- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 28, 2014

Mitt Mania continues, with potential: The public rediscovery of Mitt Romney may evolve into a renaissance for Rep. Paul Ryan if time and circumstance are right. But for now, Iowa loves Mr. Romney more than any other Republican:

In a field of 14 potential GOP presidential candidates, a USA Today/Suffolk University poll released Wednesday find him garnering 35 percent of the vote, with Mike Huckabee in a very distant second with 9 percent. He in turn is followed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Rick Santorum (each with 6 percent), Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul (both with 5 percent) and the aforementioned Mr. Ryan, Jeb Bush and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, each with 4 percent.

As usual, Mr. Romney continues to be coy about his intent on running for anything, remaining the jovial campaigner in chief. Meanwhile, his former 2012 running mate is increasing his public presence with care and cunning. Paul Ryan made a splashy appearance at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Thursday, in fact. He also substituted for nationally syndicated radio host Sean Hannity on the very same day.

The Wisconsin lawmaker claims he hopes Mr. Romney will change his mind and go for the White House, a plea which plays well in the press and before the public. The most interesting moment of all would be if Mr. Romney endorses Mr. Ryan as a candidate for 2016, an event that would require exquisite and microscopically calibrated timing, indeed.

How is the GOP during all of this? The Ryan/Romney dance is only one act from a larger stage. What’s evident is that everything counts in the midterm elections, as both the Democrat and Republican parties wrangle over undecided and swing voters. On Tuesday, a big fat Pew Research Center poll reported that Republicans are now more optimistic about that big date in November. Now Gallup has more news of same.

“One in three Americans (33 percent) say they have given ‘quite a lot’ or ‘some’ thought to the 2014 midterm election, up from 26 percent in April. Importantly, Republicans (42 percent) are much more engaged than Democrats (27 percent) in the election at this point,” says ever-vigilant Gallup analyst Jeffrey M. Jones.

That’s a 15 percentage point gap.

“Democrats need strong turnout to minimize the potential seat losses in Congress that occur in nearly every midterm election for the president’s party. But with Republicans much more engaged in the election at this point than Democrats - and by one of the larger margins in recent midterm election years - the odds of strong Democratic turnout seem low, suggesting 2014 could be a good year for Republicans. Even if the Republican advantage narrows considerably by Election Day, as seen in 2010, Republicans seem poised to have the upper hand in turnout,” Mr. Jones observes.