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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Candidate Profile: #9. Rick Perry

For background to this series, click here. For previous posts in the series:

Tier 4--They Know They Can't Win
16. George Pataki
(15.5. James Gilmore)
15. Lindsey Graham
14. Carly Fiorina

Tier 3--We Know They Can't Win
13. Rick Santorum
12. Mike Huckabee
11. Donald Trump
10. Bobby Jindal

Time for Tier 2, which I'm calling, "If Everything Breaks Right." In this tier, I wouldn't give any candidate more than a five percent chance to win, but if everything breaks right for them, they can make a run.

Our first candidate in Tier 2 can win the election due to three reasons: 1) He was a long-term, conservative executive of a large and diverse state; 2) He has a network of powerful donors; and 3) Ummmmm, three is. . . . Uh, sorry, I can't remember it. Oops.

Rick Perry, 65, former governor of Texas, 2000-2015

Campaign Website and Slogan--www.rickperry.org--"I Studied This Time." (Okay, I admit it, that was from The Onion.)

PPFA Slogan--Give Me Another Chance! (Have You Seen My New Glasses?)

Ideology on liberal-conservative spectrum (-10 is far left and +10 is far right. A center moderate is 0.): +7 (Individual rights: +7; domestic issues: +8; economy: +8; foreign policy: +5).  He's one of only four candidates who's a +5 or higher in all categories.  (Others: Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and #13 Rick Santorum.)  Importantly, he's the only governor to pull that off.

Conservative Rank based on above: 4 of 16. Being in the top quartile of conservatism in this group is quite the accomplishment.

Spin from the candidate's campaign--"It will be a show me not tell me election." There are three types of candidates in this election. (No, I'm not setting up another "oops.") The politicians who talk a big game, the business people who bluster even more, and Rick Perry, the governor who gets results. For 15 years, Perry ran the 14th largest economy in the world. Thanks to his conservative policies, the Texan economy helped buoy America's. Since Perry became governor in 2000, one-third of all new private sector jobs in the country were created in Texas. President Obama loves to brag about private sector job growth since the recession, but without the 1.5 million jobs created in Texas, the country would actually be down 400,000 jobs. As Texas governor, Perry was also on the front lines of the immigration battle and knows best how to handle it. On top of all this important experience, he embraces all conservative social issues as well. He's pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, pro-Second Amendment, pro-God in public sphere, and pro-expansion of the military; you name it, he's conservative. At the same time, however, he wants to grow the party by speaking about controversial issues, as he did earlier this month at the National Press Club when he took on the issue of race and black poverty. This is not your 2012 Rick Perry.

Spin from opponents--Oh yes it is. Our newly bespectacled candidate is still that same guy, just four years older. His campaign website's "Issues" page reads like "CliffsNotes: Running for President." Apparently he's for economic growth so that every American can find work; he's for lower taxes to lower everyday expenses; he thinks the debt is bad; and he wants to make America safer. How he'll do those things is unclear, of course. His website champions pass successes much more frequently than laying out paths for new ones. The economic record he boasts has been fact-checked and partly debunked. While it's unclear if he's that much smarter than he appeared in the 2012 debates, it's also unlikely. Is this really the candidate Republicans want to send to the debate stage against Hillary Clinton? She is many things, but stupid is not one of them.

How do the polls look?--His RCP national average is 2.8, which is tied for ninth place with Christie. (This is a far cry from his exciting 2012 entry, when he skyrocketed to the front of the polls. More on that below.) Then, as now, his best hope is to connect with Iowa voters to get the Iowa bump. Then, he finished in fifth place with ten percent of the vote. Now, he's in 11th at 3.7 percent in the RCP average. I'm pretty sure that's worse. He's also 11th in both New Hampshire and South Carolina. At least he's consistent! If only he wasn't consistently out of the top ten.

PPFA analysis--I'll tell you, as I was writing the last two sections I almost talked myself out of putting him in Tier 2, even if he does only occupy the bottom spot in it. However, I think he has both a higher floor (with the exception of #12 Mike Huckabee who has a pretty devout following) and a higher ceiling than all candidates below him.

In 2012, I really think he jumped into that race too quickly. There was enormous interest in his candidacy and his ability to be the instant front-runner over Mitt Romney. Within a month of his mid-August declaration, he tapped an excited donor base from his enormous state and across the country to take the lead in fundraising. The polls were unanimous in regards to his national lead; from late August to late September, Real Clear Politics recorded seventeen straight national polls that Perry led, eight of them by double digits. Things could not have been going better.

And then he debated and had a generally awful campaign, culminating in Oopsocalypse 2012. It was as if his campaign's official song was the Benny Hill theme. In his haste to seize on the Draft Perry movement, he did not prepare for what was to come. Romney had been running for president for six years to that point. He was experienced, his strategy refined. Even Perry's political allies thought he hadn't put in much prep work. Perry has since vowed to be ready this time around. He admitted to having been startled by the "intensity" of a presidential race and has been preparing for another one as early as last summer.

A more prepared Rick Perry can be a dangerous candidate. Republicans love executives, and no candidate has governed a state this large since George W. Bush (also Texas) and Ronald Reagan (California) before him. Those are two of your last three Republican presidents, and the third, George H.W. Bush, rode in on Reagan's coattails. As noted above in the "Ideology" section, Perry is also the most conservative governor in the race, even more than Scott Walker and much more than Jeb Bush. If Republicans again decide they want a mix of executive leadership and consistent conservatism, Rick Perry can be their candidate.

It's unlikely to happen, considering how bad his poll numbers are to say nothing of the potentially indelible stain of the 2012 race, but a Perry nomination is on the fringe of possibility.

PPFA nomination rank--9 of 16 (Odds: 25:1).

PPFA general election rank--10 of 16. He and #10 Bobby Jindal swap their nomination and general election rank. As southern conservative governors, they have basic similarities. Perry has the edge in likelihood for the nomination because he might be able to recapture Republicans' 2012 excitement toward him, whereas Jindal has yet to show that ability. However, Petty is also too far solidified as an over-matched intellect in the minds of the general electorate. Jindal might impress some people with his brain.

Who's the next candidate in Tier 2?  I'll let you know on Friday.

2 comments:

Stevie K said...

This is a pretty convincing argument for Perry. The only negative seems to his "oops" moment, which is fairly petty compared to the Bridgegate scandal of the forthcoming candidate on your list.

And wow, this whole thing is so much clearer to understand now that you're listing the previous candidate profiles at the very beginning of your posts! I'm going to click through all the profiles that I missed.

IC said...

But the oops moment is representative of broader difficulties with articulation and thinking on his feet. He hasn't shown he can be a better candidate yet. I find it unlikely he improved that much. If he did, it could become an electric campaign. The opponent you referenced is one of the most adept on this list at connecting to the voter.

Thanks! I had an epiphany.

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