Run, Mitt, Run!

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James Hanley

James Hanley is a two-bit college professor who'd rather be canoeing.

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  1. Avatar Kolohe says:

    “What other important characteristic could there be that could enable Romney to buck the historical trend?”

    Penny Pritzker has to step down for some reason, Romney is chosen to replace her (for some reason), then (again for some reason) he is picked to be the 2016 Roger Tribbey, and then a comet hits the Capitol that evening.Report

  2. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    William Henry Harrison: lost to Van Buren in 1836, beat him in 1840. And promptly died, being too dumb to come in out of the rain.

    Nixon: lost in 1960, won in 1968 and 1972. And had to resign in disgrace.

    So it’s possible to win, but not necessarily advisable.Report

  3. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Also, I don’t understand the section that starts “As a caveat,”. I see that “and 1968” should follow “1948”, but how could Stevenson have been affected by either of them? There was no third-party candidate of any importance in either of his elections.Report

  4. I think the sample set is too small (and too distant) to draw broad conclusions. I don’t like Mitt’s odds in 2016, but I think he actually has better odds than most or all of the names I hear.

    That, of course, says as much about the GOP field as it does Romney.

    It’ll depend in part on how Obama looks in 2016, even though he won’t be on the ballot of course.Report

  5. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    FWIW, if it is Clinton I think he would have a puncher’s chance. And if the economy isn’t great, more than that.

    Clinton isn’t “warm and fuzzy” likable the way her husband, Reagan and Obama were. I could see a scenario where people’s perception of Mitt of being cold and fake-folksy could be negated by their perception of Clinton as being the same.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      Strong words coming from the guy that said very early on that Romney would never win!

      I think there is some truth to this. That Romney is particularly well-suited to run against Clinton, at least compared to other Republicans running against Clinton and other Democrats running against Romney. I think the opposite is true of Chris Christie (who I think is a weaker candidate against HRC in particular than he would be against other nominees). The juxtaposition matters.

      Additionally, I thought this made some good points about the problems Mitt had last time around not necessarily carrying over. Relating to my previous comment, we have so little history with this sort of thing, it’s really hard to draw much in the way of conclusions as to the degree to which Romney will be insulated from previous criticisms as “old news” or whether they will reverberate. Whether candidates learn from their post-primary mistakes.

      On the other hand, what I’ve heard about Romney’s rationale, and his criticism of Jeb Bush, inspires a lack of confidence that he won’t repeat every mistake he made last time. Jeb Bush can really throw a wrench into things.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Will Truman says:

        “Strong words coming from the guy that said very early on that Romney would never win!”

        Against Obama. As I said above, people generally tend to like Obama and they don’t tend to like Romney. Clinton will not have that advantage.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Will Truman says:

        I will also restate here what I maintained all of 2012: That Mitt would actually make a fine President.

        If he runs, I will be rooting for him to get the nomination.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman says:

        Since Mitt has shown no personal interest in foreign policy, and last time around his FP advisers were people like Dan Senor and John Bolton, I think he’d make a terrible president.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Will Truman says:

        Meh. This list is right wing (and not without crooks), but fairly middle of the road as far as right wing foreign policy thought goes. (i.e. it isn’t all Boltoned up)Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman says:

        The list looks like GW Bush’s third term. The fact that the most reckless, irresponsible foreign policy in US history is now considered middle of the road gives me no comfort.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Will Truman says:

        Sadly, few voters make their presidential selection based primarily on foreign policy.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman says:

        How about the fact that you could never sit down and have a beer with him?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

        The list looks like GW Bush’s third term

        Fifth.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Will Truman says:

        I think the guy who allowed a foreign army to torch the White House wins the prize for the most reckless irresponsible foreign policy in US History. I’ll also stack the ~3500 combat US dead in OIF and see them overshadowed by 10x that amount in Vietnam.

        Bush’s foreign policy error was that one thing – though, yes, it was a doozy. His Afghanistan policy is what Gore would have done (and what Obama did), he was good on Africa, neutral on South America (and not much different than Obama), and managed the continued rise of China better than his predecessors did with Germany and Japan at their equivalent point of global power ascendancy.Report

      • Avatar gingergene in reply to Will Truman says:

        @Mike Schilling
        Gene Weingarten, a WaPo humor columnist*, has a theory that the coolest candidate always wins. I think this only applies to the general election, where the electorate is more politically uninterested, and not so much to primaries. This “cool” factor is similar, I think, to the “have a beer with” qualification.

        *Take whatever amount of salt is deemed necessary to evaluate the value of a humor columnist’s theories. Weingarten is pretty politically informed and unabashedly liberal in his views.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

        40% of the population will vote R, no matter what.
        40% of the population will vote D, no matter what.
        2% of the population will vote 3rd Party, no matter what.

        The 18% of the population that are swing voters will be, by definition, the ones who can be swayed one way or the other.

        It’s not terribly surprising that a huge chunk of them will be swayable for dumb reasons (at the same time that another huge chunk will be swayable for good ones).Report

    • False equivalence!

      (Not that I really believe it. I just wanted to be the first to say it. 🙂 )Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      @tod-kelly

      Against Clinton?

      Interesting…I think he might have more of a chance against Warren interestingly. I like Warren but for some reason I think it might be label to do a smear campaign against her as being shrill and out of touch but maybe not, she did win against alleged regular guy Scott Brown. I think there is some kind of minefield in calling Clinton shrill because of her more professional manner.

      Now a Romney v. Webb or Sherrod Brown match could be really interesting.Report

    • Avatar Zac in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      I can’t remember if it was someone here that said it, but I recall someone saying a year or so back that the figure HRC most reminded them of is Newt Gingrich, because they seem to share a particular inability to fully mask their contempt for having to interact with the “plebs”, as it were.

      Honestly, if it comes down to a HRC vs Bush or Romney fight, I think I’ll just abstain from voting for president for that cycle.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Zac says:

        @zac

        I’ve never gotten this impression from Hillary Clinton. She might have lots of faults including putting every position through a series of pollsters and a pathological fear of speaking off the cuff but I never saw her as being Gringrich-esque.

        Then again, it seems like there is going to be a person who issues this kind of critique against every politician.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Zac says:

        “Your likable enough Hillary, no doubt about it”

        -Barrack ObamaReport

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Zac says:

        “Enough to come in second, in fact — much better than third or fourth.”Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Zac says:

        I never found GWB in the least likeable. Nor Palin, and for similar reasons: their phony “I’m just folks” act grated.Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Zac says:

        To the extent that HRC gave the impression of not wanting to put up with anyone, it seemed to me to be very focused on not wanting to put on the “first lady show”, and especially the sense that she still had to put on that show when she was running to be President of the United States.

        I just don’t see her facing those kinds of demands in a 2016 run.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Zac says:

        zac,
        no, no and no.
        people LIKE working for Hillary.
        The only person who ever liked working for Gingrich was the troll, who was there simply to point out when Gingrich was wrong, because it was hilarious.Report

    • My opinion — and I’m terrible at these things — is that the behavior of the 114th Congress will have a lot more impact on the outcome than the actual candidates for President. The Congressional Republicans in particular. If they give a loose cannon impression, the Republican candidate looses big in the Electoral College; if not, then it can be close one way or the other.Report

      • Almost never, in American history, as the behavior of Congress been a significant issue in presidential elections. I say almost never, rather than absolutely never, because there have been exceptions. But mainly, presidential elections move along lines defined by their own issues, under the propulsion of the personalities of the candidates.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Michael Cain says:

        Well, Truman famously campaigned against the “do nothing” Congress, but I have to question whether that really was a factor or just a factoid. Journalists love to pounce on things like that and hold them up as the factor, because it makes a good story, but presidential scholars who look more closely at these things are often critical of the journalistic view. I’ll admit that I don’t know the “truth” in Truman’s case, but given what I do know about presidential and electoral dynamics, I’m really dubious.

        YMMV.Report

      • Oh, I’d agree that it’s unusual. And didn’t I say that I’m bad at this? American voters may never agree with the thought “the Congressional Republicans are so crazy someone has to be there to stop them.” Certainly they’ll disagree with me over what kind of behavior crosses over into that territory. My perception is that Boehner and McConnell both think it’s possible and want to avoid it.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Michael Cain says:

        @michael-cain

        Remember, American voters tend to distinguish between Congress and their own member(s) of Congress, especially when their own Representative comes back to the District and rails against Congress.Report

      • @james-hanley , that’s part of what I’m suggesting. An independent, in particular, might be perfectly willing to vote for a Republican member of Congress from his own district and/or state, but at the same time feel that a Democratic President is necessary to keep Congress as a whole in check. To pick particular examples, the continuous rants by Iowa’s Steve King or Texas’ Ted Cruz might not affect the Congressional races in Pennsylvania — but could have a significant impact on the Presidential race there.

        I may be overreacting. I have conservative acquaintances — not here — with the view that November’s Congressional elections leave them the Oval Office away from rapidly unwinding 80 years of socialism and 100 years of regulatory overreach.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Michael Cain says:

        Not to mention 150 years of slavery being illegal.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Michael Cain says:

        Michael,

        It’s a bit out of my area, but I briefly knew an elections studies guy who focused on that type of voting, and his claim was that there’s actually very little of it. Unfortunately I don’t remember his arguments. I’d look it up, but the new term starts at 8 am tomorrow, I just finished that syllabus, and I have a conference paper to write for next Saturday. 😉Report

      • Well, at least one of them is still ready to fight over a state’s rightpower to leave the Union.Report

      • And there’s that summary of the post-zombie apocalypse constitutional convention class that’s owed…Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Michael Cain says:

        @james-hanley

        I think what really helped Truman in 1948 was:

        1. His veto of Taft-Hartley earned him the support of Labor.

        2. His support for Israel brought out the Jewish vote.

        3. The 1949 Democratic convention was just enough to bring out a bigger percentage of the black vote.Report

      • …and his claim was that there’s actually very little of it.

        I believe that — normally. I also believe that we’re seeing a once-in-a-generation situation just now.Report

  6. Avatar Damon says:

    Dear god please no.Report

  7. Avatar zic says:

    There’s a pretty deep bench of candidates who failed to win the nomination re-running, isn’t there? Reagan ran in ’68 and ’76 before winning the nomination and then office in ’80. I don’t know if that history merits consideration, but repeat attempts at winning the presidency does seem to be pretty common.Report

  8. There’s another way to read this history, with due regard for James’s point later in the OP about history holding only so long as it holds.

    In Bryan’s and Stevenson’s second goes at it, they were running against an incumbent with the advantages of incumbency. And in each case, their opponents represented parties that had gotten credit for significant accomplishments. In 1900, the US had already started coming out of the 1890s recession. In 1956, the Korean War had ended the economy was rosier than in 1952 (whether the latter was actually felt as such I’m not sure).

    Now take Nixon: In 1968, he didn’t run against an incumbent. He did have the advantage of George Wallace’s 3rd party, which probably siphoned votes Humphrey might have won.

    Dewey is a weird case because the times were weird, and perhaps a few contingencies tipped the balance. What if the GOP hadn’t won Congress in 1946, or won only 1 house? Truman would not have been able to convene the special session to call the GOP’s bluff on their legislative program, and Truman likely would not have been able to capitalize on labor’s backlash against Taft-Hartley. Also, I’ve heard that Dewey thought he had the victory in the bag. If that rumor is true, then if he had campaigned harder, then maybe he could have pulled through.

    How this might work for a 2016 Romney campaign, I don’t know. I do think that if we had to have a Republican, I’d prefer Romney over Jeb. But that’s just me.Report

  9. Avatar Murali says:

    Dear God, it just turned 2015. Lets not start until maybe September.Report

  10. Avatar ScarletNumbers says:

    I forgot Nixon… I cannot explain this bizarre oversight, and will not attempt to hide my embarrassing lapse by rewriting to include him.

    In your defense, he skipped an election in between.Report

    • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to ScarletNumbers says:

      I like that concept of important characteristics of the problem changing. More than anything else, it’s worth noting that the 1960 election was essentially tied.

      I suspect that the real reason most subsequent runs at the white house have been less than successful is that nobody likes voting for a loser. Nixon wouldn’t have been seen as a loser because he very nearly won and his loss was to someone who by 1968 was a sainted martyr.

      If any other candidate in recent memory would have had a chance, I think it would be Al Gore. He hadn’t really lost in 2000, and his loss was to someone who by 2008 was a lying villain who might have cheated.

      Romney, though, lost fair and square–to someone who isn’t particularly popular these days. I don’t think there’s a narrative there that makes him not seem like an untouchable loser.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to ScarletNumbers says:

      Also in the defense of the theory that ‘renominated people don’t win’, in 1968 a) the moderately popular incumbent candidate that could have won dropped out so that the assumed Democrat frontrunner could have a clear shot, b) said assumed frontrunner was then assassinated, and b) the Democrats, instead of picking that frontrunner’s running mate, were somehow convinced to select someone *who had not won a single Democratic primary*.

      In conclusion, Nixon didn’t win that election so much as the Democrats lost it. Either Johnson, if he hadn’t dropped out, or Robert Kennedy, if he hadn’t been killed, would have won. Hell, Eugene McCarthy, RFK’s VP pick, might have won.

      As Will Truman said, the sample size here is probably too small. I think a good statement here would be: Almost no one wins a party nomination twice, and, of those few who do, they usually have not gotten any *better* as a candidate…although the other party might have produced a *worse* candidate for them to run against. Nixon didn’t get any better, he just faced Humphrey instead of Kennedy.

      Romney will be the same person in 2016. He’ll have exactly the same weaknesses as before.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to DavidTC says:

        @davidtc

        Humphrey came awfully close to winning the popular vote. He was only 500,000 votes shy of Nixon. He even won Texas (but managed to lose California).

        It was a shame really. Humphrey was probably the most liberal person to ever win the Democratic nomination to the Presidency.Report

      • Avatar Ken S in reply to DavidTC says:

        a) the moderately popular incumbent candidate that could have won dropped out so that the assumed Democrat frontrunner could have a clear shot, b) said assumed frontrunner was then assassinated, and b) the Democrats, instead of picking that frontrunner’s running mate, were somehow convinced to select someone *who had not won a single Democratic primary*.

        Completely wrong. Johnson didn’t drop out in favor of Bobby Kennedy — Johnson despised Bobby Kennedy. Gene McCarthy was not Kennedy’s running mate — they were opponents in the California primary that occurred on the day Kennedy was murdered, and they disliked one another, too. Finally, McCarthy had as much chance of winning the presidency in 1968 as George McGovern had 4 years later.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DavidTC says:

        Yeah, but Democratic voters in 1968 didn’t want ‘liberal’, by itself. They also wanted to *stop the war*.

        The Democratic party, in 1968, was supposed to be a single issue party according their base, (And would have been, according to who the *actual* primary voters wanted)…that, very stupidly, did not end up selecting a candidate that clearly held that view.

        It’s like if Obama had been assassinated right before the 2008 DNC convention, and, instead of selecting HRC as a sort of obvious second choice, they had instead selected an anti-healthcare, anti-caring-about-inequality guy.

        But there’s another point. If Humphrey had, somehow, run against Nixon in 1960, he possibly would have beat Nixon there, when the war wasn’t an issue yet.

        Hell, if the DNC convention had been anywhere *instead* of Chicago and under the gross stupidity and misbehavior of Mayor Daley towards protesters, it’s possible Humphrey wouldn’t gotten quite as tarred with the anti-anti-war brush and won.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DavidTC says:

        @ken-s
        Johnson didn’t drop out in favor of Bobby Kennedy — Johnson despised Bobby Kennedy.

        Johnson appears to have dropped out for a lot of different reasons, but I stand corrected with my implication: He did not drop out specifically for Kennedy.

        Also, I’m…not entirely sure there’s any evidence of him despising Kennedy.

        Gene McCarthy was not Kennedy’s running mate — they were opponents in the California primary that occurred on the day Kennedy was murdered, and they disliked one another, too.

        I should have said ‘policy mate’ or something. The guy with the same anti-war policy as Kennedy. No one has an actual ‘running mate’ until after the convention.

        Also, I’m not sure there’s any evidence that McCarthy disliked Kennedy, either. (Well, anymore than anyone else he was running against.) I’m left wondering exactly how you know all these people feel about each other.

        Finally, McCarthy had as much chance of winning the presidency in 1968 as George McGovern had 4 years later.

        I do not understand why you think this, McGovern had all sorts of issues. And, also, was running against a pretty popular incumbent. (People tend to forget how popular Nixon was, first term.)

        Is your theory that an anti-war candidate would automatically lose, or is it that the base of the Democratic party was so far liberal from the voting population that they were picking undetectable people?

        If the former, I feel I must point out that Nixon, technically, was also an anti-war candidate…just not a very convincing one.

        If the latter, I must point out Humphrey was pretty far left, actually farther left than the people (Kennedy and McCarthy) the Democratic voters picked, and he came very close to winning.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DavidTC says:

        Yeah, but Democratic voters in 1968 didn’t want ‘liberal’, by itself. They also wanted to *stop the war*.

        If I had to guess, I’m thinking that they really only wanted to stop the *draft*.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to DavidTC says:

        How do you define “evidence”? LBJ’s primary biographer called it one of the nastiest feuds in history.

        Regarding McCarthy, I can’t look it up at the moment. I’ve read a lot of references that he was very bitter about RFK specifically. If I recall, he thought RFK’s opposition to the war was posturing.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to DavidTC says:

        I’m…not entirely sure there’s any evidence of him despising Kennedy.

        There is actually quite a bit of evidence for that. It was a clash of cultures and personalities. The Kennedys were rich, and Johnson grew up in deep poverty (in a family that had been well to do just a few generations before) and deeply resented snobbish rich folks, while the Kennedy’s saw Johnson as just another southern hick. In Congress, JFK was what they call a show horse, someone who looks good and appears in the right places, but doesn’t do the real work, while LBJ was a relentless work horse.

        In consequence LBJ (fairly) thought he was much more deserving of the party’s nomination, but had to step aside for John F. in the 1960 convention, but only on condition that he receive the Veep nomination. Immediately after the deal was struck Bobby tried to force him to drop his demand for the Veep position.

        When JFK was killed and LBJ was to be sworn in, he insisted that they call the Attorney General–Bobby–to get the oath of office. They could have gotten it from any book that had a copy of the Constitution, could have called any number of people to get it, but LBJ forced Bobby to help elevate him–a man Bobby despised–immediately after Bobby’s brother had been murdered.

        Bad blood a’plenty between those two.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to DavidTC says:

        Yeah, but Democratic voters in 1968 didn’t want ‘liberal’, by itself. They also wanted to *stop the war*.

        From Gallup (http://www.gallup.com/poll/19924/war-through-partisan-lenses.aspx):
        However, the Vietnam War was different from the Iraq war in that opinions were not strongly related to party affiliation. Aggregated Gallup data from August 1968 to September 1969 showed an average of 53% of Americans saying the United States made a mistake in sending troops to Vietnam, similar to the recent 54% average for the Iraq war. But a majority of Democrats, independents, and Republicans said the war was a mistake. In fact, there is little differentiation in the results by party — 51% of Democrats, 55% of independents, and 56% of Republicans thought the United States made a mistake in going to Vietnam during that period.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DavidTC says:

        @james-hanley
        There is actually quite a bit of evidence for that.

        Alright.

        You know, one of the reasons that Johnson supposedly decided to withdraw in 1968 was ‘personality was getting the way of policy’. I’m getting the distinct impression he didn’t like anyone that much.

        In consequence LBJ (fairly) thought he was much more deserving of the party’s nomination, but had to step aside for John F. in the 1960 convention, but only on condition that he receive the Veep nomination.

        Ah ha! I knew I hadn’t just invented the idea that he had stepped aside for RFK in 1968 out of thin air. I was misremembering 1960.

        @j-r
        Heh, okay, I stand corrected: *Voters* wanted to stop the war, not just Democratic voters.

        Although my point was more that the Democratic base, or at least the *vocal* Democratic base, or maybe we should call them ‘the far left’, wanted to stop the war very very badly.

        The rest of the Democrats, and indeed the rest of the country, wanted to stop the war somewhat apathetically.

        The two parties both put up people who sorta-kinda said they wanted to stop the war, someday, and neither was believed that much, and the far out-in-the-street-protesting-the-war left didn’t bother to vote for either. (Humphery only got 9% more of the under-30 vote than Nixon, and that was with 15% of the probably-would-have-voted-for-Nixon voters instead throwing their votes to the segregationist Wallance.)

        You know, the Vietnam war, in addition to being an amazing policy failure in itself, is actually a rather amazing demonstration of government policies the American people disliked to a large extent, but appeared completely unable to change for no reason other than some powerful people like it.

        Well, back in the 90s, I thought it was amazing. Not so much anymore.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to DavidTC says:

        When JFK was killed and LBJ was to be sworn in, he insisted that they call the Attorney General–Bobby–to get the oath of office. They could have gotten it from any book that had a copy of the Constitution, could have called any number of people to get it, but LBJ forced Bobby to help elevate him–a man Bobby despised–immediately after Bobby’s brother had been murdered.

        Disgusting.Report

  11. Avatar North says:

    Well I also would love for Romney to run though primarily for selfish reasons. Romney might conceivably split the establishment vote slugging it out with Bush and possibly leveling the playing field with the wing-ding right candidates. In that this could plausibly produce division in the GOP base at least or a wing-ding right nominee at best* I’m all for it. I’d think that running a Cruz like fellow for president and losing everything outside the south could be good medicine for the GOP.

    *Or if I’m really drunk a half way Libertarian nominee.Report

  12. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    I can see where Romney’s people might think that a lot of what made him a bad candidate was surface-level stuff, and now that voters aren’t going to be surprised by some of that, they might be willing to notice some of his better qualities/qualifications.

    That said, what really motivates Romney’s people to think another run is a good idea is rather more straightforward.

    Btw, is Eric Holder the absolute spitting image of Thomas Dewey or what? Look at that picture on the FP. What’s the deal with that?Report

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