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  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association, a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media, and a professor of communication studies at Whitworth University.

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2012 predictions for GOP: Jindal, Huckabee, Romney, Palin or relative unknown?

Posted by James McPherson on November 23, 2008

December 6 update: CNN reports that its new poll has Huckabee and Palin as the frontrunners.

 Considering that Barack Obama won’t even taken office for almost two months, making predictions this far in advance of the 2012 presidential election is a bit silly. But hey, I’ve rarely shied away from silly, especially in a classroom, and I was put on the spot a couple of weeks ago when I guest lectured at the University of Idaho and a student there asked me who I predicted would be the Republicans’ presidential nominee in 2012.

Despite the fact that less than two weeks earlier on this site I had predicted that Mitt Romney would be 2012 nominee, I changed my mind and predicted that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will defeat Mike Huckabee.

I would point out, however,  that there’s a good chance that the nominee will be someone most of us aren’t yet aware of such as Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and (before this election) Huckabee or Palin. All four had previously been in politics, of course, but few outside of their own states knew who they were. I will also note that four years is a long time in American politics. Any number of circumstances involving the economy, terrorism or problems yet unseen may change everything.

Jindal apparently is running in the right way, already making appearances in Iowa. Oddly, though, he may find himself hampered by the same things that helped Barack Obama win the White House. He is young, energetic, nonwhite, and politically adept. But if Obama’s first term is successful, no Republican has a chance of unseating him–even if a Republican Obama is seen as having the best chance–and if Obama’s presidency falters, Jindal might be viewed simply as a GOP version of an already-failed experiment.

In short, if Obama succeeds, Jindal has a better chance of being the Republican nominee who loses in 2012. If Obama fails, Jindal has less of a chance of being the Republican nominee who reclaims the White House for the GOP.

I’d lean toward Huckabee, who seems to be a nice guy with executive experience and some creative ideas, but I think that his Fox News program will simulaneously increase his visability among conservatives and decrease his credibility with everyone else. Much of his support also comes from the Christian right, which I’ve suggested previously (and still believe) will continue to lose influence among Republicans.

Sarah Palin clearly is also running, though I think her folksy mountain-mama version of a Christian Paris Hilton is already wearing thin. Besides, as I’ve pointed out previously, sexism in America makes it tougher for a woman than for a man to engage in negative politics of the sort Palin has tended to favor (at least so far, though the VP nominee’s role is different than that of the person at the top of the ticket).

My original prediction, Romney, will be in the mix, but now I also can’t see him wearing particularly well. He may be an economic whiz, if there is such a thing, but has too many faces–most of which wear condescending expressions. One bit of good news: Rudy Giuliani will be four years further removed from any relevance he ever had.

11 Responses to “2012 predictions for GOP: Jindal, Huckabee, Romney, Palin or relative unknown?”

  1. Kent Gallagher said

    Jindal, Huckabee, Palin or relative unknown?

    what a choice… Can I stick a pen in my eye now or wait until 2012.

    Huckabee.. a holy roller who appeals to those who lost themn the last election

    Palin…. Astill waiting for her reality TV show with Joe the Plumber. “Dancing with the Absurd”

    Jindal…. . And the GOP doesn’t like Emmanual? They’re virtual twins

    How about Lugar or Hagel. At least they against “the return to Vietnam”

  2. al g said

    Obama while an unknown had a well organized political machine backing him with the skills and fund raising capability to launch a National Campaign. The ability to raise huge sums of money is a serious requirement.

    Sarah Palin has no such organization or the political skills to put one in place nor is it difficult to envision that any serious political operative would stake his or her future promoting a candidate who is best suited for a beauty pageant along side Paris Hilton.

    Bobby Jindal appears to be smart and articulate. The Republican base had a problem with Mitt because he was a Mormon, do you really think the base will warm to a Republican of color.

    Mike Huckabee is the best fit for the Republican Base, conservative, bible thumping and from the south. He is a smart politician, has his own base and team of advisors and can likely attract a following. He would have to modify his act to sell himself to people who actually believe in the constitutional separation of church and state and do not care to be preached to.

    There may be others to come to the game, but Palin or Jindal in 2012 not likely. I am rooting for Jindal and hope the Republican Party matures to the point where he would get the consideration he deserves. I suspect the Party needs 1 more serious dose of humility before that happens.

  3. Chugiak observer said

    The media created Paris Hilton and now Sarah Palin, with the same result……Lots of exposure and very little content. Do the Alaskans and the Republicans realize the damage she’s doing to their images? Hopefully, you’re not the morons you’re being perceived as being as a result of your very stupid “leader”. If not, you deserve what you’ll surely get. Good luck.

  4. max said

    if palin doesnt improve dramatically she wont make it out of the gop debates.

    jindal is running for reelection in 2011, leaving no time to organize for a prez run

    romney will have a much larger ground operation next time, and will be able to focus on economics from the start, he is the clear frontrunner

    huckabee’s charm and newness has already diminished and his base will shrink due to palin and others

    sanford of SC could be the unknown major challenger, he is beloved by conservs on economics, spending etc and even the paultard libertarians love him too. and he is gov of one of the most important primary states.

    crist could be the major moderate in the race taking the mccain path to the nomination, consolidate moderates while conservs divide over other choices

    john thune is the less threatening evangelical, who is the articulate obama counter balance, same age, elected same year, telegenic and well spoken.

    most likely to least likely:

    1. romney
    2. sanford
    3. crist
    4. thune
    5. palin
    6. huckabee

  5. Carmelo said

    Huckabee only had 23% of Republican support in 2008 and Romney only 20%. Sarah Palin is the only republican able to take the first black president down. Sarah is young and dynamic. Her popularity is soaring by the minute. Bobby Jindal is minority but he is still a male. The nomination of the first woman for US president will be bigger news than a black president!

    It is going to be Sarah Palin and a hispanic male as running mate: Palin-Diaz-baralt 2012

  6. Carmelo said

    You heard it here fiirst: In 2012 a white woman and a hispanic male will be in the GOP ticket and win by a landslide!

  7. […] it’s too early for presidential predictions, I don’t see how Jindal can win. He’ll either be seen as a GOP attempt to […]

  8. Klyphton said

    The only two real GOP candidates from your list is Palin and Romney. Given the Democrats orgy of tax and spend, the economy will no doubt still be in the dumps. This gives Romney serious cred (he has a record of turning around failed businesses). Palin has strong rank and file support that isn’t fading despite a very professional and concerted effort to bring her down. The question then becomes does the GOP go with its heart (Palin) or its pocketbook (Romney).

    The others are non starters. Crist + Pro-Porkulus = DOA. Huckabee is only a niche candidate that only appeals to religious conservatives (Palin appeals to them as well). Jindal, not ready for the big leagues yet. Pawlenty, Thune, Stanford all nice guys but dull as dishwater!

    My money is on Palin, she is outside the beltway, pro small government and connects to everyday people. In 2012 after 4 years of Washington elitist over reaching, over spending and every so intrusiveness, Palin will seem like a breath of fresh air.

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  10. Carmelo Junior said

    Jindal is out after his embarrasing and boring reponse to Obama. He is finished. Romney is a flip flopper who can’t win more than 10 primaries. Huckabee only gets traction with southern white people.

    Get ready because is going to be Palin vs Obama in 2012! And history will be written in golden letters!

  11. […] more likely, a three-way race involving Obama, Romney and Voter Indifference. Unfortunately I later chickened out on my Romney prediction, and have wavered since then–stating on the radio and elsewhere […]

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