For disclosure, I admit to supporting Michele Bachmann above any other current candidate. She seems to me the most consistent with my own political positions. If it wasn’t for the fact that I live in a last to vote in the primaries State (how is that for all votes count?) my involvement in the process would be much more. For the moment I can only hope that primary voters who do have some power will give her more of a shot. As this year’s Iowa Ames straw poll shows, newspaper and national polls don’t tell the whole story.
That out of the way, this isn’t directly about her. Two Mormon contenders are in the Republican Party who want to be the next U.S. President. Their chances could not be more different.
Mitt Romney used to be the presumptive front runner before Gov. Rick Perry entered the race. Even if he remained in the front runner, there are weaknesses that trouble many Republican voters. First and foremost he is Mormon. It may only be a concern for 19 percent of Republicans, but that is still a lot of voters who would never choose a Mormon. This is particularly true in the South where the future of a Republican Presidential candidate is decided.
He has his supporters, but mostly elitist and Eastern old school Republicans that the grassroots are becoming increasingly upset with. Attacks against Rick Perry’s definition of Social Security as a “Ponzi Scheme” might sound like a winning strategy (and perhaps they are in the general election), but a large and influential primary voting block sees it as support for Big Government. His views on the existence of Global Warming and even Evolution draws lots of criticism. Most importantly, right or wrong, his version of Healthcare set up as Governor continues to be a heavy albatross probably more than his religion.
His only saving grace is a history in the private sector with jobs and the economy. Many conservatives like his plan presented to the public right before Pres. Obama spoke about another plan. That might not be enough for a primary electorate hungry for a no-gloves fighter against Democrats and not members of his own party. He is weakest economically on taxes where a “fair tax” or a “flat tax” is popular among many Republicans while he wants to remain with low taxes, but chides against the newer ideas.
Lots of press aside, it would take a miracle for Jon Huntsman to win anything in the primaries. Him and Romney are too identical ideologically and follically. Referring to Utah for examples of his economic success doesn’t help much, because it is viewed as an irrelevant State in the desert that isn’t Nevada. He does have other problems that add to low poll numbers.
The press, liberals, and some elitist Republicans love him. Endorsement by those who are supposed to be your political nemeses makes the grassroots see him as loathsome. Many don’t consider him even worthy of the “Rino” label, but a Democratic operative who should switch parties. They are upset that the press and Democrats picked McCain as the nominee the last time and don’t want that to happen again.
Declaring proudly to those who decide your future that you believe in science while a large segment who disagree with Global Warming and Evolution do not, implying stupidity and lack of education, cannot be a good way to get elected. His views are so far apart from such a large segment of the Republican voters that its any wonder he is still in the race. At least Ron Paul has a semblance of economic and constitutional ideas that are ideologically similar to conservative Republican notions.
His distancing himself from “Mormonism” doesn’t help with the religious social conservatives. They see it as slouching toward atheism and relativism than a moderation. They want someone who stands for a religious conviction, while admittedly rejecting them if they don’t stand for what is considered the right religious convictions. He is between a rock and a hard place here, but “squishy” spirituality is seen more as a negative than specific devotions.
The end result is always hard to tell at this point. What I personally predict is that, polls notwithstanding, the race is really between Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann. Right now Gov. Perry has the lead, but that can change if Bachmann and the others can prove he isn’t the conservative many believe. What can be known is that he currently has both parts elitist and grassroots conservatism sides to positions. Final results will show if the elitists or the grassroots have the most fight in them and largest numbers. No matter what, both Mormons I predict will lose and perhaps early.
For a little more opinion background to see what conservative Republicans are saying, read: