Obama vs. Huckabee?
Equals third-party entry?
The problem for all these candidates, however, is that once you become a front-runner, you become, by definition, somewhat conventional.
And, voters begin to turn against you. That, in fact, is what happened in 1976 where Jimmy Carter swept almost all the initial primaries, only to find in a few months that he was now considered an "old face" with the consequence that Jerry Brown and Frank Church began to beat him almost everywhere (though not in time to wrest the nomination away from him).
This year, in the internet age, that process will be greatly accelerated, so that in a matter of weeks or even days, Huckabee will appear as if he's been around for decades. How do you continue to appear unconventional and new in an age when everything is sped up beyond recognition? [E.A.]
Possible answer: Unless you have actual ideas and plans that a) upset the insiders and b) appeal to voters, you don't. Half-fake outsiders like Carter probably won't pull it off. ... 12:54 P.M.
Live by Pew, Die by Pew:LAT Chief Twit Tim Rutten calls the CNN-YouTube debate "corrupt" because it "chose to devote the first 35 minutes of this critical debate to a single issue -- immigration"--and did it allegedly to somehow expand the audience for CNN's Lou Dobbs.
How do we know immigration didn't deserve this play? Rutten cites a fresh poll from "the nonpartisan and highly reliable Pew Center" showing that "just 6% of the survey's national sample said that immigration was the most important electoral issue."
But of course this was a Republican primary debate, and presumably focused on issues of concern to Republican primary voters. Why didn't Rutten give his readers some Pew findings for Republicans, as opposed to all Americans? Could it be because they would show that immigration is indeed a big issue for these voters?
Here's what the "nonpartisan and highly reliable Pew Center" itself said after the CNN debate:
The first four questions of the night all focused on illegal immigration. In this regard, Pew polling shows that the debate was reflective of the importance of immigration as an issue in the Republican presidential primary.
In an October Pew survey,65% of Republican voters said that immigration was very important to their presidential vote, ranking it sixth out of 16 possible issues. In contrast, while half of Democrats (50%) and a majority of independents (57%) cited immigration as an issue that was very important to their vote, both ranked it near the bottom of their agendas; only three issues were ranked lower: abortion, stem cell research, and gay marriage.
When asked what is the single most important issue facing the nation, 11% of Republicans cited immigration, according to the October survey. As an issue for Republican voters, immigration trails only Iraq (27%) and terrorism (14%) in importance and is viewed as more important than the economy (9%). Only 4% of both Democrats and independents say immigration is the most important problem facing the nation. [E.A.]
Does this mean Pew has been corrupted too? Scary! ...
Photograph of Ann Coulter on Slate's home page by Brad Barket/Getty. Photograph of a wedding cake with two grooms on Slate's home page by Hector Mata/AFP Photo. Photograph of Princess Diana on Slate's home page by Georges De Keerle/Getty Images.