Monday, April 25, 2011

Barbour Out

In a bit of a shocker -- well, to me at least -- Haley Barbour is apparently out of WH '12. Yikes! Among other things, Barbour was part of my longshot trio, along with Rick Perry and Jim DeMint. When you bet on longshots who finish up the track, you're never exactly "wrong," but...well, it sure looks as if I won't be cashing those tickets.

What happened? Did he decide he really didn't like campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire all that much? In his statement, he refers to "fire in the belly," or that is his lack of it. Or did he just find out that there was less appeal than he hoped for a good ole boy lobbyist in today's GOP? After all, his statement also refers to "hundreds" of supporters who have urged him to run, which isn't actually very impressive. The Sage of Wasilla, no doubt, has thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, begging her to make the race, despite her overall lack of popularity.

Without further information, it's hard to say whether Barbour (or any other candidate with a similar announcement) should be counted as "did not run" or "winnowed out early." My inclination, again pending further information, is to put them all (Barbour, Thune, Palin and Huck if they don't show up in Iowa) in the "winnowed out early" category. At least those (unlike, say, Jeb Bush) who have sort-of, in-a-way run during the invisible primary stage.

So: kudos for now to those who thought Barbour never had a prayer, and the contest moves on.

Time to update my state-of-the-field analysis. This leaves two -- two! -- active, fully running candidates who in my view have a plausible chance of winning: Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty, along with three on-the-fence candidates (Palin, Huck, and Mitch Daniels) who have a plausible chance. And I still consider two potential candidates who do not appear to be running now, Perry and Bush, to have a plausible chance if they were to enter soon. There are also ten candidates "running" in various forms who I do not think have a plausible chance.


  1. Hmm. Among your 7 live possibilities, the only one with any Congressional experience is Perry, and that was 20 years ago. Does that indicate a more-than-usual anti-Congressional mood?

  2. To be blunt, superficials matter somewhat. Barbour is an old, fat guy. You can be one and get nominated thanks to Christie breaking the glass floor (in so far as the media salivated for him to run and declared him serious), but probably not both. And Barbour was a lobbyist for Mexico (worse than for tobacco in a GOP primary). He, Gingrich and Pawlenty (the 3 Southern drawl candidates) spoke for a South Carolina county straw poll- those things always get won by the people who bother showing up. Barbour got single digits. Some poll last year showed him, with Palin, the candidate who polled highest among Republicans of candidates they least wanted to nominate. There was no interest in the blogosphere, the punditocracy, the birthers, those polled... And it was reported his wife (like his buddy Daniels's) was dead-set against a run. (Daniels is probably somewhat more likely to run with Barbour out.) Agree he was essentially running but winnowed out. But same will not quite be true if Huckabee doesn't run since Huckabee would be more influenced by personal opportunity cost and doubts he could beat Obama. I assume he's confident he has as good a shot as anyone to win the primary.

  3. I'm more bullish on Huck's chances than you are: I'd put him in the Romney/Pawlenty level.

    However, I must admit to being very surprised by this. I came right to Plain Blog to see what you had to say about it. Given the very late start this year, I fully expected Barbour to last through the summer. I was sorta thinking Ames and the fundraising reports due around then (July/August is a rough stretch for also-rans) would be Barbour's undoing. I thought he'd get 7 votes at Ames, and raise some money, but less than expected given his background, and he'd be done. (The 2nd quarter reports are due July 15, so that'd be right before Ames, and a pretty bad double-shot to the gut).

  4. I never understood why anybody took Barbour seriously. He looks like a bad guy from "The Dukes of Hazzard". He is a terrible campaigner outside of the south. He is a racist. He is a lobbyist. A candidate could survive one of those things in the Republican primary, but all of them? It is insane.

  5. William: What, you don't think Boss Hog could have beat Obama... even with his strong fundamentals?

  6. ATS,

    Not sure about Congress and the field. Interesting, though.


    I'm not down on Huck; I just don't know that he wants to run. I probably think he's the most likely winner of the three in the on-the-fence group...I just don't have any insight about what he's going to do.

  7. Barbour doubters,

    It's not that I thought Barbour was a super-strong candidate; it's that I thought he was a legit candidate, and given how few of those there are, well, I figured he had a much better shot than Intrade, or Chait or Nate Silver, thought. Among the GOP electorate, I think that his style is a net plus (and accusations he's a racist don't hurt among many in that electorate; they give him resentment points).

  8. Jonathan, at some point I'd be interested in your thoughts about how much (if at all) being a Southerner hurts a Republican's chances of getting nominated and elected president.

    Are Republicans today in a situation analogous to the one Democrats found themselves in post-1960 when the only Democrats elected president were those from the South (when the party was increasingly a Northern party)?


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