2012 Tuesday: A Republican reprise of 2008 or 1980?

At this stage of presidential politics, with months to go before the first meaningful ballots are cast, everyone loves the horse race: Who’s in? Who’s out? Who’s up? Who’s down?

Right now, the who’s in/out appears to be settled for the 2012 GOP contest. Who’s up is definitely Rick Perry: The Texas governor has soared to a 5-point lead over Mitt Romney in the Real Clear Politics polling average as of today, including double-digit leads in all but one major national poll taken since he officially became a candidate.

But does any of it matter?

A lot of people — particularly those who support trailing candidates — point to the 2008 GOP primary as reason to discount current polling for the 2012 contest. After all, on this date in 2007, everyone just knew that Rudy Giuliani was going to be the Republican nominee (matched up against Hillary Clinton, of course). In fact, here’s how the RCP polling average stacked up on Aug. 30, 2007:

Giuliani –27.9 percent

Fred Thompson — 16.9

Mitt Romney — 14.1

John McCain — 11.1

Mike Huckabee — 3.4

Other/Don’t Know — 26.6

The top two candidates by the end of the primaries were of course McCain and Huckabee. Giuliani led in the polls for another 129 days, until it became clear his strategy of waiting for the Florida primary was a disaster. It might seem incredible in hindsight, given that everyone thinks he was a quick flame-out, but Thompson actually ran second into early December. And then he was eclipsed not by McCain, with whom he ran closely for a couple of weeks longer, but Huckabee — whose support doubled between Dec. 1 and the middle of that month.

As New York Times blogger Nate Silver pointed out earlier this year, however, 2008 was an anomaly. In every other election since 1972 in which there was no Republican incumbent — plus 1976, when Gerald Ford faced a strong challenge from Ronald Reagan — the GOP’s eventual nominee was leading in the polls nearly a year and a half before Election Day. (The Democrats are a different matter.)

In most years since then (Silver picked 1972 because it marked the beginning of the modern primary system), the eventual GOP nominee had a solid lead. From 1992 through 2000, the most recent open contests prior to 2008, it wasn’t even close.

But if there’s a primary that compares to this one better than 2008, I think it’s 1980.

In the first half of 1979, Reagan held a relatively narrow lead over Ford, who didn’t publicly rule out running for the nomination until several states had already held their primaries. Then there were a couple of other holdovers from 1976, Howard Baker and John Connally, running a respectable third and fourth. (Interestingly, Reagan’s eventual closest challenger and running mate, George H.W. Bush, was running well back in the pack at that point.)

And then, as now, the contest became a matter of the yahoo, super-conservative former big-state governor derided as dangerous and possibly dumb (Reagan and now Perry) versus the establishment’s pick (Bush and now Romney).

Things were of course different then: There had never been a Reagan in the White House, although Barry Goldwater had laid the foundation for his run during his unsuccessful run against incumbent Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. On the other hand, plenty of people have compared Barack Obama’s first term to that of Jimmy Carter — who, like Obama, had come to office in large part as a rebuke to the GOP after eight turbulent years.

So, the question comes down to whether Perry, like Reagan, will manage to convince voters that he’s a serious enough candidate and challenger to the incumbent president — or whether, like McCain, Romney will prove that the “safer” pick who’s waited his turn will get the nomination.

And the answer is:

Well, you know what they say about past performance not being indicative of future results.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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85 comments Add your comment

dw

August 30th, 2011
12:12 pm

ByteMe

August 30th, 2011
12:23 pm

So when was the last time voters chose someone from the same state as the President they came to seriously disapprove of 4 years earlier? Do we elect clones that close together?

ByteMe

August 30th, 2011
12:23 pm

Ok, Grover Cleveland was a while ago.

ATF

August 30th, 2011
1:01 pm

We need someone who knows how to work to get the job done – not an ideologue who makes so many promises that he can’t act intelligently. Oh, well, an intelligent Perry is an oxymoron.

that's goofy

August 30th, 2011
1:19 pm

Reagan = Conservative. I really enjoy revisionist history.

Reagan did have to deal with 24hr news. He did have to govern in a world where people think Hannity, Rush, Boortz, and O’Reilly deliver news. If Walter or Dan gave their opinion it was labeled an opinion. Reagan was able to work with Tip and the democrats. It wasn’t us vs them… and at no point did Reagan have to take off his republican hat to put on his American hat.

By today’s GOP standards President Reagan would be a RINO. And that is why he was effective. Reagan understood: Country before Party.

ragnar danneskjold

August 30th, 2011
1:24 pm

Good afternoon all. The election does not turn on the challenger; when there is in incumbent, the election is a referendum on the incumbent. The question is whether 2012 will be 1980 or 1996. Bill Clinton in January 1996 was almost as wounded as Carter in January 1980 and Obama today. The election broke against Carter only in the last month of the campaign. In contrast to Carter and Obama, Clinton throughout his first term embraced conservative positions (notably NAFTA and welfare reform) giving some credence to his “triangulation” strategy. “Change” can win an election, but “conservatism” is necessary to win a re-election.

Kyle Wingfield

August 30th, 2011
1:37 pm

Ragnar: I intended the question more in terms of who would get the GOP nomination. We’ll get to the question of that nominee vs. Obama soon enough.

Tony Picking

August 30th, 2011
1:44 pm

The comparison to Giuliani having the lead in 2007 isn’t quite the same as Perry’s lead in the current race. Giuliani was the dream of independents who wanted to move the Republican party to the left. Just one problem – Republicans were tired of being pushed to the left. The GOP elite stuck us with McCain, and conservative Republicans couldn’t stomach it.

This time around, Perry leads because of support from the Republican conservative base. (That’s the same group of folks who elected Reagan in two landslides.)

ByteMe

August 30th, 2011
1:51 pm

The GOP elite stuck us with McCain, and conservative Republicans couldn’t stomach it.

History rewrite to fit current narrative.

getalife

August 30th, 2011
2:12 pm

He crushed you and will do it again.

Four more years!

jconservative

August 30th, 2011
2:19 pm

“Well, you know what they say about past performance not being indicative of future results.”

Do we ever!

We elected a conservative with a record as a conservative. He said all the right things. He was the philosopher of the conservative movement. After Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon/Ford and Carter we had a conservative about to be sworn in as president.

Then he was sworn in as president. And then he became a liberal. For the next 8 years we had an administration headed by a liberal Republican president. It was a continuation of the Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon/Ford and Carter administrations. Only the faces and the voices changed.

“Well, you know what they say about past performance not being indicative of future results.”

Yes we do. It is in the history books.

JDW

August 30th, 2011
2:27 pm

I think it depends on two key factors:

1) Can Perry keep from stepping in the poo when discussing subjects that require more than a soundbyte.

2) How hard Romney goes after him. Right now Perry benefits from the supposed “Texas Miracle”. Problem is that concept is really as they say “all hat no cattle”. The reality is:

-25 states have lower unemployment numbers than Texas including New York and Massachusetts
-Texas leads the nation in minimum wage jobs
-One of the factors driving minimum wage jobs is population growth, specifically Hispanic growth, because in practice Texas welcomes illegal immigration. Remember his take on the Arizona law…”that wouldn’t be the right direction for Texas.”
-1 in 4 Texans has no health insurance

And the list goes on. If Romney goes after him hard the luster will start to fade quickly.

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

August 30th, 2011
2:59 pm

Perry will have staying power, but will fade in a couple of months to a weak front-runner depending on who is polled.

Gingrich, Santorum and Huntsman will be the next ones out of the race (I don’t include the anonymous ones like Johnson or McCotter).

Cain will stay in through South Carolina or later due to his small overhead. Paul will continue to attract his 10%-12% of hard-core Paulistas. Bachmann will drop into the high single digits by February (maybe earlier).

Romney will NOT go after any Republican like his fellow GOP-er’s are going to go after him. He’ll keep going after the President. This race between Romney and Perry will go on past any Super Tuesday contests, and maybe even to the convention floor, because polls still show that people want someone that can defeat the President, even if that person isn’t as conservative as they like. I think you’ll see a lot of independents voting for Romney in the primaries that could offset the die-hard conservatives in many states. They could also go to Huntsman, but I think he’ll be gone by then.

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

August 30th, 2011
3:02 pm

“This time around, Perry leads because of support from the Republican conservative base. (That’s the same group of folks who elected Reagan in two landslides.)”

Actually, Reagan Democrats get a lot of the credit for making Reagan’s wins so large.

And incredibly inept Democrat opponents.

@@

August 30th, 2011
3:03 pm

Compared to Huntsman, Romney looks like a street brawler.

Joe The Plumber too.

August 30th, 2011
3:13 pm

Compared to the urkle/biden ticket,I believe Perry/Rubio will be a historic election. I never thought any President could take peanutheads place as worst of all time but urkle has done it in under three years. Can’t wait to see the blogs after the election, better start thinking up your excuses libs, if you are at a loss for one, just call up barry the boy blunder, he has a book full.

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

August 30th, 2011
3:22 pm

@@, I just can’t figure out Huntsman. It’s if he thought that his entrance into the race and his qualifications were going to magically catapult him into the White House without a lot of campaigning.

I wasn’t impressed with him from the start, and he’s done nothing to make me even consider him for a second look.

Lil Bushie Bailout (Revised Upward)

August 30th, 2011
3:24 pm

Reagan nostalgia…twice in one week?

@@

August 30th, 2011
3:32 pm

Tiberius:

Only thing I’ve found intriguing about Huntsman is his support of a Flat Tax. Other than that, he’s a bit of a wuss.

I couldn’t help but laugh when he said he supports Cap and Trade. Given the fact that he was Ambassador to China, I’d have to ask why.

Nat Turner

August 30th, 2011
3:46 pm

Huntman’s is the guy that should be leading, and taking the nomination. He was Ambassador to China, which means there is a connection already there. He speaks Mandarin fluent. He understands business. He isn’t off spouting off non-sense social issues. And read the following:

In November 2004, Huntsman was elected Governor of Utah with 57% of the vote, defeating Democratic Party nominee Scott Matheson, Jr. He was re-elected in November 2008 with 77.7% of the vote, defeating Democratic Party nominee Bob Springmeyer. Huntsman maintained extremely high approval ratings as Governor of Utah hitting 90% approval at times He left office with his approval ratings over 80%.[ During his tenure, the state budget rose from $16.7 to $22.8 billion

During his tenure as governor, Utah was named the best managed state by the Pew Center on the States.[16] Following his term as governor, Utah was also named a top 3 state to do business in.[17] In 2010, Utah was awarded the prize as the best state in the country in which to do business.

How could you not be impressed with him? And why is he a wuss? Because he doesn’t have that fake, John Wayne, cowboy bravado?

Jefferson

August 30th, 2011
3:49 pm

You take yourself too serously.

Rafe Hollister

August 30th, 2011
3:55 pm

I am hoping that Tiberius is right that the race will go on well into the primaries. Hard to know how long it will last. Karl Rove, kingmaker that he thinks he is, may have some way to keep the money flowing to Romney if he quickly falls behind, but unless he wins something other than NH, he may quickly be tossed aside by contributors. Everyone but the Bush crowd will then jump on the Perry wagon. The sniping from Rove, et al, may weaken him to the point that he struggles to beat OBlamer.

My wife and I were discussing merits of the two in the front and decided that it really makes little difference what we think, that the GA primary is so late in the process, our votes are immaterial. Usually the race is decided after the FL primary. There needs to be a better system.

Rafe Hollister

August 30th, 2011
4:00 pm

Nat Turner

I just love how the Dems always tell the Reps who their candidate should be. The media, independents, and democrats cross voting selected McCain for us last time, maybe you guys can vote for Huntsman this time.

Huntsman would better use his time opposing Oblamer in the Dem contest. He would triple the amount of votes he would get. Polls now show that 27% of Dems want someone other than Oblamer, so Huntsman could pick up those votes. 27% beats the 1% he is drawing as a Republican. He has about the same chance of being selected in the Rep field as Buddy Roemer.

Logical Dude

August 30th, 2011
4:05 pm

Kyle,
You’re exactly right. There is A LONG WAY to go before the election, and a lot of foots can be eaten, and lots of characters assassinated (not lives, though).

I know who I’d prefer based on their history, but it looks like other conservatives have their own ideas too.
The most important poll is the election and anything today is wayy too preliminary, which is why recent announcements of falling out of the race surprised me.

Nat Turner

August 30th, 2011
4:13 pm

Rafe, you need to get that liberal chip of your shoulder, bud. I respect Jon Huntsman, and would vote for him in a heartbeat.

I guess you didn’t read his accomplishments in Utah, or that when he left office his approval rating was 80%, and that during his tenure as governor that Utah was named Best Managed State.

But keep on dismissing those accomplishments, and support your fake cowboy.

Jon Huntsman for president!

[...] military cuts, economy at VFW conventionReutersRomney addresses VFW convention in TexasBoston Globe2012 Tuesday: A Republican reprise of 2008 or 1980?Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Huffington Post (blog) -ABC News (blog) -CBS Newsall [...]

getalife

August 30th, 2011
4:23 pm

Thinking perry will be a different result than w is the definition of insanity.

Obama compared to what?

Another cowboy from Texas?

You need to talk to a professional about your mental disorder.

It is a cry for help.

carlosgvv

August 30th, 2011
4:28 pm

Perry knows Republican voters were dumb enough to give George W. Bush two terms. He also knows the voters are even dumber now, so I’d say he will probably get the nomination. Bush caused a great deal of damage to our country and Perry will do no better. Looks like our new national motto will be “dumb and dumber”.

Rafe Hollister

August 30th, 2011
4:37 pm

Nat
Obviously you like Huntsman, why don’t you talk him into running against Barry in the Dem primary so you can vote for him. The man showed no capacity for critical thinking when he said he believed in Global Warming just because he trusted science. Right, like Science is not as full of politics as education. Don’t want to get distracted on climate Change, but new scientific work reported on today seems to establish that warming is caused by cosmic rays emitted by the sun.

@@

August 30th, 2011
4:38 pm

Nat:

Because he doesn’t have that fake, John Wayne, cowboy bravado?

Did I say anything about looking for a cowboy type?

Overreacted, didn’t ‘ya?

Rafe Hollister

August 30th, 2011
4:43 pm

carlos

Perry knows American voters were dumb enough to elect Oblamer, so why shouldn’t he have a chance. He is a three term governor of a state that is fairing much better than the rest of the country, during Barry’s reign of economic terror. He has said that Dubyah spent money like a drunken sailor and forever made an enemy of Karl Rove, so I don’t think you can dismiss him as Bush III.

And, when did I say Perry is my man. I am for any man or woman qualified to be President who can beat the sorry excuse we have now. I would vote for Uncle Omar if he was qualified, in a race between him and his nephew.

carlosgvv

August 30th, 2011
4:44 pm

Rafe Hollister

It’s clear you know as much about science as you know about the backside of Pluto.

Joe the Conservative Plutocrat

August 30th, 2011
4:52 pm

Nat Turner

August 30th, 2011
4:54 pm

Thank you, Carlos.

Rafe completely dismisses the economic accomplishments of Jon Huntsman because he doesn’t disagree with global warming? The Republicans have a hell of a litmus test.

Religious, anti-science, anti-education is all that is required to get the nom from Republicans.

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

August 30th, 2011
5:00 pm

“How could you not be impressed with him?”

Nat, he was a governor of Utah, fer crying out loud. To me, that’s like being he governor of a state full of sheep. Almost anybody could be acceptable in their eyes if they manage that state well. They ooze milquetoast out there.

But we’re not talking about needing a manager, Nat, we’re talking about electing a leader. Someone that can inspire and move the electorate to a different way of governing as well as manage the Executive branch.

Huntsman is as boring as listening to Al Gore speak on man-made global warming, and that ain’t good.

Rafe Hollister

August 30th, 2011
5:00 pm

For carlos and Nat

The science is now all-but-settled on global warming, convincing new evidence demonstrates, but Al Gore, the IPCC and other global warming doomsayers won’t be celebrating. The new findings point to cosmic rays and the sun — not human activities — as the dominant controller of climate on Earth.

The research, published with little fanfare this week in the prestigious journal Nature, comes from über-prestigious CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, one of the world’s largest centres for scientific research involving 60 countries and 8,000 scientists at more than 600 universities and national laboratories. CERN is the organization that invented the World Wide Web, that built the multi-billion dollar Large Hadron Collider, and that has now built a pristinely clean stainless steel chamber that precisely recreated the Earth’s atmosphere.

From the journal Nature; I am not as smart as Nat and Carlos, I have to read and educate myself.

Rafe Hollister

August 30th, 2011
5:03 pm

Nat and Carlos,

The above study will be reported by your sources in the MSM about the same time that Barry submits a balanced budget to Congress.

Rafe Hollister

August 30th, 2011
5:06 pm

Utah is run by the Mormon church, the government is just their overseers. Huntsman is LDS, he took orders, or he would not have been elected.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: Thee Magnificent!!! mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

August 30th, 2011
5:06 pm

Either way, obozo is a lame duck.

And a quack president too.

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

August 30th, 2011
5:08 pm

Carlos and Nat, apparently CERN knows a LOT more about science than you two (and John Huntsman, too).

Now, if you want to challenge the heavyweights at the most prestigious scientific research facility on the planet, feel free to do so, but your house of cards on man-made global warming is about to come tumbling down.

http://opinion.financialpost.com/2011/08/26/lawrence-solomon-science-now-settled/

And one of the best remarks following the article pretty much sums up what many common-sense folks out here have believed for so long:

“Funny how in the end the truth has come and it turns out the big yellow fire ball in the sky that heats up the earth every day is the cause of the earth heating up.” :lol:

retired early

August 30th, 2011
5:09 pm

This Democrat would take a serious look at Huntsman for President. I guess that explains why he doesn’t have a “snowball’s chance in hell” of getting the nomination. The GOP supporters are missing a golden opportunity to attract the independent voters and thereby win the election in Huntsman…but they vote first for their “social agenda” over a more qualified candidate…every time.

bj jones

August 30th, 2011
5:12 pm

Perry is just another “any way the wind blows” politician. He worked for Al Gore not that long ago for heavens sake. Talk about waffling from one “polar” extreme to another. And his “zealous” comments are not thought through before spewing out of his southern comfort mouth. When I first heard him speaking, I had to look to see if I haven’t accidentally landed on one of Gospel Preacher channels. He does remind me so much of GW Bush too. Just a bit too much down-home country for the president of our country. We need a bit more distiquinched fare, more representative of a cross section of the USA. Perry’s stance on illegal immigrants shows he puts personal gain before public safety. That alone disqualifies him to represent our country!

Jefferson

August 30th, 2011
5:12 pm

The GOP voters will do as they are told, don’t make them think whats good for anyone than themselves…

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

August 30th, 2011
5:15 pm

“He worked for Al Gore not that long ago for heavens sake.”

Uh, BJ? He was Gore’s campaign manager in Texas in 1988. That would be 23 years ago for those of you who went to government schools.

Twenty-three years is a pretty long time, BJ.

[...] in TexasBoston GlobeRomney bashes Obama on military cuts, economy at VFW conventionReutersAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog) -Huffington Post (blog) -ABC News (blog)all 1,181 news [...]

Moderate Line

August 30th, 2011
5:20 pm

My biggest worry for Perry as a candidate is Texas’s unemployment rate. Texas’s unemployment is currently at 8.4% while the national unemployment is at 9.1%. However, the Texas unemployment is rising while the national unemployment although stagnant is declining. The national unemployment has been lower than the previous year prior 12 months in row while Texas’s unemployment has been higher than the previous year two months in a row and 8 out of the last 12 months. While the American economy has been been stagnant but getting better Texas’ has been getting worse. If Texas unemployment figure goes above the national figure the selling Perry as the jobs canidate well be tougher.

Rafe Hollister

August 30th, 2011
5:27 pm

We need a bit more distiquinched fare, more representative of a cross section of the USA

Yeah, like Oblamer is representative of Texas!
Or, AZ,OK,NV,NM,KS,WY,ID,….

Moderate Line

August 30th, 2011
5:29 pm

[...] in TexasBoston GlobeRomney bashes Obama on military cuts, economy at VFW conventionReutersAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog) -Huffington Post (blog) -ABC News (blog)all 1,226 news [...]

@@

August 30th, 2011
5:39 pm

Nat:

In an interview with Jake Tapper, Huntsman said this:

HUNTSMAN: The most important thing we can do to get this economy going today is, number one, we’ve got to reform our taxes. We’ve got to create a competitive tax code, just like we did in the state of Utah. We’ve got to take the business tax, which is the second highest in the developed world, and we’ve got to phase out the loopholes and the deductions, get rid of the corporate welfare. We’ve got to lower the rate and broaden the base.

Number two, we’ve got to get the regulatory money off our back. People aren’t putting money into the marketplace. They’re not hiring because there’s so much uncertainty and confusion about where this economy is going.

Number three, I think the most important step we can take in terms of perhaps immediate job creation is energy independence, weaning ourselves away from this heroin-like addiction to imported oil.

Those are the three things that I would drop on the doorstep of Congress the day that I’m elected president.

How does that stand out from what the other candidates are saying?

If all you can get excited about is his stance on climate change and evolution, that’s pretty sad. Have you just recently evolved from Democrat to faux Republican?

If you are, in reality, a “disenchanted” dem, you may wanna do some research into Huntsman’s retreat from Cap & Trade. That and Huntsman International’s recent settlement that was centered around anti-trust violations.

Just so you know.