Nov 04 2011

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The GOP Shouldn’t Despair…Just Yet

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No One Saw Him Coming Either

Relax, fellow Republicans. It will get better.

Yes, for now, it looks bleak.

The leader of the GOP presidential pack is someone who didn’t know China has nuclear weapons, and can’t explain his catch phrase tax plan with any authority or confidence.

The number two in the race is only consistent in his inconsistency with any range of consequential policy issues.

And until Newt Gingrich took over the number three position in the latest Rasmussen poll, the bronze was going to a congressman who believes a border fence with Mexico would be designed to keep Americans in.

This is the best we have to offer America?

But as much as media-driven narrative strives to bring order – and a definable horse-race to the nominating process – predictions and certainties have a way of getting turned on their head when people actually vote.

For inspiration, turn to 1984.

In November 1983, former astronaut John Glenn was running second to Walter Mondale nationally.

In all important Iowa, Glenn was in second with 19 percent of the vote.

Glenn was followed by George McGovern and Jesse Jackson, who has seven percent apiece, then Senator Alan Cranston from California and Governor Reuben Askew, both with three percent.

In New Hampshire, it was much the same.  A September poll showed Mondale at 40 percent and Glenn at 22 percent, with the rest following behind.

The media had its coveted, two-person horse race.

But that’s not how it turned out.

When Iowans caucused in 1984, Senator Gary Hart – who had been an asterisk in the November Iowa polls, rocketed to a second place finish, with 17 percent of the vote to Mondale’s 49 percent (remembering that Mondale hailed from Minnesota, which borders Iowa).

In New Hampshire, Hart beat Mondale convincingly, 37-28 percent. Glenn came in a distant third at 12 percent and soon dropped out of the race.

Hart, who know one had heard of in 1983, went on to win 22 states and six and a half million votes in the Democratic primary, and very nearly took the nomination from the establishment former Vice President.

In a Republican race today where there is no former national office holder, or the heir to a family tradition, thus all bets are off.

That is a useful reminder for the GOP now, and perhaps a talisman to the one superbly qualified candidate -currently given up for dead – who would not only pose a serious challenge to President Obama, but who would have the the skills to govern if elected; Governor Jon Huntsman.

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