Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tim Pawlenty - Early Take

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty at one time looked like a very good general election candidate...on paper. He set up a strong primary campaign organization in Iowa, was seen as a conservative, but effective governor of a liberal-leaning state, and was generally drama-free with blue-collar roots.

What has happened to cause his campaign to now be in guarded condition if not life support?

From my perspective, Pawlenty has several flaws/issues that are undermining his campaign.

1. He is not terribly well known or charismatic. Being "drama-free" can come across as boring or technocratic. A successful candidate needs some gravitas to energize supporters.

2. Michele Bachmann. She has energized social conservatives and has taken the momentum in the early state of Iowa where Pawlenty had hoped to springboard himself to the Republican nomination.

3. Poor early debate performance. Pawlenty hurt himself in the early going with last month's wishy-washy performance on the debate stage. He had a chance to go after Romney on healthcare and failed to do so. Minnesota nice did not serve him well.

These issues are creating some doubt over his long-term viability. This hurts him among donors, groups from whom early support is key, and creates the perception that he cannot win over the long haul.

A major test of Pawlenty's strength will be the Ames Iowa straw poll in August. He needs to do well to maintain his credibility going into the fall.

The good news for Pawlenty is that he can still be a credible alternative who may do well in a general election. Pragmatic primary voters faced with the prospects of a too conservative Bachman or a damaged Romney being the party nominee may well give "T-Paw" a second look.

Next week: second tier candidates Gingrich, Cain, and Huntsman - and why they have little chance of lasting. And remember, we still have to look at undeclared candidates Rick Perry and Sarah Palin!


The Prof

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Michele Bachmann - Early Take

Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann seems to have taken the number two spot among Republican primary voters in the early polling. Following her mid June announcement, Bachmann has been on a meteoric rise in native (until age 12) state Iowa and among many tea party adherents, Evangelical Christians, and social conservatives.

Pros: Ability to connect with party faithful, appeal in socially conservative Iowa and South Carolina (both early states), seen as outsider in contrast to mainstream Mitt Romney, loyalty of followers, female candidate in a white male dominated field, fund raising rapidly, support from conservative talk radio.

Cons: Extremely gaffe-prone, extreme conservatism may not play well outside of socially conservative states, lack of executive experience, not well-regarded in the House, reminds some of Sarah Palin, has made a number of statements in the past that some would consider to be out of the political mainstream.

Odds for the nomination: Bachmann really needs a win in Iowa and is placing a lot of effort in doing just that. Follow that with a strong showing in NH, wins in the deep South, and then slugging it out for the nomination. Her best chance is to make this a two-person race between her and Romney (with Huntsman splitting the moderate vote with Romney) and to count on tea party and an insurgent wave. However, my bet (with six months to go, very much out on a limb) is that she will fizzle in the end done in by numerous gaffes and her low chances of electability against President Obama.

However, I can certainly see her being on the VP short-list of a Romney or Pawlenty especially if there a need to unify the party.

Next Up - Tim Pawlenty.


The Prof