Campaign 2012: John Carroll grades the GOP candidates

November 4th, 2011

John Carroll, assistant professor of mass communication and a political analyst, offers his grades on the GOP presidential candidates as we near the one year out point to the election:

Time to grade the presidential candidates, so once around the park, James, and don’t spare the horses —


They say when your opponent is self-destructing, just stay out of his way. In the GOP presidential primaries, Mitt Romney (R-Anderson? Anderson?) is giving the rest of the field a very wide berth indeed. Romney refuses to go on the Sunday squawk shows and – apart from a few H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks moments in debates and on the campaign trail – he’s remained above the fray. So far, Romney is winning by staying out of the game.



After Rick Perry (R-Am I Still Laughing?) was done hugging his bottle of maple syrup in his Granite State gigglefest, he seemed to get back to normal, which is slightly north of 10% in the polls. But he’s spending some serious money on TV spots in Iowa and New Hampshire, and his Super PAC Make Up Great Again is on the air in Iowa and South Carolina. Give the ads a couple of weeks and see if Perry can buy his way back into the race.



Tough week in the news media for Herman Cain (R-The Harmanator) as he fought sexual harassment allegations by rolling out more stories than Richard North Patterson. But things weren’t as tough in the polling or fundraising departments. In a South Carolina survey taken after the controversy broke, Cain beat Romney 33% to 23%. And he took in $250,00 in donations the day after the story hit the news, $300,000 the day after. Theory #1: This campaign has been straight out of Bizarro World all along – why would it change now? Theory #2: This could go sideways so fast we’ll wind up calling him The Crabanator.



Here’s a guy who wins all the small-time bakeoffs (Iowa straw poll last weekend, Values Voter Summit, Florida, and Ohio – by a blowout – last month). But Ron Paul (R-Can You Hear Me Now?) can’t buy media coverage. Which is why he’s buying millions of dollars worth of airtime in Iowa and New Hampshire to at least register on the public radar screen. And he’s scraping along (with Perry and Gingrich) at around 10% in the Real Clear Politics composite poll. Call it the 10% Dissolution.



Even though this is the retail politics phase of the presidential primaries, Newt Gingrich (R-Anyone Seen Callista?) so far has only shopped the specials: the debates and the squawk shows. He’s been moderately effective in both venues, alternating between Big Media Basher and Big Ideas Touter. The rest of the time he has seemed more concerned with selling his books and documentaries. But his fundraising and poll numbers are up lately, so maybe he’ll punch in after all.



Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann – wake us when one of them gets hit by lightning.



checkmark-fat-100-boxedcheckmark-fat-100-boxedcheckmark-fat-100-boxedcheckmark-fat-100-boxed= Excellent

checkmark-fat-100-boxedcheckmark-fat-100-boxedcheckmark-fat-100-boxed= Good

checkmark-fat-100-boxedcheckmark-fat-100-boxed= Fair

checkmark-fat-100-boxed= Poor


Contact Carroll at 617-353-3493;; Twitter: johncarroll_bu; Blog: Campaign Outsider

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