Is Rick Santorum a true contender for the Republican presidential nomination? How long will it take for the Republican Party to select its presidential nominee? These were some of the looming questions facing AEI’s political team during Tuesday’s Election Watch, the third of the 2012 campaign season. Moderated by Karlyn Bowman, the panel delved into discussion of the primaries on the immediate horizon, with Michigan, which holds its primary on February 28, as the main focus. Henry Olsen and Michael Barone debated whether Rick Santorum, on the rise in recent polls, would win Michigan -- which would be a major upset considering that it is Mitt Romney’s home state. Olsen maintained that while Santorum may not capture a victory in Michigan, he will likely put up a strong challenge. Barone then argued that Romney -- his former high school classmate -- would win Michigan because the state’s electorate (especially in the metro Detroit area) is affluent. In short, Barone argued that Romney appeals to this demographic. Norm Ornstein then demonstrated that unlike in other recent elections, none of the current top tier Republican candidates have a strong regional connection to their home states. Overall, panelists concluded that because none of the candidates has made a strong case for why he should be the party’s nominee, an open Republican convention is not out of the question.
Rick Santorum’s sweep of the Colorado and Minnesota caucuses and Missouri primary added the latest jolt to the Republican campaign. Now he’s leading several state and national polls. Is he the true conservative alternative to Mitt Romney and a real contender for the Republican presidential nomination? Can Santorum do the once unthinkable and win Romney’s home state of Michigan? Will low fundraising numbers hurt Santorum’s chances? And if Santorum is the Republican nominee, can Republicans write off the independent vote?
Join AEI’s Election Watch team for a reflection on the races that have already taken place and a look ahead to the contests to come. Celebrating its 30th anniversary, AEI's Election Watch series is Washington's longest-running election program for a reason: serious historical commentary and insights that can't be beat.
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MICHAEL BARONE, AEI
HENRY OLSEN, AEI
NORMAN J. ORNSTEIN, AEI
KARLYN BOWMAN, AEI
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Michael Barone, a political analyst and journalist and a resident fellow at AEI, studies politics, American government, and campaigns and elections. The principal co-author of the biennial “Almanac of American Politics” (National Journal Group), he has written many books on American politics and history. Mr. Barone is also a senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner.
Karlyn Bowman is a senior fellow at AEI. She compiles and analyzes American public opinion using available polling data on a variety of subjects, including the economy, taxes, the state of workers in America, the environment and global warming, attitudes about homosexuality and gay marriage, the North American Free Trade Agreement and free trade, the war in Iraq, and women's attitudes. In addition, Ms. Bowman has studied and spoken about the evolution of American politics resulting from key demographic and geographic changes. She has often lectured on the role of think tanks in the United States.
Henry Olsen, a lawyer by training, is the director of AEI's National Research Initiative. In that capacity, he identifies leading academics and public intellectuals who work in an aspect of domestic public policy and recruits them to visit or write for AEI. Mr. Olsen studies and writes about the policy and political implications of long-term trends in social, economic and political thought.
Norman J. Ornstein is a long-time observer of Congress and politics. He writes a weekly column for Roll Call and is an election analyst for CBS News. He also serves as co-director of the AEI-Brookings Election Reform Project and as a senior counselor to the Continuity of Government Commission. Mr. Ornstein led a working group of scholars and practitioners that helped shape the law known as McCain-Feingold, which reformed the campaign-financing system. He was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004. His many books include “The Permanent Campaign and Its Future” (AEI Press, 2000); the co-authored “The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track” (Oxford University Press, 2006); and, most recently, “Vital Statistics on Congress, 2008” (Brookings Institution Press, 2008), also co-authored.