Why Rick Perry is the likely GOP nominee

posted at 4:05 pm on September 15, 2011 by Karl

…with a major caveat, of course. But first, a disclaimer and a sideshow. The disclaimer is that I am currently not supporting Perry or any of the other candidates. Perhaps I am overly cynical, but I have not been excited about a presidential candidate since Reagan — and that was as likely the result of youthful exuberance as it was Reagan’s merits. The sideshow:

After Monday’s debate in Florida, most people expected Rick Perry’s rapid rise to the top of the polls for Republican presidential candidates to slow or halt, having taken a beating over the Gardasil mandate and immigration. His attack on Social Security was supposed to scare off seniors. However, as RealClearPolitics reported last night, a new poll by Insider Advantage shows Perry grabbing a nine-point lead in the Sunshine State in a survey taken the next day…

The effect of debates — and any debate in particular — is greatly exaggerated. Monday’s debate was seen by fewer people than watched Monday Night Football, The Closer, Rizzoli & Isles, Pawn Stars, American Pickers or WWE Entertainment (The NBC/Politico debate had higher ratings, barely edging out an episode of Storage Wars). That’s why Allahpundit was smart to view the current Rick Perry-Mitt Romney slugfest from the outset as more of a metaphor for the “electability vs. principle” conundrum, which will play out over the entire course of the campaign. But even that narrative frame may overstate the campaign dynamic.

You do not have to be a political scientist to observe that presidential nominees tend to have a particular profile. Both the Dems and the GOP tend to nominate governors or, as a fallback, senators. The last major party candidates nominated while they were in the House or just after they had left the House were James A. Garfield (R) in 1880, William Jennings Bryan (D) in 1896, and Horace Greeley (WhigLiberal Republican) in 1872 (Garfield, the only one of the three to win, had also been elected Senator). It is not difficult to reason why this is the case. A governorship, like the presidency, is an executive position. A governor compiles a record on a host of issues, including those with national implications. A senator, like a House member, may only compile a voting record. However, a senator, like a governor, necessarily has demonstrated statewide appeal, whereas a House member’s appeal to a Congressional district may or may not translate to a wider audience. Governors and senators have experience running larger campaigns. And so on.

Then there are region and ideology. Both factors affect both major parties, but as Jay Cost observed back in May, before Perry entered the race:

To understand Romney’s dilemma fully, we have to go back deep into the history of the Republican Party, to the historical split between the Northeastern, moderate wing and the Midwestern, conservative base. This cleavage dominated the first 25 years of party politics after World War II. It predates the emergence of the South as a major player in the party, and it was also a time when Western Republicans tended to be more progressive, as opposed to today when they are usually (but not always) more conservative.

***

In the last 40 years, conservative dominance has been the way of the world in Republican presidential politics. The party has nominated some relatively moderate candidates, like Nixon, George Bush, and Bob Dole, but it was only after they had convinced enough Republican voters that they were sufficiently conservative.

In other words, a candidate aligned with the Northeastern, moderate wing of the party has not won a nomination since 1960, and there is no reason to expect that to change, barring some kind of once-in-a-century realignment of the two political parties. Northeastern Republicans are now junior partners in the party coalition. They cannot deliver their own states anymore, as the Democrats dominate them all except New Hampshire and Pennsylvania; meanwhile, conservatives in the Midwest, South, and West can deliver their states, and so they now basically run the show.

Which brings us to Mitt Romney, whose basic political problem is that he comes from the Northeastern wing of the party…

Indeed, within a week, Jay was expanding on this theme:

[A]s the last century has come and gone, we’ve seen a geographical revolution in the Republican party. The booming postwar economy sent voters South and West, and eventually transformed all of the Sunbelt states into either swing states or safely Republican enclaves (with California having now swung back to the Democrats).

Unsurprisingly, the shift in regional strength over the years has had an effect on whom the party nominates…

As Jay noted, since 1960, the GOP nominee has been from the Sunbelt with two exceptions — unelected incumbent Pres. Ford, and Sen. Bob Dole. (One could make similar points about the Democrats and the Northeast/upper Midwest.)

Regionalism and ideology are major influences for a fairly obvious reason — political parties tend to nominate people for president who are broadly representative of the party’s base. Partisans often talk a good game about electability, but do not necessarily act that way. Republicans told CNN that Perry is the candidate with the best chance to beat Pres. Obama — and while I can make that argument, I could also argue that Romney is currently the more electable of the two; current head-to-head polls have Romney stronger, although both are closing in on Obama. Conversely, I could note the Dems’ proclivity to nominate elitists from Massachusetts; their electoral success has come with non-Northeasterners, although this is quite arguably due to the economic cycles at issue.

In sum, when measured by resume, regionalism and ideology, Rick Perry would seem to be the candidate most acceptable to the GOP primary electorate. The major caveat, as has been the case throughout this cycle, is a possible late entry by fmr. Gov. Sarah Palin (though that possibility dwindles by the day). Her weakness among Republicans would not make her a lock for the nomination, but she would be a factor and could split the conservative opposition to Romney. However, as the campaign stands today, regardless of the momentary odds at Intrade narrowly favoring Romney, the most likely GOP nominee is the Governor of Texas.

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
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Why would Perry join a Romney ticket? That makes no sense for either. Romney doesn’t gain anything by taking Perry. The Republican nominee will get Texas’ electoral votes no matter who it is.

Perry can sit out 2012 and go for 16 if need be or 2020 without much of a problem. Perry can finish out his term as TX gov and walk into a Senate seat if he wants. Then run for President again.

This is Mitt’s last go at the dance.

Jason Coleman on September 15, 2011 at 7:35 PM

I admit to being sucked in by Rick Perry at first (partly because I am so desperate for someone, anyone to shine against President Teh Won). After the initial glow, though, I began to have second thoughts. Perry seems to me to be the glib good ol’ boy side of Obama’s slick metrosexual coin. That said, the reason Perry will get my vote if he wins the nomination is that he does have a proven record of governance, a willingness to act and stick by his guns, pride in his state and his country, and hopefully, plain common sense. All of which are missing in the incumbent.

RebeccaH on September 15, 2011 at 7:40 PM

Jason Coleman on September 15, 2011 at 7:35 PM

They both want to be president. Taking the VP slot, if it’s offered, is one of the best ways to keep hope alive.

gh on September 15, 2011 at 7:44 PM

A lot of Perry supporters are Clintonistas 2.0: Spin like hell and smear the accuser(s). It’s disgusting.

ddrintn on September 15, 2011 at 5:09 PM

They are supporting Al Gore’s former campaign chairman….

It’s a small world after all.

haner on September 15, 2011 at 7:44 PM

Perry can sit out 2012 and go for 16 if need be or 2020 without much of a problem.

Very unlikely. In 2016, we’ll probably have a sitting Republican president. In 2020, Perry will be 70 years old.

slug on September 15, 2011 at 7:45 PM

My take on 2012, at least for today, is simple. This looks to be either a Perry/Romney or a Romney/Perry ticket.

In the end, they will both be on this ticket as they fit the typical regional goals of a general election. Forget the usual ‘he would never be the VP’ story for this particular election. They will both be willing to fill that spot for the good of the country.

It is just a question of which one wins the Republican Primary.

Freddy on September 15, 2011 at 7:27 PM

That Republican Party has a good shot at revitalizing itself in the North, especially among Catholics and Jews.

I don’t think it would do the party any good to be perceived as a parochial party of the South.

haner on September 15, 2011 at 7:48 PM

A lot of Palin supporters -namely me-are Clintonistas 2.0: Spin like hell and smear the accuser(s). It’s disgusting.

ddrintn on September 15, 2011 at 5:09 PM

There fixed it for ya dimwit.

CW on September 15, 2011 at 7:48 PM

Usual suspects hard at work.

CW on September 15, 2011 at 7:50 PM

Wow, some folks are going to be upset I think when Palin throws her endorsement to Perry.

BadMojo on September 15, 2011 at 7:50 PM

if OBAMA looks to lose next November….

guaranteed DONALD TRUMP runs to siphon off Tea Party votes and help re-elect Obama. The Progressive Globalists want to finish off America…………and Obama is their man.

ATTAAAAACK!!!!

PappyD61 on September 15, 2011 at 7:52 PM

Perry: “There’s nobody on this stage who has had to deal with the issue of border security more than I have. And our federal government has been an abject failure at securing our border. We’ve spent $400 million in Texas taxpayer dollars, we’ve even sent Texas rangers down there.

Or Perry could have spent $20 million enforcing E-Verify and not given in-state tuition and licenses to illegals. Would probably have been more effective than the $400 million.

Talk is cheap. Romney actually got the state police to arrest illegals and blocked illegals from getting driver’s licenses and in-state tuition. All in Massachusetts!

It took Arizona to draw the nation’s attention to illegal immigration. Texas, the source of 75% of Mexican illegals in this country, was AWOL.

haner on September 15, 2011 at 7:53 PM

They both want to be president. Taking the VP slot, if it’s offered, is one of the best ways to keep hope alive.

gh on September 15, 2011 at 7:44 PM

Tell that to Mondale, Gore, Qualye, Rockafeller, Humphrey.

HW is the only recent President to have benefited from being a VP. I’m not even all that sure that being VP helped HW. Being VP didn’t give Nixon the Presidency.

Or do you mean by “keep hope alive” that the VP can hope that the President can’t finish their term?

If Perry keeps his fitness up, I have no problem with him being a Senior Citizen President. Reagan was 70, HW was 65.

Jason Coleman on September 15, 2011 at 7:53 PM

Of course Perry is the likely nominee. Fortunately I’ve even heard from Democrat strategists that Rubio is the likely nominee for the VP spot. Like that ticket!

Marcus on September 15, 2011 at 7:54 PM

That Republican Party has a good shot at revitalizing itself in the North, especially among Catholics and Jews.

I don’t think it would do the party any good to be perceived as a parochial party of the South.

haner on September 15, 2011 at 7:48 PM

Perry/Rubio looks more likely to me. And aside from NH, they carry NJ and PA.

Red State State of Mind on September 15, 2011 at 8:00 PM

A lot of Palin supporters -namely me-are Clintonistas 2.0: Spin like hell and smear the accuser(s). It’s disgusting.

ddrintn on September 15, 2011 at 5:09 PM

There fixed it for ya dimwit.

CW on September 15, 2011 at 7:48 PM

The past two days of “Palin accepted federal funds to make Gardasil available…it’s just as bad!” give the lie to that, shitwit.

ddrintn on September 15, 2011 at 8:02 PM

Egads, electing Perry is about as bad as California electing the governator but at least we still have Conan and The Terminator we can look back fondly on.

Sailfish on September 15, 2011 at 8:03 PM

Rubio, West and Jindal in the VP slot would be the only way to get money out of me for a Romney ticket, or volunteer time.

I don’t think Perry would go with Rubio, he’d be doubling on constituencies.

Perry/West would be a better ticket. It would put a wedge in one of Obama’s core constituencies, and give Perry the full support of the tea party.

Jason Coleman on September 15, 2011 at 8:04 PM

gallup seems to think intensity scores are important indicators of candidate viability.

Me too

windansea on September 15, 2011 at 6:58 PM

Except of course when Palin’s were leading the pack. Then they were irrelevant.

ddrintn on September 15, 2011 at 8:04 PM

Perry/West would be a better ticket. It would put a wedge in one of Obama’s core constituencies…

Jason Coleman on September 15, 2011 at 8:04 PM

Ummmm…not really.

ddrintn on September 15, 2011 at 8:07 PM

Perry/Rubio looks more likely to me.

Red State State of Mind on September 15, 2011 at 8:00 PM

Why? So he can win the South twice?

Look, there are tons of conservatives in the northern states. We have been disenfranchised by Democrats and Southern Republicans for way too long.

haner on September 15, 2011 at 8:12 PM

Perry/West would be a better ticket. It would put a wedge in one of Obama’s core constituencies…

Jason Coleman on September 15, 2011 at 8:04 PM

Ummmm…not really.

ddrintn on September 15, 2011 at 8:07 PM

West would easily peel off more than 10% of the African-American vote.

At the very least it would dampen enthusiasm for Obama in the constituency. They’d be left pulling out the Uncle Tom card and while some might think that card always works, it’s pretty played out.

Having West available to immediately destroy anyone who pulled the race card would be a valuable tool in the campaign.

Remember too, that he won’t have the “historic” event to surge turnout. Any voters peeled off from that constituency would be multiplied.

We can disagree, but I think West would be a stronger VP for Perry, Rubio for Romney and Jindal is probably the best pick for Palin.

Jason Coleman on September 15, 2011 at 8:46 PM

Perry/West would be a better ticket. It would put a wedge in one of Obama’s core constituencies…
Jason Coleman on September 15, 2011 at 8:04 PM

when West came out of the Debt Ceiling re education camp with party leaders, he said the Tea party should grow up and the Republican party should wake up. And he went with the leadership to raise the debt ceiling

That was enough for me. I woke up, and maybe one day he will wise up.

I watched Rubio leave Greta tongue tied last night on FOX and it was scary. Rubio has vote pull, and he hasn’t shot himself in the foot like so many others. On the other hand, does he want to be doing clean up after Perry for four years?

Right now Rubio hasn’t boxed himself in on immigration like Perry
Or on anything else

Perry a shoe in? I don’t think the deal is done. Perry has been working overtime, because he hasn’t set the deal. There is a lot of time for someone smart to move in. Someone smart.

Perry’s wikipedia site is almost as clean as a whistle. He has to work hard to walk the fence. That’s why I prefer people firmly grounded in simple conviction. I know what I’m buying

entagor on September 15, 2011 at 9:03 PM

I still believe Palin will win the nomination unless she makes a major blunder. On policy, Newt is her only competition, and on enthusiasm and support, she wins 3 to 1 against any other candidate. She is by far the best strategic thinker in the group.

I think she has a shot at the college and young adult vote, as well as the jewish vote.

huckleberryfriend on September 15, 2011 at 9:19 PM

I think you’re right, Karl, that — barring the unexpected — Perry will be the GOP nominee. He’s got the presence and gravitas. Romney always looks like a hyper-prepared grad student trying to shoehorn in all his points in 60 seconds or less. Perry has the look of a leader with some experience and perspective on him. He just comes across as judicious and reassuring in a way Romney doesn’t.

Someone made the comment at my last Perry post that he/she doesn’t make decisions based on “optics.” But if you want to predict how large numbers of people are going to vote, you have to pay attention to the dynamics of non-verbal clues.

Perry came across in the last debate as good-natured and unflappable, under fire from his fellow candidates who came off as tinny and attack-oriented. That’s how his stock went up in the Florida poll, in spite of how wonks may have awarded the debating points.

J.E. Dyer on September 15, 2011 at 5:46 PM

I agree with you. The other night Perry looked like Reagan when he told Carter, “there you go again.”

Elisa on September 15, 2011 at 10:46 PM

Perry will be the nominee because he shot a coyote while jogging when it menaced his dog. I’m serious. Of the other current and potential contenders, Sarah Palin’s the only one I can imagine doing that. It speaks volumes about his attitudes and inclinations and priorites. I approve and I think most Rs do/will too.

edshepp on September 15, 2011 at 11:19 PM

Many of the Palin fans, who were soooo convinced that Palin was going to cruise to the nom, are now soooo convinced Perry is going to cruise to the nom.

Why are so many people so determined to make 2012 as easy for Obama as possible?

Moesart on September 15, 2011 at 11:35 PM

if OBAMA looks to lose next November….

guaranteed DONALD TRUMP runs to siphon off Tea Party votes and help re-elect Obama.

PappyD61 on September 15, 2011 at 7:52 PM

This.

Alana on September 16, 2011 at 1:01 AM

Gotta love the mindless ad hominem. As a Palin supporter, I’m embarrassed even to be associated with this kind of pap.

fossten on September 15, 2011 at 4:41 PM

Come to the Dark side, Luke!
*We don’t have cookies but I just pulled a pan of from-scratch mocha brownies from the oven…and my brownies are k*ck azz! LoL*

annoyinglittletwerp on September 16, 2011 at 1:25 AM

I dunno. Three years of sliming, losing a limb, maybe not that far apart.

ddrintn on September 15, 2011 at 5:23 PM

Thread Loser!

You may need a break. This comment is three doors down from outrageous.

sherry on September 15, 2011 at 5:26 PM
Save your breath. The cultists are basically Ronulans san the Jew-hatred and 9/11 trutherisms.

annoyinglittletwerp on September 16, 2011 at 1:43 AM

Ummmm…not really.

ddrintn on September 15, 2011 at 8:07 PM

Wow. Brilliant comeback.

John the Libertarian on September 16, 2011 at 2:25 AM

I’ll support Perry or whoever the nominee is, but I have to say that the more I see of him, the less impressed I am. Perhaps that is partly due to the hype and buzz around his entry to the race creating higher expectations, but if his first debates are any guide he is not the man we need debating Obama. He wouldn’t back down and would be aggressive and conservative, but he doesn’t seem sharp and on top of the questions he had to know he would be asked, which makes me wonder how he’d fare against a panel of Democrats, which is what our national debates all feature.

Adjoran on September 16, 2011 at 3:23 AM

*We don’t have cookies but I just pulled a pan of from-scratch mocha brownies from the oven…and my brownies are k*ck azz! LoL*

annoyinglittletwerp on September 16, 2011 at 1:25 AM

Hmmm . . . got recipe? I promise to destroy it and you can kill me later.

Adjoran on September 16, 2011 at 3:25 AM

Gotta love the mindless ad hominem. As a Palin supporter, I’m embarrassed even to be associated with this kind of pap.

fossten on September 15, 2011 at 4:41 PM

Come to the Dark side, Luke!

annoyinglittletwerp on September 16, 2011 at 1:25 AM

You engage in it more than most. Hilarious.

Ummmm…not really.

ddrintn on September 15, 2011 at 8:07 PM

Wow. Brilliant comeback.

John the Libertarian on September 16, 2011 at 2:25 AM

Jason COleman apparently got the point. It was sufficient.

ddrintn on September 16, 2011 at 8:06 AM

Bring back the K Street project!

Viator on September 16, 2011 at 10:00 AM

I’m sure a hundred other people have said it before me, but better Perry than Romney.

Cylor on September 16, 2011 at 10:07 AM

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said this week that his pick for vice president would be “a person of wisdom and judgment,” such as former vice president Cheney.

Romney’s putting the dog whistle out for Gingrich.

A Romney/Gingrich ticket would test my resolve.

Fallon on September 16, 2011 at 10:17 AM

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