WOULD GINGRICH BE A NOMINEE WITHOUT A PARTY?
It seems less and less likely with every passing day -- hell, with every passing hour -- that Newt Gingrich will survive the gang beatdown he's being subjected to right now and go on to win the Republican presidential nomination (see yesterday's all-Newt-hate Washington Post op-ed page; see also the forthcoming all-Newt-hate issue of National Review).
But if Gingrich does -- somehow -- survive this Establishment gang attack, will the party even support him?
Here's a scenario I'm imagining:
If Gingrich really is unstoppable, the real GOP money -- from the Rove-connected Crossroads groups and other super PACs -- may simply dry up for him. Where will it go? I know everyone mocks this Americans Elect thing, but the group is well funded. What if GOP insiders game the AE nominating process to get a candidate who's to their liking chosen as the nominee -- Daniels, Christie, Barbour, Jeb Bush, Rubio, Jindal, Huntsman? And what if the "Democrat" who fulfills AE's quest for a bipartisan ticket is ... Joe Lieberman?
I think GOP establishment figures might get behind such a ticket -- and I mean really get behind it, with serious money and all kinds of support. And then the party can just somehow fail to help Gingrich in any way. I'm thinking of the way the guy who had the ballot line in the 2006 Connecticut Senate race, Alan Schlesinger, effectively disappeared, as the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy cheered on Lieberman against Ned Lamont. Schlesinger got less than 10% of the vote.
Now, Gingrich won't take a dive, the way Schlesinger seemed to. But if the party and its donors refuse to finance him, if party opinion-shapers continue to attack him, and if the leaders and pundits get behind the AE effort, I think Gingrich's numbers could be driven down to the single digits.
For what it's worth, yesterday Charlie Pierce posted an MSNBC clip in which Chuck Todd speculated that an anti-1% sentiment might drive a third-party bid to some success at the polls. I think minor parties can have an impact this year, but I don't think this is why. I do think Rocky Anderson, or some other Nader wannabe, will get some Occupy/Firedoglake love at the polls. But the teabaggers aren't angry at the 1%. The libertarians aren't angry at the 1%. The young Paulites seem to be more interested in ending militarism and legalizing hemp than seriously curtailing fat-cat excess (which Paul himself has no intention of curtailing, of course). The general public still -- still -- hates "big government" more than big business, according to Gallup, and even though they seem to recall their class resentments when reminded of them by pollsters, they never vote in any way that reflects those resentments. And Americans Elect is going to be about centrism at best and conservatism at worst; it's going to be about opposing "business as usual" without the slightest understanding of why "business as usual" is the way it is (and without the slightest recognition that the people on the ticket are part of the problem).
And if my cockamamie theory is correct, Americans Elect might just be the real GOP this year.
ON THE OTHER HAND: If the GOP insiders do successfully kneecap Gingrich, I think we should all join Americans Elect and say that Gingrich is our choice for the top of AE's ticket. Between us and the remaining Newt true believers in the GOP, we might just be able to get him selected. And you know he'll accept the nomination, because he'll do anything for publicity. Then we'll have Mitt and Newt siphoning votes from each other. Fun!
(X-posted at Booman Tribune.)