|No lunch for Mitt.|
That's the conclusion drawn by a recent Sachs/Mason-Dixon survey of 625 adults who mustered the courage to answer their phones sometime between May 23 and May 24.
Bad news for Mitt. But for the GOP elite, the results simply add to the ritual vein opening that has come to define the party's crumbling inner circle. And if the poll is to be believed, the run on razor blades appears likely to continue.
The question: "Among these announced or rumored contenders for President in 2012, which one would you most like to have a one-on-one conversation with over lunch?"
Nine percent of those responding chose Romney, the former Massachusetts governor. Ten percent said they would either bribe the guy in the tux to get a table for one or they just didn't know - or care.
Romney is the temporary Great non-Right Hope of the GOP establishment, a guy who speaks in coherent sentences, looks good on camera and isn't Newt Gingrich.
His campaign machine is already grinding away in Iowa and New Hampshire. He's raising money. His body and mind have yet to be fully assimilated into the tea party collective. And he's one Presbyterian conversion away from becoming their kind of people.
Problem is, he just finished second to "none of the above."
The GOP power brokers are still de-mavericking in the aftermath of the 2008 carnival sideshow that shifted the center of the Republican universe from Yale and the Hamptons to Wasilla-something, Alaska.
The same freak exhibit that gave rise to the renegade tea party movement - also known as grass-roots group therapy for the tired, the poor, the huddled masses and the wretched refuse of the GOP's teeming right-wing shores.
As the polo players covertly beseeched the Almighty for a 2010 Republican election disaster, a 2008 replay that would crawl the party knees-first back to the front gate, the usurpers managed to take proxy over the House and quiet title to nearly every governors mansion on the market.
There is some good news in the poll, however. Good news if your name doesn't contain the words Karl and Rove, that is. When it comes to doing lunch, more than three times as many Americans would rather have President Obama ordering the wine than any of the GOP presidential pretenders. He would, as they say, eat the other candidates' lunch.
The poll showed that 53 percent would choose the president for a culinary nooner. Among Democrats, he's the favorite among 85 percent. He also gets the nod from 25 percent of Republicans and 48 percent of independents.
The lunch leader among Republicans is (cue drum roll) Sarah Palin. The former Alaska governor was picked by 16 percent. That's nearly double the combined invites headed Romney's way. But even as the favorite among Republicans at 28 percent, she was ranked just two points ahead of Obama by those in her own party. Only five percent of Democrats say they would do Sarah. For lunch.
“Overwhelmingly, Americans find President Barack Obama to be the most likable and lunch-worthy date compared to any of those hoping take his job in the 2012 election,” said Ron Sachs, president of Ron Sachs Communications.
“There is no baloney in this simple truth: The ‘lunch pal’ poll very likely reflects the significant advantage President Obama enjoys heading into his re-election against a party that has no candidate du jour.”
Baloney? Lunch pal poll? Lunch-worthy? Candidate du jour? And who says pollsters are a bunch of humorless twits?
Palin isn't likely to win the GOP nomination via the primary route no matter how many species she slaughters to the edge of extinction between now and the real reality show the Republicans will be hosting in Tampa just over a year from now.
And the lunch bunch poll seems to suggest it's possible nobody in the current pack of nobodies will march into the South's city by the bay with the nomination in the bag. Not Palin. Not Michelle Bachman. Not Newt. Not Ron Paul. Not Tim Pawlenty. Not even "none of the above." And certainly not Romney - not if a midday meal is involved.
A deadlocked first-ballot convention? It's the opium of political junkies and the improbable return ticket for the GOP elite who aren't exactly pikers when it comes to "orchestrating" primary and general elections. And if the Sachs/Mason-Dixon survey tells us anything, the current crop of non-starters makes today's improbable look increasingly more like tomorrow's possible. If you squint real hard and pretend.
Just don't bet the lunch money on it. Not yet, at least.