Wednesday, January 18, 2012

POS - And Then There Were Five

Welcome back to CRAPOLA.  Today I’ll be making my first post under the section of POS – Politics or Stupidity.  It’s a look at the Republican primary field and my predictions for what we will see in the next few weeks.

This has been a long and interesting political season for the campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination.  With the withdrawal of Jon Huntsman (my personal favorite in the race), that leaves only 5 remaining candidates for the nomination.  This is my prediction of the order in which they will drop out from here on out.

What comes after 2 again?
1.  Rick Perry.  The Texas governor will not be saved by making his Alamo last stand in South Carolina.  The conservative vote is too fractured between Perry, Santorum, and Gingrich for any of them to build a sizeable challenge to Romney, which hurts all 3 of them but hurts Perry the most.  Perry’s continuous debate gaffes such as forgetting how to count to three, as well as the fact that most of us remember what happened the last time a Texas governor became president, spells doom for his campaign.  He’ll finish no better than 4th in South Carolina, and then he’ll quit the race within 48 hours of that primary.

**Update - When I predicted Perry would quit within 48 hours of South Carolina, I thought it would be within 48 hours AFTER the election there, not within 48 hours before of it.  He surprised me by quitting early today, a day after I'd posted this.

2.  Rick Santorum.  The other conservative in the race named Rick, this one with the unfortunate Google problem (don’t know what I mean? Just go google Santorum and you’ll see), has the support of far-right Republicans but will draw next to no support from moderate Republicans.  His views turn off the majority of independents and moderates you’d need for a general election victory anyways, so a Santorum candidacy might as well just hand victory to Obama right now.  Seriously, if this guy wins the nomination, Obama will crush him.  I see Santorum dropping out after Florida's primary January 31 unless by a miracle he wins South Carolina or Florida, but I don't see either of those happening.  If he wins or comes very close in those though, I can see him sticking until Super Tuesday also, which would flip him and Ron Paul's spots on this list.

3.  Ron Paul.  Ron Paul isn’t even a Republican, he’s a Libertarian.  If he’s truly serious about being a presidential nominee, he should run 3rd party as a Libertarian and be done with it.  Some of his views are so extreme that they turn off all of the moderates (pull out of everything overseas period, despite how that would leave our military unable to respond to any global threats), and some of his views (legalize all the drugs, just to name one) turn off all the social conservatives.  Despite his rabid fanbase, he’ll also bow out soon.  His fanbase will keep him in it through the Nevada caucuses on February 4th, maybe even through Colorado on February 7th, or all the way to Arizona on Feb 28th.  He might just stick it out until Super Tuesday also just to be obnoxious.

4.  Newt Gingrich.  Although Newt has less support than Paul in many polls, he has one thing the other 3 candidates above don’t have – a boatload of money.  The PACs and Super-PACs supporting Gingrich are flooding the airwaves in key battleground states with anti-Romney ads.  Since he has the money, and the ego, I see Gingrich being the last to concede to Romney, and he’ll go down kicking and screaming.  Unless Romney blows out everyone with wins in South Carolina and Florida where he picks up more than 50% of the vote, Gingrich will hang in the race until Super Tuesday on March 6th because he can afford to do so.

That leaves us with the Republican nominee, the Romney-bot version 2.012.  How effective he’ll be in the general election remains to be seen.  As of right now, the economy is starting to finally, maybe, hopefully pick up some steam.  This will give Obama some leverage over Romney-bot.  Also, the concerted effort by the other candidates to tear down Romney has become a gift that keeps on giving to the Obama campaign.  Obama will simply keep using the same arguments against Romney that his own party rivals are using, such as the fact that he’s an out of touch millionaire making $10,000 bets, or the fact that he only pays taxes at a 15% rate, or that he’s been pro-life for less time than Kim Kardashian has been famous.  The Romney-bot is a calculating political machine, pandering whenever he feels it will help him.  Unfortunately, all that pandering is making him appear to be a flip-flopper, and Democrats can’t wait to tar Romney with that brush just like Kerry was in 2004. 

Romney’s quote about enjoying firing people is going to haunt him as well.  I won’t be surprised if every single campaign commercial for the rest of the election includes that sound bite, even if it is about something other than the economy.  He really blew his own foot off with a grenade launcher on that one.  Ultimately, Obama is going to paint this election as a choice between the working class man working for the middle class versus the out of touch corporate greed machine that mercilessly guts companies and hands out pink slips by the bucket load.  Yes it is class warfare, and it is going to work spectacularly for the Obama campaign, giving him four more years in office.

Oh what might have been:  Tim Pawlenty has to be kicking himself for not staying in this race longer; and Mike Huckabee has to be asking himself why he didn’t enter the race in the first place.  Both would have been great alternatives to Romney-bot, but both left the race or didn’t even enter it in the first place, more than a year ago.  Oh well.  I’ll also miss the underappreciated Huntsman.  Here’s a guy that could actually appeal to moderates like myself because he actually believes in Global Warming.  But, after hearing that and his stance on Evolution (that’s real too) as well as the fact that he puts country ahead of party, spelled his doom because the Tea Party wing of the party could never support anyone that was willing to work with or compromise with the Democrats for the sake of getting things done (such as the Mandarin speaker being the ambassador to China under Obama).  It just shows how wide the divide has become in our country, where a politician who puts the country before himself and his party is actually punished for putting the needs of the country first.  Why has that become so horrible?  It just goes to show how screwed we are as a country as long as politics is so fractious.  Oh well.

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