What’s a key difference between supporters of Ron Paul and Mitt Romney?

Ron Paul has again been in the news, or at least his supporters have. They came to the Maine Republican convention, stuck around, and captured most delegate slots. After Romney supporters challenged the validity of the convention process, the RNC offered them about half of the delegates.

However this situation is resolved, it’s worth pausing to note a key difference between supporters of Ron Paul and Mitt Romney — their enthusiasm about their candidates.

Ron Paul supporters strongly support Ron Paul as a candidate and leader. They are known to be issue-oriented and to admire Congressman Paul.

However, support for Romney often is driven by electoral motives.  It is more rare to find voters who strongly admire him and his (many different) positions.  While certainly there are Romney voters who report they will be voting for Romney, many acknowledge theirs will be a vote against President Obama.

In late June, Pew reported:

Democrats are clearly more enthusiastic about voting for Obama than Republicans are about voting for Romney: 60% of Obama’s supporters back him strongly; by comparison, just 38% of Romney voters support him strongly. An earlier Pew Research Center survey, conducted May 9-June 3, found 72% of Obama’s supporters saying their choice was more of a vote for Obama than against Romney. By contrast, most Romney voters (58%) described their vote as a vote against Obama rather than for Romney (38%).

And in an early August 2012 Pew poll:

79% of Romney voters have a favorable impression of him, while 12% report an unfavorable impression. This compares with an overwhelming 97% favorability rating for George W. Bush among his supporters in the fall of 2004 and a 96% favorable rating for McCain among his supporters in the fall of 2008.

Obama voters are more positive about their candidate. Nine-in-ten voters (91%) who support Obama have a favorable impression of him, though that is down from 98% among his supporters four years ago.

Romney will be the nominee and may win the presidency, but he is not as liked by his supporters as Obama or Paul is by theirs.

Ron Paul’s supporters really like him – and that is what drove them to the Maine state convention and motivated them to stay through very long proceedings, so that they could select delegates to the national convention and perhaps gain Rep. Paul a place at the convention podium.

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Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.