Be afraid of Chris Christie
Michael and I were playing the generally useless but fun game of "guess who the GOP presidential nominee will be in four years." Rubio, Jindal, Hunstman, and Bush were some of the names we threw around. I offered that we might have to wait and see how the Republicans fare in the midterms before we can assess how the civil war between the radical right and the moderate right shakes out.
Whatever happens, I don't see the crazy wing of the party going away, no matter what Karl Rove and his friend might try to orchestrate. As with Romney, the relatively centrist candidate will have to say some stupid things to be competitive in some of the redder states while trying not to sound too insane the rest of the time. The same balancing act that Romney tried and failed to execute will be required by whoever is up next.
Anyway, it's a lot of fun to speculate, but there's too much that has to happen before we can say anything meaningful.
One thing that I will say is that the Democrats should fear New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
I don't like the SOB, but his faux pragmatic swagger will give him the potential to draw a lot of moderate votes away from Democrats while also calming conservatives. The subtext of the Christie campaign will be: "You may not always agree with him, but he doesn't take any shit." Conservatives love that stuff. A lot of people love that stuff.
And nothing consolidates a party more than a string of loses and the hope of changing its fortune. Christie won't be everyone's cup of tea on the right, but succeed will breed support, even among the most skeptical.
A couple of days ago, a Monmouth University / Asbury Park Press poll in New Jersey found that Christie has an approval rating of 70% with just 17% disapproving.
More disconcerting is that he has a 58% approval rating from Democrats and 60% from public employees. And it's a blue state in national elections.
It's early, but the big guy from the Garden State is not the one I'd like to run against.