The GOP had it’s Iowa conservative “cattle call” for would-be candidates who want to get a leg up on this first-voting conservative state.There are a bazillion think-pieces and reports from the conservative convention. Here’s a smattering:
- Sarah Palin’s Bizarre Iowa Speech Gets Thanks – From the Democrats (her speech wasn’t that bizarre. It was a bit cringe-worthy. She knows sound-bites like Marvel knows super heroes. She’s said she’s “interested” in running which, for her, means she’s not running).
- Politico tells you What You Need To Know (Christie’s still in it to win it, Santorum didn’t rock the house—but Huckabee did okay, Walker kicked ass, the base doesn’t like Jeb, Immigration’s a big deal)
- Scott Conroy calls Perry taking the stage after Sarah Palin a scheduling mistake on the order of Woddstock booking 1950’s throwback band Sha-Na-Na right before Hendrix! (He notes that the serious candidates may have been damaged by the likes of Donald Trump an Palin)
- NBC gives you three takeaways (Everybody knows what their weaknesses are as well as we do—they’re working on or around them, the power brokers (Steve King) demand Immigration/Amnesty be a major part of the dialog, there was another event Rubio and Paul attended.).
So, whatever. Here’s what The Omnivore thinks you should know:
- Walker kicked some ass. He’s a serious threat to Hillary and he didn’t choke or bore. It’s not all the way home yet (still no college degree, still maybe not charismatic enough) but he’s the best fit candidate to ALL the GOP’s components (he offends no one and shows the right signifiers for almost everyone).
- Carson kicked some ass. He had to give a speech without fumbling anything and he did.
- Everyone who is even remotely seriously running (we’ll draw the line in a second) seems to think they still have a chance.
And that’s what’s interesting. We did this before—but it looks like we need to do it again. Why the heck do these guys think they all have a decent chance (one that will cost millions of dollars to take) to win the nomination?
Before we start, though, let’s get one thing straight: The More The Merrier does not apply to presidential nomination battles. Firstly a good candidate can get hamstrung by the system (Iowa is a so-con state, for example): Even though Mitt was a loser, he would have been way, way better positioned for the general if not for the Anyone But Romney effect that kept him in second place until literally everyone else had been pealed off. Crazy candidates can make serious candidates do crazy things. Herman Cain was never going to win the election and it didn’t take a genius to know that. What he did was make everyone on that stage look less presidential.Romney was a reasonably serious, reasonably sober candidate—Perry coming in and dive-bombing the process (starting late, looking like a powerful contender, etc.) prompted Romney to make the 10k bet—that wasn’t a killer (Romney’s self-inflicted wounds aside, the conventional-wisdom election models suggest he’d have to over-perform to have beaten an incumbent). Finally, all of this is super expensive and GOP donors are in danger of getting fleeced by a super-charged election process.
So where do we stand? Well, The Omnivore really likes The National Review Online’s breakdown of candidates:Basically Walker, Rubio, Perry, and Jindal at the top of the pack and everybody else behind it (Palin and Trump do not appear). This is quality, sober thinking (especially putting Walker at the top—he’s the guy to beat right now in terms of what a probable end-game looks like). These guys all have problems—but they’re all serious contenders.
The second tier including Bush and Romney also makes sense: both these guys have fatal flaws in the primary environment. They may be able to muscle their way through the early states but it’s not clear what happens if they wind up a very, very possible 6th place in or something in the first 4 states.
So let’s ask: Who’s definitely not gonna win?
|Candidate||Why They Think They’ll Win?||Why They Won’t||When He’s Out|
|He won 11 states in 2012 and came in second. NEXT. IN. LINE. |
He’s been to Iowa A LOT. Maybe more than anyone else.
|Sadly, no one cares about gay marriage anymore. Also: less likable than Huckabee.||5th place in Iowa.|
|Pastors from all over have TOLD him to run. God wants him to.||Because so-cons proved they can’t elect a candidate when up against the larger EV states. Everyone likes Huck—no one wants him THAT badly.||After South Carolina the love-train runs out of track|
|He’s a governor. He’s a minority. He’s super-duper Catholic so … hey?||He’s not as popular in his home state as Christie, his record isn’t as good as Perry’s, he doesn’t have the anti-union/recall heroics like Walker. |
He choked on his SOTU rebuttal.
|He can KILL it in the debates. Literally: he might possibly kill a guy in the debates (the base will love it). Plus: blue-state folks … they kinda like him, don’t they. That’s like 53% of the electorate. |
He just staffed up .
|It isn’t 53% of the primary. Everyone seeking a governor due to general sanity will shop Walker and Perry first. Everyone on his donor-list is giving to Bush or Romney first.||Backs out before primary begins due to fund-raising difficulties. Bites head off of reporter.|
|He’s like his dad—but not crazy. But his dad’s folks love him!||He’s not enough like his dad and he’s not quite not-crazy.||Stays in until Super Tuesday on a wing and a prayer.|
|People LOOOOOVE ME!! They really, really LOOOVE ME!! |
He’s built a substantial organization (and that’s not including the semi-bogus SuperPAC that seems to be stalking him)
|Zero political experience is a disqualifier to everyone who isn’t already voting for Ted Cruz. The guy he hired to lead his charge isn’t a political operator but Richard Pryor’s old lawyer. Doing things different is fine but Carson’s gaffe-record rules out him being a ‘political genius.’||He could stay in for a long time. Especially if he believes what he’s saying about God calling him to run.|
|Everyone keeps TELLING him he’ll win. He’s a fighting fighter who has fought all the fights. In fact, his strategy is to call out the other candidates who haven’t fought!||Fighting a fight you can’t win isn’t bravery: it’s stupidity. And also: Cruz has fought Obamacare, Obama, and, once by accident Omaha. He tried to fight Osama. |
He’s also fought every Republican he could get his hands on. That’s not how you win friends. People who like Cruz will go Perry.
|Cruz never wins a state in the first 4 (but does okay) and gets buried after that.|
|LOOK AT THAT WINNING SMILE! … Hey, compare to Jindal! Rubio thinks maybe he can carry Florida (the White Whale of the EV) and bring Hispanics back into the fold with the power of his last name and questionable biography! Also, he’s ex-Mormon: Utah?||Bush is at least as likely to “bring Florida” as Rubio is. In an election where Hispanics will be called “Deportables” if Steve King is being nice, Rubio is not going to win them and the base will not forgive his Gang of Ocho amnesty. People who like Rubio on substance will go to Walker.||He flags when he can’t raise funds early on.|
At the end of the day we wind up with Walker, Perry, Jeb, and Mitt (and, if we’re being serious, probably not Mitt). The Omnivore really doesn’t have a leg to stand on to say these predictions and analysis are going to prove out—but it turns out? It’s fun to speculate.