So with the abrubt departure of Gov. Timmy, and the abrupt entry into the race of Gov. Good Hair, we’ve started to reach the part of the campaign where things get interesting. Well, not “interesting,” I guess. More like “mildly diverting.”
Oh, let’s just play Power Rankings, shall we?
I know, everyone’s super-excited about the flavor-of-the-week, Rick Perry, and certainly Perry has some upside. But Perry’s barely begun to campaign, while Bachmann obviously has an organization in place. And more important, Bachmann proved last Saturday that she’s in a very good position to win Iowa, which is key to her possibly winning the GOP nomination.
Iowa is, as we all know, the first set of caucuses in the nation. If Bachmann wins there, she gains the money, support, and attention that goes with it. She becomes the de facto right-wing candidate, much as Huckabee did in 2008. That doesn’t mean she becomes the nominee, of course. But it does mean she leaps to the top of that part of the field, and becomes the main foil to Mitt Romney.
This is why I’m keeping her above Perry, at least for now. Perry has support in the South, and could be formidable in South Carolina. But he has to get to South Carolina. Let’s say Bachmann wins Iowa and draws second in New Hampshire, while Romney reverses that. Ron Paul manages a third-place showing in Iowa. Suddenly, Perry goes into South Carolina something of an afterthought, leaving the right to choose between Bachmann, who is acceptable save for her possession of a uterus, and Romney, who they view as Obama lite.
I think Bachmann wins that race. If you wonder why, just look at the top five from last Saturday. Bachmann, Paul, Pawlenty, Santorum, Cain — the only one of them who could possibly have won in the general was Pawlenty, and he dropped out. The GOP has embraced radicalism with both arms. They don’t want a pragmatist. They want the apocalypse. And Bachmann is best-positioned right now to give it to them.
Now, there is a lot of time between now and Iowa. Perry could overtake Bachmann between now and then. But for now, Bachmann remains the candidate to beat for the GOP nomination.
This is a bit counterintuitive. After all, didn’t Romney just lose badly in the Ames straw poll? Yes, he certainly did. And while I think most Pawlenty voters will go to Romney, there weren’t that many Pawlenty voters out there. And with Rick Perry entering the race and immediately beating Romney — well, shouldn’t Romney be lower?
Not yet. Because while last Saturday showed Romney’s weakness, it also opened up a path to the nomination for him.
The worst thing that could have happened to Romney was for the right to unite behind a candidate. With Perry’s entry, that won’t happen, at least through South Carolina. That means that Romney has the centrists in the party all to himself, while Bachmann, Perry, and the nameless rabble have to fight to get the right behind them.
The activists in the GOP are mostly Bachman-Perry-Rabble supporters, at least at heart. United, they could deny Romney the nomination. Divided, however, they give Romney the opportunity to steal some victories he wouldn’t ordinarily get, and to get to a point where the GOP views him like they viewed McCain in ’08: unacceptable, but inevitable, and better than the Marxist the Democrats are running.
Of course, should Perry or Bachmann decisively win the right, it’ll be all over for Mitt, but I think he’s got a slightly better chance of winning now than he did before Perry entered the race.
Perry has entered the race for president, having already won the race for George W. Bush soundalike. Yes, we all know he has some serious flaws, but none that will disqualify him from the GOP nomination. Indeed, I think plenty of Republicans will find his execution of an innocent man to be proof that he’s tough on crime.
The ultimate question will be how Perry plays now that he’s out on the campaign trail, and so far, he’s proven to be a gaffe machine. The candidate to compare him to (though their faults are different) is former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., who was viewed as a white knight in 2008, only to find that running for president is hard. Perry has some early advantages, but he also has to build an organization from scratch and on the fly, and learn message discipline that works in the Midwest as well as Texas. And as he’s already said he’ll contest all early races, that’s going to be difficult. Especially as a lot of Iowa Republicans are miffed at him for announcing his candidacy opposite the Ames straw poll, thus stealing a bit of the limelight.
A wild card is the obvious animosity between Perry and Team Dubya. Karl Rove was leading the charge against Perry last week, and there’s every sign that the Bush sycophants are lined up against him. This could break either way; even Republicans have to be aware at some level that George W. Bush was a terrible president. It’s possible this could redound to Perry’s benefit. Then again, the right has spent the last eleven years trying to convince themselves of Rove’s genius. The fact that Turdblossom thinks Perry is weak could give them pause.
Perry will have to finish in the top three in Iowa and the top two in New Hampshire to make South Carolina meaningful. The good news for him is that those are reasonable goals. The bad news is that they may not be achievable. If he can place in the money in Iowa and crush Bachmann in South Carolina, he becomes the default right-wing candidate. If not, he ends up hawking reverse mortgages.
Paul finished very well in the Iowa straw poll, as he does in every straw poll; his supporters travel well. But of course, Paul is anathema to about 75 percent of his own party, so while he will never poll too poorly, he also has very little chance at the nomination. Which is why he really represents the dividing line between viability and also-ran status.
Paul has shown himself to be in position to do at least as well as he did in 2008, and that’s something, I guess. And he’s doing a good job of representing conservative libertarians who happen to think that the government should take draconian steps to prevent abortion. But he’s not going to get the nomination. The party will turn to McCain first.
It’s a testament to the weakness of the GOP field that Ryan enters at number five simply on rumors that he might be considering a campaign. He still has one massive, disqualifying weakness — he literally proposed ending Medicare — and all the other weaknesses of being a relatively untested Congressman. But those weaknesses, while they should deny him any chance of winning the presidency, are not enough to deny him the GOP nomination, and given the field, he might have something of a chance, maybe.
I doubt Ryan will run, because ultimately, the hour is getting late, and it’s not clear how he could build a national organization in time for Iowa. But the GOP’s weakness is strong. Anything could happen at this point.
Santorum rises to almost-respectability based on his fourth-place showing in the straw poll. But it’s still not enough to work his supporters into a froth. Finishing almost 20 percent behind Bachmann is nothing to write home about. It basically says that Santorum has enough support to run a live-off-the-land kind of campaign, but not enough to actually do anything like win the nomination.
The question becomes whether that’s enough for Sen. Man-on-Dog. It’s not like he’s advancing social views that are alien to the rest of the candidates. Bachmann, Perry, and Cain all hate gays and abortion just as much as he does. And hating gays and women is his campaign’s raison d’être. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Santorum drop out of the race before it even gets to Iowa, and throw his support behind either Bachmann or Perry.
Herman Cain moves up this week, but don’t be fooled. He’s moving up only because Pawlenty dropped out and Huntsman drew dead in Ames. His fifth-place showing was an absolute disaster, and makes it unlikely that he’ll be able to continue in any meaningful way.
The problem for Cain is that the right wing of the party is getting awfully crowded. Bachmann and Perry leave little room for anyone else. If he’d out-muscled Santorum for fourth, that might have been enough to stay semi-viable, at least as a candidate. But now, he’s at best the third choice of movement conservatives, and likely fourth.
Cain has two paths available to him now. He can become Alan Keyes, and run just to run. Or he can pack it in and preserve some semblance of self-respect. I’m betting on him going the Keyes route, myself, which is at least entertaining. But it’s not winning.
Gingrich is another candidate who rises only because of Pawlenty’s withdrawal. His dismal showing in the straw poll was further indication that the man has no organization, no plan, and no hope of winning the Republican nomination.
If Newt was a legitimate candidate, he would have drawn 1,000 votes or so. If he was quasi-viable, he would have gotten to at least 500. Drawing just 385 votes — good for 2.3 percent — is proof of what I’ve been saying all along: Newt isn’t a very good politician.
That said, don’t expect Newt to drop out anytime soon. He likes the sound of his own voice, so he’ll keep running as long as it gets him on Meet the Press. If bookers have any sense, however, that will end soon.
Of course, he never was. While he made noise as if he was a conservative, his record is clearly moderate and pragmatic. To the right of me, no doubt, but not horrifically so. I could even consider voting for him given the right set of circumstances. He’s more H.W. than W.
In today’s nihilistic GOP, that is an unforgivable sin. Huntsman has never had a shot at the nomination, and he has even less of one now.
It will be interesting to watch Huntsman over the next few weeks. My theory has been that he was a stalking horse for Pawlenty. I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but he certainly seems liberated on the campaign trail, calling out Perry for his anti-evolution, anti-science stupidity.
But the idea that Huntsman could win was always farcical. It’s now simply impossible this year. The good news for him is that it’s hard to imagine the GOP swinging further right without overtly advocating fascism; Huntsman could find a role leading something akin to the Democratic Leadership Council of the ’80s and ’90s, a faction in the Republican Party that recognizes they will have to moderate if they’re going to win long-term. The DLC has outlived its usefulness, but it was vitally important in finding a path back to relevance for the Democratic Party. Huntsman could be viewed as a prophetic figure someday. Or he could be first up against the wall when President Bachmann declares martial law.
I still am unsure as to why McCotter ran, why he’s running, or why he continues to run. I still am unsure that McCotter is a real person, and not Sacha Baron Cohen running an elaborate bit. All I know is that when you get 35 votes in the Ames straw poll, the polite thing to do is apologize for wasting everyone’s time, and to go home.
Johnson hasn’t done anything to warrant a rise. He hasn’t done anything, as far as I can tell. He didn’t compete in the Ames straw poll. He has pretty much vanished from the airwaves. He may or may not exist at this point.
Still, he technically is running a campaign, and isn’t a goofball perennial candidate like Jimmy McMillan, so I guess he’s in the top ten.
As far as I can tell, Johnson’s campaign strategy is to hope Ron Paul dies of old age, and that his crazy band of /b/ denizens will embrace Johnson by default. It’s a better strategy than Newt has, I guess.
Bolton keeps hinting he might want to run for president, and he keeps not running. And at this point, I don’t know why he would run. Bin Laden is dead, and Herman Cain has shown that being a guy who hates Muslims a lot isn’t a ticket to electoral success. Plus, his connections to Atlas Pam won’t help much. True, Bolton has one amazing mustache, but even that doesn’t appear to be enough to win him the presidency.
Just as Paul represents the line between viable and non-viable, McMillan represents the line between hopeless and complete joke. Anyone below this level is not only not going to be president, but is now becoming a national joke, assuming anyone knows who they are. Much like Jimmy McMillan, but at least he appears to enjoy being a national joke.
I don’t know why I’m moving Karger up. Maybe it’s just sympathy. He’s not a bad guy. But the chances of the GOP nominating an openly gay man for president are about the same as them nominating Tim Pawlenty. Karger is as doomed as ever, but at least he has a reason for being in the race, which puts him ahead of the next guy on the list.
Roemer continues to be completely irrelevant to this race, politics, or the universe in general. Sure, he has decent things to say about money and politics, but I do too, and I’m not a viable presidential candidate either. I have no idea why he ever thought this was a good idea. Maybe he looked at Mike Gravel’s incredible 2008 run and thought, “Heck, I can do that.” But no, he can’t.
9iu11ani hasn’t officially entered the presidential race, but he’s doing as well as he did in 2008. Possibly better. Of course, that year he crashed and burned on an epic scale, whereas this year he appears likely to merely disappear without anyone noticing, but hey, that’s better, right?
If there was any doubt that Palin’s run as a national political figure was over, the Ames straw poll should have ended it. No, Palin wasn’t running in it, but she drug her Caravan of Sadness to the Iowa State Fair, and gave every indication that she was still pretending to consider running for president. The rank-and-file responded by completely ignoring her, giving her essentially no support in the straw poll.
Sarah Palin isn’t officially out until she drops out. But she sure as heck isn’t a factor in this race. I expect her to tease the country as long as the media is biting. But I also expect her to decide, after careful consideration, to not run. The only thing that could change her mind would be the possibility of more book sales.
Former Minn. Gov. Tim Pawlenty (LR: 4)
If there is one single point at which Pawlenty lost this race, it was when he declined to repeat his “Obamneycare” attack when Mitt Romney was in the same room with him. And while it was a disaster, it did prove, depressing as it may be, that Pawlenty is a Minnesotan. Snarking behind someone’s back is one thing. But we’d never be so rude as to repeat that attack to their face. It wouldn’t be nice.
Of course, America is not Minnesota, and what looked to Minnesotans as just standard behavior looked to America like weakness. That was the moment the right bailed on Timmy, and he never recovered.
That said, with every passing day, it becomes more likely that Obama will gain the Democratic nomination with no more than token resistance. That’s for a simple reason: the clock’s ticking. Every day brings us one day closer to Iowa, and that means a potential challenger has one less day to build an organization. Sure, someone could jump in on a whim. But they would have to build an organization from scratch, identify people and get them to the polls in early states, and just get their name out there for people to know.
At this point, it’s safe to say that anyone credible is going to sit this one out. If Russ Feingold or Bernie Sanders or even Dennis Kucinich was going to run, they’d be making noise about running at this point. Sanders mumbled something about someone mounting a primary challenge a few months ago, but he’s given no indication he wants to be that guy (and, given that Sanders is an Independent Socialist, he’d have to switch parties first to do it). Kucinich has been completely mum, and Feingold has ruled himself out. And if you think Hillary Clinton is going to mount a challenge, you fail politics forever.
I’m not saying it’s impossible that Obama will face a “challenger,” but if so, it will be someone with no hope and less name recognition, who might, if lucky, crack double digits in a state or two. Barring something completely unforseen, Obama will be the Democratic nominee for 2012.
The only announced challenger to Obama is an anti-choice zealot who is running to “embarrass” the president by…something. Not really clear what. But it does get his name in the paper, and Terry has always liked reading his own press clippings.
I have thought it possible that the emoprogs could do a deal with the Devil and back Terry, but there’s no sign of that yet, and I’m hoping that Terry’s noxiousness will continue to keep him firmly ensconced in the wacky goofball wing of presidential candidates. It would depress me greatly if Democrats would be willing to support him. Happily, whatever my feelings toward the emoprogs, even they seem to know that Terry is a vile and horrible human being who should be shunned by all humans. There are some things that unite us after all.