After the speech, he said only three of the Republicans seeking the nomination were really running for president: Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty and Rick Perry.Do I have a quibble? I do! They didn't make it to "up on stage," but Haley Barbour, Jon Thune, and perhaps one or two others might qualify as serious candidates. After all, they too dropped out when they lost.
“In 2012, we had ten people up on stage. Three of them were running for president, the others were looking to sell books or be radio talk-show hosts or marriage counseling or something, but they weren’t running for president,” he said.
Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor, showed he was genuinely running for president because he quit the race when it appeared he couldn’t win, Norquist said. “The other guys, when they didn’t win, they didn’t quit because they weren’t actually planning to win,” he said.
Norquist anticipates that things will be different in 2016, with "six or seven" candidates having the money to compete.
It's certainly possible (although he seems to be implying they're stay in late into the primaries; that's not going to happen, since serious candidates who do badly in the early rounds will drop out after South Carolina or earlier). On the other hand, what may be happening on the Republican side is that the invisible primary is winnowing far more efficiently than it used to. It wouldn't shock me if we get half a dozen or so people who appear to be running now actually dropping out before the Ames straw poll, and then one or two more by fall 2015, leaving an Iowa field that looks sort of like the 2012 one -- two or three viable candidates, and a bunch of others.
What I'm also highly interested in is whether the same thing will happen on the Democratic side, or if they're pattern for at least formally announced candidates all making it to Iowa holds this time. If, that is, there are formally announced multiple candidates on the Democratic side.
(And, yes, I'm enjoying thinking about presidential nomination process stuff for a few minutes before I have to get back to the shutdown/debt limit topics. Oh well).