For some reason, Duncan decided to run for a second term as R.N.C. chairman – and even more astonishingly, he may just get it. The 168 members of the R.N.C. will convene in Washington this week to elect a chairman. The race is unusually fluid, but Duncan has emerged as the tentative front-runner. A Hotline survey of 108 R.N.C. members found Duncan ahead, although well short of a majority. Other analysts have also pegged him as the current leader.
Granted, estimates of Duncan’s support are hardly overwhelming, and if he can’t reach an outright majority on the first ballot, his coalition may well evaporate. But the fact that he is even competitive in this race ought to startle rank-and-file Republicans. With Democrats controlling the White House and Congress, wouldn’t it be logical to fill what is suddenly one of the most visible positions in the party with someone who (a) is a strong communicator (there will be far more television opportunities for the R.N.C. chairman in the next two years than there were in the last two) and (b) represents, to the general public, a clear break from the Bush-era G.O.P. that they so soundly rejected in 2006 and 2008? Basic competence might help, too.