After seven months of polls, campaign events, and debates the time for talk is over.
With the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire Primary results tabulated and the South Carolina Primary coming up this Saturday, we are witnessing the incoming of the hard evidence. Polls and debates are excellent for measuring the status of the Republican Party and making predictions, but the concrete evidence of knowing which direction the party is heading is in these primary elections.
Various spinners and number crunchers will point out that Candidate A did well with Group Y and Candidate B & D split the Group Z vote, while Group X strongly believed that Candidate C went too negative on Candidate A.
In the end, there is only one question that matters:
Who got the most votes?
Winning elections matters because it can provide momentum, the collection of endorsements, and most importantly, money to a campaign.
We are approaching the third contest in this process: the South Carolina Republican Primary. Since the establishment of this race in 1980, the candidate that won this contest has gone on to the Republican Nomination. That is a total of eight races spanning 32 years and different eras in Republican Politics. Five of those were contested primaries; the other three were pro forma processes due to an incumbent President running for re-election.
With that fact known by the candidates involved in this upcoming election, the time for talk is over.
That statement does not hold true for everyone involved. For the volunteers and interns, there will be other campaigns to work on. As long as we have elections and people passionate about politics, there will always be campaigns to work on.
For those that get paid to handle the candidate’s operations ranging from their offices to members of their staff and any other delegation of duties, allow me to reference the movie “The Ides of March”:
“If your boy wins, you get a job in the White House. He loses? You're back at a consulting firm.”
Without revealing more of the plot line, Ryan Gosling plays Stephen Meyers, a junior campaign manager for Governor Morris portrayed by George Clooney in a fictionalized account of a presidential primary race. As the race is coming down to Ohio, a rival campaign manager attempts to recruit him for their side. A Morris victory in this state all but ensures him his party’s nomination and a clear path to the White House. An upset by his rival, and it could change the endorsement of a key political figure within the party.
Meyers turns down the offer from the rival because he believes in Governor Morris. Meyers backs this up by saying, “He’s the only one that’s actually going to make a difference in people’s lives.” Meyers’s belief in Morris is so strong that it tests the limits of his ethics and personal convictions.
Meyers is driven by this one principle:
“He has to win.”
To the victor, goes the spoils is proven true.
When the candidate declares their candidacy is done, those in paid positions will seek opportunities with other campaigns or take a consulting job until the next campaign starts up. A setback, but again other opportunities arise.
It might be for a Senate race this year, a mayoral race in 2013, a gubernatorial re-election campaign in 2014, or if a special election pops up, these people will go where they are needed. Once their use is expended, they will make an expected return to the political dugout where they will wait for their next opportunity at bat.
For the candidate, the title of this essay is very true:
The time for talk is over.
The time for talk is over because this is it. Every gaffe, misspoken statement, exposed flaw, and missed opportunity cannot be undone. Two contests are in the books and a third is less than four days away. As stated before, South Carolina has an excellent record of choosing the Republican nominee going eight-for-eight since 1980.
There is no telling how long these candidates will have to wait for their next turn. If (and it is a strong IF) a Republican is the next occupant in the White House, the time to run for office will likely appear again in 2020. Eight years in the political world is a long time to wait. If President Obama is re-elected, the opportunity to run again appears in four years. An added bonus in this scenario is that President Obama is term limited per the Twenty Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, and the Democrats will be engaged in their own primary seeking a new candidate for the first time since 2008.
However (comma) there is no telling who will run for President in future elections let alone what the political climate might look like in at a minimum four years from now. After the 2004 Presidential Election, the political pundits predicted that it would be former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani against then-Senator Hilary Clinton of New York. Because of the rapidly changing political landscape, the punditry did not foresee that the 2008 matchup was going to involve a young Illinois Senator of mixed heritage with a funny sounding name going up against a Senator with a long career in that chamber who served his country in the Navy and sought his party’s nomination eight years earlier.
Newt Gingrich, Governor Rick Perry of Texas, Representative Ron Paul of Texas, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum know that their window of opportunity is closing rapidly. They have to convince Republicans that they are their party’s best choice and time is running out. For some of them, South Carolina is their final opportunity and the statement holds true that the time for talk is over.
Over these final four days these candidates will make one last effort to make their closing argument on why they are the standard bearer for the Republican Party in 2012. Each will do anything and say anything to make their case known to South Carolina Republicans that they should- no, correction- MUST select them over their primary opponent.
But when the polls close, the votes are tabulated on Saturday Night across The Palmetto State, and the results are announced…
The time for talk is over.