Following up on a point we’ve been kicking around for months, I put together this chart in October showing the years of experience in government for the original field of 17 Republican presidential candidates (before anyone had dropped out). I’ve updated it this morning with arrows pointing to each of the candidates who’ve quit.
To make this analysis a little more straightforward, lets frame it in a slightly different way. When the GOP’s presidential field reached its height, most of the field – 9 of the 17 candidates – had more than 15 years’ worth experience in the public sector.
Of those nine candidates with the most experience, six have since quit, including four of the five candidates with the most years in public service.
On the other hand, when the GOP’s presidential field reached its height, 8 of the 17 candidates had less than 15 years’ worth experience in the public sector. Of those eight, only two have exited the race.
What’s more, for all the talk about the GOP’s “deep bench” of qualified governors, Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, and Mike Huckabee have already left the field. Four governors remain – Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich, and Jim Gilmore – though none is considered a top-tier contender.
As we discussed when Pataki quit, for good or ill, we’re looking at a political climate in which years of experience just doesn’t seem to impress Republican voters much. By most measures, the top tier of GOP candidates will include three finalists: two first-term senators and a New York developer who’s never served a day in elected office.
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