Politics

Sizing Up the Electorate: What Polling Says About Voters’ Attitudes Going into 2012

Add to Briefcase
June 5, 2011, 7:58 p.m.

Pres. Obama cam­paigned 10/7 with MD Gov. Mar­tin O’Mal­ley (D), the first time Obama has cam­paigned at a pub­lic event that was not a fun­draiser of any kind with a Dem can­did­ate since 1/10/10. That day, as Hot­line alum Mike Memoli points out, Obama stumped for AG Martha Coakley dur­ing her ill-fated MA SEN race. In fact, O’Mal­ley had bet­ter hope he doesn’t turn out like the oth­er 2 can­did­ates for whom Obama has pub­licly cam­paigned since win­ning elec­tion — ex-NJ Gov. Jon Corz­ine and VA GOV nom. Creigh Deeds.

Rick San­tor­um’s exit from the pres­id­en­tial race this week brings a form­al end to a con­test that had been over, for all prac­tic­al pur­poses, for weeks. It also in­vites a tem­por­ary spot­light on Rom­ney’s next task, pick­ing a run­ning mate — and with it, a glimpse at the fu­ture of the na­tion­al Re­pub­lic­an Party.

And based on the emer­ging con­sensus around a Re­pub­lic­an short list that fea­tures rising stars from all corners of the na­tion, that fu­ture is bright. Rom­ney is now the nom­in­ee of a party still search­ing for its iden­tity after George W. Bush’s pres­id­ency, and the pro­cess of choos­ing a run­ning mate — and the at­tend­ant me­dia at­ten­tion on the vi­able op­tions — will el­ev­ate one of a gen­er­a­tion of of­fice­hold­ers vy­ing to in­flu­ence that dir­ec­tion.

The roster of vice pres­id­en­tial can­did­ates stands in stark con­trast to what was a weak, lackluster field of pres­id­en­tial re­treads. Rom­ney has not won an elec­tion since 2002, nor has he held of­fice since early 2007. San­tor­um lost his last race in 2006. Newt Gin­grich, os­tens­ibly still in the race, left of­fice in early 1999.

That field was com­pet­ing for an elect­or­ate that has moved in a de­cidedly more ag­gress­ive, more con­ser­vat­ive, and more pop­u­list dir­ec­tion. That dir­ec­tion, in turn, marks a de­par­ture from Bush’s pres­id­ency, dur­ing which ex­pan­sion of en­ti­tle­ments angered con­ser­vat­ives and mis­handled wars angered just about every­one else. After los­ing their con­gres­sion­al ma­jor­it­ies in 2006, the party em­barked on a pen­et­rat­ing soul-search that has yet to re­solve it­self. The tea party move­ment was a stab at res­ol­u­tion; it rep­res­en­ted a pop­u­list re­jec­tion of gov­ern­ment that Re­pub­lic­ans em­braced in ad­vance of their 2010 wins. But while it claimed a few vic­tor­ies in 2010, Rom­ney’s nom­in­a­tion proves the move­ment has yet to as­sert any real con­trol over the GOP.

That’s not to say the re­ac­tion to Bush hasn’t pro­voked a change in the GOP. It has giv­en rise to a new gen­er­a­tion of Re­pub­lic­an of­fice­hold­ers, in­clud­ing a good por­tion of the fresh­man class first elec­ted in 2010, and in­fused more con­ser­vat­ive mem­bers of the House Re­pub­lic­an Con­fer­ence with broad­er in­flu­ence. And yet the new gen­er­a­tion barely had a rep­res­ent­at­ive in the pres­id­en­tial field, with the ex­cep­tion of Rep. Michele Bach­mann of Min­nesota.

Now, with the primary fight be­hind him and the vice pres­id­en­tial se­lec­tion in front of him, Rom­ney has the op­por­tun­ity to el­ev­ate the new gen­er­a­tion. More than two dozen can­did­ates have been men­tioned, to vary­ing de­grees of ser­i­ous­ness, but the com­mon thread that runs through most ser­i­ous short-list con­tenders is their re­l­at­ive new­ness to the na­tion­al scene — the clearest in­dic­a­tion that the young­er gen­er­a­tion is poised to take over for the old guard.

Con­sider the names that most of­ten as­cend to the top of pun­dits’ short lists: Sen. Marco Ru­bio of Flor­ida, Rep. Paul Ry­an of Wis­con­sin, and Vir­gin­ia Gov. Bob Mc­Don­nell are all young, at­tract­ive, and ar­tic­u­late spokes­men for the con­ser­vat­ive cause. Sen. Rob Port­man of Ohio is the only con­sensus short-lister who comes from the old guard, giv­en his long re­sume in Wash­ing­ton in both the le­gis­lat­ive and ex­ec­ut­ive branches.

The longer list of vice pres­id­en­tial pos­sib­il­it­ies is re­plete with new­comers: Govs. Chris Christie of New Jer­sey, Susana Mar­tinez of New Mex­ico, and Bri­an San­dov­al of Nevada all seem poised for na­tion­al pro­files at some point in their ca­reers. Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hamp­shire gets rave re­views from my col­league Josh Kraush­aar. Al­lies of Rep. Cathy Mc­Mor­ris Rodgers of Wash­ing­ton are float­ing her name, though her can­did­acy seems un­likely. Even Louisi­ana Gov. Bobby Jin­dal, whose résumé reads like a man 15 years older than he is, can lay claim to the new-gen­er­a­tion mantle.

There are plenty of older, more ex­per­i­enced can­did­ates Rom­ney might con­sider, from former Min­nesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty to In­di­ana Gov. Mitch Daniels. Oth­ers, like Sens. Pat Toomey and John Thune, mesh young­er faces with résumés heavy on Wash­ing­ton ex­per­i­ence. But they have gen­er­ated less en­thu­si­asm from con­ser­vat­ive me­dia out­lets who are pin­ing for a new voice, and they seem more likely to pop­u­late Rom­ney’s Cab­in­et, if he gets the chance to form one, than to serve as vice pres­id­ent.

Any pres­id­en­tial cam­paign is con­cerned that the vice pres­id­en­tial nom­in­ee might over­shad­ow the top of the tick­et. This year, even if that doesn’t hap­pen, the vice pres­id­en­tial nom­in­ee will likely be a sign of the rise of a new Re­pub­lic­an gen­er­a­tion — a gen­er­a­tion that, after Rom­ney has had his shot, will prob­ably pro­duce the next Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­ent.

What We're Following See More »
BIGGEST SHAKEUP OF ALL?
Bannon Is Out at the White House
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

First, it was Sean Spicer. Then Reince Priebus. Now, presidential adviser Steve Bannon, perhaps the administration's biggest lightning rod for criticism, is out. “White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day,” the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a statement. “We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.” That's not to say the parting of ways isn't controversial. Bannon says he submitted his resignation on Aug. 7, but earlier today, "the president had told senior aides that he had decided to remove Mr. Bannon."

Source:
INITIATIVE TARGETED GUN RETAILERS, OTHERS
Trump Ends Obama’s “Operation Choke Point”
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The Trump administration has ended Operation Choke Point, the anti-fraud initiative started under the Obama administration that many Republicans argued was used to target gun retailers and other businesses that Democrats found objectionable. Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd told GOP representatives in a Wednesday letter that the long-running program had ended, bringing a conclusion to a chapter in the Obama years that long provoked and angered conservatives who saw Choke Point as an extra-legal crackdown on politically disfavored groups."

Source:
LIBERALS RAISE CONFLICT OF ISSUE QUESTIONS
Gorsuch to Deliver Speech at Trump Hotel
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Liberal groups are raising questions about a speaking appearance Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch plans to make next month at the Trump International Hotel in Washington. Gorsuch is scheduled to headline a luncheon celebrating the 50th anniversary of conservative group The Fund for American Studies on September 28, days before the next SCOTUS term begins October 2. Steve Slattery, a spokesman for The Fund for American Studies, said Gorsuch had nothing to do with venue choice, which was made long before the group asked Gorsuch to speak."

Source:
CYBER COMMAND ELEVATED AT DOD
Administration Faces Exodus of Top Cybersecurity Officials
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The Trump administration has lost a handful of individuals serving in top cybersecurity roles across the federal government in recent weeks, even as it has struggled to fill high-ranking IT positions. The developments present hurdles for the new administration and speak to the longstanding challenge the federal government faces in competing with the private sector for top tech talent." Among those resigning is Richard Staropoli, "a former U.S. Secret Service agent who served as chief information officer (CIO) of the Department of Homeland Security for just three months," and Dave DeVries, the CIO at OPM. Separately, the White House announced today that President Trump has directed that United States Cyber Command be elevated to the status of a Unified Combatant Command focused on cyberspace operations.

Source:
SAYS TRUMP JUST ATTACKING REPUBLICANS
Former Top Aide to McConnell Says GOPers Should Abandon Trump
1 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login