The only clear development of the GOP presidential nominating process is that there have been no clear developments. Much like the weather in the Midwest (if you don't like the weather wait 15 minutes and it will change) the leader board in the GOP race for the nomination fluctuates monthly.
I tend to agree with the analysis of Erick Erickson of Redstate that there is Mitt and non-Mitt. Mitt's ceiling lies somewhere in the 25% range. Where you believe the 75% non-Mitt voters will go is impossible to prove. However, Ron Paul's slow and steady burn towards first place and the wild swings in the 'flavor of the month' non-Mitt candidate in Iowa suggests that the 75% is largely in play.
What is becoming a distinct possibility in the process is that well-funded candidates like Paul and Romney and less organized candidates like Perry or Gingrich could carry the nomination through the usual states and Super Tuesday with no one holding a majority of delegates. This would leave candidates to view the nomination process as one of unique process of capturing delegates within different state processes. Politico's story on Ron Paul suggests that his campaign team is already taking this approach.
New rules on delegate assignments with primaries and caucuses also virtually eliminates the possibility of someone wrapping up the nomination early. In order to crack down on the ever-earlier primary and caucuses of states, the national GOP imposed stiff penalties and rules on states that choose to hold their elections before Super Tuesday in March. This means all those states get half of their delegates and that the delegates have to be assigned proportionally - not in a winner take all manner.
If no one has 50%+1 of the delegates going into the convention, then the horse trading will begin. Candidates will offer their delegates in exchange for something (cabinet appointments, vice-presidency, etc.). How such a convention would turn out is anyone's guess. Of course, it is entirely possible that a person would emerge who wasn't even running. (I admit to not being familiar with how the GOP has set up their voting rules except to say that others more in the know see this as a way of having Gov. Christie or Daniels still capturing the nomination).
I believe Ron Paul is the lynchpin in forcing a brokered convention. Clearly, just as in 2008, he will run in each and every state and territory. From Maine to Guam and Alaska to the Virgin Islands. He has an almost unlimited funding apparatus and supporter intensity to challenge anyone all the way to the end even after he has missed any chance of winning. If he acquires a large portion of delegates, let's say 25%, Mitt Romney gets 40%, and Gingrich et al get 35% early on then candidates will be encouraged to linger in the race for as long as they can in order to have a bigger voice at the convention.
Dropping out and endorsing a Romney or Gingrich without being sure which one will capture the nomination might be risky. At a minimum, I think you'll see candidates hang around at least through Super Tuesday since even poor showings would give them something to bargain with. Even 15 delegates might be the difference in putting someone safely over the top heading into the convention and avoid a raucous floor fight.
Imagine the following scenario with completely made up numbers that don't reflect true delegate counts, simply the math of a convention:
In this scenario, even if Romney gets the support of every remaining candidate outside of Gingrich (who would have the least reason to deal) he falls short. Even if you fip positions for Romney and Gingrich you get the same result. If we change the delegates to 485 for Romney and 200 for Gingrich you can see how Bachman and Santorum or Huntsman and Roemer could push Romney over the top.
There are obviously hundreds of moving parts and opportunities for people to capitulate and hand over their support and maybe go for that plum ambassadorship to Australia or France. However, it is still a small possibility that the convention could be meaningful for the first time in decades. I tend to think it won't happen because it requires 3 fairly solid candidates (even if maybe the third is a collection of the rest capturing enough delegates to easily prevent a majority). After Michigan's primary in February I think the picture will be much clearer.
“Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.”
Sometimes I get in these reflective moods. Yesterday, I started listening to a podcast that I found called “The Thomas Jefferson Hour” where a historian “plays” Thomas Jefferson, and attempts to answer the questions of an interviewer in character for part of the show, and then talks more about how he thinks Thomas Jefferson would have reacted to certain issues of today. It’s entertaining and thought provoking, whether it’s accurate or not.
I was struck by the quote above—taken from Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address. This is something that we’ve more or less come to terms with around our RSE clubhouse—that we all have the same principles in our love for liberty and a desire to get there, even while we oftentimes disagree about how to get there. And it’s o.k. for us to agree to disagree without being disagreeable. In fact, we can challenge one another’s opinion, without impugning our motives—which is (I suspect), what Jefferson was getting at.
It seems to me that today’s Jeffersonians--the larger libertarian community-- could benefit greatly by keeping Jefferson’s words in mind. In the context of the current presidential race, I suspect that Jefferson would believe it good and proper that two libertarian types are competing (along with a lot of non-libertarian types); I suspect that he would think it perfectly acceptable that Ron Paul and Gary Johnson might have a difference of opinion on how best to achieve liberty on some issues; and I suspect that he would be quite pleased that the two of them (if not all of their supporters) have intuitively taken his words to heart, and declined to attack each other. They know, perhaps, that they share the same principles, even if they disagree on some of the specific or see a different way of moving toward the end goal.
This is one of those strange election years. I support both Ron Paul and Gary Johnson. I have a favorite, but I’d be perfectly content were either of them to make the cut. The principles are the same—I have no doubt of that; the difference is stylistic, and in the means to achieve the principle.
This is a bit of a follow up from my last post on the debate. Surfing the web, and getting Google updates on “Gary Johnson”, it seems to me that the former Governor of New Mexico might have had an alignment of some stars going for him last night.
If you're seeking the presidency but no one notices, are you still seeking the presidency? Gary Johnson was governor of New Mexico for eight years, balanced the hell out of his budgets, and climbed Mount Everest with a broken leg. You'd think that would at least give him a shot at the GOP nomination. Nope. Lisa DePaulo hits the surreal non-campaign trail with the most compulsively honest Republican in the race—and returns with some disturbing truths about the Kabuki shit show we like to call modern presidential politics
The article is quite complimentary—or at least endearing—and captures the essence of Gary Johnson that many of us feel like we know. Funny, after a 36 hour visit to Nebraska in 2010—and a few brief conversations with the man in D.C. back in February—I feel like I know Governor Johnson well enough to say, “yeah, that article captures him quite well; I can imagine him saying and doing everything that’s in there.”
Then there’s this (current as of 11:20 a.m., September 23):
It would appear that people have taken serious the suggestion to “Google Gary Johnson”.
And then there’s the updated ad (the “debate version” I published last night):
Now, if we just knew what was happening with the fundraising…
I think I’ve watched at least part of all of the GOP debates this season. Last night’s was probably the best one, so far (and not just because Gary Johnson was included in it).
I’ve seen some panning of the Google/YouTube format, but I actually kind of liked it. Why not let someone ask the questions besides the media gatekeepers.
Ron Paul’s brief answer to the 10th Amendment question:
Rick Santorum’s squirming over a DADT message:
Ron Paul’s quite solid answer to questions of abortion:
Gary Johnson’s recurrent message—cut the budget—and Bachmann’s goofy “Cuba is a state sponsor of terror” reaction:
And finally, the highlight of the evening, Gary Johnson’s neighbor’s dogs:
All in all, I think Johnson had a solid showing, and he was able to stay on message and pull everything back to the fiscal situation of our country.
Ron Paul had a solid, but not outstanding night.
Jon Huntsman sort of validated the Paul-Johnson foreign policy—at least in some areas, and still strikes me as one to watch.
During our chat, Angela suggested that Newt Gingrich was one to watch—could come from behind and be the “John McCain of 2012”. Gingrich is indeed a very articulate guy, who is great with the one liners.
Perry and Romney beat each other up—Huntsman even made a joke about it at some point—watching the two governors “bludgeon” each other.
Bachmann is falling fast, I think. It’ll be interesting to see what third quarter fundraising looks like for her.
Santorum—well, no one on our chat was real thrilled with him—he seems angry so much of the time.
Finally, Herman Cain. One commentator that I saw this morning suggested that his “plan” doesn’t go any deeper than “back of the napkin” ideas. He is incredibly articulate and even charismatic—he’s another one, though, who I’ll be interested to see what his fundraising looks like.
Gov. Gary Johnson trying out the podium he’ll be standing at during the debate tonight.
Can’t tell for sure, but it looks like he might be towards the left end of the stage—I’d love to see a “bookend” night again, with him on one end, and Paul on the other, and a “raise your hand if you hate liberty” question—the picture of the two of them keeping their hands down would be awesome.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again—it’s GOOD to have both Ron Paul and Gary Johnson in the race. Individuals may have their preferences, but both of these men are exemplars of libertarian ideals. Ron Paul is the philosophic libertarian; Gary Johnson is the intuitive libertarian. Both would be a vast improvement—from a liberty perspective—over anything or anyone we’ve had since at least Calvin Coolidge.
Looks like we might have the chance to see both Ron Paul and Gary Johnson in a debate again!
NINE PODIA! Eight wasn’t enough: It looks like Gary Johnson, who was New Mexico governor from 1994-2003, is going to qualify for the Orlando debate, in addition to the eight from the previous two debates, per Republican sources.
Regardless of who your favorite candidate is, Ron Paul and Gary Johnson are the only two Presidential candidates in the Republican field who are consistently talking about smaller government, fiscal responsibility, and the higher level of liberty which goes with those things. I still believe that having two on the stage does not weaken one, but rather strengthens both—it forces an acknowledgment that liberty is not an aberration in the GOP, but rather a stream of thought that deserves to be heard.