Monday, September 12, 2011

Realize, This is Electable Street

Greg Sargent notes that Republican respondents in the new CNN poll not only favor Rick Perry over Mitt Romney by a fairly wide margin, but also believe (42%/26%) that Perry, not Romney, has the best chance of beating Barack Obama next November.

That's interesting, but I'd interpret it differently than Sargent does. He concludes:
Perry’s “Ponzi scheme” crack, his book’s claim that Social Security may be unconstitutional, its support for repeal of the 16th Amendment, and his implied threat of violence towards Fed chairman Ben Bernanke (which he hasn’t repudiated) have all left GOP establishment figures openly asking whether Perry’s views and personal style will be far too toxic to the mainstream for him to get elected president. Yet despite the emergence of all of these things, GOP voters still see him as the one most likely to beat Obama. If those things weren’t enough to persuade Republicans that Perry is less electable than Romney in a general election, it’s hard to imagine what will.
Andrew Sullivan chimes in. I think there are two issues here. One is that most people don't follow presidential nomination politics nearly well enough to actually know about most of these issues. I do think that Perry's candidacy is a strong one, but most of his support right now is bubble support, the same that Michele Bachmann had a while ago and Donald Trump had a few weeks before that. Perry, unlike those two, is well-positioned to exploit early enthusiasm, but it's almost certainly content-free at this point.

And thus the answer to Greg's question. It's hard to imagine what will persuade Republicans that Perry is less electable than Romney? Several months of campaigning, including millions of dollars of paid media (certainly going to happen) and, perhaps, strong messaging from conservative opinion leaders.

Once again: I've long been convinced that Perry had an excellent chance at the nomination. I believe now that he's one of two real viable candidates (with I suppose a very small sliver of viability remaining for Palin). But his poll numbers now don't really tell us anything that we didn't know two months ago. At this point, trying to look deeper into the internals of the polls to learn what Republicans really think about Perry (or, to a large extent, any of the candidates) isn't going to help, because most Republicans at this point don't know very much about the candidates. They will, but not yet.


  1. Latest Pew poll suggests public finds Republican party very conservative AND that most Republicans consider themselves to the right of their party. I think Perry is a lock for the nomination. Will he lose like Goldwater in '64? Less likely, unless Obama's messaging team can be like LBJ's. Or the Republican establishment writes 2012 off.

  2. Perry is anything but a Goldwater. One may have disagreed with Goldwater's positions, but from a conservative point of view (back when conservative meant something) Goldwater's positions were carefully reasoned. He was pedantic, and rational, and boring. Perry is charismatic, and seems to have very little use for rational argument. Still, I tend to believe that he won't last. I believe - or perhaps just want to believe - that the Republicans will eventually see the folly of nominating an unelectable candidate.

  3. Well, it's probably true that folks don't much know Perry. However, they most definitely know Obama and Romney, and have their minds pretty much made up on that score, in both cases. So the fact that Perry is surging in such a known-known environment is telling. Folks are not voting "for" Perry, they're voting against the better known candidates.

    Doesn't mean Perry will win... but if I was the other 2 guys, I'd pay close attention as to why I'm being rejected in favor of the first hick who fell off the truck.

  4. This post is certainly correct. I don't know what Republican primary voters will eventually do, but it's really odd to say that "it's hard to imagine what will" persuade them beyond this point. Well, how about a, y'know, campaign? Nobody's actually campaigned against Perry yet.

    Sargent's comment seems to assume that primary voters are following political news at roughly the same level of intensity that he does. I refer again to my Super Tuesday anecdote of a few days ago: Even people who join partisan organizations and watch primary coverage on TV are not always real clear on what's going on. And there seems to be a disease among political reporters, even good ones, that causes amnesia every four years, so the dynamics of the unfolding campaign come as a surprise every time. Or maybe there's just a natural bias against writing, "We don't actually know squat yet about what's going to happen." So that's what we have plain blog for, I guess. :-)

  5. I'm surprised that I have to be the first to mention the possibility that the things most of us articulate/informed types take as signs of non-electability -- per Sargent, "Perry’s “Ponzi scheme” crack, his book’s claim that Social Security may be unconstitutional, its support for repeal of the 16th Amendment, and his implied threat of violence towards Fed chairman Ben Bernanke (which he hasn’t repudiated)" -- these are precisely the things that convince the (inarticulate, poorly informed) Republican base that he IS electable.

    They love the red meat of raw conservatism. As their brand of conservativism leans towards a full-on rejection of anything like scientific analysis (see today's Andres S. again), they are attracted by the rejection of the 16th Amendment and the implied threats to central bankers.

    The over-emotional left provides a bit of "shadowing" of the far-right attitude here, the emotional/body language attitudes that cause them to reject Obama as "weak' against right-wingers are the same sort of emotional analysis that the far right is using to find Perry "electable" over Obama.

    2012 may end up much more than we think as a pretty direct contest between the calm rationality of the center and the emotional rejectionism of two ideological extremes. And I say that as one whose emotions are attracted to the left-wing rejection of "weak" Obama, although my head is winning so far.

  6. Yes, there goes that mainstream America again, in all their inarticulate, poorly informed glory. Why can't they all be articulate and informed, like we lefties? Then we wouldn't have to endure electoral beatdowns like last November. ;-)

  7. Dear Anonymous, based on your clever sarcasm in many recent threads here, I would actually count you in the articulate, well-informed segment of the population. Unfortunately you seem to be making a lot of stupid ideological choices, yet you are very articulate about them.

    You need to spend a few years serving the public in a job situation. The articulate, well-informed segment is unfortunately small, certainly less than a third of the total public and perhaps less than a fifth of the total. Both articulateness, and inarticulateness, are fairly evenly distributed among leftists, centrists, old-fashioned reality-based Republicans, and today's right-wing nutbags. I was not trying to imply that I saw lefties as uniformly articulate and well-informed, indeed the left-wing infantilism I'm finding at places like FireDogLake is quite turning me off these days.

    Have a nice day, but don't think you're convincing anyone around here.

  8. Yes, people disagree with you, and that obviously makes them stupid.

    I mean, that can't be sarcasm, clever or otherwise. It's just a truism. If they disagree with you... they're stupid.

    And if people would just do as you say, and go work somewhere you think they should work to get properly educated, then they'd agree with you, and they'd no longer be stupid.

    But sadly, they don't do what you want, or think as you do, so they're just destined to be stupid.


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