30 August 2010

Early Odds for 2012

As we’ve done in cycles past, here are the odds for the Republican nomination on the likely challengers for the Presidential ticket with 17 months to the January 2012 SC Primary. These do not reflect my desire for any particular candidate, I'm genuinely undecided on that at the moment.

TIER I: The Early Favorites (5-3 odds; 60%)

Republicans have a long history of picking last times second hat as this times winner (see Bush Sr., Dole, McCain). There are a few folks who could answer to that description this time around.

(5-1): Sarah Palin (former Gov-AK) has been building national networks and national ID (positives and negatives) and a group of primary winners since her stint as McCains VP nominee. She has as strong a pull with the NASCAR voter as anyone in the field. NAGGING QUESTION: Will voters forgive her resignation after a half term as Governor of Alaska, and can Levi Johnston please go away?

(5-1): Mitt Romney (former Gov-MA) looks the strongest of the holdovers from 2008, with a strong economic message coupled with Wall Street experience and deep pockets. The rise of Glenn Beck may help, in that it may tamp down the anti-Mormon thing. Then again, if you couldn’t beat John McCain, we may question why we should elect you now. NAGGING QUESTION: Is the author of RomneyCare the right standard bearer for a party running on the repeal of ObamaCare?

(5-1): Newt Gingrich (former Speaker-GA) has been sounding themes that could capitalize on Tea Party type momentum within the Republican rank and file. He is clearly the most intelligent (from an IQ standpoint) candidate in the field, and will be fearsome in debates. NAGGING QUESTION: What’s the expiration date on personal baggage, and will party voters look past those indiscretions as well as the failures of 1996?

TIER II: The Governors (3-1, 33%)

Presidents usually come from the Executive Branch, not the legislative. With an inexperienced Legislator-President in office, a governor burnishing solid credentials as a successful executive can make the case for challenge more readily.

(10-1): Tim Pawlenty (Gov-MN) has already started web ads on key conservative websites around the country to get the word out. NAGGING QUESTION: Does he have the charisma to get noticed in a large field and handle himself in debates with a master communicator like Barack Obama?

(10-1): Mitch Daniels (Gov-IN) is similar to Pawlenty – maybe too similar. A Governor with a solid background, low name ID, and charisma that no one would confuse with Reagan, barring a side to his personality that we simply haven’t seen yet. Still, if he can make a strong case with the experience he has, from a Midwestern state, he’s got as good a chance to catch lightning in a bottle as anyone. NAGGING QUESTION: Did his comments (which he has since backed down from in great haste) that the party needed to leave divisive social issues behind doom this Presbyterian’s chances with social conservatives?

(10-1): Haley Barbour (Gov-MS) might best be described as The One Guy in Government During Hurricane Katrina Who Knew What He Was Doing. He’s a consummate party insider as former RNC Chair, who might still be able to reach out as an outsider Southern Governor with a history of competence in office. NAGGING QUESTION: Will Northeastern (NH), Midwestern (IA), and Western (NV) states vote for a Governor from Mississippi?

(100-1): Mike Huckabee (former Gov-AR) still has major pull within the evangelical community. Unfortunately, his TV show has done little to ease the concerns of fiscal conservatives who seem to be so motivated right now. The success of the TV show, combined with what appears to be a reversal of his earlier weight loss probably precludes the run, which is why I list him here. NAGGING QUESTION: How does he distance himself from the video where he begs the Arkansas legislature for tax increases in a year where fiscal issues are king?

(100-1): Chris Christie (Gov-NJ) is having one heck of a great first year in office to be on this list already. He’s taken on union power in New Jersey, and won. That’s incredible. But it’s important for his supporters to remember that he’s only been in office for 8 months. Let’s give him time to ripen in office. NAGGING QUESTION: Is one year in executive office enough for Republican Presidential Primary voters?

(100-1) Bobby Jindal (Gov-LA) is the youngest person listed here. He’s got an extremely bright future on the national stage, has a brilliant mind and a captivating personality to match. But he’s probably too young, could use that one more term of executive experience and has the added inconvenience of having to run for reelection as Governor just 10 weeks before Iowa. As such, I think he waits four or eight more years. NAGGING QUESTION: Is the Republican Party ready to nominate a non-white for President? (Editor’s note: yes.)

TIER III: The Legislators (14-1, 7%)

The main problem for this group is that Republican Senators who run for President don’t often win, even if they get the nomination (think Dole, McCain). It’s worse for Congressmen: we haven’t elected a member of the lower House to the White House since the 1880s. That’s unlikely to change.

(33-1): Jim DeMint (Sen-SC) has been building national name ID as the leader of the Senate Conservatives. He’s clearly as ready as he’ll ever be, turning 60 just before the ’10 season begins. He’s been coy answering this question because the Tea Party movement absolutely adores him, and he’d be a natural for them. Still, his long term plans may have more to do with being the leader of the new Republican Majority rather than running for the White House in a ten candidate field. My gut is that he works that angle as well as the “king maker” angle, seeking to unify SC conservatives behind a single conservative candidate. NAGGING QUESTION: Would you rather be the leader of the Senate or a Senator running for President?

(100-1) Rick Santorum (former Sen-PA) has a lot going for him. He’s a strong conservative across the board. He’s a great communicator. He’s got “that look” and presents very well on TV. NAGGING QUESTION: Is that enough to overcome the loss of the Senate seat in 2006?

(100-1) John Thune (Sen-SD) is nationally known as “The guy who knocked off Tom Daschle,” for which we’ll all be forever grateful. Earlier this year, this was the hot pick; six months later, the energy seems to have faded. NAGGING QUESTION: Will the TARP vote haunt him as much as it did other members?

(100-1) Mike Pence (House-IN) has become known as the leader of the House conservatives for the better part of a decade. He’s a phenomenal public speaker who has made the first rounds already to solid reviews. He’s very personable on camera and in person. NAGGING QUESTION: In addition to the historic House problem, can he raise the money (probably $25M) to compete early and stay in to Super Tuesday?

(100-1) Ron Paul (House-TX) has built one of the most effective grassroots networks in the country, culminating in the “Campaign for Liberty” that has his fingerprints at the moment. In the process, he has also alienated millions of likely Republican voters with foreign policy stances and proclamations well outside the mainstream (see 9/11 quotes). In the final analysis, though, no matter how talented or well organized, time takes its toll, and Dr. Paul will be a venerable 75 when the campaign kicks off. No President has even been elected a first term older than 70. NAGGING QUESTION: If Dr. Paul decides on a third party run instead, does he doom the country to four more years of Obama?

TIER IV The Pretenders (OFF, 0%)

I keep hearing General David Petraeus mentioned as Presidential material. Yeah, he does look good in a uniform, and his recent comments about listening to Enya may qualify as soccer mom outreach, but I still don’t see him taking on the Presidency for a first foray into politics. Eisenhower was a special case as a 5-star commander of the European theater; Petraeus is not so universally loved as Ike was.

I also have heard whispered that we’ll see the return of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Puhleeease. The guy who made New York a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants and sued the federal government to stop the line item veto has ZERO chance in this electoral climate. Personally, I think he knows that, and he’s going to stick to issues like the 9/11 families and opposing the Ground Zero mosque.

Finally, the saddest case – our own Governor Mark Sanford. 16 months ago, I was at his Coosaw Encampment with 300 other conservative state leaders. One person (who I will allow to remain unnamed) was wearing a “Sanford 2012” hat. He coulda been a contender, maybe even the favorite, with the happy marriage, the four boys, and the proven record as a fiscal conservative Governor. Within a month came “Soul-gate” and all that exploded. Yet, I’ve heard in recent days that he may try to revive his political career and run for office again. I list him here because of some connections that I know the Governor has with national level conservative donors, but I don’t personally believe this is where he will end up running. More time needs to elapse before he tries that comeback.


Daniel J. Cassidy said...

Great and helpful analysis, Josh. I would only quibble with one thing - you overlook the campaign ability of Governor Mike Huckabee, who got more votes per dollar than any other candidate in 2008, and has large and enthusiastic networks in all the key primary states.

Митчел said...

Wow, they really don't make 'em like Ronald Reagan anymore, do they? Nice analysis though.