taunch conservatives have long been openly skeptical of Mitt Romney, viewing him as a suspicious moderate. But now that the former Massachusetts governor has essentially wrapped up the Republican presidential nomination, the base appears to be rallying behind him. Romney is suddenly receiving standing ovations from Tea Partiers, and a new ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 80 percent of conservative Republicans claim to have a favorable view of him — his best showing ever with the base. Can Romney stop worrying about winning over disgruntled conservatives?
Yes. The base now has Romney's back: Doomsayers who warned that the "poisonous" primaries would weaken the GOP nominee got it wrong, says Donald Lambro at The Washington Times. A Gallup tracking poll finds that Romney has as much support on the Right — 90 percent — as President Obama has on the Left. "So much for a divided party." The reality is that "no matter how fiercely and bitterly the warring factions battle" in presidential primaries, they always set aside their feuds once they have a nominee.
"Restless Republicans turn to Romney"
But conservatives still don't love Romney: Like Democrat John Kerry in 2004, the base of Romney's party "has never — and will never — love him," says Chris Cillizza at The Washington Post. Romney's favorability ratings are lower than Kerry's were, and look what happened to him. Republicans settled for Romney because they think he has the best chance of beating Obama. But settling is one thing — being truly excited is another. Much of the political world still doubts that Mitt can fire up the base to turn out in sufficiently large numbers in November.
"Mitt Romney 2012 = John Kerry 2004?"
Conservatives are the least of Romney's worries: With the bitter primary fight in his rearview mirror, Romney can finally stop fretting about conservatives, says Michael Falcone at ABC News. "But his bigger problems remain with independents and women." He's underwater among independents, and just 27 percent of women see him in a positive light, compared to 58 percent for Obama. The race still looks like a "dead heat" — but Romney has to broaden his appeal to win.
"Mitt Romney's favorability gap"
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