A person’s political identity is most malleable before they ever cast their first vote, but every time a person selects the same party it becomes harder to pull them away from that party they increasingly see as their own. Republicans must address the >20 point advantage Democrats hold on the rising generation, and the GOP is grappling with ways to attract millennials without de-energizing the base. Millenials are not the “yell at the TV” audience the GOP knows how to whip into a geriatric froth between episodes of the America’s Got Talent and The Bachelor. That doesn’t mean Rand Paul wouldn’t revolutionize (r-love-utionize?) the GOP if he won the nomination; he could. A campaign between an old school foreign policy Democrat like Hillary Clinton and Rand Paul would invert parts of the map and pin Hamiltonian versus Jeffersonian philosophies against one another in a Presidential election for the first time since Goldwater and LBJ. Paul must capitalize on the libertarian energy now boiling below the surface of the GOP without sounding like your poorly read roommate in college that won’t shut up after reading an Orwell novel for the first time. .
In a recent Manmouth University poll, Republican voters were asked whom they would prefer to see as the Republican nominee without being given a list of names. As you can see, Mitt Romney is currently tied for the lead with “No one.”
What’s incredible here, other than the fact that “Undecided”, “No one”, and someone who’s not running make up the top three, is that Rick Santorum only gets 1% support. 20% of Republican primary voters (~ 4 million people) made their way to the polling booth to vote for Santorum less than two years ago. He won 11 states! Santorum, who already acts like he has a chip on his shoulder over everything, has got to be madder than a Baptist at a jazz concert. This compared to 48% support for Clinton among Democratic voters, who also finished second in the last competitive primary.
If you dive into the numbers it only gets worse for Santorum. 28% view him favorably and a whopping 51% have “no opinion” whatsoever. These are worse numbers than those for Ben Carson, a guy who has never won a statewide office and has only done a handful of TV interviews. One would have thought Santorum would be the guy to beat, since there’s a long tradition of Republicans rallying behind the “next in line.” In fact, since the second world war the GOP was been quite predictable as to whom they will eventually nominate at the convention. I put together a little flowchart that predicts the outcomes of those 17 races, and includes the candidates it predicts to be strong in 2016.
The line of succession argument favors blood over performance and ideology and predicts Jeb Bush as the 2016 nominee. But it also highlights the potential of Rick Santorum, whom many primary voters have already supported, and Rand Paul, who will have strong libertarian pull with a Democrat in the White House. But should Rick Santorum really be counted as one of the top three contenders if he can’t even muster an opinion from half of Republicans? Luckily for him the race starts with Iowa, a state with many religious conservatives and one he carried in 2012. However, this time he’ll need to run a national campaign, and given the last thing Santorum wants the GOP electorate to do is Google his name, it’s going to be an uphill fight for the supposed next in line.
State of the Mugwumps
Actually any year in the 90s. And the last two years in the 80s. And the first eight years of the 2000s. That’s because the Mugwumps are predicting a Bush v Clinton 2016 Presidential election, the political families that ran the executive branch of the federal government for eighteen years and occupied the Governor’s mansions of Arkansas, Florida, and Texas for more than a quarter century. A lot can change in eighteen years and so can people. Just look at Barbara Bush when she entered the White House in 1989 versus today. .