As I’ve noted on a number of occassions, even if the economy doesn’t improve greatly and President Obama is deeply vulnerable in 2012, Republicans still have to agree on a viable candidate to replace him. And at the moment, Republicans aren’t particularly excited about any candidate.
A new Gallup poll of potential 2012 GOP condtenders shows now clear early frontrunner. Mitt Romney leads the pack at 19 percent, followed closely by Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee at 16 percent and Newt Gingrich at 13 percent. Everybody else on the list is somewhere in the single digits.
That said, I were to pick a frontrunner right now, I’d have to say it would be Romney. Huckabee and Palin both have intense supporters, but limited appeal beyond their core constituency, while Gingrich has alienated conservatives a number of times and carries tremendous personal baggage. Romney is a deeply flawed candidate, who, on top of all the issues he had in 2008, will have to answer for his health care plan that served as the model for ObamaCare. In a vaccuum, it’s hard to see how Romney could win the GOP nomination. At the same time, somebody has to end up winning the nomination, and since all candidates have weaknesses, one candidate with weaknesses will end up as the nominee. Remember, in 2008, John McCain overcame campaign finance reform, immigration, voting against the Bush tax cuts, and a litany of other failed litmus tests to become the nominee. So if McCain won in 2008, it’s easy to see how Romney could win in 2012, despite his many problems. And though it’s a wide open field and he’s clearly beatable, at this point it isn’t clear who the person is to beat him.
Also of interest, I went back and found a Pew poll of the 2008 GOP field taken in November 2006, and it had Rudy Giuliani at 27 percent, John McCain at 26 percent and Condeleezza Rice at 20 percent. Romney was at 7 percent and Huckabee didn’t even register.