Friday, February 26, 2021

#InvisiblePrimary: Visible -- CPAC 2021

Typically, FHQ does not put much stock in Conservative Political Action Conference, as it is one of the more visible mile markers during any invisible primary period on the Republican side. But it is one of those events that has a straw poll of the next presidential nomination race in the GOP for those who are interested in such things. Polls, straw or otherwise, have no real meaning this far out from the 2024 Republican nomination and a certain former president may have an inside track on winning this one of the straw variety in any event. 

However, that does not mean that the confab of conservatives in Orlando is without significance. It just means that there is probably none to be derived from that straw poll. But if one is trying to assess the invisible primary as it is developing, who is there at CPAC and who is not is noteworthy and at least something of an earlier indicator of who is running for and who might be running in 2024.

former President Donald Trump
Governor Ron DeSantis (FL)
Senator Ted Cruz (TX)
Senator Tom Cotton (AR)
Senator Rick Scott (FL)
Senator Josh Hawley (MO)
former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
Governor Kristi Noem (SD)

Again, Trump is likely to dominate the event or at least much of the news coming out of it and overshadow all of the others. And that includes those who are not in attendance and/or speaking. Notable among that group are:
former Vice President Mike Pence
Senator Marco Rubio (FL)
former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley
Governor Larry Hogan (MD)
Surely there are others to list here, but that brief list of no-shows and the uninvited will suffice. They are the ones often discussed in the context of possible 2024 bids. 

Is CPAC the end all be all on the path to the 2024 Republican presidential nomination? Not in 2021 it isn't. But what it does represent is an opportunity to appeal to a particularly active constituency in the Republican primary electorate. And that is an opportunity that some candidates will have and others do not. And that is meaningful even with nearly three years until voters begin to cast votes for their presidential preferences. Will those voters remember CPAC 2021 then? Most likely not. But it may be a part of an aggregation of events and activities that candidates take part in to help form the candidates that they may become by 2023-2024.

The invisible primary marches on.

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