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Lack of a GOP Front-Runner for 2012 at Odds With Republican History

3 years ago
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Although the contest for the GOP presidential nomination may seem far away (for all except those gearing up for it), there has been a lot of comment about the potential Republican field, ranging from those who regard it as weak to the fact that no one has emerged yet as a front-runner, at least according to polls.

Gallup says that situation is not typical. In reviewing its polling dating back to 1952, Gallup notes that in every presidential year up until now, there was a clear front-runner at this stage of the campaign and that, in most but not all cases, the front-runner won the nomination.

There have been a few twists and turns in that general pattern. It may have faded from memory now, but in 2007, Rudolph Giuliani was way out in front in Republican preference polls, leading John McCain by 42 percent to 25 percent in February of that year, with the remainder of support spread among other candidates or undecided. Giuliani faded fast after making the mistake of skipping the early primary states, and McCain, who had been the presumed front-runner aside from the 2007 poll, got a scare when Mike Huckabee went from a blip on pollsters' radar screens to winning the Iowa caucuses.

In February 1963, New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller was the clear favorite, leading Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater by 45 percent to 19 percent. However, Goldwater steadily crept up on Rockefeller and then passed him, and when former Massachusetts Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge entered the race, the three candidates were in a statistical tie in Gallup's last poll before the GOP convention. Goldwater emerged as the nominee.

As far as the current field of Republicans is concerned, the top four in Republican preference polls have consistently been Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich. None has formally launched a campaign, although Gingrich -- who usually runs last in that group -- has come the closest. Last week, he filed paperwork with the Internal Revenue Service to explore a possible candidacy and launched a website, NewtExplore2012.

There is a large field of others who are unannounced but eyeing a race, like former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. But the challenge for these candidates, who all poll mostly in the low single digits, is that they are still largely unknown.

A Quinnipiac University survey released Monday found nearly all of those potential Republican candidates at the top of the list when it came to the percentage of voters who didn't know enough about them to express a pro or con opinion. These included former ambassador to China Jon Huntsman (84 percent don't know him); Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana (78 percent); Pawlenty (67 percent); Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi (65 percent); and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania (63 percent).

"History thus provides no guidelines for how today's highly fragmented Republican race might play out, or for when a strong front-runner is likely to emerge, or who it will be," Gallup said. "If the race remains close throughout 2011, it may also create unfamiliar political and fundraising dynamics for the national party."

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41 Comments

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Candy

I have news for each and everyone of you who think between party lines. It has nothing to do with the parties. It has everything to do with finding someone who is not SO politically correct to fix this economy. America is broke because no one wants to do anything about the illegals in this country!! Not just the Mexicans, but mostly the Mexicans because they come over here by the millions - they in turn grow like crops and over half never pay one red cent into the system. The American workers CAN NOT afford to keep this up. Nor can we continue to give billions to these countries that hate us and would never return the favor. I understand all about helping people, but to commit to such high numbers is like suicide to the Americans.`

March 14 2011 at 1:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
donran42

The Democrats have had their presidents. The Republicans have had their presidents. What this country needs at this time is an INDEPENDENT president. Someone with common sense who can clean out the entrenched political hacks now overseeing the various agencies and keep us informed as to what Congress is doing that we don't want done. Only an Independent can get us real reform to runaway entitlements, simplify the tax code, etc.

March 10 2011 at 2:52 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
ldsupermom

It is good that the Republicans don't have a front runner yet. They should wait as long as possible to announce who the front runner is.The minute they do the MSM, lib and especially the white house will furiously try to dig up their past or invent scandals to discredit them.

March 09 2011 at 3:58 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to ldsupermom's comment
grgriff98

Gee, that sounds like a ploy both parties like to use...

March 12 2011 at 10:50 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
gophatesus

oh sure like make claims they are not citizens, or maybe question their faith.............

March 20 2011 at 11:36 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Richard Havron

Look at the names in the attached poll; Eisenhower, Ford, Reagan, Dole - sensible, pragmatic leaders with solid mid-western values. Now we have a party dominated by three extremist factions - religious fundamentalists, radical conservative Tea Partiers and Southern demagogues. Many current GOP candidates even manage to pander to all 3 fringe groups. These extremists are cannibalizing the GOP and alienating the American middle...where elections are won. Ironically, the future is tied to demographics...and all those Americans (i.e. Hispanics) targeted and vilified by today's Republican "leaders." Not exactly the "big tent" advocated by Ronald Reagan. Today's GOP needs a voice of reason...and there is none to be found. A Party of, and for, regressives. Not a single Eisenhower in the bunch.

March 09 2011 at 7:08 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
bartstew

Quick question for you about this new Republican House of Representatives -- What happened to "Jobs Jobs Jobs???" Remember how they were going to focus like a laser on Jobs Jobs Jobs??? Maybe we didn't hear them right. Maybe they were saying Abortion Abortion Abortion and we thought they were saying Jobs Jobs Jobs. As far as a presidential candidate for 2012, they got exactly NOBODY. Somebody here was talking about Donald Trump. You do realize that Donald Trump is a major CASINO owner. How is that going to go down with the fundamentalist Christian Taliban that owns the Republican Party? My guess is they are going to find that to be IMPIOUS. They also aren't going to vote for a Mormon. That's why Mitt Romney didn't get the nomination last time. Also he has had some MAJOR flip flops. Palin is sinking like a rock. The Republican party has moved away from her. Gingrich has higher negatives than Ghaddafi. Huckabee has shot himself in the foot so many times he's a joke. Pawlenty is largely untainted, but who is he? And who cares? I think the Republicans should run someone with name recognition who shares their core values. Hosni Mubarak.

March 08 2011 at 10:08 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply
nnorth1

Bring all the troops home, end foreign aid, seal the border, and no more immigrants!!!!
Lets get our own house in order, before aiding others!!!
Find me a man that will send this message to the American people and I'll show you the next president of the United States of America.

March 08 2011 at 6:45 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
nickguyol

There is a front runner. John Bolton. Who of all the R types (or D types either, up to and including POTUS) was able to speak knowledgeably and intelligently about the Egypt situation?
Bolton.
Who knows what nonsense and evil the UN is up to?
Bolton.
Who understands the US Constitution better than any other leading light of either party?
Bolton.

March 07 2011 at 10:26 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
plansmaker

There is no "Republican Star" bigger than Sarah Palin's name from now to 2012 election...Most candidates lack name recongnition and excitment farless media savvy. Mitt Romney maybe the only exception out of group. However If Trump jumps in the race than it maybe a game changer!!! Trump and Palin partnership got alot of possibilities...

March 07 2011 at 10:04 PM Report abuse -8 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to plansmaker's comment
clinton

I will give you my name which is unknown and still be better qualified to lead the people of this country than either Palin or Trump for both are out of touch with anyone other than themselves! Tell me what Donald Trump has done for this country and then throw Sarah Palin into the mix and both together is not enough to amount to a biscuit! I believe this country was built by common people with a common idea and most peoploe felt the same as they did somewhere down the line the people will have to come together and choose who the feel is able to lead and stick with whoever it is and not let the media decide who that person will be!!!!!!!!!!

March 08 2011 at 8:28 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
Fran

Perhaps Donald Trump will do more than test the waters. No, he is not a politician, but he knows how to do business. The country could use a leader with business savvy!!!

March 07 2011 at 9:18 PM Report abuse -6 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Fran's comment
linmarco

Is this the Donald Trump, businessman, of bankruptcy fame?

March 09 2011 at 3:07 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
we love mario!!!

Donald Trump seems like the most intelligent person to run for office.,

March 07 2011 at 8:59 PM Report abuse -6 rate up rate down Reply

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