Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

GOP embraces ‘Anybody but Romney’; will they stay outside the box when primary season starts?

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While we know the 2012 presidential race started a long time ago, here at Democracy Soup, we decided also long ago to not seriously cover the race until a year before the election. Even that seems too early, but you can’t bury your head in the sand forever. Times change.

“But you missed Michele Bachmann! And what about Rick Perry? Does Herman Cain have a shot!?”

My friend and very talented political writer Jeff and I had a conversation this summer about the 2012 GOP presidential race. His theory is that Mitt Romney will be the nominee since the GOP follows the tradition of the person-in-waiting (e.g., John McCain). If the Dems had worked this way, John Edwards would have been the 2008 presidential nominee. Romney’s ascension theory also works since the GOP primaries are winner-take-all, with two or more far-right conservatives running, they would split that vote and Romney would take home those states with less than 50%. (McCain did too.)

This is good news for Romney since he can’t seem to poll higher than 25% on the GOP side. That 25% could be enough for him to win the nomination.

My theory is that the GOP needs something different, wanting to shake things up for 2012. Look at the huge desire to draw new blood into the ring: Rick Perry, Chris Christie, and Sarah Palin. Only Perry of the three jumped into the fray. Though, if Palin could figure out how to get elected without campaigning, she will jump in for 2012. If anybody can, Sarah Palin can.

Herman Cain has been doing well in the polls, until they figure out his positions and he started talking and the sexual harassment allegations and the illegal campaign funding allegations. Then again, Michele Bachmann was also a flavor of the month.

One of these people is going to be the GOP nominee in 2012 and that person will get at least 35% of the general election vote: Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, and whomever else I have left off the list. Or it will be someone else.

The Republican electorate either wants to date around and then “marry” Romney, or they want to keep dating as long as possible and pick the hot person at the last possible moment, like electoral musical chairs. Either way, Romney isn’t their favorite flavor.

Jeff and I have nothing riding on this other than pride in covering politics, but we are curious to see who’s right, but more importantly, which way the GOP will go in 2012.

Republicans are virtually allergic to confrontations among each other, whether they are still following Ronald Reagan’s commandment against speaking ill of a fellow Republican or they desperately want things to be smooth. This is why the GOP likes quick, painless races.

Dems have to be laughing a bit that they get a cycle to not have to sweat this out. Some Democratic people are still exhausted from Obama/Clinton in 2008. The Keystone State will never forget the 6 weeks leading up to the 2008 Pennsylvania primary.

No primary race ever went that intense or long, and the GOP won’t raise the bar in 2012.

Incumbency is a decided advantage, and striking in a presidential cycle when the other party has an incumbent is rather difficult. You’re seen as a sacrificial lamb if the other party is doing well, and perceived to have an uphill battle even if things aren’t going well in the White House.

Despite what the pundits think, Barack Obama isn’t that bad off. That is, unless his base actually doesn’t come out a year from now. Liberals certainly thought Bill Clinton sold them out, but Clinton looks like Dennis Kucinich compared to Obama.

Back to the GOP side, the quest for them is to ask “Which candidate is best to beat Barack Obama?”

I stand by my prediction that the race won’t be as smooth as Romney and others think it will be. I still think Bachmann can make a push forward — no candidate is as passionate as she has been. I still has this thought in my head that Sarah Palin will still be involved somehow in a “my country needs me” approach. But as Herman Cain would point out, “I don’t have the facts to back this up.”

No, I have no idea who will win, but I still think the GOP will go, to borrow phrase, rogue.

The GOP electorate wants raw, far right meat: Romney isn’t that candidate. Who will it be? Stay tuned.

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