Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Which Republican Will be President in 2012?

In the wake of the Mark Sanford scandal, I want to assess the chances for who I think are the most likely Republican challengers in 2012. It’s still early and a lot could change. This should nonetheless be interesting. I will be updating periodically.

Mitt Romney

I think he probably has the best chance right now. The 2012 election will turn on the economy. And if the economy is still weak, he is best positioned to capitalize. He has experience as a business executive and governor and is plainly very economically literate. He could sell himself as a pragmatic problem-solver. I think the electorate will be so thirsty for a compelling economic vision that he may well not have any issues with his Mormonism like he did in 2008. I think he is the odds on favorite to be the Republican nominee right now.

Sarah Palin

There’s no doubt that she appeals to a lot of base Republicans and evangelicals. But she has high unfavorable ratings and has to fight the perception that she doesn’t have the chops to be President. Plus, she has a home base in Alaska which will make campaigning more difficult than it is for her rivals. She could make a strong showing in the Iowa caucuses which are dominated by evangelicals, but I don’t think she can ultimately win the nomination. And even if she could, I don’t see her being able to win a national election right now.

Mike Huckabee

Much of the above applies to him As well. He does have 10 years as Governor he can run on. But in 2008, he failed to extend his appeal much beyond evangelicals. I think that will hurt him in 2012 as well. I just don’t see social issues being effective with the electorate in 2012.

Tim Pawlenty

He’s relatively unknown right now. But he is governor of a blue state (Minnesota) and has an attractive working class background. Moreover, I expect him not to alienate any of the Republican factions. This could be of help to him in the Iowa caucus, which allows second choice voting. He has better chances than many people know now.

Newt Gingrich

He’s an interesting man with a lot of ideas. But he’s been out of office for a decade now. He does have some appeal to base Republicans. But he has a sordid past that can be dredged up. He had to resign as speaker in 1999 and he was having an affair at the same time he pushed for impeachment against Bill Clinton. I’m not even sure he’ll run frankly.

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