Anyone’s Game

Nichole Hungerford is associate editor at FrontPage Magazine.


As the Obama administration begins digging its campaign trenches for the 2012 presidential election, the matter of the president’s Republican challenger is becoming much more discernible. On Saturday, 2008 presidential-hopeful Mitt Romney earned an easy victory in the first New Hampshire straw poll of 2011. In many eyes, this has affirmed Romney’s status as front-runner for the Republican Party presidential nomination. However, this win is not necessarily predicative of Romney’s ultimate success and other dark horses are waiting in the wings — but who among them has the greatest likelihood of success?

Just over 21 months until the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney is in a very good position. Although a recent Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey shows Obama ahead of all leading GOP contenders nationwide, Romney rated the second highest in PPP’s Iowa poll and second highest in its national poll, trailing Mike Huckabee by only a few points in each. Romney consistently ranks as one of the highest (sometimes tying) in polls of Republican and mixed Republican-Independent voters. In the New Hampshire straw poll, Romney came in with a 24-point advantage to the next most popular Republican, Ron Paul. As a primary candidate in 2008, Romney came in second in New Hampshire to John McCain, who went on to win the GOP presidential nomination.

One of Romney’s frequently cited drawbacks is his role in “RomneyCare,” Massachusetts’ state-administered health care system, which bears many resemblances to President Obama’s health care plan, including having an individual health insurance mandate. In addition, RomneyCare has been unsuccessful on many fronts, which is likely the reason the former Massachusetts governor said little during the national heath care debate that consumed much of the last two years. This is unlike other potential presidential candidates — Sarah Palin, Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, etc. — who led relatively vocal opposition to the program.

Doubtless, other GOP contenders who unequivocally opposed the heath care overhaul bill (virtually all of them) will exploit Romney’s baggage in this respect — which is certainly burdensome given the great animus conservative voters have toward the bill and its unpopularity among independents. After all, how could Romney possibly respond to this constituency’s clarion call if he is not, in principle, opposed to state intervention in the health care system? Two items are worth mentioning here:

First, although the Massachusetts health care debacle will surely be a sticking point in the presidential primary — just as it was during the 2008 primary when many voters were actually sympathetic to health care reform — it may not be as crucial a factor in the general election of 2012. Support for repeal of ObamaCare among the general public has steadily waned since the debate was as its zenith. As the majority of voters turn to the economy, jobs, and the deficit (which is implicative of, but not coextensive with, ObamaCare), the health care bill seems to influence voter opinion less and less.

Secondly, Romney’s role in Massachusetts’ health care system is regrettable, but not indefensible. The notion that what Romney oversaw in Massachusetts is somehow comparable to ObamaCare, a claim often touted by ObamaCare supporters, is fundamental misled. Although the bills share some functional similarities, it certainly comports with conservative federalist principles that states have the right to conduct their business according to the wishes of the public. But when these same policies are proposed on the national scale (and are clearly against the better judgement of most of the population), such a program becomes decidedly un-conservative. That is to say, there’s nothing inconsistent for a conservative to believe that state democracies ought to enact statist policies if the public sees fit, while also believing that these same policies would be unconstitutional on a national scale.

Although Romney is the apparent front-runner at this time, he has tough competition with former Arkansas governor and 2008 presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee. In another PPP poll from the 21st, Huckabee had a 10-point lead ahead of Romney (and Palin), although he curiously achieved little more than 3% of the vote in the first New Hampshire straw poll. Huckabee also had a narrow victory in a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll. After coming off the campaign trail, Huckabee has remained relatively visible as a part-time Fox News personality, hosting a show called “Huckabee,” and contributing political analysis at the network.

After his surprising win in the 2008 Iowa caucus, Huckabee’s star was on the rise until he lost subsequent caucuses and eventually bowed out altogether.Three years later, Huckabee still holds sway in in Iowa. In August 2010, he won the Iowa straw poll, just edging out Mitt Romney. Huckabee’s security among Iowa Republicans gives him a notable head start over other candidates, except, perhaps, for Romney.

Deference must be paid, of course, to Sarah Palin. As much as she is maligned, Palin enjoys the most devoted and enthusiastic group of supporters. In many respects, she is the Tea Party favorite, which cannot be said for front-runner Romney. In most every recent poll, Palin vacillates between the 2nd-4th most supported Republican — and this really says something for a woman so hated. Palin has much more support than many other well-qualified candidates, including Tim Pawlenty, the governor of Minnesota, who is widely predicted to make a run for the presidency. Palin polls significantly higher than Pawlenty, and also Newt Gingrich, and Reps. Ron Paul, and Michele Bachman. (Ron Paul did come in a distant second in the New Hampshire straw poll, but he generally polls below Palin.)

Palin’s serious deficit is in her marketability outside of conservative precincts. Her rating among liberals is usually in the single digits and she is only marginally more well-liked among Independents. In the national PPP poll cited above, Palin was viewed at least somewhat negatively by 49% of respondents. Furthermore, her general favorability falls far short of Obama (a third or fewer voters have a favorable view of her), while Mitt Romney’s is much closer to Obama’s favorability level and at one time, he was viewed more favorably. Will Palin take these figures to heart and decide to serve the party in another capacity? That is the crucial question.

In the end, the overriding issue for most of these candidates — whether he or she is a front-runner or an underdog — will be how they view the competitiveness of President Obama as an opponent. Obama will have an immediate advantage over any Republican candidate, not the least because the arduous primary process will drains candidate coffers. This is precisely what caused Mike Huckabee to recently quip that, although he was still considering running, he did not necessarily want to be the “sacrificial lamb.” However, with his positive figures and competitiveness against Romney, it is difficult to believe that he would pass up the opportunity. A struggle between Romney and Huckabee for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination seems to be in the making. In 2008, we saw them exchange some stinging barbs — are more indecorous aspersions in store?

  • ElvinSilva24

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  • Chezwick_Mac

    It's going to be awfully difficult for Romney to exploit in any way our strongest campaign issue – which is Obamacare, considering what he himself did in Massachusetts. Additionally, his Mormon faith – (which is irrelevant to me either way) – could keep a portion of the normally Republican-supporting Evangelical Christians at home in the general election.

    Sarah Palin's negatives seem to be perennial (though so much of that has been media orchestrated), and Ron Paul is a frigg'n 'truther'. Huckabee certainly has potential, but I'm beginning to think Gingrich is our best shot. He has his own negatives and is getting on in years, but he's far and away the most intelligent candidate in the field and would put Obama away in any debates.

    Our problem is not policy…the American people are clearly alienated from the Dems. But Presidential elections hinge for a lot of voters on perceptions and personality. We need a strong candidate to get that socialist out of the White House and arrest the decline of our great country.

    Meanwhile, Brit Hume made a very noteworthy comment on Fox news today. He said – considering the mood of the country, Republicans have a lot more to lose by being too timid on deficit reduction than by being too aggressive. I hope our party congressmen and senators were listening.

  • crackerjack

    "Will Palin take these figures to heart and decide to serve the party in another capacity?…."

    NO! And why should she? She's the "no compromise" queen elect of Tea-Party. who whipped Obama in mid-term.

  • 888jah

    I wont vote for Romney!!!

  • Chris

    None of the above. Palin has her niche in American politics and she has been successful. Romney will forever carry the deficit of his health care program. Huckabee is a RINO and not to be trusted, however charming he can be. Let's choose somebody who can win. Getting that socialist Muslim out of the White House comes first.

  • alan g

    Don’t rule out Romney. If anybody can make an argument against Obamacare, he can. People are forgetting that Romney was governor of a liberal state which was in favor of STATE mandated, and not Federally mandated health care which is arguably a different situation.

  • alan g

    As much as I think Palin is the real thing, and the most powerful of candidates, she has been tainted so much by the left and right, (I think unfairly), she would be the ideal Secretary of the Interior for any republican running.

  • Pete

    Mitt needs to explain also why his failing pizza business Domino's, got a 12 million dollar government bailout, and help from the USDA to do a pizza do over, and is now selling his pizza's to public schools for their lunch program.

    And

    Why Mitt promotes his business ventures, holding press conference inside of them —
    like he did holding press conference in Staples- which Mitt owns.

    Romney cannot disengage from his business interests and should not be POTUS.

    And one of Romney's business interests is a Moscow owned business, owned by high ranking Russians. On the board is Oleg Lobov who is linked to the serin attacks in Japan, and supplies were being given of attack helicopters and small arms for a second attack. The Romney family has been involved many years with this firm Kairos Development International, and several of Mitts 2008 advisers and big money backers are also linked to the business.

  • USMCSniper

    The MSM will marginalize all GOP candidates while they place tongue in a$$ of their Chairman Obama to gain favor of audience for interfview

  • ObamaYoMoma

    I have two criteria that a presidential candidate must meet first to achieve my vote. First, I will not vote for any candidate that compromises in any way whatsoever on amnesty for illegal immigrants. Second, for me to consider voting for any candidate, that candidate must also be able to demonstrate a working knowledge of Islam and the ongoing global jihad.

    Indeed, I refuse to vote for someone that is oblivious of the threat to freedom in the world that Islam represents and also oblivious with respect to the greater global jihad at large, which includes the demographic conquest of the West like all of our previous presidents were. Hence, if none of the candidates can meet any of my above-mentioned criteria, I apologize to all the Obama haters beforehand, although I despise him as much as you do, I’m staying home come Election Day.

    Indeed, for most of the Republican Party to remain this oblivious to the threat that Islam presents going on 10 years after 9/11 is a testament to how far the Republican Party has regressed into Leftism, and if a candidate isn’t aware of the threat, then I’m sorry but that candidate is not qualified in my book.

    I mean look at the last Republican President we had, he not only misled millions of people with his Religion of Peace™ being hijacked by a tiny minority of radicals nonsense, but like a Dhimmicrat on steroids, he doubled the size of the federal government to continue accommodating Muhammadan immigration and all its excess baggage and to also protect the homeland from the scourge of Islamic terrorist attacks, and just like the expansion of government isn’t the answer for anything much less protecting the homeland from Islamic terrorist attacks, today the homeland is just as vulnerable to attack as it was on 9/11, as the Fort Hood Massacre, Christmas Day Bomber, and Times Square Bomber all demonstrated.

    In addition, even though he campaigned against nation-building missions in 2000 when he ran for office, that is exactly what he did, as he instituted two fantasy based nation-building missions in Afghanistan and Iraq to win the hearts and minds of Muhammadans and to lift them up out of poverty, despair, and hopelessness via the imposition of democracy, and never mind the fact that Muhammadans are obligated per Islam to hate our unbeliever guts no matter what and that if poverty, despair, and hopelessness are the root causes of terrorism, then it would be far more people in the world besides only Muhammadans perpetrating terrorist attacks. Not to mention that if you fully understand what Islam really is, then you should also realize how ludicrous it is to even attempt to impose democracy on Muhammadans.

    Moreover, as shocking as it was for me at the time, GWB also championed amnesty for illegal immigrants no less, and never mind the fact that it was his daddy, GHWB, that had stopped enforcing the immigration laws on the books when he took office shortly after the second Reagan administration, as the current illegal immigration problem is a complete Bush family creation and manifestation, and never mind the fact that Bush the elder and the son, are both in bed with the Saudis and the Gulf State emirs.

    Quite frankly, if the Republican Party can’t field qualified conservative candidates to run for president anymore, then, quite frankly, the Republican Party doesn’t deserve to win, because I’m not holding my nose and voting for the lesser of two evils any more.

    • Rev Trask

      Then you could not vote for Ronald Reagan, if he were around today, since he signed off on amnesty in 1986.

      Meanwhile, the blossoming of freedom in Tunisia and Egypt, during the Obama admin, has seriously weakened Al-Qaeda in the eyes of the Muslim world (you will note that even BinLaden has gone silent and not issued any tapes since the non-secular unrest started)

      • ObamaYoMoma

        Then you could not vote for Ronald Reagan, if he were around today, since he signed off on amnesty in 1986.

        Give me a break…are you really that dense? When Reagan signed off on amnesty it was supposed to be part of an immigration reform package that would prevent illegal immigrants from ever entering the country again. However, Reagan never dreamed in his wildest imagination that GHWB, a stealth leftist like his son, would cease enforcing the immigration laws on the books almost as soon as he took office, which inevitably led to the current crisis. He also didn’t know that all subsequent presidents including Clinton, a devout leftist, and GWB, a stealth leftist, would also deliberately refuse to enforce the laws as well. Indeed, when Reagan did granted amnesty, it was the first time the USA faced the problem and his solution was to be the final resolution.

        In addition, the amount of illegal immigrants involved was a tiny fraction relative to the much greater numbers today. Plus now we know from previous experience that the vast overwhelming majority of those illegal immigrants granted amnesty are illiterate and don’t matriculate into becoming contributing citizens, as instead they remain permanent wards of the welfare state for generations after being granted amnesty. Not to mention that they also contribute disproportionately to the drug and street gang crime problems in this country as well.

        Hence, do I believe that Reagan would support amnesty today? Hell no…I believe that had he known that GHWB and then all other subsequent Presidents thereafter would have suspended his immigration reforms and enforcement of the immigration laws on the books, that he never would have approved of amnesty in the first place and that he would have sought a very different solution and one that he could have assured himself would have been a final resolution. I also believe that were he alive today he would loudly denounce GHWB and all other subsequent Presidents for refusing to enforce his immigration reforms, and that he would also be the biggest advocate against amnesty today.

        Finally, do I believe that Reagan, after seeing how amnesty and then the refusal to enforce his immigration reforms, incentivised illegal immigration would support amnesty again today, the answer is hell fricking no. Only leftist can be that stupid and Reagan was anything but a leftist, like, unfortunately, all subsequent Presidents that succeeded him were, both openly and stealthily.

        Hence, the argument that because Reagan granted what was supposed to be a one-time amnesty deal that exploded into mass illegal immigration, that we should also make that same mistake again, is utterly absurd and the people making that argument, as for as I’m concerned, are severely mentally deficient.

        Meanwhile, the blossoming of freedom in Tunisia and Egypt, during the Obama admin, has seriously weakened Al-Qaeda in the eyes of the Muslim world (you will note that even BinLaden has gone silent and not issued any tapes since the non-secular unrest started)

        I see now…you are a delusional leftist. I will bet you any amount of money you want to bet that secular Western style democracy in the Middle East is impossible as long as Islam prevails in that part of the world. Hence, it couldn’t be anymore obvious that like your idol, B. Hussein Obama, you are incredibly mentally incompetent and jaw dropping naïve.

        Only a gullible useful idios could come to the conclusion that what is happening in the Middle East is a blossoming of freedom that has seriously weakened Al-Qaeda in the eyes of the Muslim world. Indeed, you remind me of the gullible useful idiots, like Andrew Young, for instance, that wrote op-ed pieces in 1979 in the New York Times proclaiming that the Grand Ayatollah Khomeini was a peaceful and non-violent reformer like Gandhi and that he would help welcome Western style democracy in Iran. Indeed, one of the hallmarks of leftism is a failure to learn from the mistakes of the past, and in that regard you have been exposed.

  • http://www.chick.com Raymond

    Obama & his many supporters stole the first "election."
    Does anyone really think he plans to relinquish power???

    • Amused

      You mean he'll get re-elected don't you ? After all ,we do vote in this country , regardless of the lieing politicians and the sychophants , we do vote and ultimately decide .
      Republicans bettere come up with something beter than Palin who a GUARANTEED LOSS OF ELECTION . Romney ? he's probably the smartist , [but a Mormon] and homage will be paid to the christian right regardless ….. that leaves Huckabee and maybe Gingrich .

      • http://www.chick.com Raymond

        Amused:
        1). Christianity is about having a personal relationship with
        Jesus Christ.

        2). Mormonism is just another relation & has nothing to do
        with Christianity. Your suggesting otherwise clearly indicates
        you're not well informed.

        3). Millions of illegals voted for Obama & their "Vote" does
        not count. Does the name 'ACORN" ring any bells.

        4). The Democrats (more accurately known as communists)
        had many people register to vote many times.

        5). Obama was born in a cesspool called Kenya, which means
        he does not legally hold his office. The United States Supreme
        Court, as well as many Senators & Congressmen were involved in
        this crime.

        6). Obama received millions from the communist Chinese which is
        a illegal.

        7). As i've already said, Obama stole that office & it's people like
        you who helped to put him there.

        • Amused

          Raymond , go back into the cave you crawled out , those " secrit radio transmissions" that you've been recieving , you know getting all your info from , they been steering you wrong pal .Oh and btw , go out and prrchase a new brain , the one yoiu've got is broken …lol…another birther !! hey , another "gov'mint conspeeracee " huh chump ?

          You're all wet Ray , not to mention, making a fool of youreself …

          • http://www.chick.com Raymond

            Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Isaiah 5:20,21

            By the way, who taught you how to spell?

    • Dennis X

      you must be thinking of bush, cause The President whipped mccan't/ palins asses

  • BLJ

    The Republicans need to field a true fiscal conservative to beat Obama. I also think they need to find someone who can connect with younger (under age 40) voters. The vile MSM will be doing all they can to make sure Comrade O gets a second term.

    Language, culture and borders is the mantra that is needed to preserve this Republic.

  • http://www.chick.com Raymond

    CHICAGO — An Illinois Appeals Court has ruled that Rahm Emanuel’s name can’t appear on the ballot for Chicago mayor because he didn’t live in the city in the year before the election.

    The judges voted 2-1 on Monday to overturn a lower court ruling to keep Emanuel’s name on the Feb. 22 ballot.

    Those challenging Emanuel have said the White House chief of staff did not meet a residency requirement because he lived in Washington and not Chicago when he worked for President Barack Obama. Emanuel has said he always intended to return to Chicago and was only living in Washington at the request of the president.

    There was no immediate response from Emanuel.

    Obama the muslim was born in Kenya, yet he sits in the
    White House……

  • Amused

    grow up , the man was born in Hawaii , it;s been documented . Birthers are losers , find a more intelligent argument, rather than one based in ignorance and denial of FACTS .You dimininsh yourself with such foolishness

    • Philosopherking

      No birth certivicate has ever been shown. I know that Obama provided one and CNN said it was valid but considering that CNN got the document from Obama himself and did not bother to consider the source it makes me wonder.

      It makes me wonder why Hawaii seals the records right after the election or why Obama made a flyover there right before the election ended. It was to make sure he was setup because he knows he isn't a valid US president.

      • Amused

        B.S> bPhilo nb, the certificate is documented , its been shown , photographed , witnessed , you name it . This story about a phony US birth , is for imbeciles like Raumond ..and ….uh ….I guess YOU too PHILO .

        Stupid's a choice philo .

        • Philosopherking

          Never seen it. The only photographs of it came from Obama himself which is suspicious. Those photos are not even complete photos to.

          It does not exist.

    • http://www.chick.com Raymond

      Amused: Speaking of losers, how is your family?

  • Hank Rearden

    There is a two word answer to most of these posts…

    Allen West

  • Hank Rearden

    For those who don't know Allen West, here is an introduction…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VP2p91dvm6M

  • Philosopherking

    Its going to look really embarassing to us to pick a guy like Romney, who voted for a similar plan like Obamacare, after threatoning revolt if Obama passes it. Whey GOPers would have him in the running is beyond me. This is why people hate the GOP. Its because they are the same party.

  • Amused

    Now there's a reply commensurate with your actual IQ Raymond .!

    btw , Ray ….ya can't fix stupid , sorry old boy .

    • http://www.chick.com Raymond

      Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Isaiah 5:20,21

  • CaptC

    The Tea Party will unite around one candidate to stop Romney, who's not a true conservative. If by some chance he got the GOP nomination, he would suffer the same fate as Meg Whitman in California. None of the middle-class independents – necessary to win a presidential election- will vote for Romney.

    • Rev Trask

      Hard to see Romney getting the GOP nomination in the first place, since that would mean winning over the oogedy-boogedy crowds in places like Iowa and SC. Romney (a Mormon) has a big handicap in their eyes, and RomneyCare doesn't help either. Voters in Iowa and SC are looking for a Bible-thumper, not a serial flip-flopper.