"It's a Weak Field". No, It Is Pretty Typical.

A lot of people are taking some comfort in my post from this morning. But there is also a lot of “the field is weak” comments.

Let’s review, shall we? Let’s go back to 1964, which was arguably the first year of the modern campaign era. Then we’ll work our way forward with those open years or years when the GOP was the out of power party.


In 1964 we had:
Hiram Fong of Hawaii
Barry Goldwater of Arizona
Walter Henry Judd of Maryland
Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. of Massachusetts
Nelson Rockefeller of New York
George Romney of Michigan
William Scranton of Pennsylania
Margaret Chase Smith of Maine
Harold Stassen of Minnesota

In 1968 we had:
Frank Carlson of Kansas
Clifford Case of New Jersey
John Lindsay of New York
Richard Nixon, then of New York
Ronald Reagan of California
Jim Rhodes of Ohio
George Romney of Michigan
Nelson Rockefeller of New York
Winthrop Rockefeller of Arkansas
Harold Stassen of Minnesota
John Volpe of Massachusetts

In 1980 we had:
John Anderson of Illinois
Howard Baker of Tennessee
George H. W. Bush of Texas
John Connally of Texas
Phil Crane of Illinois
Bob Dole of Kansas
Larry Pressler of South Dakota
Ronald Reagan of California
Harold Stassen of Pennsylvania
Lowell Weicker of Connecticut

In 1988 we had:
George H. W. Bush of Texas
Bob Dole of Kansas
Pierre S. du Pont, IV of Delaware
Alexander Haig of Pennsylvania
Jack Kemp of New York
Paul Laxalt of Nevada
Harold Stassen of Minnesota
Pat Robertson of Virginia

In 1996 we had:
Lamar Alexander of Tennessee
Pat Buchanan of Virginia
Bob Dole of Kansas
Robert K. Dornan of California
Steve Forbes of New York
Phil Gramm of Texas
Alan Keyes of Maryland
Richard Lugar of Indiana
Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania
Morry Taylor of Ohio
Pete Wilson of California


In 2000, we had:
Lamar Alexander of Tennessee
Gary Bauer of Kentucky
Pat Buchanana of Virginia
George W. Bush of Texas
Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina
Steve Forbes of New York
Orrin Hatch of Utah
John Kasich of Ohio
Alan Keyes of Maryland
John McCain of Arizona
Dan Qualye of Indiana
Bob Smith of New Hampshire

In 2008, we had:
Sam Brownback of Kansas
Mike Huckabee of Arkansas
Jim Gilmore of Virginia
Rudy Giuliani of New York
Duncan Hunter of California
Alan Keyes of Maryland
John McCain of Arizona
Mitt Romney of Massachusetts
Ron Paul of Texas
Tom Tancredo of Colorado
Fred Thompson of Tennessee
Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin

This year so far we have:
Michele Bachmann of Minnesota
Herman Cain of Georgia
Newt Gingrich of Georgia
Jon Huntsman of Utah
Gary Johnson of New Mexico
Ron Paul of Texas
Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota
Mitt Romney of Massachusetts
Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania

Some of them dropped out before the primaries, some after, and some garnered votes at the convention without doing much. But looking at the field, 2012 doesn’t seem more or less weak than most of the others.

I’d argue that 1964 to 1980 showed the rise of conservatives and after 1980 everyone largely ceded the field of ideas to conservatives. 30 years later, some Republicans wavering, but by and large the candidates still pay homage to Reagan. If anything, the GOP field right now is a reflect of our past successes and wins.


Of the candidates listed, I think the candidate who can tap into the spirit of one year I didn’t mention is the guy who will be the nominee — Reagan ’76. He defied the party structure and wound up losing the nomination that year. But then the tea party movement didn’t exist back them. Whoever stands up as a credible outside voice of conservatism is going to go far. Conversely, those too tied to the “establishment”, whatever one might view it to be, will be hurt.

But don’t tell me it is a weak field. It’s a pretty typical field for the GOP.


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