Chances are good that either Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush or someone rather like them will be the Republican presidential nominee in 2016, according to Doug Mataconis writing in The Christian Science Monitor
The process by which the Republican Party picks its presidential candidate favors the selection of a moderate conservative over a maverick who embodies tea party values.
Moreover, the assertion that conservatives didn't go to the polls in recent elections because the GOP's standard-bearer was insufficiently conservative is unsubstantiated, writes Mataconis, an attorney in private practice and political blogger.
Romney, derided in tea party quarters as "Republican In Name Only," is in fact the leading candidate Republicans want in the 2016 campaign: 59 percent want the former Massachusetts governor to run, according to a CBS News poll
Bush, the former Florida governor, has 50 percent of those polled saying he should enter the race.
Next, at 40 percent, comes Mike Huckabee. The former Arkansas governor is considered a traditionalist on family values though not a strict fiscal conservative.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, also an establishment-leaning hopeful, has 29 percent of those polled by CBS saying he should get on the campaign trail.
Of the maverick senatorial possibilities, the poll has 27 percent of Republicans favoring Kentucky's Rand Paul in the race, 26 percent would like Marco Rubio of Florida running, and 21 percent are pulling for Ted Cruz of Texas to enter the race.
The gubernatorial mavericks get comparatively tepid support, with 21 percent wanting Rick Perry of Texas to run, 14 percent hoping Bobby Jindal of Louisiana will get in the race, and 22 percent thinking Wisconsin's Scott Walker should throw his hat in the ring.
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson had 21 percent saying he should run, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum drew 19 percent.
While name recognition may partially explain why the establishment politicians outdraw the mavericks, the results nevertheless run counter to claims that Americans are hankering after a hard-right conservative, according to Mataconis.
In recent decades, the Republican Party has not nominated a maverick, writes Mataconis.
He challenges the portrait some conservatives have painted of Ronald Reagan as hard right. Instead of going with a candidate who appeals to the base, the party usually goes for a contender attractive "to the middle of American politics," writes Mataconis.
The prospects of "middle of the road" candidates are further raised because most GOP presidential primaries are open primaries.
Moreover, major donors generally prefer not to put their money on mavericks. This means that those hoping that Cruz or Paul will top the ticket will probably be let down, according to Mataconis.
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