GOP competitive candidates
Cover of Going Rogue: An American LifeJay Costs:
...He also does not see a drawn out nominating process.
Today, I want to look at things strictly from the competitiveness metric, and here I think the main contenders -- Jon Huntsman, Tim Pawlenty, and Mitt Romney -- all score very, very well. I see four reasons for drawing this conclusion.
1. Crossover appeal. Huntsman, Pawlenty, and Romney all won statewide elections by performing better than the party normally does in each state. In 2008 Jon Huntsman won 64 percent of the gubernatorial vote in Utah (an improvement on his performance relative to 2004), while John McCain won 62 percent of the presidential vote that same year. Tim Pawlenty won reelection in Minnesota in 2006 narrowly, but this was still an impressive feat considering that Minnesota retains a blue tilt and 2006 was a terrible year for Republicans in general. T-Paw won about 100,000 more votes that the Republican candidates in the 8 Minnesota House districts that year, and 200,000 more votes than Mark Kennedy, the GOP candidate for the open Senate seat. In 2002, Mitt Romney won a comfortable, five point victory in Massachusetts, despite the fact that his party is so weak in the Bay State that it ran just 4 candidates in the 10 House districts that year.
In other words, all three have demonstrated an ability to pull in voters who have previously backed Democrats, which is a requirement if the GOP is going to win the presidency back next year.
2. Records as governors. All three of these candidates earned a national reputation as governors, which will give them all an opportunity to point to their executive records in contrast to President Obama's. This is preferable to coming up through the ranks via the House and Senate, where people don't really "run" anything. And, as we saw with Bob Dole, John Kerry, John McCain, and even Hillary Clinton, Senate candidates often have that strange dialect known as "Senate-ese," wherein they talk about their experience on this or that subcommittee, their support for this or that amendment, or their vital role in this or that part of the inscrutable appropriations process. Put simply, Huntsman, Pawlenty, and Romney can present themselves as men of action, rather than men of deliberation -- and action is what the country wants.
3. No "gotcha votes."...
I think we will see some more candidates jump in. I think Sarah Palin is positioning herself for an entry. This story indicates that a million dollar video has been prepared to reintroduce her to the country, and the reports are that it is very good. It is to be released in June. Some of the narration is from her best selling book Going Rogue.
Of the three mentioned in Cost's piece, I like Pawlenty best. He does not have Romeny's health care baggage, and I just do not know enough about Huntsman at this point to make a judgment beyond my doubts about anyone who thought enough of Obama to work for him.
I think Palin is strong on the issues, but she will have to overcome the animus not only of the media, but also of some independents who do not like her confrontational style. She would make a far better President than Obama. So would Pawlenty and Romney. The issues should still favor the Republicans this year. and Obama has much to defend and rhetoric will not be enough this time.
Matt Bai at the New York Times also sees some strengths in the GOP field.