Well, the first votes for the GOP presidential nominee have come and gone, and you’ve likely heard about the results. Mitt Romney squeaked past a last second Santorum surge from behind (eeeeeeeeew, gross) with an 8 vote win. Or a 29 vote win. Or a 12 vote loss. Whatever. Ron Paul gave a rather impressive showing as well, gathering 21.4% of the votes, only 3.1% less than both Rick Santorum and Romney. Newt Gingrich pulled off only 13.3%, but is not to be counted out as John McCain placed fourth in Iowa in 2008, as I recall. Rick Perry grabbed only 10.3% of the votes despite spending the most money in the state, and former Iowa straw poll winner Michele Bachmann grabbed a pitiful 5%, forcing her to pull out of the race.
And so, we are now left with 6 candidates people have heard of plus Buddy Roemer, since Jon Huntsman didn’t participate in the Iowa caucus and has been focusing fully on New Hampshire. And as the votes continue to crawl on, we’ll have fewer and fewer, until there is only one.
But who is it to be? People like Jon Stewart think that, despite the GOP’s almost adamant refusal to get fully behind Romney, that’s who they’ll end up with. Yet high up members of the Tea Party movement, who still hold a heavy grip, especially in the southern states like South Carolina, think Romney sucks a whole heck of a lot. Yet so many people think Romney has the best chance to beat Barack Obama in the general election. Allow me to break down the way I see things now, not in who will get the GOP vote, but in who will be best against Obama.
Starting with the least likely:
Rick Perry – Before you ask, I actually am including Roemer on this list. I think Perry has the worst chance of any candidate to win against Obama. Why? He has shown a complete lack of ability to harness the excitement his own party had for him, has become the king of gaffes the way Joe Biden could only have ever dreamed, and can’t seem to choose between the image of serious man and drunk frat guy. With Bachmann dropping out and Cain gone, Perry is the most caricatured ridiculous GOP candidate still on the list.
Buddy Roemer – Unfortunately, I have to put Roemer here due to the simple fact that he is complete obscure. Even if he did manage to gather enough last second (like, seriously last second) popularity amongst the GOP to get the nomination, he’s been too obscure to get the general election excited about him. I think he’d actually debate really well against Obama. But he has a lot of liberal tendencies that I don’t think would allow enough of the GOP to want to vote for him.
Newt Gingrich – Okay. This guy is kind of a giant jerk. And a bit of a clown. He may have sustained a surge that granted him some spotlight, but he wasn’t really gracious about it. Not to mention, the ideas he wants to institute are, frankly, crazyballs. Even many in the GOP thought his best two out of three application of Constitutionality was insane. And liberals want to keep him far away from the White House, which would gather up a powerful amount of votes against him.
Now, these three are actually far behind. The next four are much closer to each other than these three and depend on several factors.
Rick Santorum – Not a candidate anyone took seriously before… well, this week, he is kind of like a Rick Perry that doesn’t gaffe like a crazy man. He’s got the social conservative values the GOP adores so much and is willing to apply them with extreme prejudice. Now, he’s on the bottom of this because, again, liberals want him far and away from the White House. No one with a liberal leaning wants a Santorum presidency. If you’re disappointed in Obama for not doing more, Santorum would be like anti-what-Obama-promised. He’d make sure EVERY liberal ideal was scorch earthed, or die trying.
Mitt Romney – Let’s face it. This guy is the 2012 GOP John Kerry. He’s boring and says absolutely NOTHING of value. Even all the hate the GOP has for a second Obama term would not garner enough excitement in Romney being president. Romney has said exactly everything that he thinks any voter pretty much ever may possibly want to hear at some point. The only thing I know for sure about a Romney presidency is that the Occupy Wall Street movement would probably grow like crazy, because Romney would make the 1% so far away from everyone else, it’s really quite sad. Very pro-Wall Street, this guy, but that’s really the only thing I know about him.
Jon Huntsman – Yeah. I’m putting Huntsman above Romney. People can actually get a bit excited about Huntsman. Plus, with Huntsman’s slightly larger amount of open-mindedness, he could more easily court a slightly more liberal vote. This is something the GOP seems to fail to realize as a whole: Liberals are fair game for them. While his approval is getting a last second surge as unemployment drops and he stands up to a rather annoying Congress, Obama has still disappointed many liberals by being a bit too friendly with Wall Street and a bit too lacking in the chutzpa when standing up to a belligerent Congress. There are liberals that could be talked away from the Democratic vote. Why do you think Democrats have blue dogs? There are fewer slightly liberal GOP members than slightly conservative Democrats, from what I’ve seen, especially evident during the health care battle. Further, Huntsman has been pretty consistent with his message, while Romney has yet to have one that isn’t “Beat Obama.”
Ron Paul – Those keeping score knew he’d be up here. Yes, I feel Ron Paul actually has the best chance of beating Obama. Why? Because he courts the liberal vote like crazy. Because he’s a libertarian. He is consistently, 100% for an actual small government, one that stays out of citizens’ personal lives as well as the market, making him very much for many of the things most GOP voters claim to be for. Sure, some of that small government stuff means they lose a bit of their moral institutionalization, like by seeing an end to the war on drugs, but Ron Paul has the easiest time grabbing both GOP and Democrat votes. He has a lot of the same pull on young voters that candidate Obama had, and they were a big help in winning Obama the election. Sure, some people think his ideas are a bit crazy, but he could be tempered by Congress and the courts. Sure, it’d mean Congress will have to DO things, but the voters might like that idea.
What it all boils down to is this: Can GOP voters rally behind someone who is closer to center than they would perhaps like, someone who appeals to the disenchanted liberals and the angry conservatives alike? And can Obama remind people that, while his presidency hasn’t been perfect, he has scored some big victories that would likely be immediately lost with pretty much any of the GOP candidates, and any good (from a liberal’s perspective) gained in the last 4 years would be completely lost with a GOP presidency?
The beginnings of socialized healthcare, the repeal of DADT, the removal of troops from Iraq… versus the recent law of indefinite detention, the bailouts and the drones.
Obama’s had his disappointing moments, and still does… but I think, if we re-elect a better Congress, Obama will have a better showing in a second term than in his first. Now that he has a better idea of what he’s doing.