by Rod D. Martin
March 13, 2007

57% of Republicans “want more choices” in next year’s Presidential race, according to a CBS/New York Times poll. Well, no shock there: the candidates they know about don’t represent them well, and the rest of the field remains, well, largely unknown. It’s extremely telling when the consistent number three man in the race (Newt Gingrich) isn’t even a declared candidate and genuinely might not run. To the degree that this number is surprising, it is in this: Republicans normally coalesce around a candidate very quickly. That is not happening this year.

But the rest of the numbers from the poll are rather more interesting.

It turns out Democrats are very satisfied (57%) with their field. But that’s an historical oddity too. More specifically, in August 2003, 57% of Democrats wanted more choices in their own 2004 field: Howard Dean had just surged ahead of his rivals on a wave of internet activism and giving, proceeded to race to a prohibitive front-runner status (complete with endorsements from Gore and Carter), imploded, and the party (very unhappily) coalesced around the disastrous John Kerry.

Perhaps even more tellingly, in October 1991, 64% of Democrats were unhappy with their field. That month, and relative unknown named Bill Clinton announced into the void created by the self-exiles of Mario Cuomo and Sam Nunn, against a field of fellow nobodies.

This much discontent in the ranks tells the same story again and again: this race has a long way yet to go. And whether Giuliani produces a convincing Damascus road (DeMoines road?) experience or someone completely unthought of becomes the flavor of the week, real conservatives are going to have a lot to say about it.