Douthat is still hoping that none of the current GOP frontrunners win the 2012 nomination:
If Romney starts to crater, it will probably be because one of his rivals for the “serious, non-polarizing and electable” niche be it Pawlenty, Jon Thune, Mitch Daniels, or somebody else has broken out of the pack and begun to consolidate significant support already. True, the ever-persuasive Nate Silver argued against this possibility earlier this week: “If one of the front-runners flops in some way once the campaign actually begins,” he wrote, “I don’t see why it wouldn’t be one of the other front-runners who would pick up their slack: If Sarah Palin’s campaign gets off to a poor start, for instance, it is probably Mr. Gingrich not Mr. Pawlenty or Mr. Thune who would get first dibs on her votes.” But what if Gingrich, Palin and Huckabee all have a hard ceiling on their support?
What if any of them could get to 25 or 30 percent, but none of them could get to 35 or 40? Or to put it another way: If Chris Christie and “Not Sure” can outpoll Romney and Palin at this stage, doesn’t that suggest that there’s a substantial market for somebody who isn’t considered a front-runner just yet?
The Republicans have nominated an early frontrunner every quadrennial in the primary era: McCain, Bush, Bush, Dole, Bush, Bush, Reagan, Reagan, Ford, Nixon, Nixon, Goldwater, Nixon, Eisenhower, Eisenhower. Unlike the Democrats, who parcel out votes proportionally (moreso since 1984 than previously) the GOP has a winner-take-all system. This makes it extremely hard for someone who isn’t an early favorite to gain steam over a long race. If you don’t win at least one primary in Iowa, New Hampshire, or South Carolina, you’re toast.
It's hers to lose.
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