Here are the most recent numbers from InTrade for the 2012 Republican nomination:
- Romney Bid 26.2 Ask 27.9
- Palin Bid 18.5 Ask 18.7
- Thune Bid 16.7 Ask 20.7
- Pawlenty Bid 10.9 Ask 12.5
- Gingrich Bid 9.4 Ask 10.4
- Daniels Bid 8.5 Ask 9.9
- Huckabee Bid 6.7 Ask 7.9
All these quotes can be had by typing the appropriate string (e.g. 2012. REP.NOM.ROMNEY) into a search engine. Navigation to the appropriate aggregate listing at the InTrade site is a bit cumbersome.
First of all, Mitt Romney is looking more like 2012′s version of Bob Dole: inevitable winner of the Republican nomination, inevitable loser of the election to an incumbent Democrat; right now InTrade has the Republican nominee at about a 40% chance of winning the Presidency. Second, I think the Thune and Palin numbers only look like a dead heat; if Palin lasts until the primary season starts in earnest the primary schedule favors her over Thune at least.
Finally, I don’t understand why there’s any buzz surrounding Mike Huckabee; see e.g. this article from GOP12, where his favorable/unfavorable numbers couldn’t be distinguished from Romney’s in a blind test and this Mark Byron article, where Byron picks Palin and Huckabee as favorites. If I could I’d happily short Huckabee, since he’s two below “the Gingrich line” (any viable candidate must poll as well or better than Newt Gingrich), he has someone to hurdle to reach each of the three major Republican constituencies, he apparently does not have a natural constituency even among the Religious Right, he has to explain how Maurice Clemmons got out of prison, etc.
I may as well come out and say that either Huckabee, as a pastor, had no business leaving his church to become a politician or he was never called to the ministry in the first place. Either way I have no interest in voting for him, sight unseen. The job descriptions for “pastor” and “President” are just too different for anyone to be qualified to do both.
The relationship between modern politically aware evangelicals, supposed ideal leaders like Rushdoony, and political leaders like Jerry Falwell, Chuck Colson, Phyllis Schlafly, et al is complicated, at least as complicated as the relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Rushdoony view of the future involves seizing the reins of power, overthrowing structures of government, and founding a new revised American government on a foundation of Old Testament Law. There are several other views, some of which I’ll cover in later posts.
The small handful of people I know who talk about situating government on a foundation of Old Testament law talk about the United States in the image of the Old Testament nation-states of Israel and Judah, more or less during the time of the prophets, when good kings and bad kings followed each other in succession, prophets advised good kings and resisted bad kings, God judged the nation in part according to the righteousness (lawfulness) of the king, and the nation-state gradually declined because of persistent national unrighteousness until God destroyed it using some foreign army as an intermediary.
This view usually surfaces in the form of references to particular issues, like this: “We need to stop [abortion, gay marriage, Obamacare] because we don’t want God to destroy America.” On rare occasions it surfaces in the form of claims that so-and-so will be a modern version of a “righteous king” who will lead America back to the true path (e.g. “George W. Bush/Sarah Palin is God’s man/woman for the job”), but there’s mostly a lull in that sort of talk right now. I expect more of it after the midterm election later this year, probably peaking during the primary season in 2012.
This is strictly speaking not a fundamentalist reading of the Old Testament; there are several problems. Fundamentalists as Dispensationalists read God’s treatment of Israel as a historical one-off, to be revisited and concluded in the Revelation, and therefore not as a giant metaphor, nor as a pattern for God’s treatment of other countries. There are also problems with picking aspects of the story and not others: there’s no “American Moses” to receive the Law from God; there’s no American tribe to be the “people of God;” and the various Old Testament prophets mention a whole host of sins, not all of which rate mention: treatment of the land, treatment of marginal people, purity of national religion, etc. The Reconstructionist narrative at present deals with only some of these problems: as best I can tell only the “America is a Christian Nation” and “The Founding Fathers were all/mostly Christians” is part of this story nowadays, with the Founding Fathers as an aggregate American Moses. The idea of the United States as a successor empire to Great Britain and unified around an ethnic identity has fallen out of favor, and taken the “certain white Americans as people of God” narrative with it.
Fundamentalists and their evangelical children often reach similar but different political stances, but do so by different paths. I’ll have to deal with those in another post.
I had never heard of Doug Wead until a few days ago, when I heard Russ Baker, the author of Family of Secrets, suggest that Wead was the man who pitched to George W. Bush what became his literal come-to-Jesus story, complete with Alcoholics Anonymous overtones. Baker did not clarify whether Wead also suggested the Billy-Graham-on-a-beach part of the story. I’ve long been fascinated with the way politicians appear to promise so much to evangelical Christians, deliver so little, and still get their support election after election, so I found the story interesting even though I have no way of knowing whether it’s true or not.
A little digging online and I found this article from Wead’s on blog, from 2008, on how to court the evangelical vote and how Mike Huckabee blew it.
When seeking to establish a base among evangelical voters, presidential contender, Governor Mike Huckabee, made a big mistake. It is one that many presidential wannabes have made before him. He went over the heads of the evangelical leaders of influence and talked directly to the people. It works well with most constituencies, Catholics, Labor, Jews, Hispanics, Women but it never works with Blacks and it never works with evangelicals either. It cost Mike Huckabee the presidential primary in South Carolina and it will probably cost him the nomination.
I recommend the entire article; it makes for unpleasant reading, but it’s helpful for understanding e.g. why voting instructions go from politicians through Richard Land to Southern Baptist voters and not the other way around.
Oh yeah: Mike Huckabee. For Huckabee to become a viable candidate he needs to get past Sarah Palin among evangelicals and past Newt Gingrich (and Sarah Palin again) among Fox News viewers. And he has to rid himself of the stink of failure from his loss to McCain and Romney in 2008. And he has to explain to law and order non-evangelical voters why they should trust him as head of the Executive Branch after he pardoned Maurice Clemmons, who went on to shoot four police officers in Washington state. The phrase “Huckabee’s Willie Horton” doesn’t just alliterate; it’s just too good to pass up.
Intrade has Huckabee at about 7% chance of winning the 2012 nomination. That strikes me as a bit high.
Mark Byron has a post defining the field for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2012 on his blog dated this past Monday. It looks like he’s lining up to say Palin-Romney-Pawlenty-Huckabee maybe Daniels or Jindahl and a bunch of dwarfs. I like his reasoning; I’d like to think Gingrich won’t still be in the conversation a year from now. I’m disturbed to see Gingrich e.g. flogging the Ground-Zero-Mosque issue as a fundraiser; I don’t believe for a second that giving a dollar to Gingrich’s political action committee will make Cordoba House less likely, slow the spread of sharia in the Western world, or touch any of the scary stories Gingrich tells in his article.
I don’t know why Byron doesn’t mention Thune; I’m guessing it’s a result of his picking a Pawlenty-penned list as his starting point, and that list doesn’t mention Thune. Intrade still has Romney 30%, Palin 18.5%, Thune 15%, Pawlenty 11.5%, Gingrich 11% and nobody else going off at better than 8%.
It’s probably a mistake to read articles about Sarah Palin in Salon and The Atlantic, since true believers in Palin are pretty scarce in either place, but here they are anyway:
- The Unstoppable Sarah Palin (Andrew Sullivan)
- What We Do and Don’t Know About Sarah Palin and 2012 (Salon.com)
For the record, after reading the Hillary Clinton narrative in Game Change I’m pretty sure I’ll care about Sarah Palin as a Presidential candidate once she puts together the core of her campaign team. I don’t think George W. Bush would have become President Bush without Karl Rove, and I have yet to hear even a rumor of Palin finding her Rove.
I’m already thinking about the 2012 Republican nomination for a number of reasons. One is that people I know socially from my days at Liberty started talking about 2012 in November 0f 2008; another is of course Glenn Beck’s appearance at Liberty graduation this year and Jerry Falwell Jr’s subsequent comments about political priorities. But personally I’m interested because the field appears so wide open and the candidates are so poor.
The Republican party has for the last several election cycles (say since 1976 or 1980) had three big constituencies (and a host of minor ones). These three are more or less
- The former fiscal conservatives: the captains of industry, pro-business types, so-called country-club Republicans.
- The social conservatives: the Religious Right, the Theocons, what-have-you.
- The libertarians.
Among these three groups it’s hard to win the nomination without strong support from one of the three and at least middling support from one of the others. The art of the campaign involves pitching messages that will be heard a particular way by one or more of these groups without coming back to haunt the candidate in the general election, and/or finding groups that overlap these groups and getting their support without alienating others. Breaking down the party this way explains why for example Ronald Reagan needed George H. W. Bush or maybe George W. Bush needed Dick Cheney, but why John McCain had a tough job motivating his base even with the help of Sarah Palin.
Wikipedia lists about twenty current candidates, which I think is about the size the list was a couple of months ago. I’ll use that as my baseline. If I had to pick first and second tiers of candidates from that list I’d probably pick the following:
- Romney, Palin, Huckabee, Paul
- Gingrich, Daniels, Pence, Pawlenty, Thune
And at the moment I don’t consider any of the others viable candidates. I’d probably break those nine down as follows:
- Pro-business/establishment Republicans: Romney, Gingrich, Daniels
- Social conservatives: Palin, Huckabee, Pence, Pawlenty, Thune
- Libertarian: Paul
Among the pro-business types, Romney is probably the prohibitive favorite. Unfortunately for him he doesn’t currently have much appeal among social conservatives (apart from other Mormons, of course). Gingrich has reached out to James Dobson and been on his radio show, so he has at least made overtures to the Religious Right. Daniels is probably just Vice Presidential material.
Among the social conservatives, there’s Sarah Palin and everybody else. Huckabee has experience but has already run one failed campaign. Thune, a graduate of Biola, probably has the best evangelical credentials, but he’s from a small state. Palin, because of her appearances at various Tea Party events, stands a good chance of overshadowing Ron Paul as well.
I don’t really consider Ron Paul a real candidate; he’s older than John McCain and might fail to win the primary in his home state if Rick Perry were still in the race, but he’s the most solidly libertarian of the bunch.
Here are the InTrade bid/ask values for everyone with a bid of ten or more:
- Romney 24.2/27.6
- Palin 17.0/19.2
- Thune 13.3/16.7
- Pawlenty 11.0/20.1
- Gingrich 9.1/11.4
A bid of ten is an arbitrary cutoff but it does a pretty good job; the other four cluster around 5-7%.
The real challenge for any candidate is to appeal to two of the three groups; Palin has crossover appeal at the moment between the Religious Right and the Tea Party crowd; everyone else is in for a tough road. At the moment it’s hard to imagine how Romney can manage to appeal to the Religious Right or the libertarians, unless of course he can package himself as a Mormon who is acceptable to evangelicals, a la Glenn Beck.