Joe McCutchen isn’t your average Mitt Romney supporter. When it comes to the Republican front-runner, the seventy-two-year-old former carpet mill owner “is just so fired up, [he] can’t even sleep at night,” and makes sure to wear a campaign sticker on his lapel every day. McCutchen is whatThe Washington Post called one of the “sasquatches of American politics: rumored, hoped-for, so elusive that they can seem imaginary … Mitt Romney’s superfans”—of which only 346 have been found in the wild. Most Romney supporters are a bit more tepid. According to a Gallup poll from March 8-11, only 35 percent of Republicans would vote enthusiastically for Romney. The halfhearted approval for the former Massachusetts governor continues as you move up the echelons of the party—the candidate has only won the endorsement of 91 GOP members of Congress so far. As a result, primary turnout has lagged, a trend that some Republicans fear will translate to the general election.
But things aren’t looking too sunny on the Democratic end, either. The Obama campaign raised $45 million in February. At the same point four years ago, the candidate—who definitely boasted more than 346 superfans—had raised $57 million. It’s unfair to compare President Obama to candidate Obama—running a government just isn’t as sexy as making eloquent promises about how you want to fix government—but the truth remains that the 2012 presidential election isn’t shaping up to be as exciting as the last go-around.
Where the excitement's at is on the congressional front. There are already a few races across the country that have locals fired up, donors throwing money, and party elites scheming. The Massachusetts senate race between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren is an obvious example, but a senate race in Montana has attracted almost $3 million from outsider money. In addition, Tim Kaine and George Allen are drawing up super PAC guidelines for their sure-to-be-expensive Virginia senate race. By the time the presidential race fires up, it may become a sideshow to the high-stakes nail-biters happening across the country that are sure to keep more than one superfan awake at night.
So They Say
“I think their egos are too big ... They’ll fight over who’s going to be top dog.”
—Ron Paul on Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum's fight to overtake Mitt Romney
Daily Meme: Health-Care Horse Race
- Today marked the third and final day of oral arguments before the Supreme Court on the president's health care overhaul law, and if one thing is for certain, it's that no one knows quite what to expect as the outcome.
- Reports from yesterday's arguments—which centered around the controversial mandate—were mixed when it came to Solicitor General Donald Verrilli's performance.
- Dire prognostications led to panicked reactions from the laws' proponents and theories of what might happen should the mandate be struck down.
- Democratic lawmakers said that overturning the law would damage the court's credibility.
- But some are saying that an overturn of the law ultimately wouldn't hurt Obama's chances of winning the election.
- Whether or not the law could stand without the mandate took center stage today, as did the question of whether or not expansions to Medicaid, seen by conservatives as a violation of states rights, would be cut.
- The Wall Street Journal said that the law's Medicaid expansion would "conscript the states into involuntary servitude."
- Though predictions about the court's decision are likely to continue, we'll have to wait until June for a ruling.
What We're Writing
- Matt Corley writes that pundits and journalists should take cues from academics when trying to explain voters' understanding of political issues.
- Paul Waldman notices that it looks like Obama will make it through four years without a major scandal.
What We're Reading
- Frank Rich: "In the political arena, the court’s decision, up or down, is a win-win for Obama and a lose-lose for Romney."
- Molly Redden notices that the Romney campaign and Restore Our Future spending look awfully well-planned.
- Walter Shapiro: "It seems implausible that if re-elected Obama will morph into a cross between Neville Chamberlain and Mahatma Gandhi."
- Molly Ball's verdict on Romney's Leno visit? "Not hilarious. But pretty funny for a politician."
- Not so funny was his joke about his father laying people off.
- Matt Bai investigates whether Obama or Boehner is more to blame for the demise of the debt deal.
- Santorum campaign apparently consists of only five people.
- Newt frames campaign drawdown as new strategy.
- Mitt Romney's 81 new best friends.
Poll of the Day
Barack Obama now leads Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum in the crucial swing states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennslyvania, according to a new Quinnipiac poll.