- - Tuesday, July 7, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

After the Republican and Democratic conventions, will we be looking at a Romney-versus-Biden race? In fact, such a competition is not as far-fetched as it may seem.

Interestingly, Mr. Romney’s and Vice President Biden’s options are based on two opposite scenarios. Mr. Biden is looking at a so-called preemptive candidate to Hillary Clinton. Mrs. Clinton’s impressive lead, however, may only be a lack of competition. No viable second choice has appeared on the scene. Mrs. Clinton’s vulnerability is seen in the fact that even unlikely second-tier candidates such as Sen. Bernie Sanders, Vermont Democrat, look threatening. Mrs. Clinton’s campaign is a helium balloon in search of a pin. Mr. Biden could be that pin.

For the GOP, there are an unprecedented number of first-tier candidates. Such a large field creates a special dynamic. If all candidates enjoyed equal support, each would have about 6 percent of the vote. As a few do better, some will have to do worse. This means first-tier candidates such as Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie start out polling below the margin of error. The GOP field of mostly conservatives are dividing the vote and forming a circular firing squad. It is the same dynamic that gave Mr. Romney the nomination in 2012.

The dynamics of a large field also make marginal candidates look good. Donald Trump looks viable at 10 percent. Can he move up? Probably not. Just as former Sen. Ron Paul could not get past his bedrock 10 percent in 2012, solid candidates such as Mr. Christie, Mr. Perry and Mr. Jindal are in single digits while a loose cannon such as Mr. Trump looks viable.

What is missing is a second-choice analysis. This dynamic is significant in a large field. If Jeb Bush falters, does Mr. Christie, Ohio Gov. John Kasich or former New York Gov. George Pataki zoom into the lead? If Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, slips, does either Mr. Jindal or Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, pick up points? And if Mr. Bush cannot get into the 40 percentile, does Mr. Romney enter? Keep in mind that a number of polls show Mr. Romney easily beating President Obama if that race were held today.



If Mrs. Clinton flounders or Mr. Sanders breaks into the 40 percentile, Mr. Biden is likely to be the most popular second choice.

LARRY P. HORIST

Boca Raton, Fla.

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