The Better Voters Know Mitt Romney, the Less They Like Him

Today is the day former Massachusetts Governor and failed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is going to announce for the U.S. Senate for the great state of… Utah.

The saga of how Romney carpetbagged his way from Massachusetts to Utah is a subject for another column, but one aspect of his decision to move his political base from Massachusetts to Utah is that the better voters know Mitt Romney, the less they like him.

Romney served but a single term as Governor of Massachusetts, passing on a tough re-election bid to run for President in 2008, when he was defeated in the Republican primaries by Senator John McCain.

Gov. Romney returned to the national scene in 2012 to run a scorched earth campaign against a solid Republican field including conservatives Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum and libertarian-leaning Rep. Ron Paul.

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That there was little enthusiasm for the moderate former Massachusetts Governor at the conservative grassroots of the GOP is not exactly a revelation. However, it is useful to have some objective measures of that lack of grassroots enthusiasm, and the fundraising numbers were certainly one key indicator.

According to a The Washington Post article, through the end of January 2012, Romney raised $63.2 million for his campaign, more than twice as much as the next most successful Republican candidate, Congressman Ron Paul, who had raised $30 million. Gingrich and Santorum trailed raising $18.2 million and $6.7 million respectively.

The Post went on to note this key point; “Paul, Gingrich and Santorum all have raised more than half of their money from small donors. Romney’s campaign, by contrast, has brought in just 12 percent of its total from contributors giving less than $200 at a time.”

If you were looking for some objective measure of who grassroots conservatives favored in the 2012 race for the Republican presidential nomination, the breakdown of major donor versus small donor fundraising is a pretty good one.

The real gem in the Post article was this: Romney raised even less from small donors 2012 than he did during his 2008 effort. In that campaign, 25 percent of his fundraising came from those supporters, according to The Washington Post analysis of federal filings.

Judging by his support from small donors, Romney has never been a favorite of grassroots conservative voters, and the more they saw of him, the less likely they were to give.

The fact that Romney’s small donor support in 2012 was half of what it was in 2008 is further confirmation of a point we made after Rick Santorum’s sweep of the 2012 Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado Republican nominating contests.

In each case Romney’s vote was well down from what he claimed four years earlier, indicating that the more grassroots conservative voters got to know the former Massachusetts Governor, the less they liked him.

Mitt Romney is to Republican politics what the little mechanical moles are to the arcade game Whack-A-Mole; an annoyance that bursts forth according to some malevolent algorithm and the faster you beat it down the quicker it pops back up.

Now Romney has popped-up in the hopes that Utah’s peculiar Republican primary system will anoint him as retiring Senator Orin Hatch’s replacement.

The only thing worse than having Mitt Romney in the Senate would be having Jeb Bush in the Senate, because, post his failed presidential campaign, Romney has been on the wrong or losing side of every public policy debate he has poked his head into.

Exhibit A in the panoply of Romney’s tin-eared out-of-step positions is what he said about Obama’s job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership and economic nationalism in general:

“It probably wouldn’t be a bad rule of thumb to oppose anything President Obama supports,” the failed 2012 candidate wrote, “But Trade Promotion Authority is an exception.”

“TPA is good for America,” Romney wrote to conclude a post on Facebook.

That kind of thinking is – in a nutshell – why Romney lost to Obama and why his old school globalism would be a disaster for the national Republican brand should he have the opportunity to give voice to it in the United States Senate.

It is clear to us that Mitt Romney isn’t running for the Senate to represent the hard-pressed working families of Utah – he’s running to be the anti-Donald Trump. We urge our friends in the Beehive State to get to know the real Mitt Romney before the Utah Republican Convention and to find an alternative candidate more in keeping with the Make America Great Again agenda they voted for in 2016.

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