01/19/2012 05:38 pm ET Updated Mar 20, 2012

Forget the Primary: All Republican Candidates Are Unpopular

This New York Times story on the latest New York Times/CBS poll suggests that Obama is faltering with independents, portending electoral vulnerability. But their own data show that all the remaining Republican candidates are unpopular with voters nationally. No wonder Republican primary voters continue to be dissatisfied with their choices.

Romney has been popular in the past, according to's own tracking of all public polling. Up until a few weeks ago, Romney held steady at roughly even favorable/unfavorable. But now Romney's unfavorables are increasing, with his favorables struggling to keep pace.

Gingrich, as I wrote before, has never been popular. In the latest New York Times/CBS poll, half of voters nationally are unfavorable toward Gingrich. This recent CNN/ORC poll shows close to 60-percent unfavorable toward Gingrich. Familiarity has bred contempt.

While Santorum is the least well-known remaining candidate, he, too, has been largely unpopular since his polling began, in both data sets above.

Not to leave him out, Dr. Paul's popularity has worsened, too. While CNN/ORC showed him popular last summer, he is now (barely) net unfavorable. The New York Times/CBS poll shows his unfavorability at a record high (33-percent unfavorable, 20-percent favorable).

So it's no shocker that more Republican primary voters than ever are dissatisfied with their choices. In the New York Times/CBS poll, two thirds (68 percent) say they want more choices, with fewer than a third (30 percent) satisfied.

Primary politics is exciting to watch. But winning a debate or some delegates doesn't translate to a strong national showing. In fact, the opposite seems to be true. The more voters get to know the Republican field, the less they like what's on offer. Republican primary voters can't get excited, and voters nationally aren't excited, either.