As the Republican presidential candidates head into the crucial Super Tuesday primaries, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that the long, nasty battle for the GOP nomination has had a "corrosive" effect on the party and its candidates. Forty percent of respondents said the primary season has left them with a less favorable impression of the GOP, while only 10 percent said the campaign has improved the party's image. Seventy percent of those surveyed — including a majority of Republicans — used negative terms such as "painful" and "uninspiring" to describe the nominating fight. How badly has the drawn-out process affected the GOP's chances in November?
The ugly campaign is dooming the GOP: This poll should give Republicans "heartburn," says Steve Benen at The Maddow Blog. Their candidates — especially the likely nominee, Mitt Romney — are steadily falling in the estimation of the public. President Obama has far higher favorability ratings than Romney and the gap is widening as the economy improves. "If that doesn't make Republicans nervous, they're not paying close enough attention."
"GOP process takes a 'corrosive' toll"
Republicans have time to turn it around: Don't listen to "those who consider the GOP's goose already cooked," says Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post. Soon Romney will probably emerge as the "presumptive nominee," and he'll have plenty of time to turn things to his advantage. With unemployment still high, Obama is going to have to defend a "shaky economic record," and Romney "will appear forceful, calm and entirely credible as a replacement."
"Path to the nomination"
After Super Tuesday we can assess the damage: It's too early to say that the primary slugfest is "hopelessly damaging the party's chances against President Obama," says Donald Douglas at American Power. The GOP chose to "test their candidates with a longer, more grueling campaign" by spreading out the big primaries, so it's hardly surprising that nobody has clinched the nomination yet. But Super Tuesday should be a game-changer, and "if Romney's not wrapping things up" by Tuesday night, then it's time for the GOP to start worrying.
"Will Super Tuesday put Republicans at ease?"