Previewing the Primaries

Previewing the Primaries

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

Michigan’s primary may still be about the economy and Arizona’s may focus on the issue of immigration, but don’t be fooled if exit polls of Tuesday’s voters signal that what really concerns the prime voters are the so-called social issues. It seems that as Karl Rove did for President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign in the general election of 2004, Rick Santorum has already done for Republican primary voters. He has them more concerned about what consenting adults are doing in their bedrooms, the values in their children’s school system, the devil in their churches, and their “play” activities than about their job.

Admittedly, the fact that the economy has been nudging upward has been good for President Obama’ s favorability ratings which have stabilized and even begun to move up. (Although some of the upward swing is due to the confusing and often abysmal performance of his potential GOP opponents.)  What is curious is that as Santorum has moved into the role as a serious contender against Romney, it is largely Santorum who has moved the entire quartet on to the stage of his social concerns agenda. This is where he and the Tea Partyers want the Fall 2012 debate to take place; despite the fact that it would require a virtual total turnaround on the part of the American electorate. It is highly unlikely to have the traction in the general campaign that the Republicans will need to unseat Obama.

As a result, this may be why the Republican base may have a good time now, but will not succeed in getting one of its own nominated. It then will need to deal with the likelihood of a second Obama term; even after an exciting brokered convention.

Concerning a brokered convention, the debate has already begun. Regarding the “non-candidates”, it remains to be seen whether Bush, Christie, Daniels, Pawlenty, Palin, or surprise will be willing to be the Republican Party’s sacrificial lamb in 2012 in expectation that he/she will be anointed early as the 2016 Republican nominee. Even if that scenario were to be successful, given the amount of money that candidates can now obtain for their direct or indirect campaigns—and the high likelihood that it will still be the case in 2016—not many “surprise “ candidates will be willing to rush into this year’s contest, merely on a hope and a prayer for 2016.

If you think any of this is troublesome or only coming from the imagination of political analysts, it is hard to believe the chatter that Kahntentions is hearing now in Britain.

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