November 17, 2011

Why the GOP prez race won't be done soon

First, with Newt Gingrich now replacing Herman Cain, who previously replaced Rick Perry, at the top of the GOP polling list, it's clear that likely primary voters are still in an anybody-but-Romney mood.

And, since no GOP primary before April 1 can be winner-take-all, there's plenty of reason for every wingnut candidate to hang in there. Especially since "Super Tuesday," which was in February in 2008, will be in March this year. I'll come back to this point as the Iowa caucuses get near, then we get past that and approach the New Hampshire primary.

Even with the one-month pushback on Super Tuesday, which includes Texas, Perry has money enough to stay around until then with recent belt-tightening. However, as Paul Burka notes, Perry's problems ultimately, in many cases, trace back to his insularity. And, I seriously doubt he can overcome that, even if he can hang on enough to make it to the Texas primary. And Herman Cain's latest gaffe, not on falsehoods or groping, but blowing off New Hampshire's GOP kingmaker, the Manchester Union-Leader, will push him out of the race soon enough.

Now that we're learning Newt Gingrich got almost $2 million from Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac for "strategic advice," how long before he gets hammered on this? Yes, some pundits have noted he has had past "heresies" from orthodox wingnut GOP doctrine, like challenging Paul Ryan's Medicare ideas.

But, he's surged to No. 1 in GOP polling because he's supposed to be the last, best hope of wingnuts who want somebody orthodox and pure to take out the flip-flopping Mitt Romney  Update (via Burka): Another rat is leaving Perry's ship ... and headed to Gingrich's. And, yes, that's what's driving this process.

Given that the tea party line on Fannie/Freddie is that "ebil Democrats made it sell a bunch of houses to poor, unworthy black folks," how can they digest him getting nearly $2M for helping spread that advice? More on the issues facing Newt here.

Newt won't do well in Iowa because the Religious Right doesn't trust him. But, if he can "spin" enough in New Hampshire, he might remain a player. Paul, if he can appear non-nutbar, will appeal to libertarians there, unless Gary Johnson can leapfrog him.

New Hampshire also allows crossover voting. Since Obama is unopposed on the GOP side, this allows for possible mischief making, too. Don't expect the head of New Hampshire's Democrats to say anything official, though!

And a New York Times article on how tea partiers' destructive influence on primaries is undercutting the GOP's chance of regaining control of the Senate applies perfectly to this year's presidential primaries.
Fears of ideologically divisive primaries often keep the best candidates from running, some Republican officials said.
“We are having trouble recruiting,” said Martha Breene, the chairwoman of the Venango County Republican party in Pennsylvania. “You often are not getting what you hope you could be getting, and then there is the Tea Party factor. A lot of them have good intent but it is sort of like they are the police men of all things and they aren’t going to let other Republicans matter.” 
Yep, sounds like the presidential primaries.

Which would give Romney a narrow plurality over a muddle of everybody else. But, that muddle is going to go on for a while.

And this gets more fun yet. With Paul also gaining poll steam, would he consider a replay of 1988, as the Libertarian standard-bearer, and launch a third-party campaign? Would somebody else? (I've long speculated that Jon Huntsman would be "ideal" for the web-only Tom Friedman wet dream "centrist" party, Americans Elect.) Would a Santorum give an eye to the Religious Right's Constitution Party?

And, speaking of all this, Gary Johnson is, overall, less nutbar than Paul. Buddy Roemer is less nutbar than anybody this side of Romney and Huntsman. So, why won't GOP honchos, or media moguls, invite either of them to debates?

Not to a brokered GOP convention. Sit down, Chris Christie and Mitch Daniels. But ... the muddle will go on a while.

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