ChrisWeigant.com

Taking Rick Perry Seriously

[ Posted Wednesday, August 24th, 2011 – 17:12 PDT ]

To most Democrats, Texas Governor Rick Perry's candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination has so far seemed somewhat of a joke. At least until now, that is. The Lefty blogosphere has indeed been having a field day ever since Perry announced, over some of Perry's off-the-cuff comments, both past and present. Today's news, however, should go a long way towards forcing Democrats to start taking Perry seriously -- because according to multiple opinion polls (the first national polls released after Perry jumped in the race), Mitt Romney is no longer the "frontrunner." Perry is. By double-digits. [Poll data is available from both Real Clear Politics and the Huffington Post, if you're interested.]

This should force pundits across the political spectrum to re-evaluate Rick Perry's campaign. Instead of seeing through the lens of: "what my circle of friends thinks of Rick Perry's gaffes," this time the pundits should focus a little more closely on: "what Republican primary voters think of Rick Perry as a candidate." Because, so far, they seem to be flocking to support Perry -- to the visible detriment of Mitt Romney's standing in the polls.

The lesson Democrats never seem to learn is that what they look for in a presidential candidate is just not the same as what Republican primary voters look for. While Democrats were filled with mirth over Perry's comments (on all sorts of subjects) in the past few weeks, they didn't notice that not many people over in the Republican base were laughing. "How can a person be taken seriously as a presidential candidate who says/believes X?" was the refrain from the Left, while over on the Right, many voters were actually just fine with Perry's comments. Perhaps checking some opinion polling among the American public at large, on the subjects of evolution and global warming (for instance) might help.

Of course, this all may be a momentary bump for Perry. He's the newest candidate on the Republican scene, and we've had quite a few of these "flavor of the month" poll bumps already this year. Perhaps his numbers will fade, and Mitt Romney will once again re-emerge as the one leading the pack of contenders. Then again, perhaps not. About the only sure bet right now is to lay money on Romney soon emerging from his self-imposed shell, and start actually campaigning in the next few weeks.

Those who knew Perry in Texas have said all along that he's going to be a force to be reckoned with in the Republican race. Today, people are beginning to give this opinion a bit more weight. Not only has Perry won every political race he's ever run in, he is also from the largest state in the Republican electoral firmament, and he commands a base of wealthy fundraisers the other Republican candidates must envy. Being from Texas might give pause to independent voters in the general election, but it is a major plus for Perry in terms of fundraising and in terms of being the favorite throughout the entire South during primary season.

Perry could easily win two of the first four primary races -- Iowa and South Carolina. He's probably not going to do as well in New Hampshire, but he may be the favorite heading into Florida. From Super Tuesday on, it's hard not to see how Perry could cut a path to victory.

Perry's biggest drawback is that he does make some Republicans nervous. Some of these Republicans are quite powerful, either behind the scenes in the party machinery or out in public in the Republican commentariat. They may all wind up biting the bullet and falling in behind Romney before this whole thing is over. The real test is whether their influence in today's Tea-Party-infused Republican voter base is as powerful as it used to be -- which is truly an open question, at this point.

Of course, none of this even begins to address what Perry's chances against Barack Obama would be next year, but this may be immaterial to his chances of winning the Republican nomination. Some voters always wind up voting on the "electability" question, but that may not be as true this time around as it once was. The voters who bear the closest scrutiny, on this question, are likely the (fairly moderate) suburban Republican voters who may be concerned with how some of the things Perry says are going to stack up next to Barack Obama's campaign rhetoric.

Some Democrats may even now be viewing Perry's rise in the polls with glee. The reasoning behind this will be: "Let's hope they pick their worst candidate, to improve our guy's chances!" This, however, can be quite dangerous. OK, sure, in the midterms Republicans blew several quite-winnable Senate races (see: Christine O'Donnell, Sharron Angle) by nominating some pretty far-out Tea Party candidates. But this sort of wishful thinking also has a long history of backfiring.

Remember all the Democrats who greeted the nomination of George W. Bush with joy? Remember how easy that Texas buffoon was going to be for Al Gore to crush? Dubya spent two terms in the White House. Older Democrats will also remember the relief which the Carter White House greeted the news that the Republicans had nominated that absolute joke of a candidate, Ronald Reagan. He also served two terms (three, if you count George H.W. Bush's term as a Reaganite victory lap). Be careful what you wish for, in other words.

But no matter how Democrats (or Republicans, for that matter) are currently viewing Rick Perry's candidacy, one thing is for certain. From now on, Rick Perry is going to be taken a lot more seriously. By everyone.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Cross-posted at Business Insider
Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

15 Comments on “Taking Rick Perry Seriously”

  1. [1] 
    Osborne Ink wrote:

    If nothing else, the news today that Sarah Palin polls in single digits says the field is set. Perry and Romney can duke it out, with Paul and Bachmann there to spice things up with nutty goodness. The lone sane Republican, Jon Huntsman, provides a sad contrast. He reminds me a lot of Scott Carrier, the last Republican for whom I could actually vote. That was way back in 2008, BTW.

  2. [2] 
    Michale wrote:

    Today's news, however, should go a long way towards forcing Democrats to start taking Perry seriously -- because according to multiple opinion polls (the first national polls released after Perry jumped in the race),

    Not to mention the polls that have Perry, Romney *AND* Bachmann actually beating Obama, if the election were held today...

    The lone sane Republican, Jon Huntsman, provides a sad contrast.

    And ANOTHER Huntsman fan...

    I have to say, an Republican that can infuse admiration in the most die-hard of Obama fans deserves a look-see...

    Unfortunately, there are a couple issues with Huntsman that are a deal-breaker for me.

    Michale.....

  3. [3] 
    Michale wrote:

    Regarding a Perry v Obama matchup..

    http://tinyurl.com/42ugjfd

    That picture says it all for me..

    Michale.....

  4. [4] 
    Michale wrote:

    It's rather ironic for Obama.

    Last election, he couldn't run on his record because he didn't have one... It was all "hope" and "change"...

    This election, he STILL can't run on his record because it's such a bad one... And I don't think that the "hopey changey" thing is going to fly this time around...

    Atropos rearing her hot blonde head again.. :D

    Michale.....

  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    Atropos rearing her hot blonde head again.. :D

    http://images4.fanpop.com/image/polls/691000/691975_1303071149422_full.jpg
    Atropos

    :D

    Michale.....

  6. [6] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Perry is not surprising. He's the only person capable of appealing to both the religious right and the economic right.

    Many conservative Christians don't consider Mormonism to be a Christian religion. Ironically enough, this means that folks like Romney or Huntsman have their best shot in liberal states or Utah.

    Sad, but true ...
    -David

  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:

    Looks like Labor is ditching the Democratic Party...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SH_QaqhueZw&feature=player_embedded

    They realize what Independents and NPAs found out a while ago..

    The ship is sinking...

    Michale.....

  8. [8] 
    Michale wrote:

    “I’ve always felt it my responsibility as a citizen to take a look at the issues, examine the candidates, and pick the person that I think is best qualified for the office of the president in that year. And not just solely on the basis of party affiliation,”
    -Colin Powell

    Now THERE is a real patriotic American..

    THAT is how it always should be...

    Michale.....

  9. [9] 
    Michale wrote:
  10. [10] 
    dsws wrote:

    Today's news, however, should go a long way towards forcing Democrats to start taking Perry seriously

    I would like to point out that Perry was on my short list a month and a half ago:

    http://www.chrisweigant.com/2011/06/13/the-2012-republican-presidential-field/#comment-14734

    How secessionist is he, anyway?

    (Answer: as far as I can tell, he's only advocated secession twice, only with plausible deniability, and only as a response to any election the Democrats win. (When Democrats win an election, it's called "Washington DC not listening to the voice of the people" in Republican-speak.) By no coincidence, secession was done in response to an election before. At least he knows his history.)

  11. [11] 
    Michale wrote:

    . (When Democrats win an election, it's called "Washington DC not listening to the voice of the people" in Republican-speak.)

    There IS ample evidence to support such a translation, don'tcha know.. :D

    Michale.....

  12. [12] 
    dsws wrote:

    You mean like when more eligible voters in Florida try to cast ballots for one candidate, but five unelected power brokers in DC hand the election to the other? That kind of "Washington DC not listening to the voice of the people"?

  13. [13] 
    Michale wrote:

    You mean like when more eligible voters in Florida try to cast ballots for one candidate, but five unelected power brokers in DC hand the election to the other? That kind of "Washington DC not listening to the voice of the people"?

    You don't change the rules in mid-election just because you don't like the outcome the rules produced...

    Our system is an electoral system, not a popular vote system..

    If you don't like it, work to change it..

    BEFORE.. Or AFTER..

    But never DURING...

    Michale...

  14. [14] 
    dsws wrote:

    Our system is an electoral system, not a popular vote system.

    Trouble reading much? I said more eligible voters in Florida.

  15. [15] 
    Michale wrote:

    Trouble reading much? I said more eligible voters in Florida.

    Ahh I did miss that.

    So, what you are saying is that Gore won the popular here vote in FL..

    And your evidence for this is...... What exactly??

    Michale.....

Comments for this article are closed.
[Powered by WordPress]