The Internal Struggle In The Republican Party: Minnesota Vs. Mormonism!

With the announcement today that Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels will not run for the Republican Presidential nomination, the race seems more than ever to be one of FOUR who are likely to dominate vote getting in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, the early primary and caucus states next winter!

As one looks at the field, it seems clear that Newt Gingrich has self destructed in his first week as an official candidate. Rick Santorum seems unlikely to take off as a candidate, based on his own past crazy statements and walloping defeat for re-election in Pennsylvania in 2006. Herman Cain, Gary Johnson, and even Ron Paul, will make noise, but are unlikely to poll many actual votes.

So unless someone such as Chris Christie or Jeb Bush suddenly enters the race belatedly, there seem to be four major contenders for actual popular vote support in the primaries and the caucuses early on–Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman, and surprisingly, Michele Bachmann!

Bachmann is the favorite of the Tea Party people, more even than Ron Paul, who is seen as too old and flaky to be much of a vote getter. Even though she is outrageous in her statements and actions, Bachmann is likely to have a serious following in Iowa at the least, and could affect who of the other candidates benefits by her candidacy.

Bachmann, being from Minnesota, and therefore from the Midwest, poses a real challenge to former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who has been very careful to avoid outrageous statements and actions, and yet is competing for the Tea Party support and for the backing of Midwesterners. Iowa is a crucial state to both, so they are therefore at loggerheads as Bachmann could ruin Pawlenty’s chances. So expect the beginning soon of sustained attacks by each on the other, and increasingly so, as the campaign gets closer to the first vote test in Iowa, which has many evangelical Christians and Tea Party people, and will likely kill off either Bachmann or Pawlenty. So it is the battle of Minnesotan vs. Minnesotan!

But the 2012 race is also of Mormon vs. Mormon, as Jon Huntsman, former Governor of Utah, and seen as a moderate to some extent, is challenging Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts, who is also often seen as a moderate. Both are working very hard to wipe such ideas out of voters’ minds, as both oppose health care and support Medicare reform along the lines of the Paul Ryan Budget plan. Both are much more electible on paper, but being Mormons and having the old image of moderation could harm both, and certainly, one will be hurt by the success of the other.

What is likely is that the nomination will come down to Pawlenty vs. one of the two Mormon politicians, with Huntsman being newer and fresher and more interesting a candidate.

So the final struggle is likely to be Pawlenty vs. Huntsman, and it would seem likely that Pawlenty would have the edge, but only if he can overcome the influence of Bachmann with Tea Party faithful.

For the election, Huntsman or even Romney would be a better bet to win than Pawlenty, but the Tea Party influence is such that the bet would be that Pawlenty will be the sacrificial lamb, with the likelihood that Barack Obama would win a major victory, possibly on the level of George H. W. Bush over Michael Dukakis in 1988!