An increasingly unappealing field

Updated
 
An increasingly unappealing field
An increasingly unappealing field
Pew Research Center

At this point in the nominating process, it stands to reason that Republican voters would start finding the field of candidates more appealing. The presidential hopefuls have been available for nearly a year; GOP voters have gotten to know them and their agendas pretty well; and the various party constituencies should have settled on a favorite by now.

And yet, as the Pew Research Center found, rank-and-file Republicans are finding themselves less satisfied with their presidential choices, not more. As the Pew report, released yesterday, explained, “In fact, more Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters say the GOP field is only fair or poor (52%) than did so in early January (44%).”

In other words, this field of candidates isn’t just unappealing to the party’s own voters; it’s increasingly unappealing.

Or as Paul Begala recently put it, “[W]hen I look at the economy, I think Obama can’t win, but when I look at the Republicans, I think he can’t lose. The economy is starting to get better; the Republicans aren’t.”

This is usually about the time when some on the right – see Douthat, Kristol, et al – begin to argue that there’s still an ever-so-small chance that some “white knight” candidate will come rushing in to save the party. In case this isn’t already obvious, Mitch Daniels and Jeb Bush supporters can forget it: too many filing deadlines have passed, making it “effectively impossible” for a late entrant to have a realistic shot at the nomination.

And what about talk of a brokered/deadlocked Republican convention? That’s not going to happen, either.

There are four candidates left – Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul – and one of them will win the 2012 Republican nomination, whether the party’s voters like it or not.

Update: Kevin Drum asks whether these low ratings are common or unusual. As a point of comparison, at this point four years ago, only 31% of Republican voters considered the GOP presidential field fair or poor. That’s 21 points lower than now, which suggests this field is much less popular with the party.

An increasingly unappealing field

Updated