Sunday, September 6, 2009

Follow Up on "The Making of the President: 2012"

Three addenda to The Making of the President: 2012.

1) Jettboy makes an excellent point - Huckabee's disparaging comments toward Mormons have caused a much deeper animosity than I initially appreciated. As such, I have to revise my initial assessment and conclude that Huckabee is just as likely to pick a Mormon running mate as a Jewish one, since ultimately selecting a Mormon could achieve the same initial objective (i.e, addressing the perception that he is religiously intolerant and/or potentially theocratic) while helping to solidify Huckabee's support among a group that - while normally heavily supportive of the Republican candidate - could either swing to Obama, perform a write-in campaign for a third candidate, or just turn out in much lighter numbers for Huckabee should he fail to address that issue. As such, while I wouldn't rule out a Huckabee-Cantor ticket, I think there is an equally strong chance that a Mormon may wind up on the other end of that equation as well. That said, I do not believe he will choose Romney - as a former Massachusetts governor with a spotty record on the social issues that matter most to conservatives, he could easily alienate Huckabee's base, and what's more, his inexperience in dealing with the federal government would only accentuate one of Huckabee's chief political weaknessees. Personally, should Huckabee choose to select a Mormon running mate, I believe his pick would be Jeff Flake, the congressman from the Sixth District of Arizona. Although Flake is held in some suspicion by the most strident right-wing opponents of illegal immigration, as well as by the Christian Right, those same animosities could be used by Huckabee to claim that his ticket promotes ideological as well as religious diversity. What's more, Flake's dogmatic liberatarianism on economic issues could help peel off the growing contingent of Ron Paul supporters who, though opposing Huckabee on social and cultural matters, could fall in love with Flake and thus vote for Huckabee in order to put him a heartbeat away from the presidency. While I think the chances of a Huckabee-Cantor ticket are approximately equal with those of a Huckabee-Flake ticket, the prospect of not only winning back Mormon support but underscoring right-wing criticisms of "tax and spend" liberalism makes me personally suspect that Flake would be Huckabee's man. Finally, although the economic conservatives in the GOP do not hate Huckabee, they are a little wary of his populist rhetoric, and the selection of Flake would more than alleviate their concerns.

2) My predictions for a 2012 election that has Obama-Biden opposing Huckabee-Flake remain essentially the same as with Obama-Biden opposing Huckabee-Cantor, but with a few minor modifications. Flake's presence on the Huckabee ticket would probably do a great deal to help Huckabee win over the one ideological group that is most likely to defect to a third-party in elections such as this (namely, libertarians), as well as make some inroads into the independent vote. That said, Flake's ideology is still extreme enough that it will still probably fail to help Huckabee win any significant advantage among swing voters. At the end of the day, I see the Electoral College in a 2012 Obama-Biden v. Huckabee-Flake contest looking remarkably similar to its 2008 Obama-Biden v. McCain-Palin predecessor, with the only exceptions being a North Carolina swing to the Republican column and a Missouri swing to the Democrats. In the popular vote, Obama would still defeat Huckabee by a landslide margin (due to the absence of any viable third-party opposition, it would probaby be something like 57 to 42). Finally, among my own demographic, Jewish voters, I believe the aversion to the radical right-wing views held by both Huckabee and Flake would prompt a mass defection to the Democratic side, with even traditionally conservative Jews ultimately abandoning the GOP en masse and ultimately causing Obama to win the greatest majority of Jewish votes in American presidential history (i.e, more than ninety percent).

3) Those who want to understand an issue on which the 2012 election will likely pivot should look up Wayne DuMond. For more information, check out these two articles:

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