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Election Update: Why Are Republicans Not Voting? Will This Be a Negative Election?

Our BIG THINKING friend, Robert de Neufville, wonders why more Republicans aren’t voting in the primaries.  His wondering, of course, is hopeful.  It must mean either that the ferocity of the Republican passion to oust the president has ebbed OR that all the Republican candidates are so lame that none of them are capable of inspiring the enthusiasm required to do said ousting.

It is true that the poll in Florida showed about 40% of those who voted in the Republican primary said they were dissatisfied with the candidates.

It’s also true that the main reason given for voting for Romney is that he is the one who could defeat Obama.  That suggests that the passion to get the guy out still strongly animates Republicans.  But it also suggests, of course, that Romney the man doesn’t rouse up passion. Voting for Romney is a kind of personal discipline now that will get the desired result later.  It’s not so different from safe sex.

Gingrich, of course, inspires too much passion (first of all in himself, gotta hand it to the old guy).  But not enough of it is positive.  And even many who are roused up by him know that that indulging themselves now will spell disaster later.

Another reason for the low turnout is the bizarrely huge number of debates that have absurdly lengthened the campaign.  Robert says that those who Republicans who long for a candidate worthy of their deep devotionsuch as Jindal or Christie or Danielsforget that none of those able governors have been subjected to this long and endlessly demanding vetting process.

The problem with the new vetting process, of course, is that it might be that almost nobody could get through it unscathed.  All those bleepin’ debates strung out over well over a yearand not, as Newt claimed, the mainstream elite mediamight be the reason that hardly any decent and able person would actually enter the race.

Romney may have prevailed (although there’s a small chance February will be the month of the relatively unvetted Santorum) by just hiding himself from us.  We know he’s real rich and all that.  But we rarely get a glimpse of the real guy, and that, more than his flexibility or flip-flopping, might be the key to his sustainability so far and a significant limit to his attractiveness and perhaps to his getting elected in November.

Or perhaps not—the polls have shown Romney and Obama tied for a good number of months now.  It’ll be a close election.

Every time I read a Robert post, I’m impressed by the modesty of Democratic hopes.  To repeat, they’re not hoping for a landslide affirmation of the success of Obama’s progressive policies.  They just hope he’ll look less repulsive and marginally more competent than his Republican opponent.  They’re hoping for a very negative electionone in which the negatives of their guy will be exceeded by the negatives of the other guy.


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