over at the New York Times takes us thru the possibility that the two front runners do NOT make the cut…..
Brooks talks about quite a few Republicans actually MORE popular then the two top guys….
There are two different narratives running through the Republican Party right now. The first is the Trumpian populist narrative we’re all familiar with: American carnage … the elites have betrayed us … the left is destroying us … I am your retribution.
On the other hand, Republican governors from places like Georgia, Virginia and New Hampshire often have a different story to tell. They are running growing, prospering states. (Seven of the 10 fastest growing states have Republican governors while eight of the 10 fastest shrinking states have Democratic governors.)
So their stories are not about the left behind; they can tell stories about the places people are leaving for. Their most appealing narrative is: Jobs and people are coming to us, we’ve got the better model, we’re providing businesslike leadership to keep it going.
These different narratives yield different political messages. The bellicose populists put culture war issues front and center. The conservative governors certainly play the values card, especially when schools try to usurp the role of parents, but they are strongest when emphasizing pocketbook issues and quality of life issues….
So right now the G.O.P. has two leading candidates with similar views, and the same ever-present anti-woke combativeness. The race is between populist Tweedledum and populist Tweedledee.
The conventional wisdom is that it will stay that way — but maybe not. At this point in earlier election cycles, Jeb Bush, Rudy Giuliani, Scott Walker and Mike Huckabee were doing well in their polls. None became the nominee.
Furthermore, the conservative managerial wing of the party is not some small offshoot of the Tucker Carlson universe. In 2022, the normies did much better than the populists. Look at Gov. Mike DeWine’s landslide win in Ohio. Millions and millions of Republicans are voting for these people.
In Georgia Kemp took on Trump about the Big Lie and cruised to victory. As Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report has pointed out, Kemp had almost 90 percent approval among his state’s Republican voters in a January poll, whereas Trump’s favorability rating was nearly 20 points lower among those voters. Kemp’s overall approval rating among Georgia voters was a whopping 62 percent, including 34 percent of Democrats. Trump’s favorability rating was a pathetic 38 percent in this swing state….
The conclusion I draw is that the Trump-DeSantis duopoly is unstable and represents a wing of the party many people are getting sick of.
What does that mean? Maybe somebody like Kemp is coaxed into running. Maybe eyes turn to Tim Scott, an effective, optimistic senator from South Carolina. Maybe the former governor of New Jersey Chris Christie enters the race and takes a sledgehammer to Trump in a way that doesn’t help his own candidacy but shakes up the status quo….
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