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Monday, January 14, 2008

Presidential Power Rankings

Here are the Power Rankings for the race to the White House, ranking each remaining candidate in likelihood of being our next President, beginning with the least likely.

T8 - Fred Thompson, Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, Duncan Hunter - One chance in a thousand... combined.

7. John Edwards - If he won Iowa, he'd be in this list's top 3, and if nominated, Edwards would actually have the greatest chance of any potential nominee of winning the general election. However, he neither won Iowa nor does he have a realistic shot at the nomination. Therefore, the reason less attractive general election candidates like Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee are ahead of him on this list is that at least they have a path to their party's nomination.

6. Mitt Romney - Although incredibly unlikely, it's easy to see how Romney can make a run at the Republican nomination, you just have to look really, really hard. Michigan votes this Tuesday and unlike the Democrats, the Republicans are still awarding the state delegates despite its controversial move into January. Born in Michigan and polling near the top in Michigan polls, it's not out of the question that Romney's last financial push will win the state, thus reviving his campaign and influx of contributors. If he does in fact win Michigan this Tuesday, he'll be up in the delegate count, and would be working off two firsts (Michigan, Wyoming) and two seconds (Iowa, New Hampshire). Then he's a South Carolina victory away from being the frontrunner. So what's the problem with this feasible scenario? He needs to win both.

5. Mike Huckabee - Huckabee has an easier path to the nomination than Romney. Michigan, like New Hampshire, is top three territory for Huckabee. He needed to Iowa, which he did, and he needs to win South Carolina. In between, "as-expecteds" will work just fine, and he's right on pace with his strategy. He can't be ranked as highly as Giuliani for a couple reasons. First, with a problem that Giuliani actually shares - there's a significant portion of the Republican Party that does not want Huckabee nominated. In fact, his potential nomination has driven many Reagan alum to support McCain before it's too late.

His second shortcoming for this Power Ranking is that, despite haveing as good of a chance as Giuliani to win the nomination, his chances in the general election are decidedly lower. His appeal to social conservatives is what is pushing him in this race, but his background as a Baptist minister will make Democrats nervous and give Independents enough unease that they'll opt for a new party in the White House.

4. Rudy Giuliani - Remember him? Remember he was leading all national polls by double digits? Now, while technically competitive within a few points nationally (of Huckabee and McCain) Giuliani is locked in slowly degrading polling numbers. The man is clinging to relevance and viability, but make no mistake, he is still relevant and viable. If he can hold national poll numbers around 20% by Super Tuesday, he will be thrust into the lead thanks to California, New York, and New Jersey, and then use that enormous bounce to push to the other primaries. However, if he continues to fall with each early primary, putting him in low double digits by February 5th, the leading Republican candidate at the time should catch him in those big states and end the Giuliani campaign.

If Giuliani were to win the nomination, he is a viable force in a general election. His moderation on social issues, which, to his credit, he never strayed too far from in his quest for the nomination, makes him palatable to anyone who doesn't want to support the Democratic nominee (a determining factor if the Democrats nominate Clinton). There's a large bloc of voters who want them kept safe and think Giuliani's the guy to do it. After that, social issues are secondary. This has always been Giuliani's greatest apparent strength as a candidate and it has the potential to get him to November.

Look for Part 2 on Thursday. Tomorrow I'll preview Michigan, and Wednesday I'll break down the results.

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