Monday, June 21, 2010

Opening up the GOP field

One of the things that's been most striking about this election cycle so far is the Republicans who've risen from obscurity to win their party's nominations for a whole host of Senate and Gubernatorial races. When we polled South Carolina, Nevada, and Maine around the start of the year we didn't even bother including Nikki Haley, Sharron Angle, and Paul LePage in our general election match up polling because they seemed like second tier contenders yet it appears they will all win their party nominations. And they're not the only surprising GOP winners of the cycle- you can certainly put Rand Paul and Marco Rubio on that list, and it's looking more and more like Ken Buck will join that club once the Colorado primary comes around.

When I look at how many little known Republicans are rising quickly to the top and when I look at how tightly jumbled our polling on the 2012 GOP Presidential field is right now, it really makes me think there's a very good chance- better than even- that the party will end up nominating someone for President in 2012 outside the current top quartet of Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich. Those folks are all very well known to Republican voters and the fact that none of them really stands out in polling on the race leaves a lot of room for someone less prominent on the national level right now to catch fire and win the nomination in 2012.

I don't know who that person would be at this point but if I had to put my money on it I'd say Bobby Jindal if he got in the race. He has a very strong competence argument in the wake of the oil spill, can present himself as the sort of new face the GOP needs to move the party's base of support beyond white conservatives, and doesn't have any of the national baggage the more well known candidates do. And it's silly to think that his not ready for primetime debut on the national stage with the State of the Union response last year will really hurt him in the long term- just look at Bill Clinton's 1988 convention speech 4 years before he waltzed into the White House.

If I was one of the current Republican front runners what's happening in the primaries across the country so far this year would make me a little antsy about whether that status was worth much.


OldSouth said...

In my anecdotal experience, nothing systematic, I find that the anger of many conservatives is not directed at the Left (after all, liberals are just doing what liberals do..), but at the GOP establishment.

The RNC and RINO types courted the votes of cultural, economic, and political conservatives, only to leave them behind once power was attained.

It became apparent to many in 2005, when GW Bush backed away from his pledges to appoint conservatives to the Federal bench, and Sen. Frist allowed himself to be stampeded by Harry Reid. The dam broke in 2007, when McCain attempted to jam through an immigration bill in the dark of night, with White House approval.

Then, there was TARP...

As one example, in Tennessee, Zach Wamp from Chattanooga is running for GOP nomination for governor. As a Congressman, he voted for TARP, despite overwhelming pleas from his constituents to oppose it. He probably could not win re-election because of this, and is unlikely to be nominated by TN Republicans. As nice a man as he undoubtedly is, people are loathe to trust him with the state budget, since he was fool enough to vote for TARP.

The conservatives voter's knives will first be drawn on pols like Wamp, since they so utterly failed to be the conservatives they portrayed themselves as, for so many years.

Craig S said...

Tom, Tom, Tom
Think a little before you wax eloquent about the GOP in 2012.
Your telephone polls ask 400 or 500 people in various states about their choices in 2012. No one seems to be pulling away. And why would they ? What would cause the voters, 18 months before an election season, to have an odds on favorite. That has never been the case..with Bush in 2000 or McCain in 2008 or anybody else , all the way back to Goldwater in 1964
It will take major name recognition to raise the $ 1 BILLION necessary to run against Obama in 2012. That is, to run competitively, ie, to win. That rules out everybody who
1. Is relatively unknown
2. Doesn't have a basket of
state political IOU's
3. Doesn't have deep pockets

Craig Startt

Anonymous said...

you should add Pawlenty to the 2012 polls

AG said...

"present himself as the sort of new face the GOP needs to move the party's base of support beyond white conservatives"

And what makes you think the Republicans *want* to move past their party's white conservative base? What makes you think their base will want them to move past their base?

Dustin Ingalls said...

"And what makes you think the Republicans *want* to move past their party's white conservative base? What makes you think their base will want them to move past their base?"

Perhaps common sense and self-preservation?

Craig S: I think Obama going from the Illinois senate to the White House in 4 years is evidence an unknown can win in this climate. It helps to have a nationwide fundraising network and to be owed something for helping other candidates out, but sometimes money can be raised and name recognition overcome in the right set of circumstances.

Jayant Reddy said...

Tom, there is one fatal flaw with discussing Jindal for 2012: timing. He's up for reelection in 2011, and everyone expects him to run for a 2nd term. He's not going to be able to do both, getting reelected in November 2011 only to try to win in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina just 2 months later. That's not doable.

herbs814 said...

Denver Post:
Not only would Buck win the primary, but Buck leads Romanoff by 9 and leads Bennet by 3.(Norton would lead Romanoff by 4 and also lead Bennet by 3).

The Interesting Times said...

I wouldn't be too quick to count out the current frontrunners.

Reagan had long been on the electoral radar by the time he got the Republican Presidential nomination in 1980 (he failed to win the nomination from Ford in 1968 and Nixon in 1976).

wt said...

Instead of continuing to look for names to add to the GOP primary polling, how about another option of "someone else" or "none of the above," without specifying who the person would be.

Dustin Ingalls said...

"(he failed to win the nomination from Ford in 1968 and Nixon in 1976)"

You've got that backwards.

The Interesting Times said...

Oops! Mr. Ingalls is correct--Reagan lost the Republican nomination to Nixon in 1968 and Ford in 1976.

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