Gallup does life expectation ratings monthly. Broken down by party identification, the most recent one gives an interesting perspective on Republicans and their state of mind after the election. To no surprise, they are rather gloomy. They dropped from a 47 rating in October to 40.3 in November.
What’s interesting is the ratings dropped to about the same levels as when Barack Obama was first elected. Presumably, this happens with most losing parties. In 2008, Democrats were just as pessimistic, but that was over the economy. When Obama’s stimulus plan kicked in, they rated life higher.
On the other hand, independents are generally even keeled, if not a bit downcast.
Now for the really interesting figure. At January 2012, Republican expectations were at a high. That positive peak immediately turned south. That sudden pessimism must be directly related to the primaries. Republicans appeared to be hopeful and engaged in the political debate prior to voting. Once the first votes were tallied in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, that hopefulness vanished.
As you may recall, back in the primaries, just about everyone was a frontrunner at one time. Yet, Mitt Romney was at the top too, along with that week’s contender. The descending optimism among Republicans appears to be related to the hesitating acceptance of Romney as the GOP nominee. This is a trajectory of a losing candidate, not one that a party can get behind. It is almost surprising that the presidential race was considered a toss-up for so long. The more people got to know Romney, the more dissatisfaction was felt as a Republican.
In retrospect, it is amazing that Romney ever was nominated. He never conveyed that feeling of hope that Obama successfully did with Democrats. In that is why the Republican Party is in such trouble. They failed to find a candidate to unite the party, raising the possibility that they may not find one by 2016.