Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Unemployment and Presidential Candidates

Via Douthat, Michael Barone notices something:
Only one of the In or Probably In candidates holds public office, and that is Ron Paul who in the House of Representatives is often on the minority side of 422-1 roll calls. All five of the out candidates holds public office, though Barbour will leave the governorship at the beginning of 2012 and Daniels will do so at the beginning of 2013. The demands of running for president and of tending to official duties have some impact here.
The observation is probably correct, although Michele Bachmann is probably a candidate, and I suppose she has a better chance of winning than Paul. However, unless Rick Perry jumps in and wins, which seems in combination fairly unlikely, or the far less likely event of some other currently elected pol jumping in and winning, it sure looks like the GOP will nominate an unemployed politician this time around.

But as I said before, this isn't a normal consequence of "the demands of running for president," because Romney or Pawlenty or whoever is going to be the first unemployed nominee since Walter Mondale in 1984. Since then, all twelve nominees (including a few sitting presidents) were all currently serving in office when nominated. Barone may be thinking about the first few cycles after reform, when it became conventional wisdom that being unemployed was an advantage after Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and Mondale all won. But that didn't pan out over time. At least not until this cycle, when the Republicans will most likely break the streak.


  1. Bob Dole quit the Senate after winning the GOP nomination in 1996 to focus on the presidential election.

    Man, what a pathetic political junkie I must be to have remembered that factoid.

  2. Michelle Bachmann does NOT have a better chance of winning than Paul.

    Paul's libertarianism makes him kinda kooky. But Bachmann is a grade-A nutjob, and an idiot to boot. I don't care if her positions are more consonant with the GOP base. I have to hope that, if democracy is at all worthwhile, that Bachmann stands no chance at all.

  3. Anon -- Yup. That's why I worded it the way I did!


    Strongly disagree. Organized groups would rather lose with a nutjob who supports their positions than a good candidate who opposes their positions -- and Paul, of course, is pretty kooky apart from his positions, too. Bachmann would have to show discipline and ability she has yet to reveal...but who knows? The crazy could, as far as we know, just be a ploy to get attention, which she could ditch once she's reached "serious chance" status. I doubt it, but it's remotely possible. OTOH, Paul can't do anything to make his positions on issues go away. He's a factional candidate with a very small faction (even if he didn't have to share it with Johnson) and no possible way to change that.


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