Uncommitted by David Atkins

by David Atkins

In case you thought the Left had some enthusiasm problems with President Obama, this is worth thinking about as well:

With the nation’s first nominating contests just two months away, a large majority of Republican primary voters have yet to make up their minds about the candidate they would like to see as their party’s nominee for president in 2012.

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.

By this time in the 2007-2008 cycle, most Democrats were pretty thrilled with their choices, and a great many had made strong commitments to Clinton, Obama or Edwards. Even second-tier candidates like Kucinich received support due to passionate commitment, rather than tepid rejection of the frontrunners.

No matter who wins the GOP primary, Republicans are going to have an enthusiasm problem. That's largely because there is no one alive in the modern GOP who:

1) has enough government experience to be credible, yet has no record of supporting anything that might be viewed as "liberal";

2) has led a clean enough life with enough "personal integrity";

3) is a white Protestant Christian conservative who doesn't come across as nuts, or at least like your crazy hectoring uncle; and

4) has an affable enough disposition and short enough record of loony statements to be considered viable in a general election.

There is no such person. What most Democrats are looking for is basic competence and an eye for the common good. We are willing to mostly overlook race, gender, personal foibles and even difficult votes made in the past, because we understand that people are people, both life and governance are hard, and no one is perfect. We have an easier time of this.

The GOP purity train is such that they're not going to be happy with anybody they pick. And that, at least, is a silver lining to their increasingly radical cloud.