama. But as of today, Romney’s best shot seems not to become Mr. Great, just Mr. Good Enough; not Mr. Right, maybe just Mr. Right Now.
– By Kyle Wingfield