Romney’s floor

Interesting post from Nate Cohn that suggests Romney should probably be able to pull off 45% or so no matter what, so it’s not like we should really expect to see his poll numbers drop no matter how much he screws up (and, he sure has been):

If Romney was above 50 percent and withstood a month of bad press, that would be a real sign of resilience. But Romney’s not at 50 percent; he’s at 45 percent. And that essentially means that Romney holds the reliably Republican vote, and not very much more. The polls tell us that nearly all of these voters disapprove of Obama’s performance and that most are Republicans or Republican-leaning independents. History suggests that they have voted for Republicans in recent elections—for instance, in 2008, McCain won 45.9 percent of the vote in a hostile political climate.  So 45 percent is a logical floor for Romney, given the intensity of Republican opposition to Obama. For that same reason, analysts shouldn’t be too impressed with Romney’s gains until he consistently scores above 45 or 46 percent, which would be a sign of persuading undecided voters rather than consolidating natural supporters.

Should Obama supporters be concerned that Romney’s horse-race numbers aren’t diving? Probably not. With a unified GOP-base committed to replacing President Obama, it will take something pretty extraordinary to get Romney’s numbers to fall beneath 45 percent. But the factors allowing Romney to hold firm at 45 do not necessarily ensure an easy route to 50.

He doesn’t have an “easy” route to 50, but a stagnating economy is certainly a good one.  Again, there’s no reason at this point to think this will be anything but a very close election.  That said, I think with a better Republican candidate we’d actually be looking at the Republican having a small, but clear advantage at this point.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

One Response to Romney’s floor

  1. itchy says:

    “I think with a better Republican candidate we’d actually be looking at the Republican having a small, but clear advantage at this point.”

    Of course, this says more about the Republican field of candidates than Romney.

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