Wlady asks, quite reasonably, why I’m blaming “the pundits” for narrowing the GOP field. Well, it’s because the way they frame the debates and the horse race and the issues in the first place helps affect the polling results. I have never seen a story on the race that didn’t call Santorum a long shot. I have never seen a story in the establishment media that didn’t describe him as a “social issues champion,” or somesuch, thus making him sound like a one-trick pony and perhaps a fringe candidate.
If one goes by titles, Santorum should be referred to in neutral stories as the former Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, or the former third-ranking Republican in the Senate, or some such honorific. Instead, he merely gets lumped in, FROM THE BEGINNING, as an also-ran.
In debates, as I have noted (Wolf Blitzer’s greater fairness notwithstanding), the tendency has been to give far more air time to Romney and Perry than to Santorum, Gingrich, Cain, and Huntsman, and sometimes more time to the top two than to Bachmann and Paul as well (although sometimes those latter two get more air time because they are “put on the spot” with questions suggesting that they are crazy people, in order to make all conservatives by extension look crazy).
Again and again I hear people saying, “I’d be for XXX if I thought XXX had a chance.” Well, the reason XXX doesn’t seem to have a chance is because the punditocracy says XXX has no chance, so it limits the money XXX can raise, puts other hurdles in his path, and becomes somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If, as Wlady suggests, the race is now between Romney and Perry, even this early in the proceedings, then we are all the worse off for the lack of choices. Somehow, I suspect this isn’t the case. At this time in 2008, John McCain was a dead man walking and Rudy Giuliani was the favorite. At this time in 1992, Bill Clinton had not even entered the race. At this time in 2004, Howard Dean was a sudden juggernaut and whatshisname Trippi was a genius. I also seem to remember well Presidents George Romney and Ed Muskie, and maybe Hubert Humphrey in 1976, and I am told that in 1964 the Republican nomination contest was a heck of a battle between Henry Cabot Lodge and Nelson Rockefeller.
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