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Lackluster GOP turnout

Looking livelier than he has all campaign, an exuberant Mitt Romney took the stage after his victory in the Nevada caucuses to proclaim: “Tonight, I want to thank the people of Nevada. Once again, you have given me your vote of confidence.” He also tweeted, “Thank you NV! Our message of restoring America’s greatness continues to resonate through the west & across the country.”

Not really.

Despite planning for 70,000 participants, a pathetic 32,894 Nevada voters turned out for the Republican caucuses this past Saturday. That marked a dramatic decline from 2008, when 44,000 turned out for a non-inspiring John McCain. And it marks an embarrassing deficit from the 116,000 who caucused for the Democrats that same year. 

This year’s 32,894 caucus-goers represent just 1.2 percent of Nevada’s 2.7 million residents. 

Of those paltry few who caucused, half voted for Romney, or about 0.6 percent of Nevada residents. 

So no, the people of Nevada didn’t give Romney any vote of confidence. They sent a crystal-clear message: They just don’t care about him. Or the entire rest of the GOP field, for that matter. And no, his message isn’t resonating across the country.

Look at Florida, for example. In 2008, 2 million Republicans voted in the GOP primary. That number was 1.7 million in 2012. Given the importance of states such as Florida and Nevada in the November general election, this lack of excitement and engagement from the GOP base has to worry Republicans. 

And Romney’s national polling isn’t looking too fantastic. Gallup has certainly seen a boost in Romney’s numbers following his Florida victory … all the way to 35 percent. Clearly, his message isn’t resonating with Republicans who view Romney, as Charles Krauthammer put it, “as the patrician who is only aware of the poor as people who clean the streets and wash his car.”

But what about the broader electorate? A month ago, the polling aggregate had Romney and President Obama in a dead heat. In mid-January, an ABC News/Washington Post survey had Romney defeating the president 48 percent to 46 percent. CBS News had Romney winning 47 percent to 45 percent. 

But after a month of listening to Romney’s message of indifference to the very poor, the personhood of corporations and $10,000 bets, the general-election picture has shifted dramatically. Just Monday, a new ABC/Post poll had Obama winning comfortably, 51 percent to 45 percent. 

Meanwhile, while Obama’s numbers rise alongside an improving jobs picture, Romney’s are headed the other direction. According to that ABC/Post poll, only 31 percent of voters view Romney favorably, with 49 percent viewing him unfavorably. Pew has him at 33 percent favorable and 47 percent unfavorable. 

Looking at the aggregate of all public polling in the swing states, as compiled by Talking Points Memo, Obama currently has a 4-point-or-better lead against Romney in Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The president leads narrowly in Florida and Virginia, and trails narrowly in North Carolina. (Colorado and Iowa lack fresh data.)  

This is going to be a close race, but the hundreds of millions in super-PAC money raised by conservative 1 percenters won’t convince the American public to like Mitt Romney. As the conservative National Review’s Jonah Goldberg wrote, “He uses language — ‘I like to fire people!’ ‘It’s nothing to get angry about,’ etc. — that doesn’t make him seem like an unconventional politician. Rather, his language makes him seem like a caricature of a conventionally stiff country-club Republican.”

The only thing Romney is missing is the monocle.

Moulitsas is the publisher and founder of Daily Kos (dailykos.com).