Our chapters on political parties and elections examine the presidential nomination process. In the current race, Republicans are taking their time settling on an overwhelming favorie. At the Associated Press, Steven R. Hurst writes:
"This year has the feel of one where the tea party people are looking for a savior," said
John Baick, professor of political science at New England College. "But they will never find someone who fits the bill. No one can be a savior because everyone has flaws."
Through the rise and fall of fortunes, former
MassachusettsGov. Mitt Romney_ favorite of the more moderate party establishment _ has held steady in the polls but failed to move above a tepid 20 percent to 30 percent backing. Jack Holmes, political science professor at Hope Collegein Holland, Michigan, explains that Romney has failed to catch fire because the most conservative among Republicans are looking for an antiestablishment candidate, albeit one who can defeat Obama.
"If the candidate doesn't measure up, politicians are quickly abandoned," said Holmes, who is active in Republican politics.
Seth Masket, assistant professor of political science at the University of Denver, contends the conservatives are "trying all these non-Romneys on for size.
"The active part of the Republican base right now is much further to the right than they used to be. If the party base were somewhat more moderate, I think they would have converged in support of Romney by now," said Masket.
While Romney remains the odds-on favorite with the Republican establishment, Baick said a "dream candidate" still could emerge for the deeply conservative base.
"Those Republicans are hoping for a candidate with no negative history, no negative record. Just a staunch conservative. If that candidate could just offer them something, some symbolism, those conservatives would follow," he said.
So far it doesn't appear the current field is measuring up.
What is more, says
James Riddlesperger, professor of political science at Texas Christian University, the party base "cares a lot more about policy than winning. They would rather be ideologically pure than win."