NR Digital

Palin vs. Romney

by Ramesh Ponnuru

If both seek the presidency, it could split the Republican party

Two potential candidates for the Republican presidential nomination have been described as “frontrunners”: former governors Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin. According to pollster Scott Rasmussen, they’re the candidates with the most supporters among likely Republican-primary voters: Romney has 24 percent, Palin 19 percent. Intrade, the prediction market, has them as the most likely nominees: Romney is given a 23 percent chance of winning, Palin 15 percent. Each of them has a claim to being “next in line”: Romney because he was arguably John McCain’s strongest rival for the nomination in 2008, Palin because she was his running mate.

So there is a non-trivial chance that the Republican nomination contest could come down to Palin vs. Romney, and that their conflict could define the primaries. And that’s very bad news for the Republican party. A campaign that pits the two against each other would divide the Republican party along each of its fault lines. Such a race would almost certainly become bitter and leave the eventual nominee damaged.

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