Previewing the 2012 election, part 4
There are 365 days until the 2012 election. The GOP has only a few more months before they need to decide on a sacrificial lamb.
Earlier this year Republicans flirted with the bizarre notion that Donald Trump would make a good candidate. He never officially tossed his hat into the ring and the voters still preferred him to the announced candidates. But the Don bowed out before he ever stepped in.
Then they turned to ultra-wingnut Michele Bachmann, a slightly more electable version of Sarah Palin. She peaked just in time to narrowly win the Iowa straw poll against perennial libertarian Ron Paul – the same day Rick Perry entered the race. Her balloon has been steadily deflating ever since. She currently has less support than Newt Gingrich, hard as that may be to believe.
Rick Perry rode into town as the Great White Conservative Hope against consummate panderer Mitt Romney, but apparently someone forgot to tell him he needed to know how to debate national issues. His debate performances have been laughable. He makes Dubya look like Alex Trebek. His descent in the polls has been almost as swift as his rise.
And that brings us to the current flavor of the month, Herman Cain (Donald Trump with less money and a better hairstyle). Cain is a man who has never before run for political office could have conceivably won his party’s nomination had it not been for the one two three four five woman who have come forward with charges of sexual harassment against him. I expect his standing as the anti-Romney candidate to diminish in the coming weeks.
[Random fact – in our nation’s 222-year history, only two people have been elected president without prior elected experience or having served in high military command. Both of those men, William Howard Taft and Herbert Hoover, did serve in previous administrations; Taft as Teddy Roosevelt’s Secretary of War and Hoover as Secretary of Commerce under Harding and Coolidge. Both presidents were one-term failures. It is remarkable that the GOP would consider Cain, who has neither elected experience, military experience or experience in a previous administration. The GOP might actually ask American voters to support a candidate with an unprecedented lack of qualifications for high office.]
Is there anyone besides Romney who could win the GOP nomination? Jon Huntsman barely registers in the polls. Gingrich and Rick Santorum would have made plausible candidates in a previous decade, before the Tea Party hijacked the GOP. Palin passed on a run, though I wouldn’t be surprised if she re-appeared in 2012 as an independent candidate, especially if Romney is the nominee.
Romney has been running for president for the past five years. He should have the nominations in the bag. However, recent polling has him at only about 25%, which is where he’s been most of this year. He’s this year’s Hillary Clinton – he has near universal name recognition and people already know what they think of him. Either they like him or they don’t. And right now 75% of the GOP would rather see someone else as the nominee than Romney. On paper, Romney is probably the strongest candidate against Obama. He should be a shoo-in for the nomination. But he isn’t. Conservatives don’t trust him and evangelicals consider Mormons to be members of a strange cult. Conservatives want an anti-establishment candidate this year and they’re still window shopping.
There are 55 days until the Iowa caucus. Two months is a long time in politics. Two months ago Rick Perry was the savior conservatives were looking for. Two months before that Michele Bachmann was the queen of the world. Two months before that Donald Trump was questioning the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate. So who knows what will happen between now and January 3.