In 2012, conservative infighting (between conservatives, not between conservatives and moderates) handed Mitt Romney the nomination ‘by default’…
He went on to lose. Badly.
And from the looks of it, we are gearing up to do the same thing again….
RealClearPolitics’ poll of likely Presidential contenders breaks out as follows:
By my count, that’s 4 moderates (Bush, Christie, Kasich, Huckster), 1 libertarian (Paul), 1 nobody (Carson), and SIX conservative contenders…
If you add up the numbers, we get 30% of the poll for ‘a Moderate’, 10% for ‘Libertarian’ (their traditional high-water mark), 8% for Carson, and 52% for ‘a Conservative’.
But if this goes the way 2012 did, ‘a Moderate’ will get picked, by a plurality – not a majority, but still enough to win.
Yes, it’s early… And not all of these people will run…
But the point is, the Republican Party needs to GET CONTROL OVER it’s primary process.
Of the 12 candidates above, only 7 are even remotely qualified to be President – namely, there are only 7 experienced governors, and NO long-serving Senators (Congressmen, pizza-magnates & people first-elected to federal office in 2010 need not apply).
But all 12 will be ‘able’ to run… All 12 (if they all do run) will, under the 2012 style process, be presented as equals on the debate stage…
And if that happens, 3 of the 4 moderates will bow out early in the game… The conservatives will fight each other in an insane ‘purity contest’ until the end… And the moderate will walk away with the nomination while the conservative camp is still slinging mud at it’s own members.
So, what can be done about this?
Well, simply enough, the primary elections are a *party* activity. The party controls delegate allocation, and essentially can (if it wants to) control the nominating process…
Right now, that is used to try to cat-herd the states into some semblance of a voting order…
But it could also be used to get a handle on the format of the primaries in other ways – for example, requiring that candidates only participate in party-sanctioned debates (on pain of a delegate penalty) & refusing to invite low-polling candidates to said ‘official’ events… A reduction in free media exposure (via exclusion from debates) will encourage low-polling candidates to drop out quickly, rather than fight it out till the end & fracture the vote…
Or requiring states to enact closed primaries (no caucuses, no crossover-permitted ‘open’ primaries), on pain of a delegate reduction…
In the end, a more orderly primary process benefits conservatives… After all, we are 52% of the primary electorate, when we’re not split 7-ways-to-Sunday…