Stephanie's Political Arena

Critiques and Perspectives on National Politics and More

Racing to November 2012 at an Elephant’s Pace… Literally

with 7 comments

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels (Photo by Associated Press)

With national attention concentrated on budget deficits, protests at home and abroad, and legislation targeting union collective bargaining practices, much of the media has overlooked that the Iowa Caucus and the New Hampshire Primary are now less than a year away.  Republicans can breathe a small sigh of relief… for now.  Unfortunately, it might not be long before multiple national news networks start asking, “Who are the Republicans going to rely on to potentially defeat President Barack Obama in November 2012?”

As Gallup’s Editor-in-Chief, Frank Newport explains, the absence of candidates generating solid “front runner status” at this time is unusual.  It’s especially puzzling when considering that either or both parties (depending on whether the race is completely wide open or only one party needs to proceed through the nomination process) typically has one or two clear front runners at least one year before the primaries and caucuses begin.  In contrast to previous cycles, however, the Republicans clearly do not have a candidate that is generating a significant amount of support for the 2012 election cycle.

Provided that the occasional rumor of a potential Democratic primary remains only a rumor, the focus between now and after next year’s series of presidential caucuses and primaries will be on the Republican Party and the candidates it produces.  However, according to a Gallup poll released on February 23rd, “Republicans and Republican-leaning independents have no clear favorite for the party’s 2012 presidential nominee at this point, with Mike Huckabee (18%), Mitt Romney (16%), and Sarah Palin (16%) in a statistical tie for the lead.”  Rounding out the top ten candidates listed by Gallup are former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.

In a separate straw poll taken during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held February 10-12, Congressman Ron Paul was selected as the top Republican choice for President at 30 percent.  Following behind were former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (23 percent), former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson (6 percent), New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (6 percent), Newt Gingrich (5 percent), Tim Pawlenty (4 percent), Michele Bachmann (4 percent), Mitch Daniels (4 percent), Sarah Palin (3 percent), and former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Herman Cain (2 percent).

Another prospective presidential candidate who generated some buzz during the 2010 election cycle is U.S. Senator John Thune of South Dakota, who defeated long-time former U.S. Senator Tom Daschle in 2002.  Yet, as the Weekly Standard reported earlier this week, “John Thune has announced on his Facebook page that he is passing on a run for the presidency.”

So who could eventually face off against President Obama in the fall of 2012?  Whoever they may be, why are they not generating any support and garnering front runner status? 

From my own perspective, there are five big factors that I believe are deterring potentially strong Republican candidates (and candidates from other parties for that matter) from entering the race for President of the United States in 2012: 1) the economy; 2) the federal budget deficit and increasing debt; 3) increasing unrest and even violence abroad as we’ve seen in Egypt and now Libya (in addition to our ongoing stand-off against Iran’s Ahmadinejad and North Korea’s Kim Jong Il, as well as our ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan); 4) increasing divisiveness right here at home; and 5) family commitments and the overwhelming number of expectations, costs, and amount of stress that comes with running in a presidential campaign.  Along with other factors anyone can think of, who really wants the job right now?

Yet, after historic upsets during the 2010 midterms, why hasn’t anyone from the Republican Party come out ahead as a strong potential opponent to President Obama – particularly with the first caucuses and primaries less than a year away?

Without having done extensive research, but instead looking primarily at the more immediate challenges confronting the United States (as cited in public opinion polls: the economy and government spending), I predict that Governor Mitch Daniels will emerge as the top front runner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.  Serving his second term as Governor of Indiana, Governor Daniels’s background in business and government as well as the reforms he has implemented since taking office in 2004 make him a potentially strong candidate for President of the United States.  A former business executive, he served as an advisor to President Ronald Reagan and then as Office of Management and Budget Director under President George W. Bush.  The Wall Street Journal reports that he turned “a yawning deficit into a surplus” in Indiana, and outlined a number of other initiatives he pursued in turning his state’s economy around.  Who better to help turn the American economy as well as the federal budget around?

Heading into 2012, Politico created “2012 Live,” which provides information and coverage of the Republican Party’s prospective presidential candidates.


Written by Stephanie

February 26, 2011 at 11:00 pm

7 Responses

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  1. I would love to see a Daniels/Bachmann or Bachmann/Daniels ticket. I think it would be good for the Country and a direction that we can trust.


    February 27, 2011 at 3:43 pm

  2. Stephanie,
    Apparently you never watched on ABC’s Nightline (when Koppel was still the host) when all the pundits would boldly make their predictions for the upcoming year and be embarrassed by their predictions from the preceding year that never came true. You may just have to delete this blog a year from now.

    I doubt that Romney is deterred by the state of the economy from running. He just has to worry about his religion and his record as governor of Massachusetts.

    Washington Week has also discussed the lack of official exploratory announcements by potential candidates.

    Tom Mitchell

    February 28, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    • Well, I’ll just have to eat my own words then if Mitch Daniels doesn’t go for it or doesn’t make it through the primaries if he does. Romney would be a good candidate given his business and economics background as well, but as you pointed out his religion and record as governor of Massachusetts – not to mention Commonwealth Care – will be his biggest obstacles to overcome (and I say this as a Catholic – to me, it’s absolutely ridiculous that in these modern times we’re still critical of a presidential candidate’s religious beliefs). Time will tell…


      March 1, 2011 at 2:40 am

  3. Nice post, Stephanie. Kudos to you for boldly making a prediction. I’d seen some coverage in the New York Times magazine of the lack of a strong Republican candidate. When Dean was running in the primaries, there was talk that he was governor of too small a state (Vermont) to really be a serious contender. Do you think that’s true of Mitch Daniels?

    Amy Karon

    March 1, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    • Thanks Amy! Yeah, we’ll see if this prediction becomes a reality in the next few months… I think that unlike Howard Dean, Mitch Daniels won’t be criticized from being from too small of a state, but rather being too small himself (I’ve already seen a couple of articles raise this “issue”). Apparently, he may be “too short” to be a serious presidential contender… the things we critique these days when it comes to prospective presidential candidates…


      March 3, 2011 at 6:10 am

  4. Stephanie,

    Huckabee has been looking better recently, but now he’s on Colbert’s shit list:—mike-huckabee

    Seriously, Huckabee was clearly playing to the birthers here and perhaps showing some xenophobia. A very weak field.


    Joe Doolen

    March 9, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    • Yeah, I was never a big fan of his myself. Personally, I don’t think he’ll go for it – not with the gig he has right now on Fox News.


      March 17, 2011 at 2:13 am

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