Mitt Romney was a moderate governor in Massachusetts with an unimpressive record of governance, who left office with an approval rating in the thirties, and whose signature achievement was a Hurricane Katrina style disaster for the state. Since that's the case, it's fair to ask what a Republican who's not conservative and can't even carry his own state brings to the table for GOP primary voters. The answer is always the same; Mitt Romney is supposed to be "the most electable" candidate. This is a baffling argument because many people just seem to assume it's true, despite the plethora of evidence to the contrary.
1) People just don't like Mitt Romney: The entire GOP primary process so far has consisted of Republican voters desperately trying to find an alternative to Mitt Romney. Doesn't it say something that GOP primary voters have, at one time or another, preferred Donald Trump, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, and now even Ron Paul (In Iowa) to Mitt Romney?
To some people, this is a plus. They think that if conservatives don't like Mitt Romney, that means moderates will like him. This misunderstands how the process of attracting independent voters works in a presidential race. While it's true the swayable moderates don't want to support a candidate they view as an extremist, they also don't just automatically gravitate towards the most "moderate" candidate. To the contrary, independent voters tend to be moved by the excitement of the candidate's base (See John McCain vs. Barack Obama for an example of how this works). This is how a very conservative candidate like Ronald Reagan could win landslide victories. He avoided being labeled an extremist as Goldwater was, yet his supporters were incredibly enthusiastic and moderates responded to it.
2) He's a proven political loser: There's a reason Mitt Romney has been able to say that he's "not career politician." It's because he's not very good at politics. He lost to Ted Kennedy in 1994. Although he did win the governorship of Massachussetts in 2002, he did it without cracking 50% of vote. Worse yet, he left office as the 48th most popular governor in America and would have lost if he had run again in 2006. Then, to top that off, he failed to capture the GOP nomination in 2008. This time around, despite having almost every advantage over what many people consider to be a weak field of candidates, Romney is still desperately struggling. Choosing Romney as the GOP nominee after running up that sort of track record would be like promoting a first baseman hitting .225 in AAA to the majors.
3) He'll run weak in the Southern States: Barack Obama won North Carolina, Virginia, & Florida in 2008 and you can be sure that Obama will be targeting all three of those states again. This is a problem for Romney because he would certainly be less likely than either Gingrich or Perry to carry any of those states. Moderate Northern Republicans have consistently performed poorly in the South and Romney won't be any exception. That was certainly the case in 2008 when both McCain and Huckabee dominated Romney in primaries across the South. Mitt didn't win a single primary in a Southern state and although he finished second in Florida, he wasn't even competitive in North Carolina or Virgina. Since losing any one of those states could be enough to hand the election to Obama in a close race, Mitt's weakness there is no small matter.
4) All of Mitt's primary advantages disappear in a general election: It's actually amazing that Mitt Romney isn't lapping the whole field by 50 points because he has every advantage. Mitt has been running for President longer than the other contenders. He has more money and a better organization than the other candidates. The party establishment and inside the beltway media is firmly in his corner. That's why the other contenders have been absolutely savaged while Romney, like John McCain before him, has been allowed to skate through the primaries without receiving serious scrutiny.
If you took all those advantages away from Romney in the GOP primary, he'd be fighting with Jon Huntsman for last place. So, what happens when if he's the nominee and suddenly, all the pillars that have barely kept him propped up in SECOND place so far are suddenly removed? It may not be pretty.
5) Bain Capital: Mitt Romney became rich working for Bain Capital. This has been a plus for Romney in the Republican primaries, where the grassroots tends to be dominated by people who love capitalism and the free market. However, in a year when Obama will be running a populist campaign and Occupy Wall Street is demonizing the "1%," Mitt Romney will be a TAILOR MADE villain for them. Did you know that Bain Capital gutted companies and made a lot of money, in part, by putting a lot of poor and middle class Americans out-of-work? Do you know that Bain Capital got a federal bailout and Mitt Romney made lots of money off of it?
“The way the company was rescued was with a federal bailout of $10 million,” the ad says. “The rest of us had to absorb the loss … Romney? He and others made $4 million in this deal. … Mitt Romney: Maybe he’s just against government when it helps working men and women.”
The facts of the Bain & Co. turnaround are a little more complicated, but a Boston Globe report from 1994 confirms that Bain saw several million dollars in loans forgiven by the FDIC, which had taken over Bain’s failed creditor, the Bank of New England.
They show pictures of dilapidated, long since closed factories. They trot out scruffy looking workers talking about how bad life has been since Mitt Romney crushed their dreams and cost them their jobs. Then they show a clip of Mitt making his $10,000 bet and posing with money in his clothes.
6) The Mormon Factor: More than 40 percent of Americans would be uncomfortable with a Mormon as president, according to a new survey that also suggests that as more white evangelical voters have learned White House hopeful Mitt Romney is Mormon, the less they like him.
You should also keep in mind that if Mitt Romney gets the nomination, Hollywood and the mainstream media will conduct a vicious, months long hate campaign against the Mormon church.
7) He's a flip-flopper. Is it just me or didn't George Bush beat John Kerry's brains in with the "flip flopper" charge back in 2004? So now, just eight years later, the GOP is going to run someone that even our own side agrees is a flip-flopper right out of the gate?
There are lot of issues with trying to run a candidate who doesn't seem to have any core principles. It makes it impossible for his supporters to get excited about him, because you can't fall in love with a weathervane. It also makes hard for independents to take anything he says on faith. Additionally, since politicians tend to be such liars anyway and you know Romney has no firm beliefs, it's very easy for everyone to assume the worst. Democrats will assume Romney will be a right wing deathbeast. Republicans will assume that Romney will screw them over. Independents won't know what to believe, which will make the hundreds of millions that Obama will spend on attack ads particularly effective. Ronald Reagan famously said the GOP needed "a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors." That's particularly relevant when it comes to Mitt Romney, who has proven to be a pasty, grey pile of formless mush.