Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Catch of the Day

To Seth Masket, who points out the foolishness of press speculation that only one of Palin or Bachmann, or Romney or Huntsman, or Bachmann or Pawlenty, can survive the early rounds of GOP presidential candidate elimination. Seth:
In the long run, there's only room for one candidate, period. By this point next year, the Republicans will have settled on a single nominee. Prior to that, of course, there may well be just two candidates competing in the post-New Hampshire primaries and caucuses. But there's no reason those candidates can't be two women, or two Minnesotans, or two Mormons, or two Protestant white guys (although no one seems to have concerns about that).

While I'm at it, I'll take a shot at Ryan Lizza, who argues that Jon Huntsman's chances are increased because Mitt Romney says he's downplaying Iowa. One more time: as long as the press continues to cover Iowa, it's not going to become a "fringe event." And of course they're going to cover Iowa. What that means is that whoever wins Iowa is going to get a blast of publicity. Hunstman, most likely, won't. The only way he might is if Iowa ends the way it did in 2000, by crowning a nominee (which would presumably be Romney, but I suppose it's possible that Perry or Pawlenty could be odds-on by then). In that case, it's certainly possible that the press, in full panic mode at the possibility of no nomination battle at all in 2012, would surge to Huntsman. But that's not how to seriously contest the nomination; that's how to preserve the illusion of a close race once it's all over but the shouting. More likely, two or three candidates will dominate the news coming out of Iowa, and the guy who sat out won't be one of them.

Back to Seth: Nice catch!


  1. Again, your "you have to do well in IA to do well in NH" premise is totally wrong, not backed up by history -- don't you have to rely on evidence to be a political scientist?

  2. Just to belabor the point a bit:

    2008 IA GOP caucuses - Mike Huckabee (34%), Mitt Romney (25%), Fred Thompson (13%), John McCain (13%),
    2008 IA Dem caucuses - Barack Obama (38%), John Edwards (30%), Hillary Clinton (29%),
    2000 IA GOP caucuses - George W. Bush (41%), Steve Forbes (30%), Alan Keyes (14%), Gary Bauer (9%), John McCain (5%)

    That's three of the last five competitive primary seasons where the eventual NH winner did not finish first or second in IA.

  3. I don't understand this objection. Beginning in 1972, every nominee in both parties finished at least third in Iowa, with the sole exception of McCain in 2008 -- who finished 4th, missing third place by 0.36% of the vote (and not counting the uncontested 1992 Dem caucuses).

    You don't have to win Iowa to do well in New Hampshire, or to be nominated. You can finish second, or third. But there's no evidence at all that you can win the nomination while skipping Iowa.

  4. You sound like those pundits who proved that only governors, never senators, can be elected president!

    You've backed off a bit from your assertion in an earlier post that Huntsman simply won't win NH. So do you think that if Huntsman skips IA and wins NH, he will still have zero shot at winning the nomination?

  5. I think it's implausible that Huntsman will win NH. I think it's unlikely that anyone can skip Iowa and win NH. Huntsman has more problems than just skipping Iowa.

    I did a post a while back talking about the way an implausible nominee could win the nomination...if I recall correctly, I had Huntsman in the group of relatively less implausible candidates out of the group of implausible nominees. Doesn't mean it couldn't happen, but it would take a real change from the way things have been, a change that isn't evident so far.

    And, yes, I think it's far more likely that he wins NH than that he wins the nomination.

  6. Thanks for engaging in the comments. But the scenario you call unlikely happened in 2000 and 2008 (I disagree that McCain's 13% of the '08 IA vote is at all meaningful, and he took the lead in NH polls before that anyway). I think a hypothesis of IA and NH as separate, unrelated contests fits the evidence better. Especially because in 2008, a candidate with limited geographic appeal and little elite support won IA, and it's not too hard to imagine that happening again...


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Who links to my website?