Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Counting Backwards (I Count You In)

Grover Norquist is pretty much right about the basics about the 2012 nomination process:
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.

 “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.
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.

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).


  1. I wouldn't read too much into the 2012 Republican race and the lack of "serious" Presidential candidates. I think it's not part of a long-term trend, but rather a result of three related factors:

    1) The 2006 and 2008 elections wiped out a lot of potential Republican Presidential candidates with conventional credentials
    2) The Republican party's policy positions changed so much that many potential candidates were left with policy stances that did not fit the party's priorities
    3) The class of 2010 was too young to jump into the Presidential contest

    Combine those factors, and all you're left with are Republicans who could weather the Democratic tsunami of 06 and 08 (Perry), left office in the nick of time (Pawlenty), or had no qualms about shifting their long-held beliefs to fit the new party (Romney).

    I bet the 2016 field will be even bigger for the Republicans since they have a larger bench to draw from, thanks to their big 2010 wins.

    As for the Democrats, they will probably have a 2000-like contest if Clinton runs, where she is the clear favorite and is against one or two real opponents who are still far outclassed, like O'Malley. There are many Democrats who will sit out 2016 if Clinton runs, such as Gillibrand, Cuomo, and (perhaps) Biden. (Which, as you say, doesn't mean they're not "running" now. Rather, they would "drop out" the day Clinton announces.)

  2. I don't understand what the evidence is for this assertion: "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." The last robust evidence we have of this process is 2012. Is that the "it used to" in this sentence? I just don't see why anyone would make any conclusion about the composition of the 2016 field in 2013. Other than that, the safest thing we can say is that the evidence is that the Republican nomination process is defective or we just don't know.

  3. I think Norquist underestimates just how delusional world-historical figure Newt Gingrich can be.

  4. And if you were wondering whether anyone would get a Throwing Muses reference: yes.


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