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ThePlumLIneGS whorunsgov plumline
Posted at 04:24 PM ET, 05/13/2011

Is Pawlenty the Dukakis of 2012?

Why isn’t Tim Pawlenty pulling away from the GOP field?

That’s the biggest mystery in GOP nomination politics right now. After all, the current field includes only Pawlenty and Mitt Romney as plausible nominees, and Romney remains highly suspect among many important Republican groups because of his past positions on a wide range of issues — most seriously, in my view, on abortion-related policy. And that’s on top of the concern that his religion will cause problems with some voters.

Pawlenty, however, has no major liabilities. Oh, he used to accept scientific facts on climate change and a market-based plan to deal with it, and that’s an unacceptable position these days…but virtually every Republican politician has similar troubles on that issue, and Pawlenty has dealt with it pretty well. More to the point, Pawlenty was according to all reports a finalist for vice president in 2008, and I don’t recall any important GOP or movement conservative groups objecting. So why isn’t Pawlenty pulling away?

Perhaps he is, and we just don’t realize it yet. That’s the Dukakis analogy. Looking at Nate Silver’s data, Mike Dukakis was an apparent longshot based on early polling, sitting at about 8%. At this point in the 1988 process, Democrats were generally unenthusiastic about the field, distracted by implausible nominees (most notably, Jesse Jackson), and looking for a late entry to save them. Dukakis just rolled along, doing the things that candidates need to be doing, and by the time the actual voting came along he basically had the thing locked up, even though it took a while to get it done.

And yet…while Dukakis was liked well enough, he never inspired a whole lot of enthusiasm among Democrats. Jesse Jackson, yes. Mario Cuomo, who never ran, yes. But Dukakis was acceptable. Perfectly fine. Certainly would do. Just not someone who set anyone on fire, the way that even losers like Gary Hart in 1984 or Ted Kennedy in 1980 had done. Nor did Dukakis have intensely loyal groups in his corner, as Walter Mondale in 1984 or Jimmy Carter in 1980 had.

To be sure, the Pawlenty-Dukakas analogy isn’t perfect, for a variety of reasons. And it’s certainly possible, as Steve Kornacki speculates in an excellent piece on Romney, that for whatever reasons Republican elites just haven’t taken to Pawlenty. But it seems equally possible that they sort of realize that’s where things are headed, but don’t see any reason to hurry to get there. Maybe they’re hoping that someone more exciting will come along. But if not, Tim Pawlenty will still be there.

By Jonathan Bernstein  |  04:24 PM ET, 05/13/2011

 

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sargegreg
Today 5/14/2011 8:38:47 AM UTC+1000
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suekzoo1
OT 
 
This is a rather interesting read on the decline in the Limbaugh (and other flamethrowers) audience, and the rise of independent talk show hosts like Michael Smerconish.  
 
http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/201... 
Today 5/14/2011 7:40:00 AM UTC+1000
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MsJS
Why do I suddenly have the urge to photoshop T-Paw into an army tank???
Today 5/14/2011 7:19:13 AM UTC+1000
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bernielatham
Eric Erickson is clearly a genius... 
 
"EWErickson Erick Erickson  
by joshtpm 
Donald Trump just cancelled on me for Tuesday. Says he'll reschedule. I'm not convinced he's even running."
Today 5/14/2011 7:12:28 AM UTC+1000
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MsJS
I advise Mr. B to wait until July, when T-Paw has to submit a quarterly fundraising report. If his take is impressive, then he has a chance to deal with low name recognition. If not, it'll be an uphill battle for him. 
 
IIRC, Michael Dukakis was a liberal and didn't go around saying he could unite the D's better than anyone else. Al Gore tried (unsuccessfully) to paint Dukakis as being too liberal, but not before the two of them bombarded the airwaves with anti-Gephardt ads a
...See More
Today 5/14/2011 7:03:45 AM UTC+1000
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bernielatham
Pawlenty is not mean enough to start World War III following any real or imagined slander of the nation's manliness and thus will not inspire modern conservatives.
Today 5/14/2011 6:49:49 AM UTC+1000
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bsimon1
"Maybe they’re hoping that someone more exciting will come along. But if not, Tim Pawlenty will still be there." 
 
I can't say that I recall the nominating process that put Pawlenty on the ballot for Gov in MN; but I'd bet the above sentence describes it to a 'T'. Certainly the electorate never gave him a majority of the vote in the general. And for all that he's boring and likes goofy phrases like "Sam's Club Republicans," he makes himself likeable. Pawlenty is going to surp
...See More
Today 5/14/2011 6:36:46 AM UTC+1000
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sargegreg
All, interesting post from Jonathan Bernstein on Tim Pawlenty's chances: 
 
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/post...
Today 5/14/2011 6:25:34 AM UTC+1000
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