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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Handicapping the Republican Field

Iowa Caucus Analysis, December 11th
Last week, I broke down the rankings of the Democratic candidates. (The second and third tier, then the contenders.) Today and tomorrow I'll do the same with the Republicans. Let's get right to it, starting with the candidates with no realistic shot at the nomination.

8. Duncan Hunter (Odds - 500:1)
Random thoughts: He's Ann Coulter's dream candidate, and maybe that's all you have to know. Despite him being the perfect conservative, no one in the party cares about him, except for the 1% of poll takers who are either from his district or part of his extended family.
How he can win it: If all of the candidates above him on this list were to fall down dead, say hello to Republican nominee... Newt Gingrich.
When he'll pack it in: He should have already. He operates outside the bounds of logic. I'm not even sure he knows what's going on. I don't know when he'll pack it in. Maybe the Republican Convention? Maybe after? Maybe 2009?

7. Tom Tancredo (Odds - 99:1)
Random thoughts: He didn't get in the race to win, but rather to raise immigration as a prominent issue in the primary. With that objective achieved, despite it probably having nothing to do with his candidacy, it's unclear why he stays in, other than to see the issue through.
How he can win it: He doesn't want it.
When he'll pack it in: After the nominee is evident and no more discourse is required in the primary. Therefore, probably the second week of February.

6. Fred Thompson (Odds - 25:1)Random thoughts: My original ranking had Thompson in the top five, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that his campaign has been stuck in neutral while facing uphill. He's done nothing to excite the conservatives who were hoping he was their savior. Now, with Mike Huckabee serving as the conservative alternative, Thompson is left without a role.
How he can win it: He needs to split all of his resources between Iowa and South Carolina, and hope for a third-first combo, with seconds and thirds in Nevada, Michigan, and Wyoming in between, and then ride the subsequent momentum into strong showings in Florida and Super Tuesday.
When he'll pack it in: I'm not even sure he makes it to Iowa. The guy's got nothing going for him. He's going in the wrong direction, another candidate has filled the void that he was supposed to, he's old, he doesn't look like he's having fun, and there are four or five Republican campaigns people are paying more attention to.

5. Ron Paul (Odds - 25:1)
Random thoughts: Paul has slowly crawled up everyone's rankings and his odds get better with each passing month. The problem is, he's running out of time. Slow and steady wins few races, but with exactly three weeks to go until Iowa, it won't win this one.
How he can win it: Top three finishes in Iowa, Wyoming, and New Hampshire can be parlayed into a third place finish in Michigan, which is some major delegates for the former unknown. With people finally taking him seriously, he might be able to compete on a national scale.
When he'll pack it in: Unlike Tancredo, his biggest issue, a full withdrawal from Iraq, is getting no attention from his fellow Republican candidates. Therefore, he might stay in this race right up until the last primary.

4. John McCain (Odds - 12:1)
Random thoughts: He reminds me of a veteran athlete in his farewell year. He doesn't move around like he used to. His form has broken down and he relies on old tricks to stay competitive. But damned if he isn't still alive with a puncher's chance. As long as he's still on his feet, he can just keep coming.
How he can win it: Similar to Thompson and Paul, he'd have to build up a head of steam, beginning with a third place Iowa finish. Unlike Thompson and Paul, however, one can argue that McCain has a decent shot to make a run at New Hampshire like in 2000. And if he can come up with a victory there again... hold onto your seats. The old gray mare, she ain't what she used to be, but she ain't dead either.
When he'll pack it in: Similar to aging athletes, it's difficult to hang up the sneakers for good. He'll hang in there until February and then support the nominee. So much for my dream scenario.

Tomorrow, we finish with the top 3.

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