The Washington Times-Herald

Our Perspective

December 14, 2011

GOP voters are sampling presidential choices

New Castle — If you don’t like who’s leading the GOP presidential polls, just wait a week. It’s likely to change.

That’s certainly how it seems to the casual observer, watching Republican presidential hopefuls rise and fall. You get the sense that GOP voters are a fickle lot, not content with anything put in front of them.

But that’s not an accurate assessment, because polls aren’t votes. Instead, they are snapshots of opinions, and what they really reveal is a fluid contest where citizens are kicking the tires of candidates and taking them for test drives.

In many instances, they don’t like the results.

What’s really interesting in this race is how many supposedly formidable candidates have proven to be quite vulnerable.

Perhaps most prominent is former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who’s been running for president for more than four years.

To hear some analysts tell it, Romney is the anointed choice, selected by the Republican establishment as the candidate most able to defeat Barack Obama.

However, voters appear to be hesitant to rally around Romney. One key reason is that his stance on key GOP issues has changed over the years, resulting in Romney being labeled a flip-flopper.

That’s a concern for voters seeking ideological purity, but also for more pragmatic Republicans, who worry Romney may be exposed in a general election as a candidate who stands for nothing.

Recently, the Republican leading in the polls was businessman Herman Cain, an unorthodox candidate in several ways. But Cain suspended his campaign after multiple allegations he had engaged in sexual harassment and had participated in a years-long affair with a woman.

Cain denies the charges, but he had to know they were out there. It’s a lesson for anyone seeking public office in the Internet era: There are no secrets. Simply being tone deaf to the obvious made Cain a dubious presidential pick.

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