Rasmussen: Despite Doubts, Conservatives Will Line Up With Romney

Wednesday, 11 Apr 2012 05:52 PM

By Jim Meyers and Kathleen Walter

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Independent pollster and political analyst Scott Rasmussen tells Newsmax that despite their differences with Mitt Romney, Republicans who have supported Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich will “overwhelmingly” vote for Romney in November.

Rasmussen also says the Romney campaign is “breathing a sigh of relief” following Rick Santorum’s announcement on Tuesday that he is suspending his campaign, a move Rasmussen terms “a good step forward” for Republicans.

And he predicts that polling data on President Obama suggest that the election will be very close in November.

Rasmussen is founder and president of Rasmussen Reports and co-founder of the sports network ESPN. He has been an independent public opinion pollster for more than a decade, and most major news organizations cite his reports.
He is also the author of the best-selling book, “The People’s Money: How Voters Will Balance the Budget and Eliminate the National Debt.”

In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Rasmussen discussed the significance of Rick Santorum’s exit from the GOP primary race.

“It certainly is a two-man race now. Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican nominee, and I think you’ve heard a lot of people in the Romney campaign breathing a sigh of relief that Rick Santorum decided to suspend his campaign, making clear he will work for the objective of defeating President Obama and winning seats for Republicans in Congress. So it was a good step forward.

“Obviously there is a way to go to heal all the wounds between Santorum and Romney and their teams, but it was a great step for the Republican Party.

“The biggest thing the Romney campaign has going for it today as opposed to yesterday is that up until Santorum suspended his campaign, the entire discussion was about Mitt Romney. Why can’t he wrap up the debate? Why can’t he win over those conservatives? Is he a weak front-runner?

“Once the Republican nomination was sewn up, now the focus shifts to President Barack Obama, and the questions will be about him. He’s got a record to defend. He’s got strengths and weaknesses. And that will be the defining issue of the campaign far more than anything Romney says or does.”

Story continues below the video.





After Santorum suspended his campaign, Romney received a flurry of major endorsements. Asked if that indicates Republicans are now prepared to accept him as a true conservative, Rasmussen responds: “There will be doubts about Mitt Romney as a true conservative that will continue all the way through, even if he’s fortunate enough to win the election and move into the White House next year.

“There will always be concerns. The only way they can be resolved is by seeing the way Mitt Romney governs if he gets that chance.

“Having said that, Republicans are going to vote against Barack Obama. There are reams and reams of polling data suggesting that Santorum supporters and Gingrich supporters will overwhelmingly vote for Mitt Romney given the chance.”

In an exclusive Newsmax interview on Tuesday night, Gingrich said he’s staying in the race until the very end. Some political pundits believe a few primary wins for the former House Speaker could deny Romney the nomination on a first ballot come August.

Rasmussen comments: “Speaker Gingrich has done a lot to raise his profile in the campaign. I have no doubt he will stick it out for as long as he can. But the reality is he is not going to be the nominee, and he acknowledges that just by the tone he’s taking toward Romney at this point. It’s no longer as combative. He recognizes that Republicans are ready to begin the general election campaign.”

If Romney were to choose Gingrich as his running mate, “it would never overcome the true conservative question mark [regarding Romney],” Rasmussen says. “But people tend to put too much value on the political implications of a vice presidential candidate.

“Newt Gingrich brings some assets to the table in that he is a skilled debater. Lots of Republicans would love to see him debating President Obama, but they’d be happy to see him debate Joe Biden as well.”

A recent Rasmussen Reports poll showed Romney and Obama tied with 45 percent of the vote, while other surveys show Obama leading. Asked what Romney needs to do to break through, Rasmussen tells Newsmax: “When a president is running for re-election, the most important number is his job approval rating. That will approximate the share of the vote he ends up getting.

“President Obama consistently gets in the high 40 percent range, and that would suggest that he will be somewhere just under or just at 50 percent of the vote come November. If that’s the case we obviously have a very close election.

“What Mitt Romney needs to do is to focus the discussion on what has happened on Obama’s watch and try to raise the question: Does this man deserve another four years? Only 34 percent of voters say the president has done a good job on economic matters, 48 percent say he doing a poor job, and that is the most important issue of election 2012.”

Recent polls have also shown Obama with a very sizeable lead among women voters. Romney sought to close that gap on Wednesday by charging that Obama’s policies have been a “war on women” because they have led to a sharp increase in employment in their ranks.

But Rasmussen cautions: “Every Republican candidate for the past three decades has done more poorly among women voters than among men. That is not going to change no matter what happens. There is a gender gap that has been long established and will continue. It is not clear that the gap is any bigger now than it has been in the past.

“The reality is both men and women have a range of issues. But the biggest issue for both men and women is the economy. And if you focus on the economy as an issue that affects everyone, that will move the electorate.”
Obama has been pushing for higher taxes on wealthy Americans, a move that could help him among working-class voters.

But Rasmussen observes: “Obama struggled with working-class voters in 2008. Hillary Clinton consistently won those voters in the Democratic primaries.

Romney struggled with those same types of voters in the Republican primary of 2012. We’re heading into an election where neither candidate has a good sense of how to connect with working-class voters. That’s dangerous for the nation.

“But the American people absolutely do want to make sure that the wealthy pay at least as much of a share of their income as middle-class Americans. They don’t believe that’s the case right now. So it does help the president a little bit.

On the other hand, people believe tax hikes are bad for the economy and they don’t think anybody should end up paying 30 percent of their income in taxes.”
Rasmussen’s best-seller “The People’s Money” focuses on Americans’ distrust of the way the government spends their tax money.

He tells Newsmax: “The Republicans and Democrats both struggle with dealing with federal budget issues. A majority of voters don’t believe that either party has made a serious proposal to address the deficit.

“Paul Ryan’s plan, while it gets great reviews from a lot of conservatives, specifically exempts defense spending from any cuts. Only 35 percent of Americans think it’s appropriate to leave defense spending out. Democrats have shown resistance to talking about any change in entitlement programs.

“Mitt Romney is seen as a little bit more reliable on deficit reduction than President Obama, but that’s only because President Obama has been in office for the past four years.”

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