Despite Stumbles, Most Expect Mitt Romney to be GOP Nominee
While he has stumbled in February with a series of losses and is facing a close battle to win Michigan on Tuesday, most voters continue to think that Mitt Romney will emerge with the Republican nomination, according to a poll released by Rasmussen Reports on Tuesday.
In the national poll of likely voters, 54 percent of those surveyed think that Romney will go on to win the nomination. Rick Santorum is the second choice, with 24 percent thinking he will be the GOP nominee.
The poll of 1,000 likely voters was taken Feb. 24-25 and had a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.
Looking back at their history, Republicans have generally had smoother contests for their nomination than the Democrats have. There are some exceptions, of course -- 1860, 1876, 1880, 1884, 1888, 1912, 1920, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976 -- but generally the Republicans quickly rally behind a front-runner.
This election cycle has already proven to be different as a procession of conservative challengers to Romney emerged and most of them have faded. Despite all of the upheaval, Romney remains the likely nominee. But a loss in Michigan -- a state he handily carried in 2008 over John McCain in the primaries -- means all bets are off. A loss in Michigan could be compounded by a series of states where he would be likely to lose on March 6 -- Georgia, Ohio and Tennessee, for example -- and Romney would essentially be forced to run the table or win the nomination at the August convention in Tampa.
Romney’s troubles also show the impact the tea party movement is having in shaping the GOP. In 2008, Romney stood as the conservative alternative to the likes of McCain and Rudy Giuliani and even Mike Huckabee, who was more of a populist on economic issues. It tells you something that Romney is having problems closing the deal with conservatives four years later -- conservative voters' change since 2008 and the tea party movement (and of course the nation’s continuing economic woes and Obama’s presidency) is a large factor as to why.