The Republican base is still not particularly enthusiastic about the field of potential presidential nominees according to Pew Research. From Pew:
In 2008, both Democrats and Republicans grew increasingly satisfied with the quality of the candidates for their party’s nomination as the campaign progressed. By contrast, the continued lackluster ratings offered by Republicans this year track more closely with how Democrats viewed their options in early 2004.
In January of that year, just 47% of Democratic voters felt the field of candidates was excellent or good; as many (47%) said the candidates were only fair or poor.
In the current survey, conservative Republicans and GOP-leaning independents express more positive opinions of the presidential field than do moderates or liberals (56% excellent or good vs. 43%). In January 2008, 70% of conservatives and 64% of moderates and liberals said the GOP candidates as a group were excellent or good.
It is rather remarkable that the GOP wasn’t able to field a better set of candidates. Looking at the raw economic and political indicators, President Obama should be in serious danger of losing in 2012. One would think this would have encouraged better candidates to step forward, but few did. The limited number of candidates that initially seemed acceptable to the GOP on paper, like Rick Perry and Tim Pawlenty, managed to implode quickly.
Looking at this poll I can understand why some rival campaigns call Romney a very weak frontrunner; the attack seems to resonate. Personally though I find this tactic extremely revealing. While it is probably true that Romney is, historically speaking, a weak leading candidate, what does it say about the quality of rival candidacies that this “weak” Romney is still managing to beat them so easily?
It appears Mitt Romney is on track to winning, not because he is a great candidate, but simply because he managed to be the best of a rather pathetic lot.