Could 2012 be the Republican version of what happened to Democrats in 2004? ~Chris Cillizza
If it is, that is another argument for Romney as the nominee. After all, what happened to the Democrats in 2004? The field was full of rather drab “centrist” and hawkish Democrats, and all of the candidates coming from the Senate in 2004 had voted for the Iraq war resolution and had only belatedly become critics of the management of the war. Dean had started off as a little-known “centrist” governor whose main interest was health care reform, but quickly tapped into intense antiwar sentiment among activists and donors by becoming an outspoken critic of the Iraq war.
As interesting as Dean’s brief surge was, he didn’t have the organization or depth of support on the ground in Iowa to translate that early enthusiasm into a victory, and after finishing third in Iowa it was all downhill from there. As a result, Kerry eventually came away with the nomination, and the Democratic ticket could draw no clear contrast with Bush on Iraq. Despite that, Bush was re-elected with the weakest winning result for a modern incumbent President. It may be that the Democrats squandered their chance to beat him by opting for the safer, more conventional candidate. Regardless, the Republican candidate in the likely 2012 field who most resembles Kerry and represents the conventional, establishment choice is Romney.