In the original post, I said I hoped that Perry would grow on the public to the extent he’d match most of Romney’s appeal.
This poll suggests he might.
Romney v. Obama: 48-46; Perry v. Obama: 47-47; Ron Paul v. Obama 45-47; Bachmann v. Obama 44-48.
To some extent, but only some, this rebuts Ziegler’s main point that Obama is still the candidate favored to win and that we must focus almost exclusively on electability.
But, as you can see from the numbers, Obama is not a “sure loser” as has become the fashionable belief among many conservatives. Our best candidate (at the moment) only beats him by a pipsqueak two points, and our best candidate (in the future, I believe) merely ties him.
One guy’s opinion, of course, but I’m a numbers guy, and the numerical case for Romney is strong.
Romney isn’t my guy. Perry is. (And before Perry, Pawlenty.) My belief — or hope, I guess — is that part of Romney’s appeal is that he is familiar to independents and Republican leaners, and therefore not “scary” or otherwise objectionable. And that Perry might be able to similarly become familiar to such voters, and also neither scary nor objectionable.
But that is a hope, only. At the current moment, it is true, as Ziegler says, that Romney is the strongest candidate, at least by the numbers.
Ziegler begins by castigating Republicans into thinking Obama is an almost certain loser, a belief which is then taken by us to mean we have a free hand in putting notions of “electability” firmly out of mind and simply indulging in a hunt to find the fieriest, most implacable foe of liberalism. The long opening of his long, long essay is a refutation of the idea that Obama is a sure loser. He is vulnerable, but only against a candidate that the majority of the country finds unobjectionable and well-qualified.
That’s the reason he supported Pawlenty (and my reasons as well).
But the party refused to consider Pawlently’s on-paper electability. (I should say here that “on paper” is not equal to “real world,” and the party was perhaps wise in deciding that while Pawlenty looked good on paper, he didn’t seem as appealing on the stump or on the stage.)
Which leaves… Romney.
When exactly did Republicans seemingly become so delusional? The first sign that the GOP base had left the gravitational pull of the rational earth in the Obama era was when professional blowhard Donald Trump shot to the top of the presidential polls on the strength of his bogus birth certificate crusade. Fortunately, that particular problem took care of itself (at least for now), but the overall situation may have actually gotten worse. The most troubling part is that the vast majority of the party’s rank and file seems to have no idea the peril its prospects of unseating President Obama are really in.
There is no doubt that Obama is very vulnerable, far more so than most observers (including me) believed likely when he was swept into office by a tidal wave of biased media coverage less than three years ago. His approval ratings are in the low forties, and in many of the battleground states he appears to be a heavy underdog. The census-induced changes in the Electoral College slice his margin of error to almost nothing, and the economy shows very little sign of improving enough to rescue him. He has also left a trail of damningly false televised statements which should make for great attack ad fodder.
And yet the Republican Party appears on the verge of making Obama’s reelection about as likely as the circumstances surrounding his presidency would make possible. Consequently, this golden opportunity to help the country largely dodge the Obama bullet is on the verge of being squandered.
While the vast majority of conservatives (including many prominent commentators) would find that notion laughable, the evidence overwhelmingly indicates that, thanks largely to their predilection for seeing reality through overly optimistic and star-spangled glasses, they are dangerously out of touch.
The first misunderstanding that has led to this dangerous case of Republican hubris is the nature of the polling data. When the average conservative thirsting to see Obama be a one-termer hears that his “approval rating” is in the low forties (or even lower) they seem to think this means that almost sixty percent of the voting public has decided that they are unlikely to vote for him next year, but this is far from the truth.
Plenty of people have no problem saying now that they “disapprove” of a president in 2011 and still decide not to vote him out of office in 2012. In fact, saying they “disapprove” of the president’s job performance doesn’t even mean that they want him replaced at the instant they are asked.
The best way to think of this may be to consider the president as the national spouse. Plenty of wives may say at any given moment (especially when the honeymoon is long over and things seem to be going poorly) that they “disapprove” of the job that their husband is doing, but that doesn’t mean they are necessarily going to leave him for someone else, particularly when there is no other specific option available at the time.
Another red herring in the political data is the “Obama vs. Generic Republican” number, which could not be more deceiving. Currently, Obama regularly loses nationally to this fictitious candidate, but if anything, these numbers show just how unlikely it really is that he will actually be defeated. When a poll respondent processes that question they conjure up the image of Republican who has no major blemishes and has yet to have their entire careers picked apart by a media all too eager to destroy them.
Currently, despite all of his recent problems, no named candidate comes close to beating Obama in an actual head to head matchup except Mitt Romney.
Of course, none of the leading or even potential Republican candidates comes close to fitting the ‘generic” description either. Ironically, the one candidate who came by far the closest, Tim Pawlenty, ended up, through little fault of his own, being the very first to be knocked out of the race.
The early demise of the Pawlenty campaign tells you everything you need to know about how this delusion/ignorance regarding political realities is stunting the Republican nominating process in a way Obama should only be able to dream about. Pawlenty was the one candidate who clearly would have made the election an unambiguous referendum on Obama. That is a battle which, even with the media on his side, the president cannot win unless the economy makes an unexpected recovery.
Pawlenty’s campaign was doomed by some of the very qualities which made it so attractive to those who understand how a national presidential election works in the modern age. He was seen as “boring” by a Republican electorate that is clearly looking to be highly stimulated. But in his case ‘boring” also meant “electable.”
Ziegler is very down on Perry, for the reasons people typically say they’re down on Perry: He’s too similar to Bush; as a Texan (and a born and bred one, unlike Bush), he won’t play in the swing states of the mideast, which will be inclined against him for reasons of cultural animus; and he tends to say “scary” things which gladden Tea Partiers but turn off the middle, which wants a correction to Obama, and not an equal-but-opposite Revolution, with the nation now veering hard to the right after veering hard to the left just three years ago.
I keep thinking that this stuff is first-blush resistance and will not persist. If the country found the culture of Texas to be palatable in 2000 and 2004, why would they suddenly find Texas to be a barbaric rowdy-land with any citizen of that state culturally and politically suspect?
Due to Bush, I suppose, but this chain of thought relies on the proposition that the public literally cannot tell one man from another, and will think that Perry pretty much is George Bush, a proposition I find sort of daffy.
As for fiery rhetoric — well, you need some of that. And, for good or for ill, Perry is in fact suddenly not quite so down on Social Security as he was a couple of years ago.
But I do take Ziegler’s point. In a recent poll, Romney edges Obama by one in Florida while Perry loses by five. Should that situation persist into 2012, then I’ll have to revisit my own assumptions about Perry’s electability, and take a second look at Romney.
Ziegler thinks Palin will run, by the way, but for reasons Palin supporters will sharply diagree with:
I continue to believe that Sarah Palin has no choice but to get in the race. While I am no longer in contact with her or her team after I came out against her running, everything I observed from the “inside” indicated to me that she was very open to running and nothing since then has changed my mind about that.
Her brand depends on her running because if she doesn’t, her followers will feel let down and she will have no apparent next act. Once there are two new nominees on the 2012 ticket, she is old news with no office to change her narrative. By 2016 she would be ancient history with either a Republican president in office or with a brand new crop of highly qualified challengers ready to pounce on what should be the slam dunk of replacing a term-limited Obama.
My prediction is that she gets in and runs almost exclusively an air war intended to create the appearance of a real primary campaign without any of the hassles. She knows that her vote is pretty much set in stone and it won’t be impacted much, if at all, by creating a traditional organization. If she is as smart as I think she is, her goal would be to exceed low expectations and finish a respectable second to Romney and thus use the campaign to change minds about her for the future. In a sense, she would then become a hybrid of Romney and Mike Huckabee after 2008: technically “unemployed” but well known and respected enough to sustain her viability into the future.
If things break her way, she could end up as the last Tea Party Star standing up against Romney (not counting Ron Paul) and it would be possible that Romney would not be popular enough with the base to reach the vote threshold needed to put her away. Still, she could not beat Romney in a protracted battle because, as Obama proved in 2008, winning a delegate battle is still all about organization, an area when Romney would dominate Palin, who frankly may not even want to actually win the nomination.
On that point — Sarah Palin’s plans — “sources” close to her say that the September 3rd rally is “unlikely” to be an announcement. And might be more of a “campaign test,” as Ed Morrissey calls it.
The event will pose a significant test for Singleton and the rest of the all-volunteer army of Palin devotees who have for months been quietly paving the way for a presidential run that would be fueled by a dedicated core of political novices.
I have suggested myself recently that Palin is honest when she says she’s still making up her mind, and that these various campaign-like events are a vehicle for stoking interest and gauging interest; presumably, if she finds a strong demand that she run, that will prompt her to do so.
On the other hand, there are the numbers. From Rasmussen, which is not a Democratic polling firm:
If Election Day was right now, President Obama would defeat the former Alaska governor 50% to 33%, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. This marks the first time that the president has risen out of the 40s in hypothetical matchups with any of the major GOP presidential hopefuls….
Last month, Obama posted a 47% to 38% lead over Palin, the GOP’s unsuccessful vice presidential candidate in 2008.
Palin earns support from 62% of Republicans, while 88% of Democrats back the president. Voters not affiliated with either party prefer Obama by a 51% to 30% margin.
Obama holds a narrow 44% to 38% lead over Palin among male voters, but women prefer the incumbent by a sizable 56% to 29% margin.
I continue to not understand how committed Palin supporters simply discount numbers like this, as if we’re just making this shit up to spite them. Or how public attitudes towards Palin will shift dramatically in the next year, despite these attitudes being persistent for almost three years now.
I don’t get the plan here — will she start saying different things? Or saying them in a different way? If she did, wouldn’t she be a different candidate, and hence not the Sarah Palin currently being urged to run?
What is the mechanism proposed by which such dreadful general election numbers will reverse themselves in a year?
I really do get the feeling this has become faith-based. Not truly religious, mind you, but based at heart on faith that Palin will be able to fix all this “once she decides to run” despite the strong evidence that during the past three years of partially running for President she’s made no progress whatsoever in improving her public standing, and in fact has seen further erosions of support.
This is why these arguments over Palin get so heated, I think. At heart, her supporters wish the non-supporters to have faith in her, and we simply don’t.
As I’ve said ad nauseam, if political strategy were capable of reversing years of public disregard of Sarah Palin, surely we would see that strategy already in motion, and already bearing fruit.
I just can’t buy into this idea that I’m to have “faith” that she has a “secret plan” which for unexplained reasons must wait another several months for implementation, and could not have been executed in 2009 or 2010.
There is no secret plan. There is no trap about to be sprung, there is no brilliant strategy about to be executed.
Again, if there were, there is no earthly reason it couldn’t have gone into effect a year or two years ago.
The Secret Brilliance of Her Resignation: When Palin resigned, I said she had essentially foreclosed any possibility of seeking the presidency.
But a lot of people disagreed, sharply. An idea percolated on the right of the blogosphere that she had brilliantly “changed the game,” that she had “shot the hostage” (a reference to a gambit in the action movie Speed) and that, by forfeiting her office, she had in fact elevated her chances of becoming president, now able to preside over national issues without being bothered with lawsuits and the the daily routine of governance.
I said this theory was all wet at the time. I was called a RINO, asshole, etc. for saying so.
Well, not to rub too much salt in this particular wound, but I was right.
The “game” was not “changed,” and the “hostage” might have been “shot,” but so was Palin’s status as a top-tier presidential prospect.
But this seems simply ignored, and those who insisted that the resignation was a Machievellian masterstroke now invite skeptics to join them in believing in a new plan — this one, secret — which will do for Palin what the resignation was supposed to.
That a resignation would be regarded as a good move for a presidential prospect was always daffy wishcasting.
At some point, results and empirical data must mean something. Palin was predicted by many to have “changed the game” and become the front-runner for 2012 in mid-2009. It’s now 2011, and her position has eroded still further, but predictions continue to be made that this time the ducks are all in a row and she’s ready to take off.