It seems like a bizarre comparison, but commentators inside and outside the Republican establishment are increasingly comparing Donald Trump to Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP candidate for president. And the comparison is not good news for the Trump campaign – Romney was doing much better in the polls this time four years ago.
The Washington Post published an exhaustive survey comparing polls from 2016, 2012 and other years, including Republican primaries, that clearly show Trump is under performing against Mitt Romney. One mark of Trump’s campaign is his small leads in usually reliable Republican states like Arizona and Georgia. A closer look at Romney’s numbers in 2012 make Trump’s numbers look even worse.
Romney was in many ways a compromise candidate. He emerged following a difficult primary season and appeared to many voters as aloof and out of touch with ordinary people. His wealth and restrained manner made it hard for him to reach out to ordinary voters. But Republicans united behind Romney and delivered red states by wide margins.
The differences between Trump and Romney are obvious but it is Trump who is now losing in states and demographic groups that Romney held in 2012. Several polls show college educated whites now favor Hillary Clinton. This group has always supported the Republican candidate and Romney won that constituency in 2012. Trump is under performing with white voters in general, a group Romney picked up by a wide margin.
Donald Trump is likely to reject any comparison to a candidate he’s publicly called ‘a loser’ who let the Republican part down. But the numbers are clear: Romney was doing better than Trump at this stage in the election cycle. Romney had solid support from traditional GOP voters, while Trump is struggling and has even been forced to campaign in deep red Texas. The Republican Party could be headed for a record-breaking defeat.