Invisible Primary, Invisible Candidates?
A piece at RealClearPolitics uses the occasion of Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s visit to New Hampshire on Wednesday to pose the question of why Republican presidential hopefuls seem more interested in visiting Iowa than the Granite State at this early point in the invisible primary. It is true that we are still way early in the process, but the fact that Pawlenty’s visit here to keynote a Republican fundraiser yesterday has garnered so much attention underscores the reality that we haven’t seen a lot of action yet.
I actually touched on the answer to this question in a post almost two weeks ago when I noted that movement conservatives appear highly mobilized by anger over the Republican Party’s performance in the 2008 elections and the perceived weakness of the party’s institutional elites in Washington. As a result, I suggested that potential Republican presidential candidates who believe they will play well with these conservatives could turn up early in places like Iowa and South Carolina in significant numbers, due to the dominance of social and religious conservatives in the selection process of those states.
New Hampshire will still get its fair share of visits from Republican presidential hopefuls over the next two years, but they may develop more in response to how Iowa is shaping up than is typically the case. New Hampshire would be the ideal place for a fiscally-conservative candidate to be positioned as the alternative to any candidate who emerges from Iowa with strong movement conservative backing. But given the party’s current internal dynamic, it may take a little bit longer than usual for that individual to find his or her way here.
Note: With much holiday merriment still to be had on this weekend before Christmas, I'm going to be away from posting until Monday.  See you then, if not at a local holiday gathering first. -Dean

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