There is an obvious distinction between the enthusiasm and apathy that doesn’t require much discussion. Enthusiasm connotes excitement in or for a particular event, subject or individual. Apathy is an indifference to or a lack of emotion for an event, subject or individual.
When it comes to political support, enthusiasm is a politician’s best friend next to incumbency. If a politician has neither, then pragmatism is the next best thing. The lowest forms of support are the anti-vote and apathy. The wild card support is the enthusiastic anti-vote which is a totally unreliable because those supporters can so easily become apathetic. And here is where we find Mitt Romney and John McCain.
At this stage of the race, John McCain has garnered pragmatic support. He is the likely nomination so many in the GOP are hedging their bets and throwing him their support. Mitt Romney, who has failed to generate an enthusiastic support, has now become the anti-McCain candidate. McCain, for his part, has mostly pragmatic supporters which is why he leads in the polls.
The problem I see with Mitt Romney’s campaign is that he is always running against McCain or against Hillary Clinton. This type of campaign gives the pragmatic voter an out because they are allowed a, “That may be true but…” statement to validated their pragmatic decision. He does nothing to motivate voters to support him because of what he stands for that is not in contrast to his opponents. Yes, he does have to at times contrast himself with McCain but as you see with McCain and Huckabee, they speak about what they believe in and what they stand for and if you disagree, then so be it. Rudy Giuliani ran on his own terms (as flawed as it was), but he did have an enthusiastic following.
Viewing what is happening on the Democrat side, there are excited voters and since the candidates are very close on policy, it is the intangibles that are motivating people to go to the polls and vote for either Clinton or Obama. If Mitt Romney were to win the Republican nomination, his largest block of voters would be the anti-Democrat or anti-Hillary block. That will not be enough to overcome the overwhelming excitement on the Democrat side. John McCain will have the same problem only he would face an anit-McCain block from his own Party.
No matter what the talking heads and prognosticators tell you, the Presidential election is more about ideology and emotions and has very little to do with policy. Most of us know that any policy presented by the President will go through a bureaucratic blender called the Congress. Though I am no fan of Ronald Reagan with regards to his policy, I readily admit that he was able to inspire Americans and that has been his lasting legacy. I seriously doubt we’ll get that from Mitt Romney and that is why he will not be the next president.