Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Catch of the Day (How Deep is the Red?)

The catch goes to Ezra Klein, for a close reading of Tim Pawlenty's book:
Evidence aside, this line of argument also presents a tension with the rest of Pawlenty’s book. It’s clear that he doesn’t really like liberals (“the current administration and Democrat-controlled Congress have led us further down the liberal, socialist road than at any time in the history of this country,” he laments). But it’s also clear that he really does like Minnesotans (“Let me tell you about Minnesota strength, and Minnesota people, and Minnesota resolve, and Minnesota commitment and service,” he says). Explaining how this great, wise, strong, service-oriented, deeply patriotic state could’ve become so committed to the liberal-socialist agenda is, however, left as an exercise for the reader.
I'll also, while I'm add it, direct everyone to a quite interesting analysis of recent newspaper and blogging coverage of the various 2012 candidates from Nate Silver. I'm not sure that calling the former "Beltway" really works, and I can think of a few other methodological questions, but it's better than no data at all, and interesting.

I agree with Klein (and, I think, Silver's data) that it's worth making an effort to spend more time on Pawlenty. I don't know that I agree with Jonathan Chait that Pawlenty is the clear frontrunner, but he's certainly a plausible winner in a field that I've said is down to about eight plausible winners, four or five of whom don't appear, at this point, all that likely to be candidates as of August this year. And whatever his other strengths and weaknesses, Tim Pawlenty definitely fulfills the Woody Allen requirement of showing up.


  1. Sure but it's not even clear that Pawlenty actually hates liberals since the book is an attempt to shamelessly pander to primary voters. Gallup has been doing these "positive intensity scores" (% very favorable - %very unfavorable) and Bachmann is near the top, even though she has less room to work with since about 50% of Republicans have no opinion of her (not knowing her). True, favorability doesn't translate into voting for president. Especially when someone like Bachmann could have a gravitas thing. I could see Pawlenty winning but I could also see him dropping out after New Hampshire. As for your 8 credibles: a full 5 of them seem less than likely to run. Especially Rick Perry and Jeb Bush who aren't even putting on an act. Romney and Pawlenty are likely though not without serious heterodoxies. I can't really imagine Barbour succeeding.

  2. I think calling T-Paw the front-runner is ridiculous. He could win, but that doesn't make him a front-runner, any more than Obama was the Democratic front-runner at this point in 2007.

    First of all, I think it's highly premature to write off Romney. Chait seems to think it's certain he's dead in the water due to Romneycare, while other commentators think his Mormonism will prove a barrier. I suspect the impact of both are exaggerated.

    One problem I see with a lot of the analysis by Chait and others is that they seem to view the GOP race as being sort of like Survivor, where individual candidates get voted off the island. Under that reasoning, T-Paw is considered the strongest because he's the least unacceptable--he isn't some polarizing figure like Palin or Bachmann or Gingrich, but he's also steered clear of the heresies that plague Romney and Huck. If that were how the GOP nominating process worked, John McCain wouldn't have had a chance in 2008, and we'd have ended up with someone like Fred Thompson.

  3. Anon,

    I'm not at all predicting that Bush/Perry/Daniels/Palin/Huck will run; just saying that if one of them does, he or she would have a realistic chance of winning. I know that a lot of people seem to find Barbour hard to imagine, and I sort of get that, but people like him (full-term or more governors, even from smallish states) do win all the time, and he does certainly come with some advantages along with his drawbacks.


    As you probably know, I agree with you about Romney. I think (as my brother says) that abortion is his biggest problem, and that religion and health care are real problems...but I don't think any of them are clear disqualifiers. Overall, I'll stick with saying that Barbour and Perry are underrated (I had also said DeMint), and that as a group the 8 I listed are underrated.

  4. I have a very hard time believing in Pawlenty as the front runner. It's like saying Joe Biden or Chris Dodd was the front runner in 2008. Yeah I can imagine how Pawlenty might end up being the least worst choice if the alternatives were people like Palin and Bachmann, but if I were a conservative activist, I can't imagine being ready to settle for a generic politician like Pawlenty at this point in the process.

  5. I think I can count on one hand the number of articles about Pawlenty that mention the fact that he's never gotten more than 47% of the vote in a statewide race in MN. Yeah, he's a Republican who won in a blue state, but that has less to do with his own skills than with the low caliber of his opponents in 2002 and 2006 and the presence of independent candidates on the ballot in both those years. That doesn't make him Red Mark Warner.

  6. I think you guys are missing something important. Ron E says Pawlently is "like saying Joe Biden or Chris Dodd was the front runner in 2008"... but that's ignoring the presence of both Hillary and Al Gore. Chris G says Pawlenty only won because of a lack of strong opposition. But isn't that exactly the case again here?

    In the current circumctances, with Palin, Romney, Barbour, and Daniels as the competition, I don't see how it's unreasonable to view Pawlenty as the frontrunner. I think if you could run 1000 iterations of the campaign, he'd win more often than anyone else.


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