By Felicia Cravens, Contributor to US Daily Review.
The Iowa Caucuses are this week, followed quickly by the New Hampshire primaries. All throughout Politicalville, supporters of the various candidates are busy spreading the word about their candidates:
So everyone thinks their candidate is the ONLY one who has done or can do a particular SOMETHING: win the election, cut spending, balance the budget, carry true conservative values, unite the country. It’s understandable that in an election year we will be bombarded with messages like this. It is the essence of political primary campaigning: present your candidate as the only one in the field who can do what needs to be done. We’ll see it all year, all the way up to November.
However, Republicans will end up with one candidate at the end of this primary cycle, and bridges that have been burned will have to be mended if they are going to be able to unify behind one candidate. Democrats have no problem doing this – witness the drawn-out battle for the nomination in 2008 between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. By the end of the extended primary battle, most Democrats were charged and ready; excited about working to elect Obama, regardless of how strongly they had supported Hillary. Can the Republicans do this?
One problem Republicans will face is the Ron Paul question. Should Paul fail to receive the nomination, his supporters may factor into a third-party run if they believe the right candidate steps in. Paul himself has not unequivocally ruled out a third-party run, a prospect that may keep his followers from committing to another candidate within the Republican Party. This is perhaps one reason that party insiders and establishment leadership do not take the Paul campaign seriously. A team that decides to take the ball and go home if they lose doesn’t recommend itself to playing on a team. Party politics, for good or ill, is a team sport.
Another problem may well be described as the Romney Mistrust factor. Mitt Romney has thus far received neither bounce nor slide in his polling numbers, but sits comfortably in the mid-twenties in percentage points in nearly every poll. Many argue that this means his “ceiling” of support is around 27%, while others insist this is his “floor.” Whatever the case, after a long succession of Not-Romney candidates (Bachmann, Paul, Perry, Cain, Gingrich, Santorum) surging and quickly losing support, the only thing the polls tend to show consistently is that Romney is a candidate Republican voters might settle for if necessary, but that few believe in outright. With the possibility that Romney might indeed win the nomination, many grassroots voters may find the prospect of Romney tolerable, but not exciting. And the Republicans are counting on excitement and energy (from the tea party, for example) to take the nominee into the November election, and they seem to be looking for a superhero to take on Obama.
There are no superhero Republican candidates in this field.
But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Remember what candidate-worship looks like?
And what it leads to?
Still, as we learned, even the most mindlessly-worshipped politician can be taken down a peg:
So perhaps there is still a chance that Republicans will content themselves with mere mortals, and yet choose one who has at least one superpower: the ability to take President Obama’s record and continue to make it THE ISSUE of the 2012 campaign. At the risk of sounding like a line out of a superhero comic, it may be our only hope.
Felicia Cravens walked away from her accounting degree over a decade ago to become a stay-at-home mom. Since then, she has filled her “spare time” teaching drama in an after-school program and working in conservative politics. She founded the Houston Tea Party Society in 2009, serves as a frequent media contact, and trains and equips people new to the political process. She can be found on Facebook and Google+, and on Twitter as @somethingfishie. She can also be found at LinkedIn.