In an interesting survey conducted by CBS News, 58% of Republicans want more choices for the GOP nomination.  While this isn’t exactly a stunning revelation to readers of this site, it does confirm what we’ve thought all along:  The GOP’s current crop of candidates is sub-par, and most Republicans would prefer to see somebody else altogether.  While the poll doesn’t identify any particular candidates, what it does suggest strongly is that Republicans are thoroughly dissatisfied with the current selections available.  We’ve known this for some time, but what it hints at is a serious problem for the GOP if the party should nominate another losing candidate in 2012.  The party is in deep trouble with its conservative base already, and one more Presidential defeat with a soft moderate is likely to cause a revolt.  According to the CBS poll, only 37% are satisfied with the current field of choices.

If a party cannot motivate its base of support to greater enthusiasm, it will inevitably lose any general election.  This has been the problem with this field all along:  They really don’t inspire the base, and they’re not apt to do so in any substantial fashion.  Much of that owes to the fact that none of them are seen as thorough conservatives, and none are really very dynamic speakers.  It’s clear that the GOP remains in serious trouble, and as others have pointed out, the so-called “inevitable nominee” is likely to lead the Republicans to defeat in November.  I can’t imagine how with this current crop of candidates, Republicans expect to win the White House in 2012, and it appears they don’t really expect it either.  There is a growing sense of exasperation with what is seen as ineffective leadership in the GOP, and that’s going to impose a mighty penalty in November.

As we’ve seen consistently over the last year, most Republicans seem to be looking for somebody else.  Many have settled on candidates who are clearly not a first or even a second choice, and that makes for a good deal of volatility.  As Granite-State voters go to the polls today, it’s clear Mitt Romney has a big lead in that state, but New Hampshire has never really been very representative of the Republican party in any case, so it’s not clear that this will offer us anything concrete about the direction of the nomination fight.  Most analysts expect Romney to capture 40% or more of the New Hampshire vote, although there has been a concerted tamping-down of expectations over the last few days in media.  If Romney were to capture less than 40% in New Hampshire, it would likely be a strong signal that he’s still not capturing the base of the party.  Capturing more than 40% would begin to indicate he might be on his way to locking up the nomination, but nobody is certain at this point.

The fact that we have passed into the election year of 2012 without a clear front-runner who is enthusiastically supported in the party isn’t a surprise, but the fact is that any number of people could still jump into this race and make a dramatic difference.  Whether any will is another matter, as for the moment, none seem to be so-inclined.  It is perhaps for this reason that so many Americans are looking pessimistically at the future, with Americans fearing an Obama re-election by 2-1.  That merely tells you something about how uninspiring the current crop of candidates are, and the fact that Gallup is also reporting that conservatives have begun to accept Romney as the probable nominee should tell you just how bad it has gotten. Not many are excited about it, to be sure.