By Felicia Cravens, USDR Contributor
There’s much talk about the poll numbers in the Republican field for the presidential nomination. Poll after poll becomes both fodder for discussion and the basis of spin from each campaign. And the number of debates and straw polls in play provide fresh opportunities all the time to launch new salvos from the spin machines.
And though you can probably count on the debate schedule to stay the same, you can’t say that about the primary schedule. States are rushing to the front of the line, attempting to have their primaries and caucuses as early as possible, so that they have some influence in the choice of a candidate. There’s even speculation that these contests may spill back into December of this year.
It’s certainly understandable that states would be scrambling to hold their primaries as early as possible. After all, most of the candidates are still in the race in the early states, and voters still have a wide range of candidates to choose from. Contrast that with later states like California, which in spite of having the most electoral votes has little or no effect on the choice of candidates.
But, as Dave Gaultier asks, do you know who benefits from all this?
Just this week, Chris Christie endorsed Mitt Romney. Rush Limbaugh has been analyzing this on air, speculating that the Republican establishment is now moving heaven and earth to make Romney the candidate as early as possible. In light of Perry’s stratospheric rise, his recent debate performances and Cain’s subsequent win in the Florida straw poll accompanied by his rise in the polls, the establishment (the thinking goes) has to move quickly and solidify Romney’s position as the frontrunner before any of the other candidates can get their feet under them.
Every candidate has good and bad to deal with in their record. For example:
- Newt Gingrich – the most solutions-focused, experienced and media-challenging candidate, but has personal issues as well as an unwise endorsement in a recent New York congressional race
- Herman Cain – says things people have longed to hear, and yet his 9-9-9 plan is receiving serious criticism and his lack of elected office experience counts against him
- Rick Perry – presides over Texas’s good economic record, but has immigration and other challenges to deal with
But rather than trying to decide on a candidate this early and leaving Obama and the media to pick the GOP nominee apart for almost a year, wouldn’t it be better to spend that time talking about the issues? Wouldn’t it be better to spend the time discussing how each of the candidates represents part of the broad coalition that makes up the real Republican voter base? A true contest would allow for input from people all over the country, not a few regional challenges in a part of the country more favorable to one candidate. A Republican candidate chosen after an extended (rather than condensed) primary process would more likely hold together the conservative elements that will be voting in November, and avoid the frustration felt by so many voters in late-primary states.
The states that are leap-frogging the presidential primary process may secure their influence over the choice of candidate, but may ultimately shrink the field prematurely. The establishment may think they are doing something good, but it bears remembering that in 2008, Romney couldn’t even beat McCain, and dropped out of the field in February.
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.