Politics and Public Opinion

Here’s how the GOP presidential race blows up, and a new candidate comes on the scene

Politico’s Mike Allen:

THE CONVERSATION: A tippy-top Republican, unprompted, yesterday sketched the germ of a plan for a new candidate if Rick Santorum upsets Mitt Romney in the Michigan primary on Feb. 28. Our friend brought visual aids: chicken-scratched versions of prosaic documents that are circulating among GOP insiders like nuclear-code sheets: In case of mayhem, break glass! …

Our friend handed us a printout of FEC deadlines for ballot access, with five of them circled and starred: California (March 23), Montana (March 12), New Jersey (April 2), New Mexico (March 16) and South Dakota (March 27). The point: Even after Feb. 28, it might be possible to assemble a Hail Mary candidacy that could garner enough delegates to force a CONTESTED convention (a different nuance than BROKERED, which implies that someone is in charge).

Under RNC rules, the delegate count builds slowly: just 15% before Super Tuesday, March 6; 19% through Super Tuesday (brings you to 34%); 17% in the rest of March (brings you to 51%); with 48% in April, May and June (21%, 12%, 15%).

Our friend said: “If somebody came on the scene that week after Super Tuesday with, ‘I’m coming in. I’m taking a look at this,’ there are enough delegates. He would suck all the oxygen out of the race. People wouldn’t even give a shit who won on these other dates in March that are after Super Tuesday. I mean, seriously, who would care? It would all be about a new savior.”

And who would that “new savior” be? Here are the Intrade odds for some GOPers not currently in the presidential race:

– Jeb Bush, 2.0 percent (up from 0.3 percent on Feb. 2)

– Mitch Daniels, 0.9 percent (up from 0.3 percent on Feb. 1)

– Chris Christie, 0.9 percent (up from 0.3 percent on Feb. 8.)

– Paul Ryan, 0.4 percent (up from 0.1 percent on Feb. 5).

So clearly the betting markets are recognizing that the chances of a new entrant have risen a bit. Of that group, Mitch Daniels was easily the closest to actually pulling the trigger last year. EXTREMELY close. Like, he had decided and then undecided. And imagine if Romney does lose Michigan, all these odds are going to skyrocket. Bush might want to turn off his iPhone or Blackberry the day after.

2 thoughts on “Here’s how the GOP presidential race blows up, and a new candidate comes on the scene

  1. ABC: “Top” GOP Senator says if Mitt can’t win Michigan …

    Silly me; I thought that when one candidate in a primary race lost a state, it meant that another candidate was stronger. Not so, according to an unnamed but “prominent” Republican Senator contacted by ABC’s Jonathan Karl. If Romney can’t win, it’s time to call in … Jeb Bush?

    “If Romney cannot win Michigan, we need a new candidate,” said the senator, who has not endorsed anyone and requested anonymity.

    The senator believes Romney will ultimately win in Michigan but says he will publicly call for the party to find a new candidate if he does not.

    “We’d get killed,” the senator said if Romney manages to win the nomination after he failed to win the state in which he grew up.

    It would have to be somebody else, the senator said. Who? “Jeb Bush,” the former Florida governor.

    The Secret Senator believes that Rick Santorum would lose 35 states in a general election, and apparently thinks so little of Newt Gingrich’s chances that he doesn’t even raise him as an alternative. No, it would be better to call the younger Bush and skip over the rest of the primaries, apparently, since it would be almost impossible at this point for a new candidate to qualify on enough ballots to win a majority of the delegates.

    I have nothing but respect for Jeb Bush, but … really? I recall a point in the race where people objected to Rick Perry because Barack Obama and the Democrats would paint him as a second coming of George W. Bush. Perry’s defenders on that score — and I was one of them — never once offered an argument that it would be just great to have a return of an Obama vs Bush debate in 2012; we rejected the idea that Perry somehow equaled a Bush in terms of policy or temperament.

    Jeb Bush did a terrific job as governor of Florida and is very well regarded in the state, but he’s still a Bush, and his elevation to the nomination without having bothered to enter the race would look like the ultimate establishment act. Needless to say, the grassroots Tea Party movement doesn’t remember either President Bush with particular fondness, the first on the reneging of his pledge not to raise taxes, and the second on his big-spending “compassionate conservatism” platform. A move to install Jeb Bush at the top of the ticket without having subjected himself to the vetting and the tough work of earning the votes in the field would be a disaster for the Republican Party, especially if that push came entirely at the convention. Winning 15 states at that point might be an optimistic outcome.

    How about this for an idea: let’s hold a primary among those candidates who had the courage to put themselves on the line for almost a year, and stop worrying about those who sat on the sidelines. Stop looking for a Deus ex machina and start building the organization that will help whomever the voters choose as the nominee win the general election.

  2. Jeb Bush? Mitch Daniels?? Chris Christie???

    Whatever this guy is smoking should be illegal.

    If Rick Santorum does get the nod, I will work my ass off for him. He is the only candidate walking the conservative walk. He’s been out there from the start taking the arrows and for any of these man mentioned, to just walk in and take the nomination would be a very bitter pill for millions of us to swallow.

    It’s the same old crap from the know it alls. When true conservatism is articulately presented, we win.

    Even Sarah doing this, at this point, would not sit well.

    I’d love to know who the “secret Senator” is but I could list a half dozen probables and bet you a donut that I’m right.

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