The GOP’s Lackluster 2012 Field

April 11th, 2010 at 10:03 am | 75 Comments |

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Yesterday, the Southern Leadership Conference held a straw poll. Straw polls are a favorite activity at high profile gatherings of party activists, but hold relatively little meaning in the scheme of things. For instance, Ron Paul won the CPAC straw poll, yet Ron Paul obviously isn’t going to be the Republican nominee.

But at the same time, the list of candidates that make it onto a straw poll should, at least, give us a good signal about who the favorites are. The Southern Leadership Conference put nine names on their ballot: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, current Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, Congressman Ron Paul, and Congressman Mike Pence. These are obviously not all of the legitimate contenders for the Republican nomination, but even still, a quick glance reveals that the overwhelming majority of these candidates would have no chance of defeating an incumbent president, much less the Obama campaign machine, in a general election.

Let’s take a look:

Newt Gingrich: Gingrich is too old, too polarizing, and too Washington to have a fighting chance at winning the presidency.

Sarah Palin: 55% of Americans view her unfavorably. That’s pretty much game over, but even if it wasn’t, the fact that the number holds among independents (55% of them view her unfavorably and 40% of that group said they view her in a “strongly unfavorable” light) also would be a knockout. 41% of all polled view her as strongly unfavorable. In short, that means she can write off 40% of the electorate before the race even starts. Her chances of beating Barack Obama are slim.

Mitt Romney: Deemed the “frontrunner” by many, Romney would get destroyed in a general election. Flip-flop.  Flip-flop.  Flip-flop. The label destroyed John Kerry, and Romney’s propensity to change his mind makes Kerry’s switches look tame to the point of irrelevance. And did I mention that Obamacare looks like Romneycare on steroids? No chance.

Mike Huckabee: Christians heart Huckabee. Independents do not. Next.

Gary Johnson: Who is Gary Johnson?

Rick Santorum: Staunch social conservatives need not apply for the presidency. Santorum tried to mandate the teaching of intelligent design nationwide in 2001. Not a single Latino in America is going to vote for this guy. Neither are independents, moderate Democrats or a lot of moderate Republicans. If he is lucky and Obama does a lot of things very, very wrong between now and 2012, Santorum might… just might lose 65-35 to Obama.

Ron Paul: The man is a fringe lunatic. The answer is no.

Mike Pence: Who is Mike Pence?

Tim Pawlenty: The only candidate of the batch that I am not 100% confident would get absolutely mauled by Barack Obama in 2012. A smart, competent, seemingly likeable candidate. Relatively moderate. But he is from Minnesota and not really popular there anymore. In March, a poll of 500 Minnesotans pegged his approval at 42%. If his own voters don’t like him, it will be hard for him to beat an incumbent in a general election for the presidency.

Yes, straw polls are meaningless, and the nine names on the Southern Leadership Conference straw poll ballot don’t meaningfully represent all of the possible candidates. Off the top of my head, I might add Mitch Daniels, Paul Ryan, Bobby Jindal…we could go on. And yes, a lot can happen.  But honestly, how much worse can this actually get for President Obama? The economy has been poor (whether he really has that much control over it is besides the point), unemployment is soaring, there was an attempted terrorist attack on Christmas Day, the deficit is beyond absurd, his party is on the ropes and may lose many seats in both houses of Congress in the upcoming midterms….and yet, even with all of these disasters, Barack Obama would absolutely wreck eight out of the nine candidates on the Southern Leadership Conference straw poll ballot. The ninth, Tim Pawlenty, is uninspiring to the left, the right, the middle. He has shown nothing to suggest that he can hang with a legitimate heavyweight and frankly, there are few if any reasons to believe that he could win a national race.

The GOP’s star is not coming. Obama became a superstar at the Democratic Convention in 2004 and by 2006 (two years before the election….), every single person that followed politics knew who Barack Obama was. We have neither a Hillary Clinton (a powerhouse presumed nominee) or a rising star who captured the nation’s attention. Paul Ryan is a darling amongst conservatives but about ten mainstream Americans have ever heard of him.  Jindal was supposed to be the rising star, but he blew his “national unveiling” with an awkward response to Obama’s State of the Union.

Maybe something could change, maybe our guy will emerge, but probably not. Chances are Obama is here to stay. Republicans will need to gain back as much ground as possible in Congress, and then work to moderate the policies this president is going to push. “Kill the bill” didn’t work with healthcare. Let’s make sure we learn the right lessons. If we don’t, we might find ourselves shut out at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for much longer than “four more years.”

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75 Comments so far ↓

  • retro

    Jeb Golinkin? Who is Jeb Golinkin?

    Next…

  • Carney

    By the way, why isn’t FF trumpeting Romney’s win in the SRLC straw poll?

  • CentristNYer

    sdspringy // Apr 11, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    “Like most here I find the current list wanting as a Republican candidate for President. However unlike most here that really does not concern me.”

    This is the most revealing statement I’ve ever read at FF. The GOP field goes from outright nuts to dismal mediocrity to total incompetence and this voter doesn’t care.

  • No, We Are Not Sunk In 2012 « Nice Deb

    [...] before I get to that, here’s Jeb’s take on The GOP’s Lackluster 2012 Field, much of which I agree with: Newt Gingrich: Gingrich is too old, too polarizing, and too Washington [...]

  • sheryl

    “be realistic; the economy is going to have improved significantly by ‘12”

    Maybe, but in the meantime Obama and the Democrats have struck fear into the business community. Any private sector employee knows this fact and most hate the Democratic Party for it.

    Of course Obama and the Democrats will have that legislative albatross Obamacare around their necks, with everyday, every month, every year becoming heavier and heavier because its lack of effect on society.

    But also look at what Chris Dodd is trying to do to angel investing in his financial reform bill. Does anyone really think Obama and the Democratic Party is making this country more business friendly and will become the party of jobs in 2012. Be realistic.

  • Rabiner

    Sheryl:

    By ‘business friendly’ you mean not increasing regulations in a responsible manner to prevent another financial collapse in the future? The Chris Dodd bill seems to not go far enough than too far.

  • sheryl

    Far enough? Angel investing had nothing to do with financial collapse.

    You think someone who wants to invest in someone else’s idea to start a company should have to wait 120 days (and let’s be honest 120 days in government speak means 160 days approx.) Why? What if that company, if funded, could employee 10 people. You think it’s O.K for those 10 people to continue to be out of work?

    You think that this supposed responsible regulation that flows from Chris Dodd’s heart is the greater good over those 10 peoples lives for 3 plus months…..actually its proabaly more lives if you add in the families of those 10 unemployed people.

  • EdCoughlin

    The only one of this list I would consider voting for at all is Paul Ryan. At least he seems to know his stuff, even if he does fudge the numbers a good deal. I’ll take a plan with dishonest numbers over no plan at all (which is where the rest of the GOP seems to be).

    That said he would be better off getting a senate seat first and waiting 2-3 election cycles, but still, Ryan 2020 isn’t out of the question assuming Hillary doesn’t win in 2016 (which would make 2024 a better Ryan year with all the big Dem names of today out of the way).

    The rest are a collection of kooks and nuts (except maybe Pawlenty who it seems might only be playing at being a nut to get the nomination).

    My one hope is that they actually pick a Sarah Palin type and get mauled Goldwater style, maybe that would finally convince them that tacking center ala the British Conservative party is the answer instead of trying to stake out a claim as the furthest right mainstream party in the western world.

  • Rabiner

    Angel investing may not have but considering no one has reported on Angel investing from all the articles I’ve read I can’t comment on it. What I can comment on is regulating banks so they only act like banks only. Preventing them from investing their own money in the stock market, securitizing loans so they can pretend the risk is diluted are among the regulations that would be wise to enact. Banks role is to provide capital to investors and consumers and take a cut in interest payments for their service.

    And I can’t speak to any of your questions because I’d have to read about the flip side of your position regarding ‘angel investors’ to see why there would be a restriction on investing in that manner for 120 days ( and lets not add days so it sounds worse).

  • Gus

    MaxTwain, I don’t know how you can think that’s a deep bench.
    2012:
    Mitt Romney=flip-flopper, Mormon (not gonna go over well with Evangelicals)
    Tim Pawlenty-the most boring politician to run for President since his fellow Minnesotan Walter Mondale (okay and Joe Lieberman)
    John Thune-voted for the bailout which will cost him tea party votes
    Mitch Daniels-too early to tell, seems decent and appealing enough but hardly inspiring
    Haley Barbour-Confederate revanchist, if Barbour gets the nomination it will signal to African-Americans that the GOP isn’t interested in their votes
    Mike Huckabee-Jeb dealt with that one pretty well
    Sarah Palin-Jeb dealt with that one, too. She and her supporters just cannot believe that people don’t like her. The way they think of her reminds me of Pauline Kael commenting that she couldn’t believe Nixon won the ’72 election because she didn’t know anyone who voted for him. Get outside of the true believer inner circle and you’ll find that most people think she’s woefully inadequate
    Rick Perry-would rather govern the Republic of Texas
    Newt Gingrich-possibly the least appealing man who would consider running for office, a total a-hole, and the tales of the his serial divorces would lead to record low support among women
    Mike Pence-doesn’t seem that bright, but that doesn’t really mean anything
    George Pataki-a former governor of NY is unlikely to be conservative enough to win the nomination
    Jeb Bush-one of the best of the bunch. Too bad people are unlikely to vote for anyone named Bush for at least a generation
    Marco Rubio-Republicans will look a little hypocritical supporting a former state legislator with only two years in the Senate after ripping Obama as inexperienced. Not that hypocrisy would stop them from doing it.
    Herman Cain-who?
    Ron Paul-Too far on the fringe
    Gary Johnson-my personal favorite of the bunch. Is he interested in running?

    Not to say that someone out of that field couldn’t beat Obama, but I think some remarkable things would have to happen between now and 2012

  • sheryl

    Here are three good write ups on angel investing.

    By adding days was only being honest as I’ve worked with government timelines before via procuring work visa’s for employees.

    http://venturebeat.com/2010/03/26/angel-investing-chris-dodd/

    http://blog.entrepreneur.com/2010/03/new-finance-law-could-slow-angel-investment.php

    http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/29/angels-rebel-against-dodd-bill/

  • sheryl

    2012 is going to be public sector versus private sector realities.

    Obama only really care about is the public sector so the GOP needs a candidate that knows the private sector and that’s definitely Romney. Best match up will be Obama versus Romney in 2012.

    It’ll be great match up too. Forget about the flip flop crap Romney doesn’t hold a candle to Obama in the flip flop department. And the Mormon tag too will be a non-starter as again Obama’s religious ties to Rev. Wright pale in comparison. All those silly arguments will be played out only on the fringes.

    The race is going to be about competency. And Obama’s signature domestic “success” he’s already tied that to the brilliance of Romney’s mind and his competency in getting something major accomplished in Mass. And let’s face it Romney did it with the class of a statesmen where Obama just rammed and crammed it.

    It’s going to be contest about Obama who thinks he’s the smartest man in the room versus Romney who is the smartest man in the room.

  • Espresso Junkie

    Sheryl, thanks for sending the links to the proposed angel rules. I’m a Democrat but also run a tech startup and think the proposal would really kill the already suffering market for venture capital. As they say, the first million is the hardest, and if anything there needs to be better access to private equity for startups.

    Having received a government R&D grant, I will say the government’s process for doling out grant money to small businesses is very good considering the large number of applicants. It’s very time-consuming and competitive but fair and just about as streamlined as it can be. It has definitely helped to have these funding mechanisms already in place and working to ease the flow of stimulus dollars through federal government departments.

    I disagree with you about how the 2012 race will play out. Romney would have to make it out of the GOP primary to have a chance and it’s hard to see that happening. Obama is the best politician of our generation and will be the incumbent.

    A Bloomberg-Romney independent ticket would really mix things up though.

  • Rabiner

    Sheryl:

    I’ve read the three articles you sent and I agree with you on 2 of the provisions being proposed. There should only be the Federal standard for investing as an Angel Investor and increasing the amount of wealth an Angel Investor must have to be able to invest is silly to me. However I fully disagree with your opinion on the 120 day waiting filing with the SEC due to these 2 effects mentioned in the Entrepreneur article:

    1)making entrepreneurs do more work on their business plan, financials and projections to meet SEC requirements

    2) providing a sort of winnowing effect where flakier businesses would fall out of the running, leaving a clearer field for stronger concepts to connect with angels

    I think both of those reasons are good reasons to have a 120 day waiting period by filing with the SEC. Also it would actually help businesses find Angel Investors after the 120 period as fewer businesses would of obtained that ‘certification’ from the SEC.

    “It’s going to be contest about Obama who thinks he’s the smartest man in the room versus Romney who is the smartest man in the room.”

    Obama is the smartest man in the room in my opinion. He doesn’t resort to sound bite answers when discussing a topic which may be bad for nightly news programs and 24 hour news channels but the man in very bright and insightful. I like how he doesn’t just say what he’s doing but why he’s doing it.

  • Diomedes

    As an individual that (normally) leans left, I think Romney would be the most threatening to the Obama re-election chances in 2012.

    Yes, he does have aspects to his record that are ripe to be thrown around as hypocritical, such as his flip-flopping stance. The mormonism ‘may’ cause some eye-brow raises. But I don’t think that is as much of a deal breaker as some might think.

    Ultimately, for the one prospect that is the most ‘presidential’, I can’t think of anyone else in the pack that is going to be able to woo independents to that side of the fence.

    Newt Gingrich? Too unlikable. And too tied to the Washington establishment. Plus three marriages and two extramarital affairs? Nuff said.

    Sarah Palin? To quote John Cleese: “I used to think Michael Palin was the funniest Palin…” Let’s face it. She is completely un-electable. Too polarizing. And far too easy a target for ridicule. Not to mention the obvious parallels people will draw between her and George W. Bush.

    Jeb Bush? A decent fellow actually. But as others indicated, the Bush name is tarnished for at LEAST one generation.

    Mike Huckabee? Nice guy. Swell fellow. Too far right to bring the moderates onto his boat.

    Ron Paul? Not electable. Not for being a ‘fringe lunatic’ as some conclude. But more due to his age and somewhat tired cliches when it comes to fiscal policy.

    Rick Santorum? Intelligent Design = WTF?! Candidates from 18th century, rural America might vote for him. But that’s about it.

    We are still a ways out. In my opinion, most of the election potential (and ultimate results) will be far more tied to the economic recovery (if it occurs in a reasonable fashion) than to any particular candidate or policy. If Obama plays his cards right, gets the economy back on track, withdraws from Iraq and creates some level of stability in Afghanistan, he will coast to a second term.

  • sheryl

    I’ll give you bright and insightful, I think so too. Smart, not so much. Smart people who run for president release their grades, college transcripts and LSAT & SAT scores. Plus his time as editor of the Harvard Law Review he produced no articles of legal scholarship, that doesn’t sound particularily smart.

    And let’s not forget that Obama thought Austrian was a language, that Turkey was an older country than the US and when off teleprompter he tends to stutter kinda like a stoner. Or when off teleprompter, he goes on and on for 17 minutes answering a question.

    Nor is he smart about economics, so not sure he has the right deck to play his cards right in this game. If the economy rights itself, it will be in spite of Obama.

    Though, as Joe Biden did on Iraq, they will take the credit for the success that was brought by hard work and the dedication of others.

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  • jdripper

    Mr. Golinkin I have no idea who you are or your credentials. I know I read things such as your leading into every Presidential campaign going back to my first in 1964. Sir your reasoning is extremely flawed. Two reasons first of all like everyone who has never run a campaign you do not grasp that the 2012 campaign will be whether or not to re-elect Barack Obama. Who the Republican is will be inconsequential to the voted. At the rate things are going now all the Republican will have to say is I am not him.
    It is how Ronald Reagan was elected.
    Second anyone who discounts Sarah Palin is a fool. I heard the same exact things about Ronald Reagan, that you and David Frum keep slandering her, at this stage in 1978. That fact that you so cavalierly dismiss her tells me you know nothing of American politics.

  • Telly Davidson

    jdripper sez: “….the 2012 campaign will be whether or not to re-elect Barack Obama. Who the Republican is will be inconsequential to the voted. At the rate things are going now all the Republican will have to say is I am not him.”

    Because this worked so well for Alf Landon in 1936? (when the Depression was still in full swing.)

    “It is how Ronald Reagan was elected. Second anyone who discounts Sarah Palin is a fool. I heard the same exact things about Ronald Reagan….in 1978. That fact that you so cavalierly dismiss her tells me you know nothing of American politics.”

    Ronald Reagan: world-famous feature film and TV star, two-term governor of one of the two most important states/economies in North America, backed by “old money” interests from the Tuttle/Click auto empire to MCA-Universal head Jules and Doris Stein to (after the nomination) the Bushes, best buds with Lady Thatcher, Queen Elizabeth, Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, married to a woman who attended Smith with Betty Friedan and Barbara Bush.

    (Roseanna Roseannadanna voice): “Yeah, I can REALLY see how Sarah Palin is just like Ronald Reagan there.” ;-)

  • mlindroo

    Sheryl wrote:

    > Forget about the flip flop crap Romney doesn’t hold a candle to Obama in the flip flop department.

    Like it or not, but Romney’s reckless pandering “I’d double the Gitmo!” style makes him far more vulnerable once he is forced to backtrack. In case of health care reform, he was bragging about his role in the Massachusetts HCR bill before reversing himself. Romney could simply say he was wrong and that the facts have changed, yet he keeps insisting his views on health care reform (or abortion) have not changed since his days as a Massachusetts governor.

    Sure, Obama has changed his mind more than a few times too. But he also claims to be a pragmatic, cautious person who will accept even Republican ideas, as long as they are good. ObamaCare is a good example since the final bill has poor Romney’s and the 1994 Heritage Foundation’s fingerprints all over it. This puts the GOP in a bind and probably explains why the conservative response to Obama always has been highly confused and contradictory. We’re supposed to believe Obama is a communist radical hell-bent on destroying America as we know it, yet the same people gleefully point out the One has kept quite a few Bush/Cheney era policies and broken many campaign promises!

    Of course, none of this will matter very much in 2012 if the economy still stinks. But if it doesn’t, Obama probably will be re-elected fairly easily like most incumbents before him.

    MARCU$

  • Independent

    Jeb, your posts are becoming as irrelevant and incoherent as DavidF’s and TimMak’s and PeterWorthington’s on their BEST days.

    Your postulate that the GOP has a weak field of contenders for 2012 is just plain stupid and silly… you’ve been both in the past –no difference here.

    Take just one “analysis” point in a really supremely stupid post: “Mitt Romney: Deemed the “frontrunner” by many, Romney would get destroyed in a general election. Flip-flop. Flip-flop. Flip-flop. The label destroyed John Kerry, and Romney’s propensity to change his mind makes Kerry’s switches look tame to the point of irrelevance. And did I mention that Obamacare looks like Romneycare on steroids? No chance.”

    No chance? From your informed, insightful intern’s perspective?

    Stick to fetching coffee for the David. Put down the pen, turn off M-TV and think before you write… stupid is a disease best treated with research and reflection –and you need a lot of it, given this post.

  • Gus

    Independent, I see no analysis in your rambling, just ad hominem. Do you have anything relevant to add?

  • digital82711

    Defending Iraqis against slaughter is protecting war crimminal? Let’s see, who invaded whose county under false pretenses? Whose policy was it to supply Saddam with chemical weapons? Who gave an order to just open up on taxis? Who lied about yellow cake uranium? Who lied about aluminum tubes being centrifuges? Who lied about Saddam’s connection to 9/11 and Osama bin Laben? Whose policy was it that was “all about regime change”? – making it a violation of international law. Who has bombed buses, ambulances, hospitals, hotels, and killed tens of thousands of children? I hope to God that if Muslims ever do to this country what we have done to Iraq, I will not be siding with the invaders who claim to be bringing peace and freedom. I guess children who live in Iraq are guilty of being Iraqi and so deserve death. George Bush and Barak Obama are tried as the war criminals they are.

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