Right now, the four leading candidates for the GOP nomination are private citizens. In a recent Rasmussen poll, the only candidates with double-digit support among Republicans were Mike Huckabee (at 29 percent), Mitt Romney (24 percent), Sarah Palin (18 percent) and Newt Gingrich (14 percent). These four are running way ahead of various senatorial and gubernatorial possibilities. So a party that has over the past two decades nominated a vice president (George H.W. Bush), a senator (Bob Dole), a governor (George W. Bush) and another senator (John McCain), now has as its front-runners four public figures who are, to one degree or another, outsiders.
To an extent this situation is the product of accidental circumstances, and it could change. But when one considers the anti-Washington and anti-political mood in the country, especially among conservatives, it’s easier to see it not changing.
Indeed, I suspect that the person most likely to break into this group of front-runners would be a businessman who stands up against President Obama’s big-government proposals, a retired general who objects to Obama’s foreign policy or a civic activist who rallies the public against some liberal outrage. If a Republican elected official emerges, it will probably be because he or she champions some populist cause, not because that person is a fine representative or senator or governor.