If it's in the News, it's in our Polls. Public opinion polling since 2003.

 

Go Michele

A Commentary By Susan Estrich

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

For a Democrat, it's too good to be true. Michele Bachmann and Mitt Romney running neck and neck in Iowa. Romney having to worry about the one in five who won't vote for a Mormon, and Bachmann hiring a cadre of top Republican consultants, starting with Ed Rollins and Ed Goeas.

Is the sun shining on Barack Obama or what? This is better than Donald Trump. At least he could lay some claim to business expertise, even if many of his projects were too big -- not too successful -- to fail. As for Bachmann, she is better known as a cable television staple than as someone who has accomplished anything at all in Congress, apart from the Congressional Tea Party Caucus. No legislative experience, no executive experience, no business experience. Perfect -- for the Iowa caucuses anyway.

I know there's someone out there saying: But what about Obama? So let's get that out of the way at the outset. Obama had serious credentials from his years in the Senate and, before that, in the Illinois Senate. He was known as a man of ideas. Agree or not with those ideas, no one was asking if he was a "flake." It's just not a word that you connect with Obama. I was a Hillary supporter, but not for a minute did I doubt that Obama was extraordinary.

There are a number of Republicans whom I view as competent to hold themselves out for the presidency. Mitt Romney is certainly one, as is Jon Huntsman. I don't know Tim Pawlenty, but many people I respect speak well of him. I do know Newt Gingrich, and frankly, he is one of the smartest and most original thinkers I have met in politics. I'm leaving Sarah Palin out because I don't for a minute believe she is running, but even she was a respected governor.

Bachmann? The Christine O'Donnell of campaign 2012. Remember how that caused Republicans to lose a Senate seat they were counting on. That's what happens when it's all ideology and no competence.

And that is very often what Iowa is about. If you sat down to come up with a way to choose presidential candidates that would allow unelectable ideologues to be nominated, you couldn't do better than ours. I know: How do you spell George McGovern?

Many of the rules of this game were put in place by my Democratic friends (and by me, I'm in there all over the place beginning in 1981) to ensure that what we called "insurgent" and "non-establishment" candidates would not be eliminated because they lacked the money, endorsements or establishment support that a Romney starts with.

It's not a bad idea in theory, but in practice, it can easily lead to the selection of candidates who aren't "big" enough (running in states like Iowa and New Hampshire bears no resemblance whatsoever to a general election), whose appeal is way too limited (I like Mike Huckabee, but did anyone in 2008 think he could get elected president?), or who are just plain too far off the beaten path.

Like Michele Bachmann.

Could she win in Iowa? Sure. A divided field, a caucus system in which ideologues are the only ones who vote and a message tailored directly to those ideologues with no thought to November, and a woman who has never made an executive decision or passed a bill could wind up on top in Iowa. Her well-paid consultants could certainly make it happen. They could take the victory lap. If you could get Bachmann that far, just think what you could do with a real candidate.

We Democrats could take a victory lap, as well. With Bachmann in the race, let alone taking a commanding position, the qualified candidates would have to meet her on her side of the road -- which is way, way off the road to the White House.

It might just be time for both sides to take a fresh look at the nominating process to ensure that competence matters as much as ideology and that we are picking candidates who can win, not just those we like best. But there is certainly no time for any of that before the Iowa caucuses roll around. The way things are looking now, I can't wait.

COPYRIGHT 2011 CREATORS.COM

See Other Political Commentaries.

See Other Commentaries by Susan Estrich.

Views expressed in this column are those of the author, not those of Rasmussen Reports.    Comments about this content should be directed to the author or syndicate.

Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information.

We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence, we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day. If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a daily update newsletter and various media outlets across the country.

Some information, including the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll and commentaries are available for free to the general public. Subscriptions are available for $3.95 a month or 34.95 a year that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on upcoming elections, consumer confidence, and issues that affect us all. For those who are really into the numbers, Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs and a full history of our data.

To learn more about our methodology, click here.