The winner of tonight’s Iowa GOP caucuses is destined to beat Bob Dole’s record for the lowest amount of support for a winning candidate ever.
No matter who wins Iowa one thing will be perfectly clear, Republican primary voters have never been more unhappy with their options than they are in 2012. All through 2011, the media was trumpeting the enthusiasm among Republicans for the 2012 election. If Republican enthusiasm ever did exist, it has almost certainly been killed by the group of candidates who are battling for their party’s nomination.
The winner of tonight’s Iowa Republican caucuses will finish with 25% of the vote, which will set an Iowa Republican record for the least amount of support for a winning candidate. The previous record holder was Bob Dole in 1996 who won Iowa with 26% of the vote, and we all know what happened to Dole the following November.
In 2008, Mike Huckabee won with 34% of the vote. In 2000, George W. Bush won with 40.99% of the vote. In contrast, the 2012 winner will have won with a nearly double digit drop in support compared to Huckabee margin, and fifteen points less than Bush. The media is doing their best to try to turn 2012 into some epic battle between Democrats and a revived Republican Party, but the GOP may actually be in worse shape than they were in 2008.
Republicans are no doubt excited to go to the polls to vote against Barack Obama in 2012, but Democrats were even more excited to vote against George W. Bush in 2004. The point is that the excitement caused by the prospect of voting against an incumbent isn’t enough by itself to get a challenger elected. A winning challenger must be able to convince voters that not only should the incumbent not be reelected, but that they would do a better job.
If Republicans can’t find a candidate that can motivate the base to come out and vote for them as well as voting against Obama, the president will win a second term.
No group of voters has seen more of this rag tag bunch of GOP contenders than Republicans in Iowa have, and judging by their reaction tonight there isn’t a true frontrunner or exciting candidate in the bunch.