Overcrowded GOP Field Shows Weakness
I saw somewhere that Rep. Thad McCotter (R-MI) is not planning to run for reelection. In itself, that's not very interesting, but now the Moonie Times is floating him as a presidential contender, touting his opposition to the widely successful TARP program and the critical stimulus bill, and his supposed foreign policy chops. Meanwhile, Jon Huntsman heads to New Hampshire to give a commencement speech and spend a few days on the campaign trail. Michele Bachmann is expected to announce that she's a candidate on May 26th at a Polk County, Iowa fundraiser. Mitch Daniels is still doing his Hamlet routine, but has advisers out there saying he wants to make a run but doesn't want to talk about problems in his marriage. Newt Gingrich is getting ready to announce his candidacy on Facebook and Twitter, and somehow got Matt Bai to compare him to Charles de Gaulle and Ronald Reagan in the New York Times.
One thing all these people have in common is that none of them appeared at the first debate in South Carolina. Neither did Mitt Romney. If all these candidates get in the race, they'll never be able to seat them all for debates, nor will they get more than ten minutes to answer questions.
With Obama's approval rating hitting 60% in the most recent Associated Press-GfK poll, you would think that candidates would be dropping out, not getting in.
I still think the GOP might face a novel situation where no candidate can win the majority of the delegates. By eliminating most winner-take-all primaries, the GOP is setting itself up for a long primary season much like we saw between Obama and Clinton in 2008. But, with so many cooks in the kitchen, and no clear front-runner, it could easily prove impossible for a single candidate to emerge who can win delegates consistently in all regions of the country. And, even if one candidate has a clear lead in delegates, if they're winning primaries with just a quarter of the vote, they'll have a hard time accumulating a majority of the delegates before the convention.
Ordinarily, under these circumstances, a ton of pressure would come down on lesser candidates to get out of the race. But candidates like Gingrich and Bachmann and Paul have a ton of money and the ability to raise much more. Moreover, the GOP Establishment may actually want to pick their nominee at the convention rather than accept whichever loser emerges from this gang of fools.
The way things are shaping up, 2012 could resemble 1972 (McGovern), 1984 (Mondale), or 1988 (Dukakis) in reverse. Basically, the GOP is at risk of nominating someone who is not seen as a plausible alternative to Obama even in many very red states. And the Establishment knows this, which is why they may prefer a brokered convention, where they can pick someone with a damn chance.