Have you seen the results of the Politico Primary? That's the on-line contest to choose a hypothetical third-party candidate for president that ended this week. Politico nominated five candidates--Hillary Clinton, Gen. David Petraeus, Condoleezza Rice, Erskine Bowles and Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers--and readers nominated five more: Mark Warner, Gen. Colin Powell, Jon Huntsman, Michael Bloomberg and David Walker, the author of Comeback America and former comptroller general. No word from Politico on how many people voted, but they certainly promoted it on Politico's website, Twitter, Yahoo, Facebook, and on MSNBC's Morning Joe. Fun idea.
The winner was Hillary Clinton with 25 percent of the vote, and second place went to David M. Walker with 19 percent. Tied for third were Jon Huntsman and Michael Bloomberg, both at 14 percent.
The fact that Secretary Clinton won tells me there are a lot of disgruntled Democrats with buyers' remorse right now. Politico attributes it to nostalgia for the good old days of the Clinton administration, "with many voters yearning for the global peace and national prosperity that marked the internally stormy administration of President Bill Clinton." (Did you catch that, the "internally stormy" Clinton administration?)
But the real surprise is that Walker was nominated by readers and almost won. That says to me that fiscal conservatives don't believe they have anyone currently in the race they can support. Walker's book lays out a detailed plan for unleashing prosperity through deficit reduction, spending restraints, tax reform and reining in entitlements. I've read Comeback America and it's interesting, detailed and well written. I highly recommend it.
Voters want a plan. That's one of the reasons Herman Cain is doing so well in the polls right now. His 9-9-9 plan may not be perfect, but at least it's a plan. The president doesn't have a plan, because a jobs bill is not a long-term plan for turning the economy around. David Walker does have a long-term, comprehensive plan, and he's taking it to town halls and college campuses all over the country as founder and CEO of the Comeback America Initiative. Once again, the people are out ahead of the politicians.
I've thought for a while that Jon Huntsman could easily run a centrist third party campaign if he doesn't win the GOP nomination and Bloomberg is an independent whom many believe could jump in as well. So neither one of them is a surprise. It was also no surprise that the Cisco Systems guy came in last place. What was that all about?
But Clinton and Walker's popularity shows the level of discontent among mainstream Democrats and fiscal conservatives with the current field, a powerful voting bloc if a third-party organization like Americans Elect really does end up on the ballot in 50 states, as they say they will.
One final thought. There's one name missing from the list: The Donald. I bet it's killing him.
- Rick Newman: Why Herman Cain's Economic Plan Has Merit
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Corrected 10/17/2011: An earlier version of this article misstated David Walker’s current position. He is the founder and CEO of the Comeback America Initiative. Corrected 10/14/2011: An earlier version of this article misstated David Walker's former title. He served as comptroller general.