The initial reviews of this year’s Republican nominating process have been mixed at best. Designed to prevent a rush to judgment, rules changes for 2012 have produced the longest-running GOP primary campaign since 1976. The contest has been too long and too divisive in the view of many political observers, giving party rules makers plenty to think about when they proceed at their convention this summer to either tweak or totally overhaul their nominating rules for 2016.
Unlike some of his Republican rivals, Mitt Romney has spent little time this year comparing himself to Ronald Reagan. But when it comes to their pursuit of the Republican presidential nomination, similarities abound.
One of Mitt Romney’s basic arguments these days is that he is well ahead of his Republican presidential rivals in both the number of delegates and popular votes won. That is true. But if he goes on to win his party’s nomination, it is likely to be with the lowest share of the nationwide GOP primary vote since the era of the primary-dominated nominating process began in the 1970s.
In Republican voting so far this year, it has been evident that Mitt Romney can draw votes in metropolitan areas with their large numbers of well-off, well educated voters. But the Republican front-runner has struggled mightily in many states to win votes in rural areas and small towns, Main Street America if you will.
Money, organization and ideology all play major roles in determining primary and caucus outcomes. But the often underestimated act of physically campaigning in a state can be a significant factor as well.