Flirting With The Fringe: Stop Pretending Michele Bachmann Can Win The Iowa Caucuses
Ever since Michele Bachmann announced her intention to form a presidential exploratory committee, pundits, including Ed Kilgore at TNR, have been making the case that she has a good chance at winning Iowa—or if not winning, then doing well enough to hurt one or more of the stronger candidates. Republican caucus-goers in the state, they argue, are at least half-nuts, and therefore may well support Bachmann or some other candidate who doesn’t pass conventional standards of seriousness.
Certainly, Iowa Republicans are very socially conservative, more so than in some other states. But a closer look at Iowa caucus history shows that their history of supporting fringe candidates is not quite what it’s made out to be.
The case that “wacky Iowans will do anything” essentially comes down to interpreting a handful of episodes from recent decades. The first occurred in 1988 when Pat Robertson stunned everyone by finishing second with 25 percent of the vote, besting George H.W. Bush and Jack Kemp. But Pat Robertson was a social conservative—and no ordinary one at that—in a year in which the frontrunner (George H.W. Bush) was not. Moreover, that example is now over two decades old, and since then Iowa Republicans have had no trouble voting for mainstream candidates with conventional credentials, as long as those candidates—Lamar Alexander, George W. Bush—had solid records on social conservative issues.
That leaves us with three other supposed episodes of Iowan craziness: Pat Buchanan’s second place finish in 1996; the surprising showings of fringe candidates Alan Keyes and Gary Bauer in 2000; and Huckabee’s victory in 2008. Closer inspection of each of these episodes, however, reveals that none were quite as crazy as they appear.
Take Pat Buchannan in 1996. As odd as it might seem now, he was almost a serious candidate at the time: He had already run for president in 1992, and while he was never quite a plausible nominee, he did have some serious claim as a repeat candidate that Bachmann doesn’t have now. Nor was Buchannan’s success in Iowa especially unique. In fact, he proceeded to win the primary in New Hampshire, and wound up beating his Iowa percentage in sixteen states (several of those, to be sure, were after other candidates had dropped out, so the higher percentage was less impressive).
As for Alan Keyes and Gary Bauer in 2000, they certainly were fringe candidates—even more so than Bachmann—and their combined 25 percent was both impressive and anomalous; they combined for only 7 percent in New Hampshire, although Keyes did have some stronger showings in late states after the nomination was decided. However, it’s also the case that they didn’t have a whole lot of competition. John McCain campaigned in Iowa in 2000, but he did not fully commit to the state, and the only other candidate they beat was Orrin Hatch, who hardly ran any campaign at all. And even with their totals combined, Keyes and Bauer finished well back of Steve Forbes for second, and even further behind winner George W. Bush.
Finally, there’s Huckabee’s surprise victory in 2008; but the extent to which his candidacy was in any way similar to Bachmann’s has been vastly overstated. Yes, he won with the support of social issues voters. But Huckabee wasn’t some backbench member of the House; he was a recent former governor, and, in that sense, just as legitimate a candidate as Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton.
Compared to Huckabee, Michele Bachmann is an altogether different sort of candidate. Since 1972, no candidate in any way similar has run a competitive campaign. The only three members of the House who had plausible shots at winning—Mo Udall in 1976, Jack Kemp in 1988, and Dick Gephardt in 1988 and 2004—were all senior members with leadership positions, legislative accomplishments, or both. No, Bachmann belongs in a different category, with other sideshow acts who may attract attention but have no real chance to win the nomination. And even in allegedly crazy Iowa, those candidates rarely impress on caucus day.
By: Jonathan Bernstein, The New Republic, April 16, 2011
April 17, 2011 - Posted by raemd95 | Conservatives, Democracy, Democrats, Elections, Exploratory Presidential Committees, GOP, Governors, Ideology, Independents, Iowa Caucuses, Journalists, Media, Politics, Pundits, Republicans, Right Wing, States, Swing Voters, Teaparty, Voters | Alan Keyes, Gary Bauer, Iowa, Iowa Republicans, John McCain, Lamar Alexander, Michele Bachmann, Mike Huckabee, Orrin Hatch, Pat Buchanan, Pat Robertson, Social Issues, Steve Forbes
No comments yet.
Share This Blog
- “Paul Ryan’s Poor Memory Fails Him Again”: Ryan Just Doesn’t Remember Current Events Very Well November 22, 2014
- “Artificial Republican Unity On Immigration”: There’s No Reason For Progressives To Be Defensive About Obama’s Actions November 22, 2014
- “A Party In Search Of A Policy”: Republicans Don’t Seem To Want To Do Anything Except Stop Obama From Solving Problems November 22, 2014
- "It Isn’t About The Substance At All": Why Republicans Are So Mad About Obama's Immigration Order
- "It’s Not Just Ferguson – It’s All Of America": The Drift Towards Police As Warrior Cops Instead Of Guardians Of The People
- "Changing The Way The Votes Are Counted": Republicans Revive Bold Scheme To Rig Presidential Elections
- "We Were Strangers Once Too": President Obama Announces Executive Order For Deportation Relief
- "Get A Grip": GOP Senator Warns Of 'Anarchy' And 'Violence'
Affordable Care Act Bain Capital Bush Tax Cuts Citizens United Congress Conservatives Contraception Corporations Debt Ceiling Democracy Democrats Economic inequality Economy Eric Cantor Florida Foreign Policy Fox News George W. Bush GOP Government Shutdown Gun Control Gun Violence Health Exchanges Health Insurance House Republicans Immigration Reform Iraq War Jobs John Boehner John McCain Koch Brothers Lindsey Graham Low Income Marco Rubio media Medicaid Medicare Middle Class Minorities Mitch McConnell Mitt Romney National Rifle Association Newt Gingrich NRA ObamaCare Paul Ryan Politics Poor and Low Income Poverty Racism Rand Paul Reproductive Rights Republicans Rick Perry Rick Santorum Right Wing Ronald Reagan Rush Limbaugh SCOTUS Senate Social Security Spending Cuts Tax cuts Taxes Tax Revenue Tea-party Teaparty Ted Cruz Texas Unemployment uninsured Voter Suppression Wall Street War on Women Wealthy
- “Paul Ryan’s Poor Memory Fails Him Again”: Ryan Just Doesn’t Remember Current Events Very Well wp.me/pIVTG-9xJ----------- 1 hour ago
- RT @souzi54: @bacygirl @raemd95 its not personal...its business...w/ some hate thrown in...vast right wing conspiracy----------- 1 hour ago
- RT @souzi54: @bacygirl @raemd95 its time for an ethics investigation of boehner issa and their connections to the koch bros----------- 1 hour ago
- RT @WhatMeWorry44: @ArthurA_P @raemd95 Prepare for an entire Congress of stupid. The GOP is run by plutocrats who need stupid and are willi…----------- 1 hour ago
- “Artificial Republican Unity On Immigration”: There’s No Reason For Progressives To Be Defensive About… wp.me/pIVTG-9xL----------- 1 hour ago
- 167,499 hits