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Posts Tagged ‘History’

All Politics is… National?

September 24th, 2010 3 comments

Election time is coming up once again. While I’d love to dive into the horserace predictions and party strategy, you can get all of that at FiveThirtyEight. Instead, I’d like to highlight a little thought you might want to take with you into some of the smaller statewide elections that go on. The most attention, of course, gets paid to the presidential election, followed by that of the Senate and House. But there’s a pretty compelling reason you should think about your state’s gubernatorial election, and not just because it will directly impact your state, or because “gubernatorial” sounds like someone tried to make a five-year-old’s utterance sound intellectual.

The reason is simply that governors = future presidential candidates.

Presidents Reagan, Clinton, and Bush Jr.

Our three most recent governors-turned presidents.

It’s not just that governors like running for president, but we also like electing them. Governors seem like mini-presidents for their states, and people connect with the executive confidence that all of that entails (especially as opposed to Senators, who are seen as much better at talking/arguing than managing/leading). Vice presidents tend to be the only other contenders that can regularly steal the stage from governors when it comes to running for president, but it’s no surprise that after 4-8 years of being ready to step in, people see them as qualified for the position.

Still, my point about governors is not just anecdotal. Over the course of the past 20 presidents we’ve had before Obama, spanning 116 years, we’ve only spent about 42 of those years under presidents who had not been governors previously. Interestingly, of all the gubernatorially-deficient presidents during that time, only Eisenhower served a full two terms.

So next time you go into the voting booth to vote for your state’s governor, or your party’s nominee for governor, just keep in the back of your head that you may very well also be influencing the future batch of presidential nominees. And remember – those governor-turned presidents tend to stick around longer than their counterparts, so choose wisely.

Mitt is it

May 24th, 2010 No comments

Election excitement has again gripped the blogosphere as talk of upsets, oustings and run-offs have dominated the Congressional primary coverage. Still, despite 2012 being a long way off, presidential elections are king when it comes to political excitement, and I have felt a nagging desire to tender my own prediction of what lies in store. Specifically, I have been reading polls and poring over historical comparisons to figure out who I think will be the next GOP nominee and the candidate to challenge President Obama.

I have come to this conclusion: Mitt is it.

I know it’s risky to make any prediction this far out, and I’ve been wrong before (actually, I predicted Mitt Romney would win last time, too), but I have a lot more reasons to back up my claim this time. First, there’s history. Unlike the Democratic Party (see Hillary Clinton and Howard Dean), the GOP almost always settles on the early front-runner. In fact, the outcomes have been so predictable that instead of trying to talk you through the historical play-by-play, I just slapped together this handy-dandy GOP presidential primary prediction flowchart:

This chart would have correctly predicted every GOP nominee since Dwight D. Eisenhower (with the only toss-up being the 2000 Bush v. McCain battle).

As you can see, this round we have to go all the way down to the last option (runner-up from the last primary) to find the anointed one. Mike Huckabee did rack up more delegates by staying in the primary longer, but Mitt Romney won a higher percent of the popular vote despite dropping out after Florida, and I think it’s clear that he was the real runner-up. Mitt certainly has some baggage (RomneyCare, cough, cough), but the establishment support he’s been building up, the fundraising advantage he has, his business clout, and the perception that he is more electable will all probably be enough to overcome those issues.

Now that brings us to Sarah Palin and the Tea Party. Oh, Palin. She’s supposed to be riding a wave that will turn history on its head, right? Well, the GOP is certainly going through a transition period and that could throw off my prediction (and possibly mark the end of an era), but Palin is more of a media sensation than a political sensation. Outside of the Fox News bubble, her support is not really that strong. She’s fallen from 3rd to 4th place in recent polling of Republican voters and even a plurality of Alaskans now say they wouldn’t vote for her.

Mike Huckabee or Newt Gingrich could more conceivably throw off my formula by tapping into the Tea Party sentiment. Huckabee still has very good, if not the best, favorability rankings of the potential candidates, and his populist support presaged the Tea Party uprising. Newt Gingrich has so much baggage he might consider hiring a rent boy to help him carry it, but I’m not ready to discount his shrewdness as a politician or reputation as a fighter. Then again, a dark horse candidate could emerge, like Tim Pawlenty. In the end though, unless the playing field drastically changes between now and then, my money’s on Mitt.