Frontrunner Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney

Since the beginning of the 2012 election cycle, many Republicans have viewed former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney, as the victor of the party’s primary race and eventual opponent of Barack Obama in the general election this November. With an impressive business record, professionalism on the campaign trail, and high fundraising totals, Romney is seen by many in Washington as the most logical choice to be the Republican nominee once all the dust from the spring primaries has settled. Even Obama, who faces no real competition in the Democratic primaries, began preparing for a showdown with Romney over a year before Election Day.

But for every Republican who believes that Romney is the prime candidate to beat Obama in November, there is another who is skeptical of a Republican ticket with Romney at the top. They note that the former Massachusetts governor has flip-flopped on issues including abortion to immigration and global warming. Many staunch conservatives also believe that Romney is too moderate to represent the modern Republican Party.

There are many factors that can help explain why Romney has not caught on with the most conservative wings of the Republican Party, not least, of which would be his Religion. Romney, unlike most Republicans, is a Mormon. In a party known for the heavy influence of Evangelical groups some consider a Mormon candidate as a far cry from the ideal candidate. Although the Republican Party has begun to reach out to minorities and non-Christians, it remains a party whose base is historically rooted in Christian ideology. This may help explain why Romney has been less successful with the evangelical vote so far in the primaries.

That’s not to say that Romney has been ineffective in the primaries—he leads all candidates in primary votes thus far—but it remains to be seen if Romney can broaden his base to include the most conservative Republicans and members of the Tea Party. Romney took a pro-abortion stance as governor of Massachusetts and has also expressed support for the theory of global warming. He must also defend a health care law he signed as governor, a law that heavily influenced “Obamacare.”

It’s not just his work as governor that’s giving Romney a hard time on the campaign trail; recently he has come under scrutiny for his work in the private sector. Romney’s supporters have often cited his private sector experience as a reason to get behind the candidate and with good reason. As a successful hedge fund manager and founder of Bain Capitol he amassed a huge fortune, estimated to be as high as $250 million. Additionally, after weeks of indecision and convoluted responses whenever the topic arose, he released his tax returns for 2010 and estimates for 2011, which revealed that he makes over $20 million a year from investments and his Bain retirement package. Although he has said that he won’t apologize for being successful, it’s not difficult to understand how a typical American would find Romney out of touch with his or her working class status.

Through three primaries in the 2012 Presidential race, Romney has only won in moderate New Hampshire and is still struggling to demonstrate his ability to lead the Republican Party. He has long run his campaign as if he was the front-runner, but recently many have begun to wonder if he is indeed the inevitable nominee. His religion, inconsistency, moderate ideology and inability to identify with the average voter will likely continue to pose problems for his campaign; however, he remains the candidate with the strongest organization, the most money and, according to most polls, is the Republican most likely to beat Obama in November. He has consistently done well in debates, and his campaign has yet to encounter a major pitfall. By maintaining front-runner status for so many months he has avoided taking unnecessary risks but has at times seemed more like a CEO than a man of the people. Only time will tell whether or not his campaign will crumble under the constant scrutiny, but thus far Romney has demonstrated that he can take heat better than any other Republican candidate.