Sorry for the radio silence, folks — swamped.
Rich and Mike, I think there’s too much focus on “electable.” The election is going to be about Obama. The big differences we see between our guys — given that watching politics, and particularly GOP and conservative politics, is what we do around here — are likely to seem like marginal differences to the broader electorate that eventually decides the November election. “Electable” is not only about the field, it’s about the situation — for example, I think Mitt is clearly a better, more polished candidate this time around, but I also think it is a tougher race for him this time around because Obamacare is our biggest issue, so Romneycare looms much larger now than it did in ’08. And speaking of ’08, who on January 10 of that year knew that, when the autumn-stretch of the race came, the financial meltdown would be the consuming issue? If we could have predicted such a thing, maybe Mitt would have seemed more electable than Senator McCain.
Newt has done himself a lot of damage in the last few days. But he’s been a plausible candidate this time around, when in many cycles he would not be, because the main issue is Obama’s radicalism — the president has people frightened enough that what would appear to be insurmountable baggage in some elections could be cancelled out this time around. Besides Obama, the Tea Party movement is a big dynamic that did not exist in ’08 — maybe it makes Santorum or Perry more electable than they would have been at similar stages in other cycles.
I just think we overrate electability at this point. In a short time, whether it is weeks or months, we’re going to have a candidate. What the polls say now about X or Y’s standing head-to-head against Obama is close to meaningless. The election is going to be about how fed up with Obama the public is (or isn’t), and that is a judgment that will be made against the backdrop of some known unknowns (debt, jobs, the Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision, Iran, Europe’s financial crisis . . .) and some unknown unknowns. Some of those things will tee up better for some of our guys than for others. But I think the GOP candidates who seem most plausible right now are in the range of acceptability needed to beat the president.
Personally, I can’t get myself whipped up about which GOP candidate a handful of Dems say they want to run against — some spinning, some maybe not. Let’s face it: Every one of our guys presents some enticing vulnerabilities for the Obama camp. The problem they have is: We get to run against the president — as the only folks in the election who will want to talk about his record. I think their problem is bigger than our problem.