It's hard to believe, but Mitt Romney just didn't come across as a good ole boy in his big foray into the Deep South this week. All those cheesy grits and y'alls didn't win over the hearts and minds of Mississippi and Alabama voters, finishing third in both of those primaries. But he did win enough delegates there and with victories in Hawaii and American Samoa he actually increased his overall delegate count.
Romney has the advantage in money but he is still having trouble winning the hearts of Republican voters. He's looking for love next in Missouri on Saturday, Puerto Rico on Sunday and then next Tuesday, in Illinois, where he will ask voters to help him send their former junior senator back home.
The former Massachusetts governor's campaign has more money and better organization than his competitors, but he just can't seal the deal. He is a Wall Streeter trying to convince voters he's a Main Streeter, but his stiff campaign style, repeated gaffes and attempts to shift from moderate to "severely conservative" have been unconvincing for many voters. Nearly every exit poll following a Republican primary has shown him losing the votes of those who consider themselves "very conservative."
The prolonged primary season has been frustrating for the candidates, especially Romney, who has been running for five years and thought he could lock it up early. But, surprisingly, the debates have gotten high ratings and even if voter turnout has been disappointingly below four years ago, the experience has helped prepare whoever emerges with the nomination to face a Democratic opponent with great strength and experience in both organization and funding.
Read more about Romney's search for the hearts and minds of Republican voters in my Washington Watch column in this week's Jerusalem Post.