Looking for Ronald Reagan
A poll out today shows that even with all the early debates and attention GOP presidential candidates have gotten to this point, most Republican voters remain uncommitted:
About eight in 10 Republican primary voters say it is still too early to tell whom they will support, and just four in 10 say they have been paying a lot of attention to the 2012 presidential campaign, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
Herman Cain, the former restaurant executive, is riding a wave of support among Republican primary voters that has placed him in a statistical dead heat with rival Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, in a race that has been characterized by momentum swings among the candidates.
The poll found Mr. Cain with the highest level of support, with 25 percent of Republican primary voters, and Mr. Romney with 21 percent. This difference is within the poll’s margin of sampling error.
Adding to the fluidity of the contest, about one in 10 Republican primary voters say they would like to see someone else nominated.
As bad as President Obama might be, it is clear that there is no particular love to be found for the present Republican field. Perry has all but imploded, Bachman continues to marginalize herself, Paul has a rabid but small contingent of supporters but can never seem to get beyond that, Gingrich has way too much baggage, Santorum is a marginal candidate at best and Mitt Romney is the nominee of last resort.
The reason, in my opinion, that Herman Cain has risen in the polls is because he comes from a background of business success. He reflects a desire by many to have someone who can take the reins of the government and steer in such a way that it becomes a help to our economy, not a hindrance and drag. His increased support speaks to a desire for someone in office with economic and business experience.
But I think there’s also a great desire, so far unfulfilled, for someone who has a clear vision that can be articulated and that captures the imagination and revives the spirit. And while Cain may fill the practical side of the equation, at least to an acceptable extent, he’s not been able to fulfill the “vision quest” part. As gifted an orator as he might be and despite the fact he’s got practical and successful business he’s not been able to persuade enough Republican voters to come to his side to put him in the unassailable lead.
And of course neither have any of the others.
Republicans are still looking for Ronald Reagan. A man or woman who can not only lift the malaise but lift the spirit as well. Who can not only apply practical principled solutions to our problems but make America feel good about itself again.
Right now, that person isn’t yet in the race, or if he or she is, they’ve not emerged as such. This country is in desperate want of inspiration, reassurance and practical experience. The current candidates just aren’t measuring up to that want or need. Thus the poll results.
Is there a Ronald Regan out there? Is there a candidate that will finally step forward and fulfill those voter wants as Reagan did when running against Jimmy Carter.
I often wonder what the outcome might have been had any of these candidates running for the GOP nomination today had been the choice against Carter. I’m not so sure Carter would have lost.