Late Start to 2012 Presidential Race?
By this point in the last presidential cycle, there were already 14 major party candidates who had publicly announced. There are zero today.
Jim Geraghty, Dave Weigel, and Matt Yglesias all note that, by this point in the last presidential cycle, there were already 14 major party candidates who had publicly announced. There are zero today.
Of course, this is rather skewed. Barring the wildly unexpected, there will be one significant contender for the Democratic nomination: President Barack Obama. Conversely, since 2008 was an open year, both parties had vacancies.
Still, there were 7 Republicans announced by this time in 2007: Duncan Hunter, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Sam Brownback, Tommy Thompson, Jim Gilmore, and Ron Paul. The eventual winner, McCain, announced on November 15, 2006.
So, why hasn’t anyone jumped in yet for 2012?
Presumably, the fact that there’s a sitting president gives pause even to Republicans. Recall that the 1992 Democratic field was rather shallow, with most of the big names deciding not to bother to challenge George H.W. Bush. Since incumbents almost always win a second term, 2012 is simply less enticing than 2008.
Beyond that, there’s the Sarah Palin factor.
Republicans, it’s frequently said, tend to nominate the candidate whose “turn” it is. There are two plausible contenders for that title: Mitt Romney, the candidate who gave McCain the strongest run for his money when it counted (Mike Huckabee ultimately amassed a few more delegates, but only because he ran for months after the race was decided) and Palin, who was McCain’s running mate.
Given Palin’s ability to suck all the oxygen out of the room — she’s far and away the potential Republican candidate most able to attract media attention — other candidates have to be hesitant to commit themselves before gauging her intention. And, certainly, Palin has no need to rush things, since she already has the name recognition and fundraising ability from the outset.
Several Republicans — Romney, Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, and Tim Pawlenty most notably — already seem to be running. But given that money will play an even bigger role this time than ever before, they’re going to have to get serious soon if they’re going to have any shot.