Republican Re-Runs Faring Poorly

None of the top eight candidates in current polls have made a previous bid for the nomination.

Republican Debate August 6

Historically, the Republican Party has tended to nominate the candidate whose “turn” it is. Typically, that has meant someone who made a strong run previously. Mitt Romney in 2012, John McCain in 2008, Bob Dole in 1996, George H.W. Bush in 1988, Ronald Reagan in 1980, and Richard Nixon in 1968 all fit the pattern. In the modern era, George W. Bush in 2000 has been the only exception. (The races not mentioned above all featured a sitting president.)

Thus far in the 2016 cycle, though, candidates who made a strong showing—or at least had a boomlet—in previous cycles are doing horribly. Yesterday, Rick Perry, who was briefly a frontrunner in 2012 before his campaign imploded over a series of gaffes, cut his paid campaign staff in Iowa to one. His Iowa co-chair has “has moved back to the team for presidential candidate Rick Santorum, the candidate she supported in the 2012 cycle.” Alas, Santorum, who won Iowa and finished second overall last time, isn’t faring much better than Perry this go-round.

Look at the RealClearPolitics poll aggregate:

RCP-GOP-Nomination-20160901

All the usual caveats about early polling notwithstanding, the re-runs are mere blips.

John Kasich is technically the leader among the re-runs, since he made a short-lived if not-much-remembered run in 2000. At the time, he was a mere Congressman, if the chairman of the Budget Committee. He’s now governor of a major swing state. He’s at 4.7 percent, lagging a failed tech executive whose only political experience was a 10-point loss to Barbara Boxer for Senate.

Mike Huckabee has made two reasonably successful runs, including technically finishing second to McCain in 2008 (Romney was the real runner-up but dropped out once it was clear McCain would be the nominee, while Huckabee hung around to rack up meaningless votes). He’s at a whopping 4.3 percent, good enough for 9th place.

Perry is a 1.3 and Santorum at 1.0. That puts them statistically tied with my dog Molly.

None of the top seven candidates at the moment have made a previous run for the Republican nomination. Donald Trump has flirted with several runs for president, including actually running for the Reform Party’s nod in 2000. Ben Carson never ran for anything. Jeb Bush is, of course, the son and brother of previous Republican presidents but is making his first go of it himself. Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio are all relative newcomers. Cruz came onto the national scene with his successful 2012 Senate campaign. Walker won the Wisconsin’s governor race in 2010, having failed in 2006.  Rubio also won his first major election in 2010.

Again, it’s early. It’s possible that Kasich will emerge as the last serious candidate standing not named Bush and go on to win the thing. But the current mood of the Republican electorate is not only anti-politician, it’s anti-anyone who has run before.

 

 

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Ron Beasley says:

    But the current mood of the Republican electorate is not only anti-politician, it’s anti-anyone who has run before who is even moderately sane..

    Now it’s hard to know how many of these candidates actually believe the nonsense they are saying but are simply pandering to the angry Republican base. It is interesting that the hard core theocrats like Hauckabee and Santorum are not fairing well.

  2. michael reynolds says:

    So now we’re going to pretend this is about anti-Washington, anti-experience sentiment? Is that our dodge-du-jour for avoiding the obvious?

    James, your party, confronted by choices ranging from arguably rational to completely unhinged, has chosen unhinged. Your party is composed of idiots. No, really: idiots. And not the lovable Joey Tribbiani idiot, but the kind of idiots who in the credits are listed as Thug #2 and Mental Patient #1.

    14% of Republicans believe Obama is a Christian, 54% believe he’s a Muslim.

    Only 29% of Republicans believe Obama was born in the United States.

    That’s not anti-incumbency, that’s not anti-Washington, that’s abject stupidity. That’s people who should not be allowed out unaccompanied by a responsible adult. That’s people who may not have enough IQ to qualify for being tried as adults.

    You are riding on the short bus, my friend. I’m sure we all appreciate your loyalty, but you’re way past that now. Now you’re just Lemming #89 and if you don’t pull off to the side you’re going over the cliff.

  3. Grumpy Realist says:

    @michael reynolds: it’s the temper tantrum of people who have been carefully groomed to direct their rage and anger anywhere aside from the 1%.

  4. Scott says:

    And yet, in head-to-head polls between D and R candidates, there is 40-45 per cent of the voting public, i.e., Americans, that will choose a non-politician over the politician. This phenomenon just doesn’t run through Republicans but through the nation as a whole.

    Actually, I’m thinking that with the elections over a year away, most people just can’t care yet. Except for the politically obsessed. Like us.

  5. michael reynolds says:

    @Scott:

    So you’re an optimist. But the polls do not support your optimism.

    57% of Republicans currently support one of the unhinged: Trump, Carson, Cruz, Huckabee, Santorum. And 54% of Republicans believe Obama is a Muslim, with another 32% not sure.

    That’s not a picture of people window-shopping, that’s a picture of deeply stupid, eternally angry, unhinged voters. I don’t believe they’re just pretending to be enraged and moronic, I think they really are enraged and moronic. They are quite consistent in both their rage and the stupidity. Their stupid choices are mirrored perfectly in their stupid beliefs.

    There’s a tendency among rational, intelligent folks to ascribe those same characteristics to the world at large, to the general population. We don’t want to be mean or condescending. And we’re a bit creeped out by mass insanity and want to delay as long as possible the realization that that’s what we’re dealing with.

    But at some point all the rational fellows who congregate here are going to have to come to terms with the fact that those people are simply not rational.

  6. MBunge says:

    This is a phenomenon that stretches beyond the GOP but it would be useful to remember that this, as well as most other weird/problematic things that have affected the Republican Party in the past 15 or so years, flows in some part from the disaster that was the George W. Bush Administration, which was a candidate and President that the elite in his own party and our elites generally foisted upon us.

    The denial that many of our current difficulties, or at least their severity, are linked to that one collective failure in judgment is one of the biggest things preventing us from doing anything about them.

    Mike

  7. Tillman says:

    @michael reynolds:

    That’s not anti-incumbency, that’s not anti-Washington, that’s abject stupidity. That’s people who should not be allowed out unaccompanied by a responsible adult. That’s people who may not have enough IQ to qualify for being tried as adults.

    You are riding on the short bus, my friend.

    So Republicans are idiots, needing adult attention to carry out basic tasks, but we need Hillary Clinton to defeat them electorally because they could stop being idiots at any moment.

  8. James Pearce says:

    It’s possible that Kasich will emerge as the last serious candidate standing not named Bush and go on to win the thing. But the current mood of the Republican electorate is not only anti-politician, it’s anti-anyone who has run before.

    It often seems like Republicans are anti-anything.

    Even in situations where they are “pro” something, it’s usually coupled with an “anti” in there somewhere. (As in, pro-wall, anti-immigrant.) Right now they’re pro-outsider, anti-establishment. (Or so they say….)

    With a term-limited opposition president leaving, this is their opportunity to be pro-active. Sad they’ve chosen to be reactive instead.

  9. Ron Beasley says:

    I expect to see the Republican establishment jump on the Kasich bandwagon any day now. While Jeb is borderline sane he is a hapless candidate. Kasich on the other hand is both sane and a decent campaigner. Cruz and Paul will go back to their respective states and attempt to hang onto their Senate seats. Rick Perry will simply ride into the Texas sunset. I really don’t know what the future holds for Jindal, an example that you can be a Rhodes Scholar and a moron at the same time. Even his own Republican legislature has no use for him. Then there is Cary Forina attempting to run on her dismal record as a CEO. Don’t forget she outsourced 30,000 jobs to China. That’s going to go over really well in the general election.