Thursday, October 13, 2011

Obama vs. The Republican Field

As you hear in the media, the Republicans are looking for someone, ANYONE, not named Mitt Romney to challenge President Obama.  So much so, every few months, the Tea Party Republicans support a different candidate: Donald Trump, then Michelle Bachmann, next was Rick Perry, and the latest “Black Walnut Ice Cream” flavorof the month, Herman Cain. 

It is clear that the Republican primary voters aren’t content with the current class.  While we watch them reluctantly select a nominee, we see, based on a recent survey, that the Republican primary voters prefer ideology over electability.  Said another way, nearly half of primary Republicans (46%) said the most important thing to them in a presidential nominee was “a candidate who comes closest to your views on issues.”  Another 33% said they valued the “right personal style and strong leadership qualities”; while just 20% said they preferred a candidate with the best chance to beat President Obama. 

With that said, it isn’t hard to understand why the primary front runner changes with the weather; however, we know the general election voter is a far different beast altogether.  So, the question is, how would the Republican candidates do in a general election against President Obama. 

Here’s what I think (of course this is ALL in a vacuum and doesn’t take into consideration money, political organization, and how well they do in head to head debates):

Starting with the CURRENT front runner Herman Cain:

 Based on what we know about Republican primary voters, they prefer ideology over electability, Herman Cain feeds that preference.  He takes the “bootstraps” analogy to the extreme; if you’re not rich, you and only you are to blame.  To his credit, he has been EXTREMELY consistent with his 9-9-9 plan, and having a plan is better than no plan at all.  However, Cain has made a few comments that could turn off independent voters.  He has no political experience, stated black liberals are brained washed and unemployed people are lazy; it will be hard for Cain to grab the highly coveted middle-of-the-road voters.   Even as popular as he is in the primary, I don’t see Cain winning over general election Republicans or independents.  Primary voters are usually more active in the political process than general election voters.  They tend to (not always) look past superficial issues like race, sex, and religion; where your general election voters aren’t as politically astute and vote on “who they would like to have a beer with.”  Like I’ve always said, not all Republicans are racist; however, if you are racist, you’re more likely a Republican than Democrat.  To that end, I believe a large part of the Republican general electorate will look at both tickets, throw their hands in the air, and simply NOT show up to vote.  They hate Obama, but they still won’t be able to bring themselves to vote for Cain.  With a large section of the base for the Republicans staying home and Cain’s 9-9-9 plan coming under HEAVY scrutiny, along with Cain’s ability to alienate the independents, an Obama/Cain match up goes to Obama.

Mitt Romney:

You can see the growth in Romney from 2008 to now.  He has stepped his game up.  A New England Republican, he is generally seen as someone who is more middle of the road.  He HAD to work with liberals and Democrats in left leaning Massachusetts.  Taking that into consideration, you can understand why Primary voters (who are more staunchly right leaning) have reservations over Romney; however, this pedigree makes Romney a FORCE in the general election!  You combine that with the perception that Romney’s a strong candidate on economic issues due to his business background, Romney LOOKS presidential.   Running the gauntlet in 2008, Romney’s debates have been clean and strong, and he’s committed very few of the “gaffes” that normally kill a Primary campaign (see Perry).  Romney is not blemish free.  One issue Romney has is his religion; the other is “Romneycare.”  The Democrats won’t exploit the religion issue (I don’t think…); however, Romney will need to work to bring the influential Evangelical voters into his corner to win.  Democrats could/should exploit “Romneycare.”  They should make it an issue and show how influential Romney’s plan was in creating their own. 

Even with all of that, I believe that Romney will galvanize all Republicans; in addition, he will pull many independents from Obama’s corner.  Knowing that Republican Primary voters don’t vote on “electability” he will have a challenge to get out of the primaries and into the general election, but once there, he will stand tall.  It isn't a "clean" path for Romney.  He MAY have to contend with the "Occupy Wall Street" movement, which COULD pose a problem to the very wealthy Romney; in addition, we will have to atone for being a “flip flopper” and “Romneycare.”  Even with all of that, don’t sleep on Romney.  An Obama/Romney match up at this time, for me, is too close to call.  If anyone thinks Obama has a clear road, they are SADLY mistaken. 

Rick Perry:

Rick Perry didn’t just “come out the gate” he kicked the damn thing down.  Since then, however, things have cooled for Bush III Perry.  He has flopped in every debate – even openly admitting that it isn’t his strong suit – he has made gaffe after gaffe, he has racial rock hunting issues, AND, he was kind to immigrants.  That, combined with the fact that it APPEARS that he supported Health Care under the Clinton administration, he is a former Democrat; he even worked FOR the Al Gore Presidential campaign in 1988.  At this point, it will be hard for Perry to get the primary votes; however, if he does, I don’t see him winning over the independent voters.  Perry, being from Texas, rightly or wrongly, reminds MANY voters of George Bush.  No one wants to go back to a Bush administration. 

Perry, who oddly looks like Josh Brolin playing Dubbyah, has the same “swagger” and mannerisms of “The Decider.”  

Also in 2008, after Obama’s election, Perry recommended Texas secede from the Union – reminiscent of the Old Confederate South.  Even with his conservative(and/or liberal) flaws, Perry will galvanize the base; he will get the Tea Party and Evangelical support.  He will pose a challenge to President Obama; however, in the end, I feel an Obama/Perry match up will result in voters fearing more Bush and Tea Party policies, and will back Obama. 

Huntsman and the others:

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your point of view) folks aren’t paying attention to a VERY qualified and potentially dangerous general election candidate in Huntsman who has found himself lumped into a crowded field of runners who have no chance of making it out of the primary election: Bachmann, Gingrich, Paul, Santorum, and Gary Johnson (I know…Gary who?).  These candidates for known (Gingrich) and unknown (Huntsman) reasons just haven’t caught fire here of late.  Once the votes start coming in, these candidates will eventually fall off and offer their support to the front runner.  However, if ANY of them make it out of the primary, Huntsman is the ONLY one that has a chance of winning verse Obama. All others will get the Tea Party vote, and MAYBE galvanize a reluctant Republican base, but they will create a stampede of Independent voters running towards President Obama.  They have planted their flags so far to the right, it will be damn near impossible to find the middle ground which is necessary in a general election.  Huntsman, however, is the only one who has a strong business background, a VERY successful political career along with executive experience, and a strong foreign policy background.  While Huntsman would need to have a sit down with the Evangelical leaders, I do believe he would bring the Republican base together.  Since he isn’t the front runner now, there is a lot of unknown about him, but if he can fight through the magnifying glass on his life and in his policies and positions, he can beat Obama in a general election.  Obama doesn’t want to see someone HE appointed to a position within his administration.  That one would be kind of hard to explain, don’t you think?

Well, that’s what I think.  What about you?  How do you feel the Republican Candidates match up head-to-head verses Obama in a general election?
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