Summarizing the GOP Field

In trying to explain why Cain is polling as well as he is, Andrew Sullivan describes the GOP field thusly:

the rest of the field is hobbled by one glaring problem respectively, while Cain isn’t. Perry is simply too dumb and lazy to be president. Romney too transparently opportunist for a purist party. Paul is disqualified because of foreign policy. Bachmann is a programmed bonkers-bot. Santorum is a frothy substance whose views of the world are frozen in place sometime around 1986. Gingrich is an asshole who could never win the presidency, and even those who like his permanent smirk/snarl understand that. Huntsman might as well be Al Sharpton, because of his views on climate change, gays and because of his working for Satan. No wonder Cain has a shot, given the debates. He is likable and brilliant at simple, effective presentation. He has the skills of an actor, and a roguish shamelessness that reminds me a little of Clinton. Even though you know he’s a total charlatan, you still kinda like the guy.

Sounds about right.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Quick Takes, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. ponce says:

    I liked this description of the candidates by Sullivan on Vicodin during one of the debates:

    Huntsman I can understand and appreciate. Perry is an empty bad suit. Romney lies with such facility it unnerves me. Bachmann is a fanatic, as, although I am extremely fond of him, is Ron Paul. Santorum just seems like a lost child from the 1950s, trying to have the campaign he dreamed about when he was ten. Cain is an egomaniac businessman with a talk show host patter and a mild wit. Gingrich is a giant, gaseous asshole.

  2. Murray says:

    Note in particular the two things that disqualify Huntsman:

    – He believes climate change is real and caused by man.
    – He supported same sex civil unions in Utah.


  3. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Ironically enough Sullivan is just about right. But he did leave out several important items.

    Romney’s a Mormon. That doesn’t fly with evangelical Protestants, who just so happen to be a disproportionate share of the GOP primary electorate.

    Perry’s been in office for over a decade and actually has made numerous key decisions. That’s a negative with a large segment of the GOP primary electorate. They want blank slates. The less they know about you and the less you’ve done the more they like you.

    Santorum is a Catholic. In the eyes of large segments of the evangelical Protestant population Catholics only are a touch above Mormons and Satan worshipers. Seriously.

    Certainly it’s true this is a relatively weak field of candidates. Don’t underestimate the effect, however, of the peculiar demographics of the GOP primary electorate. Largely it’s a collection of spoiled brats, bible bots, bored housewives, nutters and crusty retirees. With that as the backdrop the Cain phenomenon really is not surprising.

  4. Moosebreath says:

    It brings to mind Florence King’s aphorism on democracy: the crude leading the crud.

  5. Eric says:

    I lol’d. It’s kinda sad that this is the reality of looking at the candidates. Romney is the leader of this field of GOP nominations because there really is no other “mainstream” choice. Hell, Republicans don’t even like this current field of presidential hopefuls. They wanted Daniels of Indiana, but he said no. Perry was sweet-talked into running for president, but he probably thought the nominations were gonna be a lot easier than it is. And look at Christie of New Jersey. they pressured for him to run many different times and he had to have a press conference just to say “No” for the 10th time.

  6. grumpy realist says:

    I think the idea is for the Establishment to let the fruitcake brigade run themselves off the cliff in 2012. For all the squawking about Obama, I don’t think any of the establishment republicans think he can be beat this time around.

  7. superdestroyer says:


    The problem with Huntsman is that if you are really worried about global climate change and really want open borders and unlimited immigraiton, you will vote for the Democratic candidate automatically.

    What is there to separate Huntsman from Obama? There is not enough difference to cause any Democrat to want to vote for Huntsman and Huntsman is not conservative enough to cause any Republican to want to go to polls and vote.

  8. Just nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Wow! A lucid and compelling analysis of conditions. I really didn’t know you had it in you.

  9. Just nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @superdestroyer: Wow! Superdestroyer and Tsar both lucid on the same day! Is there a convergence of the planets or something? Eclipse? Zodiac conjunction?