COMMENTARY | As firmly but politely as possible, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has once again declined the myriad pleas of Republican supporters that he enter the presidential race. After one woman implored him, "Please sir, reconsider. Your country needs you to run for president." He responded that the drive to make a run for the White House would have to "reside within me." Presumably it does not.
Why do Republicans continue pounding on the doors of potential candidates like Christie and Sarah Palin? Clearly they aren't satisfied with the heard of hopefuls currently on the ballot. Who can blame them? Despite the president's low approval ratings, polling shows that none of the Republican candidates can beat him.
Real Clear Politics has made it easy to study the performance of various candidates across polling entities, including: Rasmussen Reports, USA Today/Gallup, Reuters/Ipsos, Bloomberg, CNN and others. In addition to reporting the latest results, RCP also averages them, so you can get a generalized view of the data across reports.
The only Republican contender who can really touch Obama is Mitt Romney. While some polls show Romney in a statistical dead heat with Obama, and a recent USA Today/Gallup poll puts him ahead by 2 percentage points, overall Obama wins by 2.7 percent. Romney's performance has improved significantly over the past month, so it will be interesting to see if he can edge Obama out over time.
Obama has a 7.5 percent edge on Texas Gov. Rick Perry. The only other contender to come close is Rep. Ron Paul, also of Texas. He is within 5.8 percent of the president. Pizza magnet, Herman Cain came out 5 points behind Obama in a Rasmussen report released this week, but has not performed well against the president in the past.
The most telling statistic describes a general Republican candidate - unnamed - against Obama. Over time polling shows a tie with "generic" Republican winning two polls and Obama winning two. However the Republican candidate wins in the most recent polls. This, again, suggests that a Republican candidate can win the election -- just not one of the ones in the race right now.
It's a quandary for the RNC to ponder. With Republican primary filing deadlines looming in many states, there's not much time to entice a new candidate into the race.
- Mitt Romney