Are Republican Voters Suicidal?

As I noted in my earlier post, the latest poll from the Detroit News shows Rick Santorum leading Mitt Romney by four points among likely Michigan primary voters, this depite the fact that Romney clearly beats Santorum in the areas that one would think actually matter to voters:

Romney was four points behind with Santorum even though far more voters believe he’s a better leader than Santorum (38 percent to 15.8 percent) and more likely to beat President Barack Obama (42.2 percent to 18.4 percent).

Results like this aren’t surprising to see in the early stages of a primary fight when voters are still feeling candidates out and are more likely to back the candidate that they agree with most rather the one that could best represent the party in November. But that’s not where we are right now. We are nearly two months into the voting stage of this race, Super Tuesday is three weeks away and the race has narrowed down from nine candidate to four. Still, Republican voters seem more concerned about ideological purity, even though their own responses show that they know that their “pure” candidate isn’t likely to win in November.

I don’t get it.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Al says:

    I’m voting for him in the California primaries, for whatever that’s worth. That said, I see him more as a self destruct button than a candidate.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Still, Republican voters seem more concerned about ideological purity, even though their own responses show that they know that their “pure” candidate isn’t likely to win in November.

    I don’t get it.

    Doug, they are Republicans. Get it now?

  3. Hey Norm says:

    If I was a registered Republican my calculus would be: We ain’t winning no way, no how, so I might as well vote my heart and not my brain.

  4. MBunge says:

    Mitt Romney is a terrible politician. He’s not a conservative. Even the dimmest of Republicans have to be catching on that his campaign is amazingly vacuous and Romney lies like a rug. He’s also a multi-millionaire Wall Street executive who seems to think the only problem is how jealous everyone is of his success.

    Is it really hard to fathom why GOP primary voters really don’t want to vote for him?


  5. Mark says:

    I’m sorry but the GOP has been suicidal for sometime. Honestly, none of this primary season has been much of a surprise. It’s been a race to get to the most extreme position on the right for every issue for YEARS. Why should this come as a shock? We’ve all seen it. Is there anyone in the GOP that is brave enough to say “Stop it! Enough is enough?” If there is that person, I haven’t seen ’em.

  6. Hey Norm says:

    And if I lived in Michigan I sure as hell wouldn’t vote for any pin-head who would have let the auto industry collapse:

    “…given the panic that gripped private purse-strings…it is more likely that GM would have been liquidated, sending a cascade of destruction through the supply chain on which its rivals, too, depended…”

  7. Brummagem Joe says:

    Actually Santorum only polls marginally worse against Obama than Romney. I think a lot of Republicans in their gut know Obama is likely to be re-elected so they are going vote their gut rather than what some political operative in Washington tells them to do. Lurk at a few of these Republican sites and the combination of despair and sheer anger is at 8 on the Richter.

  8. Hey Norm says:

    “…Lurk at a few of these Republican sites…”

    Seems like a painful thing to subject yourself too.
    Isn’t the occasional appearance of Eric F. and Drew and Bandit and Manning enough for you?
    You can get prefessional help you know…

  9. Hey Norm says:

    Republicans in Congress and those riding in the Clown Car bet against America. They staked a position in which if America lost they won. Today it looks like they lost their bet. Suicide is the best way out for them.

  10. Patriot Act says:

    Contrary to Romney and the news media’s lies, Santorum is a strong fiscal conservative, which any sane republican should be for. Except for national security, this should be their top consideration.

    Romney is awful on pretty much all counts. The fact that the mainstream media has been treating Romney with kid gloves since day one should tell you all you need to know — the leftists want him as the candidate because they know that he’ll be the easiest to beat. Just like with McCain, they try to convince us that only a “moderate” can win.

    If Romney gets the nomination, they will pull out all the stops, crank up the class hatred for being so rich, not to mention the anti-Mormon hatred. Not a whisper about his religion right now, but just wait.

  11. Ron Beasley says:

    I don’t think it has anything to do with suicide. The Republican base lives in a bubble, I call it the FOX bubble. They actually think that a majority of Americans support their craziness. You actually see the same thing going on with Republican lawmakers and the contraception issue. If you watched FOX you would think that the contraception issue is a political disaster for Obama and the Democrats when all of the polling indicates it’s a wash or even a plus. The FOX bubble.

  12. Ron Beasley says:

    I might add that I still suspect Romney will win but the longer Santorum hangs on the further into the crazy Romney is going to have to go making him increasingly radioactive in the general election.

  13. Hey Norm says:

    In Romney’s “Hometown Michigan” ad the picture of him at the Detroit Car Show is really the NY Worlds Fair…and the Chrysler he is driving was made in Canada.
    I don’t think his heart is in this thing.
    Maybe he found out the President only makes $400K a year.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Patriot Act:

    Doug, I rest my case.

  15. Ron Beasley says:

    @Hey Norm: Good Norm!!!

  16. An Interested Party says:

    What a choice Republicans have: a crank, a sleazebag, a religious nut, and a Thurston Howell III clone who does a really lousy job of talking out of both sides of his mouth…this crew makes the 1984 Democratic presidential field look sterling by comparison…

  17. Jeremy says:

    @Hey Norm:

    There’s a title for a blog post. “Are Republicans Shorting America?”

  18. Jeremy says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    To be fair, I think all political ideologies live in bubbles. The conservatives have their bubbles, the liberals have theirs, and even moderates and we libertarians have our bubbles, though since the libertarian one is much smaller, I think we get a lot more of the outside world in.

    Except for the anarcho-capitalists. We put them on an island.

  19. David says:

    I just don’t get it, 4 years ago, Romney was the conservative choice, now he’s not…

    Santorum’s numbers against the President will drop. His far right social positions are not getting the attention that they will if he gets the nomination. Once those ads start, the swing states will be lost and so will the election.

    Romney vs Obama, moderates will either not show up or split, probably leaning Romney, and then the election will turn on which base gets out and votes. Santorum vs Obama, moderates are more likely to get out to vote and either vote for Obama, or vote against Santorum, and nothing will energize the liberal base than having Santorum in the race.

  20. Kylopod says:

    No, not suicidal. More like lemmings, stupidly walking off a cliff without realizing what they’re doing….

    In seriousness, I think this is an open primary, meaning that Democrats can vote in it. If so, they might be deliberately trying to sabotage the results. I would.

  21. Hey Norm says:

    And then there is Rush Limbaugh telling the faithful not to be “disheartened” by the improving economy. I mean…really? The leader of the party is being that open about shorting America? WTF…

  22. WR says:

    @Patriot Act: Yes, he’s a strong fiscal conservative — unless there’s lobbyist cash on the table for him to scoop up. Then he’s a fighter for forced abortion, sex slavery, and tax breaks to dicatorships. Because that money is for his family, man, so it’s clean.

  23. WR says:

    @Jeremy: “libertarians have our bubbles”

    A bubble? Not at all. Not unless you consider a political philosophy that you can only believe if you’ve never actually met a human being a bubble…

  24. Ron Beasley says:

    @Jeremy: @Jeremy: You may be right but we have never seen anything like the FOX bubble before. In the beginning FOX took it’s talking points from the RNC. Today Republican lawmakers take their orders from FOX. FOX may be the top cable news network but the fact is less than 3% of the population watches cable news. What you hear on FOX is a bubble and it is apparent that Republican lawmakers are in that bubble.

  25. Dazedandconfused says:

    They chased all the moderates into the hills in the last cycle. I suspect they won’t come back until they feel it’s safe. Murdock chased them there. I like to think he is wondering “What hath I wrought?” these days.

  26. James says:

    @Ron Beasley: Julian Sanchez has written extensively on the notion of epistemic closure in the conservative sphere.

    I think the debt ceiling crisis really crystallized the extent of it, for me.

  27. Jr says:

    @MBunge: Yup,, the GOP voters get a bad rap(and rightfully so)…..but in this case they are right about Romney.

  28. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Hey Norm: A point on the “cascade effect” of a liquidation: in Korea at the time IIRC, one of the big news items was that Honda, Toyota, and Nissan were projecting a 6-12 month closure of production facilities while they worked on recovering the part system network that would have been lost. Hyundai and Kia were slightly better off because their network is more Korean–they were forecasting an 80% reduction in production for a year followed by a stronger market presence from remaining open at all.

    But as long as the venture capitalists and bondholders get paid, its just creative distruction, right?

  29. Anonne says:

    Results like this aren’t surprising to see in the early stages of a primary fight when voters are still feeling candidates out and are more likely to back the candidate that they agree with most rather the one that could best represent the party in November. But that’s not where we are right now.

    I’m sorry, but from where I stand, Santorum is very representative of the party. Affluent, white, Christian, socially conservative and ultimately delusional. And yet to partisan hacks like bithead, he may not be “conservative enough” so they can use that excuse come November to think that they lost because their candidate wasn’t “conservative enough.”

  30. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Hey Norm:

    You can get prefessional help you know…

    I don’t need it. Nothing has made me laugh so much since those John Cleese Fawlty Towers episodes. It’s a bit like bedlam in the 18th century where the gentry for a consideration paid to the gaolers were allowed in to watch the crazy inmates. Definitely voyeurism but very amusing in the current context.