Saturday, November 29, 2014


Did you see the Quinnipiac poll of the 2016 presidential race that was released earlier this week? Mitt Romney won among Republicans, with Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Dr. Ben Carson also running strong -- though that's not what interests me most.
Republican voters nationwide want 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney back in the game, giving him the top position at 19 percent in an early look at the 2016 presidential race in a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is next with 11 percent, followed by New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie and Dr. Ben Carson at 8 percent each. No other Republican tops 6 percent, with 16 percent undecided.

With Romney out of the race, Jeb Bush leads with 14 percent, followed by Christie at 11 percent, Carson at 9 percent and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky at 8 percent, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll finds. Another 19 percent are undecided.
I'm struck by which candidates do best against Hillary Clinton:
Romney runs best against Clinton in a general election, taking 45 percent to her 44 percent. In other matchups:
Clinton gets 43 percent to Christie's 42 percent;
Clinton tops Paul 46 - 41 percent;
She beats former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee 46 - 41 percent;
Clinton tops Jeb Bush 46 - 41 percent;
She gets 46 percent to 42 percent for U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin;
Clinton tops U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas 48 - 37 percent.
Romney wins. Christie nearly wins. Hillary beats the others fairly comfortably.

I know it's just one poll, and I can't say that the differences are all that significant when you take margin of error into account. Still, why these two? Why Romney and Christie?

I think it's because they're the ones who attack their opponents in the most engagingly trollish way these days. Christie has been very visible lately, and he really seems to be enjoying himself as he goes after people again. That's the key: the joy. Romney has it too. He's become a full-time troll since the 2012 campaign, and it suits him. Remember how people said in 2012 that he seemed uncomfortable in his own skin? When he's trolling President Obama, he seems really, really comfortable. This is who he is. He's a guy with a serious mean streak -- the guy who, as a kid, forcibly gave that fellow student a haircut. But there's a contagious glee in his angry attacks -- as, obviously, there is in Christie's. They're clearly having a lot of fun. Remember, this is what worked for Ronald Reagan -- he never stopped trash-talking Democrats and liberals, but everybody thought he was "genial" and "sunny." Romney, surprisingly, has a little bit of Reagan in him. Christie has this too, though we knew that.

If Romney and Christie really are the two guys doing best against Hillary, that rebuts both the right-wing narrative of 2016 and the mainstream-pundit narrative. Right-wingers think they'll win with a True Conservative -- but Christie and Romney are obviously not what they have in mind. And the mainstream idea is that what voters really want in 2016 is an agenda. Here's The New Republic's Brian Beutler, writing about why (in his view) it's good that the GOP took the Senate:
Obama's agenda is mostly tapped out. The [Democratic] party's broader agenda is pretty stale. Hillary Clinton doesn't have an agenda.

It's plausible that Democrats can hold on to the presidency even without addressing any of these problems -- that they can win by virtue of not being Republicans. But that's not a recipe for inspiring anyone....
But the Republicans who are the most successful right now at inspiring voters aren't doing it with an agenda -- they're doing it with happy-warrior trash talk.

But what about Ted Cruz? He's back in the pack, according to Quinnipiac -- he's not doing particularly well in the primary field and he's not posing a serious challenge to Hillary at all. Isn't he a trash-talker? Yes -- but I don't think he conveys the same sense of sheer, contagious enjoyment as Christie and post-2012 Romney. He comes off as smug and haughty in a way they don't.

Maybe all this is a pendulum swing away from Obama's low-key cool -- who knows? But I think happy Republican troll can win in 2016. I seriously think Christie or Romney would beat Hillary if either one could get the nomination.


ladyblug said...

What a fucking depressing article.

mlbxxxxxx said...

I think what your seeing is Romney/Christie getting the "saner" republicans while the nutballs are split up among the wacko candidates -- and there are a LOT of wacko candidates so everybody gets a small slice of the nutballs.

Victor said...

I agree with mlbx...

But that's a problem in the primaries.
Once the Republicans choose a candidate, even the nutballs will support him/her.

Steve M. said...

Makes sense -- though that shouldn't affect the head-to-head matchups.

Unknown said...

"I seriously think Christie or Romney would beat Hillary if either one could get the nomination."

COULD yes.

Not necessarily "would".

Cerebus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cerebus said...

Unfortunately, I agree. Taking out Hillary would repudiate the presidencies of both Obama and Clinton, and there would be nothing that would make the right-wingers more happy than saying that the last successful "liberal" presidency was JFK.

Ken_L said...

Christie? Nah. Ugly fat people don't get elected president. Romney I agree would have a better chance than in 2012. If Hillary runs, I suspect she's not going to run a great campaign. She's been doing this stuff a bit too long.

Cruz is just a smartarse dickhead. Good to see him being ignored despite his recent attention-seeking.

Procopius said...

I get the impression that Cruz is mean-spirited, that he enjoys kicking the underdog, that he wants to hurt vulnerable people. I think that's the part of the base he appeals to, and that's why he's back in the pack. That's a significant part of the Republican base, but as much as I dislike their politics I don't believe that's the nature of most of the conservatives.

Gadfly said...

I agree with MLB also; it's just that Christie and Romney are less nutbar than others.

Of course, I'll likely be voting Green again, and definitely so if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee.

Ten Bears said...

I'm with ya', Gadfly. Nothing pisses me off more these days than a Democrat (Retard in panties) calling me a Male Chauvinistic Pig for not supporting Bush contemporary Hillary Rodham while ignorant of my vote for the female candidate in three of the past five presidential elections.

No fear.

petrilli said...

If Hillary faces Romney in 2016 facing numbers this tight, she'll need "emoprogs" like me to vote for her. this prospect should please you no end, Steve.

Cerebus said...

"Of course, I'll likely be voting Green again, and definitely so if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee."

Say hello to President Romney. Instead of taking one step forward, we'll be taking two or three back.

Ten Bears said...

Hillary is Willard in a dress, either way it's two steps back.

petrilli said...

I agree with you, TB, GF. No more neoliberals.