The Republican presidential primary field looks to consist almost entirely of people who have been out of office for years
Republican politicians who are on the rise are sitting out the contest to challenge incumbent President Obama, by and large leaving it to those who've not successfully fought political battles in years.
Current office-holders and rising stars such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan have said they will not run. And with early possible contenders Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, and Sen. John Thune (S.D.) all now having bowed out of the running, that could leave an eventual GOP field that contains only one person who currently holds elected office -- Texas Rep. Ron Paul, the anti-war libertarian who wants to eliminate the Federal Reserve -- as well as only one serious contender who has run a successful race in the social media era, former Utah governor Jon Huntsman.
Why does this matter? Because to win the presidency it helps to have the well-known launching pad of a job as an elected official -- or, barring that, the support of a strong and growing political movement -- and be in tune with how contemporary campaigns are run.
The last time a candidate who was not an elected official at the time he ran for office won the presidency was when Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter in 1980. Reagan was the GOP's next-in-line figure to seize the nomination that year, having run and lost the 1976 GOP primaries after the end of his second term as governor of California, and having built a power base as a leader of the ascendent conservative movement within the GOP. He was an early favorite in a way no GOP contender is today, according to polling data, when Republicans are facing a rare front-runnerless race, and the only intraparty movement of note, the tea party, appears to be flagging.