Another one gone


Lindsay Graham has left the presidential contest. For all the grief I gave him in my debate articles, I have to admit that Graham was starting to grow on me. Foreign policy is not my main area of expertise, but Graham’s ideas, while more bellicose than my own, were the product of intelligent thinking on the subject. He had a theory and he applied it, which is more than I can say for the sound bite- and photo op-based policies of some other candidates (and the current president). He cares about it, thinks it’s important, and wants to get it right. I wish he had polled highly enough to make it into the main debates, because he would have added the seriousness that few candidates brought to the table on that topic.

I also respect Graham for being himself. He’s weird, but he knows it, is comfortable with it, and has no intention of changing. I laughed at some of his jokes, and appreciated the contrast of one man who can inject humor into a situation where he is clearly experienced enough to relax, and a bunch of others who were nervously repeating sound bites. Many candidates’ humor, when it exists, is in memorized jokes written for them and crammed in to the first applicable opening in the conversation. It feels fake. Lindsey Graham is real.

He’ll be missed, at least around here, though I appreciate that he did the right thing in giving up where there was no hope of victory. The most shocking thing about Graham’s failure to catch fire was not that he fell short in Iowa and New Hampshire, but that he failed in his home state of South Carolina. Less than two years ago, Graham won re-election to the Senate convincingly. Yet in the last two polls before leaving the campaign, he was averaging 1.5% in his home state. If there is one lesson to be learned from the Graham campaign, it’s that the favorite son is dead, and the primary election system killed it.

A local candidate used to run as a favorite son, holding his state’s delegates at the convention in exchange for some favor from the eventual nominee. That’s a calculation the delegates of a state convention were able to make, but not one that a state’s primary voters are likely to consider. Even so, the eventual nominee ought to consider listening to Graham’s counsel and, if he wins, setting aside a place for Graham in the cabinet.

The Old Leader


I was reading about John A. Macdonald on Wikipedia when came across this Canadian election poster from 1891, with possibly the most pro-establishment campaign slogan ever written:


Naturally, it made me think of Jeb, and since I just bought Photoshop, I figured I had to make the effort. This was the result:

The Old Leader

Now that’s an old-style conservative poster!

Two peas in a pod


As a part of our continuing series looking at presidential candidates before they drop out, I thought I’d turn my gaze tonight on two fairly similar candidates: Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee.

These two are blasts from the past, with Santorum having last won an election in 2000, Huckabee in 2002. The both come from the theocratic wing of the party. Which is not to say they’d call themselves theocrats (although Huckabee is an ordained minister) but rather that their conservatism has more to do with tradition and religion than it does with libertarianism and supply-side economics.

Both are pretty good on the stump, although as a high-church Episcopalian, Santorum’s style speaks to me more than the Baptist cadences of Huckabee’s delivery, smoooooth though he is. Huckabee is better, too, at tapping into that strain of populism that seems to be coursing through the party these days, but neither man is quite good enough to get any serious notice. In the RCP average of polls, Huckabee sits at 2.3%, while Santorum lingers way down at 0.3%. In Iowa, where both men have had better success in the past, they both poll below 2%.

My main question besides why don’t they drop out is where their former supporters are going. Huckabee won the Iowa caucus with 34% of the vote in 2008. In 2012, Santorum squeaked by the eventual nominee, Mitt Romney, by 24.56% to 24.53%. Where’s that vote going? Is it still up for grabs? It seems crazy to think they’ve flocked to the seriously non-religious Donald Trump. Are they voting Carson?

It’s still early and all that, but it’s not as early as it was. Iowa caucuses in 60 days! I predict both Santorum and Huckabee will stay in until then, but a bad showing there should end if for both of them. Huckabee will go back to selling books and Santorum will go back to, what, collecting sweater vests? Whatever he does. And then the real race for social conservatives’ votes can begin.