Rhodes Cook: The Republican Field May Not Be Closed

I read an interesting post on Larry Sabato’s blog by Rhodes Cook. He had an intriguing and well researched article showing that the Republican Presidential field could grow from where it is today, even after the New Hampshire primary. Looking back to 1968, he notes:

…[in 1968], Sen. Robert Kennedy of New York was a far more successful late starter. He entered the Democratic race after the New Hampshire primary and proceeded to run off a series of high-profile primary victories, culminating with a winner-take-all triumph in California in early June. Had he not been shot the night of his California victory, Kennedy might have gone on to wrest the nomination from Vice President Hubert Humphrey. As it is, Kennedy’s unfinished campaign is one of American history’s more intriguing “what ifs.”

The heavy concentration of delegates chosen later in the primary season leaves the field more open than many think. Consider that the early primaries, those that are held before April 1, 2012, will be allocating their delegates proportionally. That means that a candidate only gets the proportion of delegates equal to his share of the votes. After April 1, it’s winner-take-all. After that date, it would be almost impossible for an upstart to win. But between February and April, surprise candidates could enter the race. Who? Rhodes speculates:

Robert Kennedy fit the bill in 1968, and there are arguably a few prominent Republicans on the sidelines this time who could mount a competitive, late-starting candidacy in 2012. These could include one of the establishment non-candidates who Republican elites pressured to enter the race earlier this year, such as Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Rep. Paul Ryan (WI), ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (although Christie has already endorsed Mitt Romney). The entry of any of these Republicans would cause waves, and because of their high profiles they would have little trouble raising money or attracting establishment support. On the other hand, if Romney gets off to a strong start in January’s opening round, then there might be pressure on the right to enlist former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to pick up the anti-establishment baton.

My emphasis on the former Alaska governor. Wouldn’t that be interesting.

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  • jim_m

    Sure it could grow.  But it won’t.  None of those mentioned are going to get in.

    One sure sign that we have a good group to choose from is the increasingly loud whine from the left that “This is the worst GOP filed ever!”  They wouldn’t be saying that in such panicked tones if they weren’t trying to convince themselves and others that it were true. 

    Next will be the tired drone of “The GOP candidate is stupid”, while they decline to offer anything in support of that position other than “He’s the GOP nominee”.

    Wake me in Jan 2013 when they inaugurate a new GOP President.

  • Anonymous

    So far the GOP field front runners with Cain out are Rino inc! There has to be better out there then this.

    • jim_m

      And this is different from most elections cycles how?

      • Anonymous

        There’s way more at stake and the establishment are still playing the same old tune. 

        • jim_m

          the establishment are still playing the same old tune.

          Without a doubt.  But in this case I believe that we are better served by our congressional leadership with people like Ryan than we will be by whichever President we end up with.

    • herddog505

      I agree that there has to be better, but who the hell in his right mind would want the job?*  For one thing, a candidate would have to put up with months of constant character assassination (shall we call it being “Palinized”?)**.  More importantly, Barry and the dems have made such a damned mess of things that I’m not sure that all the best presidents we’ve ever had PUT TOGETHER could fix it.  It’s not unlike volunteering to be the new captain of the Titanic after she hit the iceberg.  And I think it a safe bet that MiniTru would NEVER let a Republican president claim, “I inherited this mess”, much less that, “My policies kept things from being EVEN WORSE.”^


      (*) Unless, like Barry, he looked at the White House solely in terms of his personal luxury and self-enrichment.  Being president is a GREAT job when all you care about is the state of the greens at Andrews AFB, how fresh the wagyu in the White House kitchen is, and how you can funnel taxpayer money to your pals.

      (**) This is where Newt and Palin actually have an advantage: MiniTru has savaged them so much over the years that there’s (probably) nothing new to trot out.

      (^) Can you imagine the response if a Republican president tried to claim that his policies “saved or created” jobs?  Or that that a rocky economy was due to ATM’s?  Hell, Bush had “the worst economy since the Great Depression(TM)” when unemployment was around 6%; the only reason it’s under 9% now is because people have outright left the work force.  Bush had “McJobs”; Barry gets “funemployment”.  Such a double standard…

      • Anonymous

        Not to mention that Romney will assimilate you.  Resistance is futile.  

  • retired.military

    Even if Romney as President the republicans in the Senate and the House will hopefully help to keep him in line.   If Gingrich gets the nod than things will go a lot more smoother.
    Only question is what kind of picks would Romney make on SCOTUS.  Hopefully they wont be more Harriet Miers.

  • herddog505

    The field IS wide open.

    1.  Barry is the most vulnerable president since Jimmuh if not LBJ.  Seriously: he sucks and most of the country knows it;

    2.  The GOP isn’t fielding candidates who have staying power.  In part, this is due to MiniTru, who (magically) is vetting them in the way that it DIDN’T vet Barry.  Boy, are they vetting them… The two present front-runners, Newt and Romney, are (ahem) not broadly liked among the GOP rank and file; that they get support at all comes mostly from the fact that they ain’t Barry.

    If a candidate with good (not even rock-solid) conservative credentials, decent “presence”, and a reasonably clean personal history stepped forward now, I think he (or she) would take off like a rocket. 

    Could Palin do it?  Perhaps.  I think that she would sweep the boards in the GOP primary, and I suspect that she MIGHT be able to survive MiniTru’s efforts at further character assassination.  Really: what ELSE could they say about her?  And it MIGHT be that, if she could energize the GOP base as I suspect that she can, she’s take a lot of independents along for the ride.

    One thing is certain: we cannot survive another four years of Barry.  Jebus, it would be bad enough if he was merely an idiot, but he’s corrupt to an extent that I don’t think we’ve EVER seen in the White House.  Al Capone would be a better pick.

    • jim_m

      Al Capone didn’t want to destroy America but that is Barry’s prime motivation.  He said he wanted to “Fundamentally change America” and that is because he doesn’t like America. He has declared publicly that the Constitution is seriously flawed because it “Says what the states can’t do to you. Says what the federal government can’t do to you.”

      Regardless of who the GOP nominates I think you will see strong support coalesce around the ABO candidate.  People want a President who believes in America, not one who wants to tear it down and erect a monument to himself.

      • herddog505


  • Anonymous

    Bush inherited 911 … Barry inherited an inflated ego, assaulted America’s promise with it and has brought about an economic & moral imperative for the electorate to call 911 and stop the hemorrhaging.

    No more clownish frauds 

  • Anonymous
  • Ah, conservatives!  We are never ever satisfied, are we?  Some of us won’t be until we go back to 19th Century policies.  The Paulbots yearn for the Articles of Confederation.

    In 1980, there was less questioning of Reagan’s age in Republican ranks than of his conservative credentials.  As Governor, he had raised both taxes and spending, although all he ever promised was to slow the rate of growth, not actually cut anything in real terms. 

    In which cycle without a Republican incumbent for reelection was there a strong conservative candidate to choose?  Nixon was Cold Warrior and lost a close one.  Goldwater was pure and got stomped.

    1968, 1980, 1988, 1996, 2000, 2008?  Where were these strong conservative candidates we seek?

    The answer is that the sort of jobs that qualify one for President, like Governor or General, necessarily involve actually getting things done instead of speaking in theoretical constructs.  Leaders must get people with competing ideas and interests working together for the common goals, and the process of doing that is liable to create a less than pure conservative image, no matter how conservative the individual is at heart.

  • Anonymous

    Palin would get in if Obama paid for her to.  She would create massive chaos, backlash and bitterness among Republicans.  Just think about Gingrich, Romney and Palin duking it out in May.

  • John H

    Personally, I think the democratic field may not be closed. Mark my words, if the democrats wake up to reality before their convention, I can see them ejecting Obama and putting in Hillary. How they do it and how messy that becomes is up for debate. Think Lautenberg replacing Torricelli without the criminal charges (unless more “inconvenient” emails show up on Fast and Furious).

    • Anonymous

      Good points, John.

      Although the odds of democrats waking up to reality are always kinda low.

      Still, with no real accomplishments to run on, Bin Laden aside, and hearing Obama blaming everything under the sun (has he blamed that yet?) and comparing himself to yet another President, they may just conclude that he’s not only ineffective, but also sounding nutty lately.

      VDH has a devastating article explaining how Obama has compared himself to, better sit down, JFK, Reagan, Lincoln, FDR, Truman and now Teddy Roosevelt.

      Put that together with the blatant lies he’s spouting in his speeches lately and one has to wonder about his frame of mind.

      So yes, I can see your prediction coming true.

  • JustRuss

    Everyone on the Right it seems, is looking for the next Reagan, completely forgetting that he was a former Democrat. While I am not 100% behind Romney, I will vote for whoever ends up being the nominee because who the President is (as long as they are not Obama) will be less important than majorities in the Senate and House.

    I also agree completely with the Democrats possibly pushing Hillary into replacing Obama. That way if he needs to step down due to Fast and Furious he can get a pardon for himself and his entourage from old Joe a la Nixon.  This needs to happen soon though so the scandal can pass and Hilary can be front and center long enough to re-energize the base. 

    That is all dependent on Obama stepping down, of which I’m not convinced he is capable.

    • Anonymous

      Reagan wasn’t telling conservatives they’re too far right and to be more moderate.

  • Anonymous

    The republican field may not be closed but Obama’s intellect surely is.

    Here’s what Obama said on Dec 8th.

    “However many jobs might be generated by a Keystone pipeline,” he said,
    “they’re going to be a lot fewer than the jobs that are created by extending the
    payroll tax cut and extending unemployment insurance.”