The nation’s Republicans are working against the clock to answer two key questions: Can conservative Ronald Reagan possibly attract enough independent and Democratic votes to win in November?
An if he is likely to lose, has former President Gerald Ford time enough to challenge him for the GOP nomination?
The consensus among political experts is that time has probably already run out for Gerald Ford, though he still appears the stronger choice to beat Jimmy Carter in November.
But some experts caution: Don’t count Ronald Reagan out as a national candidate for the fall. He is not, they say, “a McGovern or a Goldwater” — fringe candidates who led their parties to one-sided defeats in 1972 and 1964. Intellectuals don’t want to take him seriously, but he does well with working-class voters. He would take the West, challenge President Carter in the South, and do well in the pivotal Midwest states like Ohio and Illinois, whose southern regions titled toward Carter in 1976, they say.
Back in March 1980 the establishment the establishment said the same thing about Ronald Reagan. They said he could never defeat Jimmy Carter.