Assessment of the GOP Presidential Hopefuls

The Republican field is still wide open to challenge President Obama in November 2012. Below is an assessment of each candidates strengths and weaknesses. The field is separated into 3 fields: Already announced presidential campaign, likely to run/formed committee, and unlikely to run but loves publicity. Here we go…

Already Announced

Newt Gingrich (GA)

Ideology: Arch-Conservative

Strengths: Firebrand member of intellectual wing of party. Has the ability to mobilize the racist and anti-Obama wing of electorate well. Comes up with creative ideas that accomplish conservative policy aspirations. Has a track record of fiscal discipline… sort of.

Weaknesses: Hated by half of the general electorate. One of the weakest candidates against Obama. Cannot stop making incendiary remarks, if not about Obama being a secular-socialist-fascist-nazi, then calling Paul Ryan’s budget “right-wing social engineering.” Has establishment and Tea Party credentials, but lacks a base of support in either.

Gary Johnson (NM) Update: Dropped out on 12/28/11 to run as Libertarian candidate

Ideology: Libertarian, social moderate

Strengths: Has some sensible plans about how to reduce spending and end the war on drugs—good in the general election. Good Government pragmatist.

Weaknesses: Has some sensible plans about how to reduce spending and end the war on drugs—bad in the primary election. He supports a woman’s right to choose, which is tantamount to murdering babies in Republican primaries.

Ron Paul (TX)

Ideology: Paleo-Libertarian

Strengths: Very consistent in adhering rhetorically and in practice to his strict constitutionalists/libertarian views. This could finally be the year the electorate is desperate enough to tackle the debt that they select Paul. If debt is the number one issue he has a great shot at winning the primary, though his views on the Department of Education alone would cost him the general.

Weaknesses: A novelty in many respects, votes too “left” on foreign policy and wants to dismantle the military industrial complex, which most conservatives dearly love. Too honest/consistent.

Formed Exploratory Committee/Likely To Run

Herman Cain (GA) Update: Formally Announced on May 21, 2011; dropped out on December 3

Ideology: Arch-Conservative

Strengths: Tea Partiers could collectivize around his candidacy, even if they are racist and he is black. Appeals to the I-am-qualified-to-be-president-because-I-have-never-served-in-government crowd who instinctually think everyone in government is doing something to screw them over. Will fair well in South Carolina, but nowhere else.

Weaknesses: Too inflammatory to be a serious candidate. Does not have ideas about how to practically fix government, only sweeping idealisms that will collide into a wall in government.

John Huntsman (UT) Update: On June 21, 2011 Huntsman announced his candidacy; dropped out 1/16/12

Ideology: Mainstream Conservative (with some moderate views)

Strengths: Good general election candidate who can capture moderate votes in Ohio and Florida. He can bridge the gap between the Tea Party and the rest of the country. One of the few Republicans I can say is a good person and that when he signs legislation he thinks about those it affects.

Weaknesses: Too diplomatic in how he speaks about Obama to win the votes of indignant primary voters. Very low key, hard to gain traction that way.

Mitch Daniels (IN) Update: Dropped out May 21st to spare family of scrutiny

Ideology: Pragmatic Conservative

Strengths: Has the know-how greatly reduce federal spending in a sensible manner.

Weaknesses: Said he was not against raising taxes and refused to take Grover Norquist’s No Tax Pledge, which is an asset in governance, but a deficiency in an extreme primary culture. If he makes it to Super Tuesday he may fair a shot, or if the convention deadlocks and a consensus candidate is drafted (which rarely happens anymore)

Tim Pawlenty (MN) Update: Pawlenty formally announced on May 23, 2011; dropped out august 13

Ideology: Mainstream Conservative

Strengths: Will most likely be the Republican candidate once the delegates are heard. Has the evangelical background (converted to Baptist from Catholicism) and the mainstream business Republican support to make him the ultimate consensus nominee. Also is credible in a general election since he twice won election statewide in dark blue Minnesota. Will likely be the Republican candidate when all is said and done.

Weaknesses: Has a somewhat shaky fiscal record in Minnesota, diverting money allocated for certain programs into others, which led to a 5 billion dollar deficit the next year (it is notable that this might not hurt him in a Republican primary since his method was to take money from healthcare and education; two things Republicans do not highly prioritize).

Mitt Romney (MA) Update: Announced candidacy on 2 June 2011

Ideology: Moderate (though he paints himself as otherwise)

Strengths: Can appeal to a broad constituency in a general election. Hails from a very blue state, and yet he governed in a bipartisan way. Has some creative ideas and has a history of working to forge consensus. The only candidate that the Obama white house fears facing.

Weaknesses: Flip-flops at a record breaking pace. Unclear if he actually holds any principled beliefs, or if winning is his only motivator. Seems insincere to Republicans when he says he’s pro-life, or now when he tries to bash Obamacare while hailing his own health care initiative that served as the template for the former plan. Will have trouble in the primaries.

Rick Santorum (PA) Update: Announced candidacy on 6 June 2011

Ideology: Evangelical Conservative

Strengths: Appeals to the radical fringe in his party.

Weaknesses: Was driven out of the Senate because of hateful stances on many issues, not to mention he has a poor legislative record. The more you learn about Santorum, the more it becomes apparent he is a creep.

Loves Publicity… But Will Not Run

Michelle Bachmann (MN) Update: Announced 6/13/11;

Ideology: Arch-Conservative

Strengths: Adopted the Tea Party as her base, and it seems like they believe she is one of them (whatever “them” is). Raises a lot of money and can merge the deregulatory, business side with the radical side of the party. Definitely a threat in Iowa.

Weaknesses: Questions abound regarding her intellect, competence, and mass appeal. She can fan the flames of hate, but can she gain support for her policies. Not well-rounded, and she is quite prone to verbal diarrhea.

John Bolton (MD)

Ideology: Strict Conservative

Strengths: Party insider, plenty of connections.

Weaknesses: Low name recognition, radical stances of international affairs (such as the deep belief that the US should pull out of the UN), and has alienated quite a few former Bush administration allies. If he did run, he would poll low early, poll low late. As with Bachmann, he is better at speaking out against Obama than gaining support for his views.

Rudy Guiliani (NY)

Ideology: None really

Strengths: 9/11, though that has become a novelty and has less relevance now that Osama is dead. In a general election his record as mayor would actually help him a lot, but he will likely not survive a Republican primary (just like last time).

Weaknesses: Too liberal for primary voters. Simply does not excel  at any of the issues voters care about this election cycle.

Sarah Palin (Formerly Alaska, but they hate her now)

Ideology: Evangelical Conservative/Opportunism

Strengths: Name recognition, fundraising, and the ability to control the media. Speaks to a devoted following that would do anything for her. However…

Weaknesses: She lacks an in-depth understanding of the issues facing the nation. When she speaks about policy it often sounds disjointed, confusing and indicative of someone trying to provide a good answer with little knowledge. She stammers and strings along sentences with little substance. She can be stumped by simple questions, such as “what magazines do you read?” She has created an unlikely coalition of liberals, moderates and conservatives, all agreeing she is unqualified to be president. Her name recognition only helps for Republicans, but the nation as a whole gives her a favorability rating under 20%. She will not run, but if she did Obama would actually win more states than he did in 2008, something very unlikely to happen against any other Republican in this volatile environment.


Posted on May 21, 2011, in 2012 Election, Election Predictions, Elections, Party System and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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