My post over at Plum Line today is about why Republicans have spent the year pining for better candidates, with Chris Christie being the flavor-of-the-month right now. Basically, I say that it’s structural, and not particularly about the candidates Republicans have right now.

I say over there that a Christie candidacy is unlikely, but as I always repeat: you can’t get inside the mind of politicians. There’s always the chance that Christie will foolishly decide to run. Remember, the people around him are certainly telling him he’s a great man, and a far better politician than Mitt Romney or Rick Perry; after all, odds are they wouldn’t be the people around him if they didn’t believe that, and they almost certainly wouldn’t be if they weren’t willing to say it. That’s of course not a Christie thing; I suspect dozens of GOP pols right now have people around them who tell them how well they compare to Romney and Perry, and that dozens of Democratic pols in 2008 had people around them telling them how well they compared to Clinton and Obama. And that’s just the relatively sincere stuff; there are also plenty of people who would love to be on a Christie for President payroll, and you can guess what advice they’re giving him. Frankly, with all of that, it’s a wonder that more 2nd and 3rd tier plausible nominees don’t jump in.

Anyway, if he does jump in, I continue to believe he’s not a plausible nominee — and certainly not at this point. He really isn’t a movement conservative; Dan Amira (via Drum) has the goods on issues on which Christie would likely have problems with conservatives. And it really is very late in the process. Remember, by all accounts Rick Perry was actually focused on his candidacy long before formally entering this summer (after all, he wrote a campaign book last year). Unless there’s a lot of unreported activity behind the scenes, Christie would be starting from scratch. That makes it hard for him to finish in the top three in Iowa, which in turn makes it hard(er) for him to beat Romney in New Hampshire, and then…well, it’s just very hard for me to see a plausible path to victory for him.

I’m also a lot less convinced than some are that Republican party actors are unhappy with the Romney/Perry choice. Certainly there are some conservatives who are dubious about Romney, and I’m sure some people are questioning Perry after his debate performances, but I suspect that most of the chatter will die down soon enough. And soon after that, the talk about a “weak field” will be gone, replaced by talk of how either Romney or Perry has dramatically improved and will be a strong nominee after all.

[Cross-posted at A plain blog about politics]

Jonathan Bernstein

Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist who writes about American politics, especially the presidency, Congress, parties, and elections.