Some time in the not too distant past I wrote a piece about why I could foresee the possibility of a brokered GOP convention where the delegates would have to bicker among themselves to come up with presidential and vice-presidential candidates. I said that it was quite likely that the Republican primary voters would settle on someone in Iowa only to reject them in New Hampshire. And then both of those candidates would be rejected in South Carolina. And the pattern would keep repeating itself.
We’re kind of seeing the same thing happen right now before any votes are cast at all. For a while, it looked like it was going to be a race between Romney and Pawlenty, but Pawlenty could never get any traction. In the middle of that fiasco, we had the Donald Trump boomlet. Then the president produced his birth certificate. Every time it begins to look like Romney is the only choice they have, they cast around for a new candidate.
We’ve heard the names: Jeb Bush, John Thune, Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan…Chris Christie again…and again.
Finally, some people in the GOP got restless enough to recruit Rick Perry, and the thirst for an anti-Romney candidate was so great that he leapt right to the head of the class. Of course, Perry’s entry into the race was timed to step on Michele Bachmann’s victory in the Ames Straw poll in Iowa. It worked, too. Tonight, Michele Bachmann came in dead last in the Florida Straw Poll behind Jon Huntsman.
Of course, the big news is who won the Florida Straw Poll.
Every winner of Florida’s Presidency 5 straw poll has gone on to win the GOP nomination.
And if that tradition continues this year, Herman Cain will be the Republican nominee in 2012.
He overwhelmingly won the straw poll, nabbing 37 percent of the votes. That put Cain more than twenty percentage points ahead of Rick Perry (15 percent) and Mitt Romney (14 percent). Rick Santorum won 11 percent of the votes, while Ron Paul came in fifth at 10 percent. Newt Gingrich was backed by 8 percent. And Michele Bachmann, who won the Ames Straw Poll, finished dead last at 1.5 percent. Jon Huntsman beat her to come in seventh place with 2.3 percent of the vote.
It’s fair to say at this point that the GOP is operating on a flavor of the month strategy. But they keep spitting out the ice cream and asking for a refund. The root problem is that no one can envision any of these characters as the president of the United States. The only exception might be Mitt Romney, but every time the base thinks about President Romney, they go in search of the Tums.
It’s not necessarily that they don’t think Romney can win. He has his weaknesses, but he’s clearly the strongest general election candidate they have. The problem is they don’t want him to be president because he doesn’t represent their values on any level.
This is why I can still see a brokered convention. As soon as one candidate gets the upper hand, everyone has to actually picture that candidate as president. And it gives them the heebie-jeebies, so they reject that candidate in favor of someone else. If this cycle repeats itself long enough, no one will emerge with the majority of the delegates. It’s like a M.C. Escher drawing of infinite relativity. They will never arrive at a nominee.
If I am right, Romney will make many runs on locking down the nomination, but every time he has a chance he will be rebuffed in favor of a new flavor of the month. He’ll almost certainly accrue the most delegates, but will he ever accrue more than half of them?
And the biggest question of all is, who will be pulled off the sidelines after everyone else has been rejected?