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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The VERY Wide Open 2012 GOP Presidential Race

Despite the persistent myth that the Republican rank-and-file are all patiently waiting to be told by Great Big Grownups which leader to follow in 2012 (you know, a Great Big Grownup candidate like Mitch Daniels or Haley Barbour or John Thune) there’s remarkably little evidence that conservative activists, the true rulers of the GOP, are converging behind any particular candidate.
For a good indication of the landscape, check out the reader poll recently conducted at the highy influential right-wing site RedState. It was set up like a sports playoff, with sixteen possible candidates being matched up one-on-one in a series of rounds. It’s interesting that three of the four candidates with regular double-digit support levels in state and national polls got knocked out in the first round: Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich. The current DC Establishment heartthrob, John Thune, was also retired in the first round, by none other than John Bolton (!). The poll ultimately came down to Sarah Palin and radio talk host Herman Cain, with the latter narrowly winning among more than 18,000 ballots cast.
Now I don’t mean to suggest this result means a whole lot in itself, as is made obvious by the stellar showing of Cain, who is not that well known outside Georgia (significantly, Erickson’s home state). But this is a pretty good indicator that serious activists are still looking around for a champion, and may not agree on one before the actual contest gets underway.

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