December 18, 2007

Open Thread: Republican Presidential Nomination

Carroll Andrew Morse

Since the collapse of the (now slightly rebounding) John McCain campaign earlier this year, the conventional wisdom has been that the Republican nomination would be decided in a one-on-one battle between Rudy Giuliani and whoever emerged as the winner of the GOP's "Conservative Division" in the early states.

However, almost all of the politically knowledgable and politically active people I have spoken to about the Republican nomination race over the past few weeks have expressed a version of this graf from today's Rich Lowry National Review Online column…

Nationally, [Rudy Giuliani's] numbers have been on slow downward slide since March. He was at 44-percent in an ABC News/Washington Post poll in February, and at 25-percent in the same poll last week…

This has trashed the Giuliani theory of the race, which was that his national lead in the polls was a bankable commodity that he could redeem even after losses in the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan, and South Carolina. It turns out that his national lead hasn’t even survived the media attention that has gone to the hot candidate in Iowa, Mike Huckabee, weeks before anyone votes. What happens when Giuliani’s competitors begin actually winning the early contests, with the attendant crush of attention and buzz?
The horserace question is: Can the GOP field still be split into favorites and dark horses, or are there as many as five top tier candidates who control their own destiny, i.e. who have a chance to win without the help of a major gaffe by their opponents?

The substantive question -- based on the fact that's it's already been a long campaign where people are at least familiar with the names involved -- is: Which GOP candidate has the best "second act" potential to capture the imagination of the public?

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I think Ron Paul still has a shot to pull a John Kerry and pop out of the back of the pack.

Posted by: Greg at December 18, 2007 10:38 AM

I like Huckabee overall, and I think at this point he is in position to take the nomination.

And then get slaughtered in the general. This country has gone to such a leftward slant, they'll actually take a Democrat over an ordained minister any day of the week and twice on a Tuesday in November.

Posted by: EMT at December 18, 2007 12:24 PM

After eight years of the Prez listening to the voices in his head and thinking it's God telling him to invade the wrong country I'm pretty confident that NOBODY is all that excited about electing an ordained minister except the bible belt.

Posted by: Greg at December 18, 2007 12:28 PM

Knowing that he wouldn't win Iowa or New Hampshire, Giuliani was counting on wins in Michigan and Florida to ensure he didn't become irrelevant before elections in New York and California, two states he expects to win. But Huckabee is now ahead in Iowa, South Carolina and Florida, is gaining in Michigan and has closed California to single digits.

Romney had hoped to get early wins in Iowa, New Hampsire and Michigan, knowing that he wouldn't be strong in the South. Huckabee is ruining Romney's plan for Iowa and Romney is in a horserace with Giuliani for Michigan--with Huckabee gaining. Romney should win NH, but if he can't find a way to win Nevada or Michigan, his campaign will be over as the elections shift to South Carolina and Florida. If Romney loses NH, his campaign will be over.

The pressure is really on Huckabee. Huckabee absolutely needs to win Iowa and South Carolina. A Romney win in Iowa followed by a a Romney win in NH might just end Huckabe's campaign.

Giuliani doesn't have to win an election until Florida, but if Huckabee finds a way to win FL, it might be all over for Giuliani before he gets to CA and NY.

Posted by: Anthony at December 18, 2007 12:50 PM

The only Republican who polls better than Clinton or Obama in head-to-heads right now is John McCain. If the question is "Who stands the best chance of winning the presidency for the GOP?", the answer at this moment in time is without a doubt McCain.

But I don't think anyone can say "vote for this person and the White House will stay in Republican hands." The race is way too unpredictable.

Giuliani, Huckabee, Romney and Thompson are all well-positioned in the single-digits against Hillary.

Only McCain polls better than Obama and only in a few polls. Giuliani comes close and Huckabee's numbers are improving, but still have a ways to go.

Posted by: Anthony at December 18, 2007 1:13 PM

[Warning: Off-topic comment]

Heads up, you Barack Obama supporters. It has been revealed that while in elementary school, Hillary Clinton was captain of the crossing guards.

This could be the edge needed to win the Rhode Island Democrat primary. You know how highly Rhode Islanders esteem crossing guards.

Posted by: Monique at December 18, 2007 1:15 PM

"But I don't think anyone can say "vote for this person and the White House will stay in Republican hands." The race is way too unpredictable."

That's largely because NOBODY GOOD is running. We have the same problem that the Dems have had the last two elections. The candidates suck.

Posted by: Greg at December 18, 2007 1:41 PM

>Which GOP candidate has the best "second act" potential to capture the imagination of the public? <

Ron Paul.

Posted by: PDM at December 18, 2007 3:41 PM

What ever happened to the old saying "follow the money?"

If we do that, Ron Paul can make a huge dent in this thing. $18 million in the all important fourth quarter. No small feat, but keep ignoring it for now, you won't be able to later!

Posted by: Theracapulas at December 19, 2007 9:50 AM
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