Why Doesn't Anyone Like Mitt Romney?

Poor Mitt Romney. Our former governor has been running for president since 2007, but can’t get more than one-quarter of Republican voters to actually want to vote for him. Poll after poll show his support hovering around 22 percent, which puts him above his challengers, but just barely. At various times during the race, the fickle GOP voters have jumped from Newt Gingrich to Michele Bachmann to Rick Perry and now to Herman Cain, desperate to find someone who is not Mitt Romney. Perry even held a lead for much of August and September, before performing poorly in a few debates and dropping like a rock at his family’s hunting camp. Romney, meanwhile, has trudged along, smiling away, acting like a total pro on the campaign trail and at the debates. Tomorrow night at the GOP debate at Dartmouth, he’s hoping to cement his lead in one of the few states that actually likes him, New Hampshire.

So, why is the rest of the Republican party struggling to line up behind Romney? Is it is Mormon faith? (A recent CBS poll showed that 42 percent of white evangelicals said people they know wouldn’t vote for a Mormon.) Is it his history of flip-flopping on issues dear to GOP voters, including abortion, gays in the military, gun control, health care, or immigration? Is it because he looks too much like a presidential action figure, complete with brushed in gray streaks on his temples? Is it the fact that Saturday Night Live is already having a field day with his inherent boring nature? Or is it just because he was the governor of a state in the dreaded, liberal Northeast? No one seems to know why.

Still, a Romney nomination has the feeling of inevitability. Intrade, a betting exchange that speculates on political races, has his likelihood of winning the GOP primary at 61 percent. The gamblers are behind Romney for good reason: He’s raised a substantial campaign war chest on top of his own personal wealth. He has the Republican party establishment in his pocket. And he has a strong business background in a time when the economy is still struggling. Eventually, Intrade expects, enough Republican voters will hold their noses and vote for him, because he’s better than the other GOP alternatives. And clearly, if you’re a conservative voter, Romney is going to be much better than Barack Obama.

In a way, Mitt Romney reminds me of another Massachusetts politician who ran for president not too long ago. At the time, he was accused of being too patrician, of being too liberal, of flip-flopping too much. He eventually won his party’s nomination. Yup. I’m talking about John Kerry.