Bobby Jindal's exit: Winnowing works

The struggles of a former Rhodes scholar and governor who once seemed a serious contender reveal important aspects of the 2016 race.

John Raoux/AP
Republican presidential candidate Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal addresses the Sunshine Summit in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015.

Bobby Jindal had no choice. He was running out of money and time and remained below 1 percent in the polls. So on Nov. 17, the Louisiana governor faced facts and ended his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

“I’ve come to the realization that this is not my time,” Governor Jindal said when announcing the move during a Fox News appearance.

No, it isn’t. But Jindal’s withdrawal is also about more than him. The struggles of a former Rhodes scholar who once seemed a serious contender reveal some important aspects of the 2016 race.

1. Winnowing works. Worried that the current rugby scrum of GOP candidates will persist deep into primary season, threatening a deadlocked national convention? Don’t be. Three candidates who probably thought they had a chance to win – Jindal, Rick Perry, and Scott Walker – are now gone. At least four others – Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, John Kasich, and Chris Christie – are clearly lagging far behind the leaders.

Chances are that only five Republican candidates will remain following the South Carolina primary on Feb. 20, 2016. Maybe three of the Donald Trump/Ben Carson/Marco Rubio/Ted Cruz/Jeb Bush quintet will make it through March.

That’s important because if the candidates with no chance clear out, it clarifies the race and greatly increases the possibility of a nominee emerging by April 1, or even earlier, points out political scientist Jonathan Bernstein. That will allow the nominee plenty of time to turn and engage with likely Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

2. It's a bad time to be a governor. At the start of the cycle, GOP multiterm governors looked golden. They had executive experience and could credibly package themselves as outsiders, not part of Washington’s dysfunction.

But that’s not how things have worked out. The dropouts so far have all been governors. The only governor among the frontrunners, Jeb Bush, is struggling. Instead, it’s complete political novices and freshman senators who are on top of the GOP leader board.

“Together, the dropouts underscore just how upside-down this presidential race has become,” write Caitlin Huey-Burns and Rebecca Berg of RealClearPolitics.

3. Losing hurts. Running for president isn’t always a good career move. Sure, you get national exposure via media coverage and debates, if nothing else. But it’s possible that your reputation goes down, not up.

Look at Mr. Perry. The former Texas governor never really recovered from the “oops” debate moment in 2011 when he forgot the federal agencies he was proposing to eliminate. This year, Martin O’Malley’s low poll numbers aren’t increasing his VP chances.

Bobby Jindal was once a rising Republican star. He may be again. But his campaign veered from one approach to another, and at this point he might count himself fortunate to make a Cabinet short-list if the GOP wins the 2016 race.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.